The Advent and Christmas Season are nearing their end. Yet even in the midst of one church season, it is time to start looking ahead to the season of Lent. Ash Wednesday falls early in 2018. How early? How about on February 14 – St. Valentine’s Day! That is certainly early for Lent. In the Ecclesiastical Sewing workroom, we constantly have to try to stay a season, or two, or even three ahead of the current church year. That is some feat for a small family business!
On a recent teaching trip, Carrie undertook the fun task of getting a jump on the season of Lent (or perhaps Advent). Her task was to combine the rich two-toned Fairford brocade in violet with a violet silk dupioni and use “lots of black!” One of the teaching sessions was in stole making, and this was the perfect opportunity to demonstrate cutting out stoles, interfacing and linings, and planning placement, size, and proportions for orphrey bands.
Making a stole look wearable is fairly easy. It can be a simple as cut, sew, and be neat and tidy. Making it look great takes careful thought and planning. It takes careful attention to a minutia of small details. And those are things that are so difficult to convey through written instructions or online in a blog. It takes one on one attention – showing and guiding along the way as students make their own stoles.
The foundation of a good priest stole starts with an excellent stole pattern. Now I know what you are thinking……..”Why should I buy a pattern? Pastor has stoles hanging in the vestry. I can just use one of his stoles for a pattern……..” and guess what happens? I think you know. The stole may turn out alright…but it is never – really – quite right. Nor can it be.
Think of stole making this way. How many of us would make a gourmet entrée for dinner without a solid recipe? Not many (unless you are in the ranks of a professional chef). So too, with vestment making. Carrie is a professional designer/seamstress with her degree in costume design. Yet, she never – well almost never – creates something without some sort of pattern for use as a foundation. If there is no pattern, she always starts with something, or she creates the pattern as she goes along and works toward perfecting that pattern.
Using a good stole pattern is important for so many reasons. The list is a long one. But here are a few highlights. How many of you have seen photos of stoles that have been handmade that hang either toe-ing in or out? There is usually a visual curve that starts at the chest, and the ends of the stole, no matter what is done, end up curving and hanging toward the middle of the body. Or how about the stole that flaps way out at the sides……….or one that is so thick at the neck that it bunches and puckers like a cowl neck sweater.
The list can go on. Yet one thing to think about is that pastoral stoles are Vestments and vestments are intended to be worn by the servants of the Lord during worship. This is a special undertaking, and it is worth the extra time and care to make a good start by starting with a good stole pattern whether that is a 4 1/2 inch stole, 3 1/2 inch stole, tapered stole, V-Neck Stole, 5-inch stole, or Deacon Stole. A solid foundation that begins with a good pattern creates a lovely stole.
Teaching at the Liturgical Arts Conference in Mississippi was a great joy. The students all did very well on their projects and those projects will be shared in the coming weeks. But how about the teacher? Did she finish her project? Indeed, she did! It was finished on the last evening before boarding the plane for the return flight to Minnesota.
Now, before you say, “Hey, that – stole isn’t hanging perfectly straight!” remember – Carrie is a designer and seamstress. She makes no claims to being a photographer. One of the challenges of being a small business owner: sometimes you get stuck with your own quality of photography and continue to try to improve that as the business grows. So, apologies ahead of time for the photography.
Thanks to a great staff, the chasuble and stole were packed within a few days of returning from Mississippi and were shipped off to their new home. It is always fun to send vestments out the door with a prayer for those who will be using them in the years to come. But there are those few sets, now and again, that are difficult to part with. This violet silk dupioni set is one of those. It is a favorite with the bold fabric and color combinations. We hope it will be a favorite in its new home.
The set just received its new collection name:
St. Irenaeus of Lyons Collection
The collection is named in honor of Irenaeus – an early Church Father of the early 2nd Century.
The online photo shows the Gothic Chasuble from the St. Irenaeus Collection. At this moment, there is also a Monastic version of this chasuble ready for photos and to Quick ship off to a new home – but don’t wait long – it won’t keep!
For those not familiar with the difference between Gothic and Monastic chasubles: The Gothic chasuble is usually around 54 to 58 inches in width. The Monastic Chasuble starts at 62 inches in width and can be as wide as 78 inches. The average width is around 72 inches. This additional width on the Monastic Chasuble creates a vestment that falls in the most graceful folds – it hangs like a dream and floats and moves with the wearer. It is truly the most elegant of vestment when created with the right blend of fabrics and finishing techniques.
Now, with all of this being said about the Monastic Chasuble, let not that deter you from the Gothic Chasuble.* It is also a graceful vestment that falls in elegant folds. It is not as full as the Monastic cut but every inch of the Gothic is beautiful in its own right. A matching burse and veil will also be available shortly.
So, what are your thoughts about this new vestment set? We like – do you like? Have a say in the comments below!
Soli Deo Gloria
- A special note of thanks goes to our great staff of seamstresses for their help in creating this collection. They did an excellent job of making the chasubles while Carrie was traveling. We could do it without the dedication and expertise of all of you. Thank you!