The past few weekends in the Ecclesiastical Sewing studio have been consumed with one thing: pastoral stoles. Visions of stoles have been dancing in my head: stoles with orphreys, stoles with tasseled ends, stoles with embroidery and stoles without. There are visions of long stoles and short stoles, green stoles and blue, pink – ops, make that rose and purple ones too. The possibility with stoles is, I think, unlimited…………
But before a pastoral stole can begin, it needs fabrics and patterns.
New stole patterns are nearing completion in our Ecclesiastical Sewing Studio. The patterns have been designed, trued, and test samples are being sewn as we write. The pattern in this photo is for a tapered stole in a short and long length. More information about the pattern will be available in a few short weeks.
For tonight, let’s talk about liturgical fabrics for making pastoral (or deacon) stoles. Pastoral stoles can be made from a variety of fabrics. Years ago – too many years ago, back in my college days (before the internet and cell phones) the only source for fabric was the fabric store where I worked part-time. It was a large fabric store with a nice assortment of apparel and decorator fabrics. Liturgical fabrics were not even something to be thought of back then. One did not know they existed, and if one did, the were out of the price range, or too difficult to figure out how to purchase. The only suitable fabric that came to mind all those years ago was a synthetic look-a-like linen fabric. The next challenge was what to use inside the stole? The interfacing section back then had a wide variety of items, including some type of woven lamb’s wool type interfacing that had some bulk, but not much in the way of body. That part being decided, the next challenge was coming up with some sort of embroidery or applique for the design. The option to create and applique was color blocking a design and using a satin stitch from the sewing machine. It worked, meeting a challenge and a need. Did I mention, there was nothing available for a pattern back then either? Without the internet, there was no searching online for books or resources.
Today, with the help of the internet, I have been able to locate many vintage Ecclesiastical Sewing books to use as references. Pastoral Stole patterns will be the first pattern offered for those interested in learning to make stoles for their own faith community, for themselves, or for someone special in their lives, be it deacon, pastor or priest.
The lovely fabrics in the above photo are from the bottom of the pile, working up: York Brocade – Ivory, Winchester Brocade – Purple, Fairford Brocade – Bridal White, Ely Crown – Gold, Fairford Brocade – Purple, Fairford Brocade Ivory, Fairford Brocade Gold, Fairford Brocade – Blue/Gold, and Winchester Brocade- Ivory. These fabrics are ideally suited for use in making pastoral stoles. They are woven to be durable enough to withstand the rigors of hand embroidery. Any fabric used for Hand embroidery must be designed to endure and withstand countless piercings with sharp needles, the pulling of thread through the weave over and over, and the plunging gold thread tails. By necessity, these are not designs to be “flimsy” fabrics. Having a higher thread count and being densely woven has the added advantage of weight which helps stoles to hang straight and stay in place.
One other thing you might notice about these liturgical fabrics is the richness of the colors. The purple is deep, and rich in both color and pattern design. The purple Fairford and Winchester fabrics would be the envy of lords and kings in days long ago. The purples are a penitential color used during the season of Lent. Ivories, creams and whites are colors used for festival seasons such as Christmas, Easter, All Saints Day, and others. The gold colors may also be used for festival colors.
Now that we have looked at a few fabrics for making pastoral stoles, some might be wondering how much fabric is needed to make a stole. Most stoles can be made from a piece of fabric that is 57 to 58″ long and 14 to 15″ wide. Liturgical fabrics are 48″ to 55″ wide. That might create a problem for many people who only need to make one stole. What do they do with the remaining fabric? Stay tuned. There is a solution to this problem and we will be sharing that with you soon.
The other items needed to make pastoral stoles are cotton canvas in the natural color, and a lining fabric. Lining fabrics might include satin, or similar fabrics. Now that the liturgical stole fabrics are ready of sampling and the pattern is near completion, the next project is a Chasuble pattern and set. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more on that and other projects.
Soli Deo Gloria
Filed under: Church Vestments, Ecclesiastical Fabric, Ecclesiastical Sewing, Liturgical Fabrics, Pastoral Stoles, vestment patterns