Wovember Words: Nun’s Veiling

Today’s Wovember Words come from an amazing Victorian publication entitled Strawbridge & Clothier’s Quarterly and describe a type of open-weave and delicate fabric made from worsted-spun wool. You can still buy this fabric today, and it is very interesting to discover its use in Summer Costumes for Victorian ladies. I think it’s especially interesting because it reveals that woollen fabric need not be used only for heavy garments, but that with the right yarn design and weave structure, it can be both lightweight and flouncy.


Of all the material in use for summer wear, the sheer wool, called nun’s veiling, is one of the most popular. It is used for simple morning toilet, it is made more dressy for afternoon wear, and it is capable of being made sufficiently elaborate for full evening dress.

The morning novelty is the bordered nun’s veiling of white, edged with cherry-color stripes near the edge, or with blue stripes, or stripes of a mottled color. These are made up with a short festooned polonaise on a pleated skirt. The brilliant cherry-red is a new shade used for the basque and overskirt of white and red striped veiling lower skirts. Plumetis and plain embroidered veilings for afternoon toilets are used in dark or light colors, notably of blue shades, and for large figures for the skirt ; while the basque and drapery are of plain veiling, or of satin surah.

– Strawbridge & Clothier’s quarterly, published 1882 by The Company in Philadelphia.


The images used here were found on the excellent Internet Archives book images, while the 1882 edition of the Strawbridge & Clothier’s quarterly can be found in its entirety here.

This entry was posted by Felicity Ford.

4 thoughts on “Wovember Words: Nun’s Veiling

  1. How interesting! Could I make pyjamas from it though? I need recommendations for wool to sew/knit garments next to the skin…. A lacy camisole in EinBand? Or a super-wash merino laceweight? I can hand-wash…

      • I made a dressing gown in BlackWatch Viyella once (60% wool/40% cotton, I think) – when viyella was a cloth not a brand. Viyella’s good to sweat in (yes, horrible thought, but practical) so I often wear old viyella shirts (if I can find them) to do stuff like hedgelaying where you get hot then cold. The wool absorbs water without feeling wet – I was told by a pot-holer it can absorb 40% of its weight before you feel it. This was before going underground, wearing wool next to the skin. Not sure whether I didn’t feel cold because of the wool, or because of the **extreme fear**

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