We hope you have all had a safe and blessed Easter Holy Day. The Ecclesiastical Sewing family had such a wonderful weekend that it is hard to return to our “normal” activities. We were able to spend time worshiping and celebrating with our church. And afterward, we had family time with the extended family, hearing the reiterations of some extremely valuable lessons from the matriarch of the family.
First I will relate the time spent with the matriarch of Ecclesiastical Sewing. Our family, after Easter sunrise service, traveled two hours south of our northern Minnesota home to the Twin Cities for Easter with the maternal side of the family. Carrie and I had a wonderful time with her mother, Joyce, sharing photos and samples from Ecclesiastical Sewing. Grandma Joyce is very close to her 90th birthday and so does not use any kind of social media. So every time we go to visit, we make sure to share the latest projects with her. Joyce grew up during the final years of the depression and the aftermath of those hard times. Yet she will tell you that she was spoilt because she always had new clothes. You see, anytime Great-Grandpa Henry bought chicken seed, he kept the cotton sack and these made all kinds of beautiful garments. Joyce is the one who taught Carrie basic hand sewing, hand embroidery, and machine sewing. Joyce never did ecclesiastical sewing for the church; her hand sewing was always embroidery on dish clothes, pillow cases, etc.… But what was instilled in her, she passed down to Carrie, who is now passing it down to me: being an overly picky stickler. Carrie also did not grow up with heaps of store-bought clothes like I did. Instead, she learned to make anything she wanted. Grandma Joyce was always encouraging her, now no matter how well Carrie thought she did, to do better next time and try to work harder on the details. Today, Carrie has a well-trained eye and is teaching me, and even my husband, how to watch even the smallest of details with regard to sewing.
Grandma Joyce loves to touch pieces of our machine embroidery. She will sit there with a piece in her lap and trace the stitches with her finger and murmur her admiration for beautiful work. However, her eye is still sharp. Yesterday, there were some beautiful stoles that Travis was modeling for her made from some brocades by some new contract workers we have in our network.* With narrowed eyes, Joyce pointed from her chair and informed us that there was one stole with a chain that was not even. This sample piece was freshly back to us and Carrie had not had time to examine it but was eager to have something new to show the family. After lifting the stole off Travis, Carrie remarked that Grandma was right. Her almost 90-year-old eyes had seen the quarter of an inch difference in placement of the chain. A quarter of an inch…seen from across the room. We do have a quality control standard and check list for this reason. It was incredible, however, to watch Grandma pick up this out almost instantly. This will be a never-ending personal growth endeavor for all of us at Ecclesiastical Sewing. Training our eyes to notice even the smallest of errors will never be something we master, only something we become better at as the years progress. I just know that Carrie and I are very grateful and owe a lot to this small German town, Minnesota grown farm lady, who drilled into our thick skulls the importance of attention to detail.
*(I do not write this to bash our seamstresses, wonderful and talented people who we are grateful to have on board. Instead I merely want to draw attention to the fact that we all can make “goofs” and how vital a well-trained eye is to any labor of the art and craft of sewing. I want to encourage everyone, even Carrie and myself, to always strive for a better, more meticulous eye for detail.)
Other than enjoying time with Grandma and the rest of the family, we had a wonderful celebration with our church family. There were no new paraments or vestments this year for Easter on the altar or on Pastor. We wanted a new Easter frontal, stole, pulpit fall, and chalice veil made from our Cloth of Gold and a Lurex Diaper, but instead the biggest project and our focus this spring has been the Dossal Curtains. I know that Carrie wrote a post about these big curtains last week. Today I want to share with y’all these three great masterpieces at one time for your viewing pleasure.
1Roberts, Carrie. Palm Sunday 2017. April 6th, 2017. Personal Collection, Ecclesiastical Sewing, Minnesota.
2Roberts, Carrie. Good Friday 2017. April 13th, 2017. Personal Collection, Ecclesiastical Sewing, Minnesota.
3Roberts, Carrie. Easter Sunday 2017. April 16th, 2017. Personal Collection, Ecclesiastical Sewing, Minnesota.
As Carrie said, these have been a labor of love to beautify our church. When our church was being built, the expense of a reredos made it out of the question. Now, although we could someday raise the extensive funds, a dossal curtain is still more practical for the space than a reredos. This problem of expense is the reason why dossal curtains came about in the first place. For a smaller church, these are still a rich, luxurious addition. All it takes is one dossal curtain in a color to compliment the interior décor of the church. We were fortunate enough to make three colors: the red being for ordinary time since it works well with all of our wood work, paint, stain glass, pews, etc.… Eventually the goal is to make a green for ordinary times and perhaps a few other colors: purple, blue, maybe even a rose? These things, although economical, need to be planned in accordance with the church’s means.
Dossals traditionally have been known to have elaborate embroideries worked upon them. A really stunning example to note is the Lanercost Dossal. A dossal is made to fit the dimensions of a sanctuary. For example ours is 88” wide and 124” long. And it works well with the stain glass running horizontal on the back wall. If you look closely at the pictures, especially the Good Friday dossal, the dossal and the stain glass make a cross on the back wall behind our big wood cross. We had no direct intention of doing this; it was just one of those mind stopping coincidences that just so happen to turn out the way they turn out. At some later point we will briefly explain the construction of one of these curtains and maybe down the road, we will actually sell instruction manuals, giving a great depth of detail on how to make one. It is something on our future to-do list. However, keep an eye out for more immediate developments: The Luther Rose Brocade Collection, new patterns, some random new products, and later this summer, Ecclesiastical Sewing will release collections by season. Right now, we are actually working on developing Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Our Lord’s Baptism, and Transfiguration embroideries, and vestments! It takes quite a bit of time to pull together an entire collection based on each season, but it is something to keep a look out for and of course, we will let y’all know as things are developed!
We hope our dossal curtain project can inspire your churches to gather groups of ladies and gentlemen to create vestments and paraments, even a dossal curtain, as a special church project. Although working solo can have its benefits, we have greatly enjoyed and will miss our Saturdays working with our “dossal bee” at church. We are blessed indeed.
~Nihil Sine Deo~
Filed under: Church Embroidery and Church Vestments, church vestment, Easter Church Vestment Set, Ecclesiastical Sewing Tagged: Brocade Fabric, Cloth of Gold, Dossal Curtain, Liturgical Brocade Fabric, stoles