In the past, Chalice veils were made in the same fabric as the vestment set. There are many photos of embroidered Chalice Veils from ages past. Today, the custom in some churches is to use a linen cloth with a cross embroidered on it as the chalice veil. There may be many reasons for the use of the linen for a chalice veil, including care and laundering, and as a matter of expense. Adding a color matching chalice veil can completely change the look of the altar from something ordinary to something special. It can be costly to add a chalice veil if it is purchased from a vestment house. Making a chalice veil to go with existing vestment set is easy if the correct steps are followed, and the costs can be managed with careful planning of materials and supplies.
When the chalice veil for the Ash Wednesday set was originally planned, the thought was to apply a Passion Cross to the orphrey. The stitching on the Black Passion Cross was nearly completed, but my day job required additional hours that week. It was disappointing to be so close to completing the project, yet not being able to finish it the way it was originally intended. But, adjustments were made to have the vestments ready for service on Ash Wednesday.
The orphrey trim for the chalice veil had already been planned and cut to size and position base on the use of the black Passion Cross. The idea was to place the black on a motif on a gold motif so it would be more visible. That was the plan and once the fabric was cut there was no going back. The center of the orphrey was located and matched to the center of the design on the black Fairford Fabric.
Once the centers are lined up properly between the orphrey and the base fabric, the layers are hand basted in place. Notice the fuchsia basting stitches? They are large, but hold things in place in preparation for machine stitching. The problem with attaching orphrey trims is one of “take up” or shifting. Frequently, the orphrey may stretch or shift while stitching; and the then it relaxes and draws up the base fabric, showing puckers that range from minor wrinkled and looking like a mess. One can pin pieces in place, but pinning often causes bubbles. So what does one do to prevent bubbles, puckering, shifting, and take up? Baste. But, you say, “I hate to hand baste anything!” Sometimes, this is a necessary evil to prevent problems down the road, and to ensure everything stitches nicely.
Still saying no to the thought of hand basting orphreys prior to machine stitching? An alternative might be to use a spray adhesive. While I have not tried this, I know of other vestment makers who use this or a similar product to hold the orphreys in place so they do not shift when machine stitching. Please use caution if you give this product a try, and test it on a sample before using on your expensive fabric. Be sure to keep the spray to the back side of the orphrey and not on the face of the fabric. The advantage of the spray adhesive is that the fabrics can be repositioned.
Other options such as fusible web might also work, although they are not a favorite method of my choosing. Basting is fast and easy, and less expensive, and works for me. The important thing is to find a method that works for you so the fabrics do not shift when applying the orphrey bands. One thought about the use of fusible webbing and adhesives: that thought relates to restoration. It a vestment has a great deal of hand work, hand embroidery, or the like, it might be best to hand baste layers together, especially if the vestment is meant to last for a long time. If in doubt, it might be a good idea to check with a group such as the Royal School of Needlework on methods for construction that will permit restoration for future generations.
Once the orphrey band is in place, the dice trim is placed over the edge of the band and stitched, using a walking foot or even feed foot on the sewing machine. The walking foot or even feed foot has little grips just like the feed dogs that come up from the bottom of the sewing machine and evenly move the fabric forward on both the top and bottom layer. This is another safeguard to minimize the chances of take up or puckering.
Once the stitching is completed on both sides of the orphrey and dice trim, the veil is laid flat and checked to ensure there are no signs of puckers or take up. If everything looks good, the hand basting stitches can be removed.
The final step remains for another evening.
Solo Dei Gloria
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Filed under: Ash Wednesday, Black Vestments, Ecclesiastical Sewing, orphrey, Passion Cross Tagged: Ash Wednesday, Black Vestments, Chalice veil, Ecclesiastical Sewing, orphrey, Passion Cross, vestment making