Today, let’s revisit the Monk Habit. Creating a new pattern for Ecclesiastical Sewing is a long process. It often takes several attempts to obtain a good pattern that works for design, fit, and construction of the intended vestment. It is a process. Creating the pattern for this Ecclesiastical Vestment has been even more of a challenge because of the historical considerations that must be taken into account with the creation of a Monk Habit Pattern.
The first draft of the pattern is completed. The pattern will be cut and sewn several times to check design lines and fit. Once the basic pattern is finalized and all of the pieces work together from a construction and fit stand point, the monk habit pattern will be graded to different sizes.
Monk habits are historical garments which were often made in the monastery by a tailor. Each monastery or order may have their own unique design variations for their habits. The patterns and construction techniques were always guarded carefully, being kept very hushed and secretive. As times have changed, monasteries moved away from wearing or making habits. The patterns and knowledge relating to this type of Ecclesiastical Sewing has been vanishing with the death of the tailors who once made the garments. The traditional Monk Habit patterns are often lost, along with the knowledge of traditional construction techniques.
Recovery of knowledge on constructing monk habits is another example of recovering the history of Ecclesiastical Sewing for the Church. When considering the making of Monk Habits, there will be those who desire the historical accuracy of following techniques that have been used for generations. Others are seeking to update both the fit and construction techniques of Monk Habits. Regardless of which viewpoint is being followed, there is always room in Ecclesiastical Sewing of Church Vestments for some change. When it comes to sewing, most of the time, there is more than one way to complete a project. The undertaking, of those who wish to hold fast to the methods that have been employed for hundreds of years in the making of monk habits, is wonderful and noble . But should one be rigidly locked into always doing things a certain way because that is how it has always been done? That is a question for the great sages. I can only say to those desiring change to improve fit and to simplify construction of Monk Habits: be considerate of the long history and the traditional designs. Make changes slowly, so as not to offend, and only with approval. Maintain design integrity where possible, while at the same time making changes that will improve fit, or any other problems.
For those who are opposed to any sort of change, not matter how slight, one should consider: is the proposed change needed to improve fit, making the Monk Habit more functional? Often, over the years, patterns that are copied repeatedly can become distorted. If the distortions are not corrected, the result will eventually be a garment that does not fit or function. Correcting a pattern’s fit so the arms and sleeves provide freedom of movement, or to correct the fit of a collar or neckline are not necessarily bad things. Basic standards of fit and comfort are needed in order to function while wearing any garment. One needs only to look at the chasuble, another vestment worn by priests, to see how that changed over the years.
It is important to respect and maintain traditions while at the same time having Monk Habits that will be functional, practical, and wearable. It is my hope and prayer for those experiencing problems with the making of Monk Habits may work together to respect traditions and be able to create garments that will be of benefit to the wearers in their life of service to the Glory of God. To that end, the project of pattern drafting continues.
Solo Dei Gloria
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Filed under: church vestment, Ecclesiastical Sewing, Ecclesiastical Vestments, Monk Habit Pattern Tagged: chasuble, Church Vestment, Ecclesiastical Sewing, Ecclesiastical Vestments, Monk Habit, Monk Habit Pattern, vestments