Thursday, June 09, 2016

Convent Nighties

This post was originally published on October 28th, 2009

One of my favorite things to find in France are the old linen and hemp convent night shirts. Sewn throughout the 18th, 19th and early 20th century, these fine linen nighties are sewn with an impeccable hand. All of the stitches are tiny and all of the details are precise - the scalloped edge along the necklines, the elegant monogram either in the center or over the heart, the simple cotton tie that gathers the sleeves - nothing was left untouched by the needle and thread. Usually I find these gowns at a flea market, in a heap on the ground, covered with years of age and neglect. I usually scoop them all up, because I know underneath the grime is a simple dress waiting to shine again. Many times the dresses will have a small repair where the fabric has been hand-stitched back together, over and over again - I am sure that once you were given a gown, you were expected to take care of it forever - not just for a year or two until it wore out. These gowns, usually sewn by and for the nuns in a convent, are cool to the touch and feel like silk - the result of years of well worn linen.

2 comments:

cocoquilts said...

Beautiful post! I love that you are sharing your experiences from France with us! Thank you!
Colette

Cheryl Porada said...

Do you actually wear them?