Underwear as Outerwear?

I wonder—would modest Victorian ladies be shocked by today’s knitting patterns for flouncy skirts, lacy sleeveless tops, and short-sleeved sweaters? Considering that these items were all knitted as undergarments over a century ago, I would say yes!

Lady's Vest with Fancy Shell and Feather Pattern Top

Weldon’s Practical Knitter is full of interesting patterns for ladies’ undergarments, but unless you’re familiar with the fashion of the time, you wouldn’t know their purpose just by looking at them. Wasp-wasted lacy “vests” and knitted petticoats abound. Since the patterns call for wool yarn, I assume the shapely vests were worn over corsets as an extra winter layer. I bet they would look lovely knitted in cotton or silk for spring. The knitted petticoats come in a variety of lace and ribbed patterns, and could easily be worn as everyday skirts in the 21st century!

The Albany Jersey and Albany Knickerbockers

For the gentlemen, there's a selection of handsome sock patterns and a couple of nice sweaters, although they would need a little tweaking. (Bows, pompoms, and scalloped lace for men? Really?) The undergarment patterns aren't so timeless. If you'd like, you could cover yourself from head to toe (literally) in cables with the Albany Jersey, Albany Stockings, Albany Cap, and the Albany Knickerbockers! Smashing. Is this a set of pajamas? A much bulkier, fancier alternative to long johns? Who knows, but it does look comfy.

There are so many more patterns to choose from in Volume 17–20 of Weldon’s Practical Knitter, which we’re now offering as a digital collection! In addition to great clothing patterns, you’ll find beautiful knitted quilt squares, winter accessories, sweet patterns for baby, and more. Some are practical, some are not—but they’re all plenty of fun.