The other day I was in the Ecclesiastical Sewing Workroom, putting the finishing touches on a pastoral stole and I thought it was a good time to pull the camera out and snap a few shots so that I can talk through finishing tips on stole ends. Now, there are many ways to finish a stole end. I might employ any of several methods to finish a stole end. Much depends on the type of fabric, the weight of the fabric, the time available to work on the project and other conditions as they arise.
The most frequent methods I use to finish stole ends are mitered corners and folded corners. Today we will look at mitered corners. To prepare for mitered corners, the stole sides and bottoms are folded into place and pressed.
Next, open up the side and bottom hems and fold up the corner, trying to align creases if possible. This will create a little triangle at the corner.
The next step is to refold the hems on their crease lines and to pin the edges at the miter. It takes a bit if adjusting to get things to fall into their proper place.
Now the fun begins! It is time for lacing. With needle threaded, take small anchoring stitch near the top of the miter. (We usually do not use knots, but rather a series of 3 or 4 small stab stitches to anchor the thread. Those who to hand embroidery will be familiar with this. For those new to anchoring stitches, it is just two or three or four tiny stitches taken in the same area to secure the thread so it will not come out).
The next part is the stitching or “lacing” of the miter. Starting at the top of the miter, take a small stitch exactly along the edge of the fold.
Then take the needle to the other side of the miter, and insert the needle about 2 or 3 fabric threads behind where the needle came out on the first side. Take a small stitch along the fold. Then move back to the first side. Repeat the above step.
Be sure each time the needle is inserted to take the stitch that it inserted about 2 to 3 threads behind where the needle came out on the previous side. This will create a somewhat “staggered” looking stitch. But when the thread is drawn tight, this draws the miter close and ensure the edges will not separate.
Continue stitching to the end of the miter. Once you reach the point, take a stitch coming back up on the other side.
Continue lacing back to the top. Take a few anchoring stitches and there you have a perfectly mitered stole corner! This is one way that I find works well to finish stole ends. It is a beautiful finish but is can have its drawbacks. If one is not careful with either folding the mitered corner up, or matching the folded edges of the miter, stole sides and bottoms can end up with little “dog ears” which is a fun term for a corner or side that is not straight or for a corner that sticks out from the side. Mitered corners can be a bit of a challenge, and it does take some practice to have them turn out well. Often when working 4 miters on a stole, one gets two or maybe three that turn out well, but there is always one corner that is a challenge. Regardless of how many times it is stitched, it refuses to lay properly. We love this finish, but it is not the finish we use in production because it is so difficult to master and to have all 4 corners of a stole turn out perfectly. We employ a different method which provides consistent results every time.
Yet I encourage my seamstress to work on the mitered corners to try to master them, if for no other reason than to build their own skills. I love doing the same myself. When I first tried this corner, I could not get the miters to line up correctly. Although I still have an occasional bout with a pressed crease, I can usually get a miter fold to fall and stitch in place. I love a challenge!
So, how about you? Do you have a favorite method for hemming the bottom of a stole? We would love to have you share your tips and techniques for folding up stole hems.
Soli Deo Gloria
Filed under: church vestment, Ecclesiastical Sewing, Ecclesiastical Vestments, Pastoral Stoles, vestment patterns Tagged: Ecclesiastical Sewing, making pastor stoles, Pastor stoles, Stole making kits