Panic Plays No Part In The Training Of A Nurse

Murder Mystery Dinners are my vision of hell. Organised fun? No, thank you. So when I was invited to an evening at a friend’s I gave a gentle but firm ‘no’. Then she asked again. Then she looked hopeful. Well, what was I to do? So I find myself going to a Murder Mystery Dinner next weekend.

I’ve said I’ll go as a Second World War nurse in Paris. Yeah. Apparently, I need a costume. So IF I have time next week and IF I get down the market for some cheap white cotton and IF I can be bothered, I might try to whip up a nurse’s apron of some sort. Maybe even a cape…

That thing on her head can’t be so difficult to fashion, can it? Any hints, tips or pattern suggestions gratefully received. I mean, you try keying ‘nurse’s outfit’ into Google…

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22 Responses to Panic Plays No Part In The Training Of A Nurse

  1. Sarah says:

    My flatmate recently bought Ann Summers’ Naughty Nurse outfit for a party, it looked obscene. So naturally we made my other (male) flatmate try it on – much less scary with a bit of chest hair!

  2. Portia says:

    In theory that head covering should be a simple rectangle or square shouldn’t it? Maybe with some ties added to secure at the back of the neck. You could always use your spray starch to make it more funny too. More “Carry On Nurse” he he.
    Couple of charity shop table cloths/sheets and you’re away.
    We expect pics you know!

  3. Marie says:

    I’m with Portia, we definitely expect pics ;o)

  4. prttynpnk says:

    Shoies? What will you do? That wasn’t a very flattering period for work shoes….

  5. Sarah says:

    Oh, I definitely want pics of your costume! I’d make a traditional nurses cap and navy cape like this: ou can make the nurses hat out of white card. Easy peasy and very nurse-like 🙂

  6. Felicity from Down Under says:

    The veil – they were still in vogue till reasonably late last century Down Here – would be simply a large square of fabric folded to give the correct dimension. I’ve never seen rectangular ones, though I suppose they exist. They were usually fastened with safety pins (to go around the head) and then held in place with hairclips (bobby pins? I’ve forgotten what you call them Up There). Some veils were made of organza and starched, which I’d have thought might have been the case for WWII (though it’s true that such details probably varied from nation to nation). If you go as a boss-cocky nurse rather than a lowly one, you could dispense with an apron. In any case, I’m like everyone else: I look forward to seeing the photos!

  7. Amy says:

    I’m one of those who didn’t realize that Murder Mystery Dinners could be someone’s personal hell. Good lesson, thank you! Worst case, white dress, white square done up like your lovely commenters have described, red cross, and you’re done. Best case, lots of fun sewing.

  8. Elisabeth says:

    I think the nurse in the second photo looks like a nun, so unless that’s the look you’re after, I would go with the nurse’s cap someone else mentioned, a white dress, white shoes, and, if you can find one, some sort of sweetheart pin for the soldier/sailor/pilot that you are waiting for (for the WWII theme). If that sounds like two much, I think a white apron/smock with a red cross on it over a full skirted dress would go a long way.

  9. Danielle says:

    I found these directions for a nurse’s uniform for a child. The cap might work even though it’s from the late 50s. It kind of looks like the ones the nurses are wearing in the photo Sarah linked to.'s%20uniform&searchLimits=

    • Felicity from Down Under says:

      I don’t suppose it matters a bit whether it’s a lowly nurse or a boss-cocky nurse. Sarah’s link shows plenty of nurses with veils of the folded, starched-square variety (who would probably have been classified as nursing sisters rather than “just” nurses). That look is very easy to achieve. The caps can be a bit of work. If the idea of fancy dress and Murder Mystery Dinners is so appalling – by the way, I agree! – then keep it simple is good advice

  10. Geogrrl says:

    It seems to have depended on WHERE you were nursing at the time. It seems that in WWII France, the British nurses belonged to Queen Alexandria’s nursing corps. Their uniform was a grey dress with white collar and cuffs, short red cape, and what appears to be a white organdy veil pinned over the hair.

    Hope these help.

  11. Geogrrl says:

    I found this link. If you read the first page carefully, it will give you your answer about the nurse’s veil/cap and the basis of how to fashion one. I think you’re looking at a white starched linen or organza (no starch for organza) square and a lot of hair pins.

  12. Thanks, guys! You’ve done some amazing research on my behalf.

  13. Kathy Vaughn says:

    I am a nurse. I found my cap from 20 years ago in my mother’s closet the other day. Most were just stiff material that could be folded to curve the crown of the head. There are as many different versions of the cap as there are colleges of nursing. Any veil types were specific of orders of nuns who were nurses as well.

  14. yesilikethat says:

    I went to a Murder Mystery Dinner once and had to dress up as a saucy Italian widow, that was an interesting experience. It’s quite fun once the wine starts flowing though!

  15. LinB says:

    Iconic British nurse’s uniforms are very different from iconic U.S. nurse’s uniforms! I’d look for a book or website that teaches how to wear headscarves — Jewish and Muslim women wear them for religious reasons, and there are lots of tutorials out there. Or, medieval fashion sites may help. That nurse’s uniform is indeed derived from a nun’s habit. (Aren’t English nurses called “sister”?) I think you may simply be able to take the short end of a rectangle and tie the corners behind your head, then flip the rest of the veil over your head to hide the ties. Pin on a felt cross and you’re good to go. A big white apron over a grey shirtdress, short boots. Pin a watch to your apron bib — for timing pulses.

  16. MacDoodle says:

    I’m in the middle of making costumes for Sound of Music. Not actually making the nuns tunics, but the person who did showed me how it was done and it is a simple T with a cord belt. I’ve been making lots of (black) habits and I was shown how to do this by a friend who is a professional costumier. Measure your head from a couple of inches behind one ear to a couple of inches behind the other (the measuring tape should be at the point where you would wear an alice band). I then make a white band approximately 1.5 inches by this measurement and then either extend it into ties or add ribbon ties to each end. The black fabric is shaped like a slice of pie with the top cut off. This top sliced off bit should be equal in measurement to the head measurement you took and the whtie band gets attached to it. The pie shape should be as long as you require it (we decided on the measurement between the alice band position to bra strap which on me is 15 inches. I can draw a diagram and send it to you if you like.

    If you want a wimple as well, it’s just a basic hood worn under the habit. I am also making white tabards for over the black tunics.

  17. Brenda says:


    I’ve always been a lurker and love reading your blog, but have never commented (too shy, I guess). Anyways, I’ve been looking into making hats lately and I was thinking that you could try Vogue V7600 and extend the length of View C. Good luck on your search, and have fun at the dinner.

    — Brenda

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