All sewing is a series of steps, worked in a certain order, with the goal of obtaining a finished project. For the past few posts on Ecclesiastical Sewing, we have been going through the steps of making a chalice veil. This can be one of the most simple items to make when sewing for the church, but as in all sewing, much depends upon finely executed details. The basic parts to a chalice veil are the face fabric, and the lining.
Most often a cross is needed for the front, placed in the center of the lower third of the fabric.
One simple way to handle adding the cross to the chalice veil is to purchase a ready-made cross applique. There are many resources available for purchasing a cross applique. The trick to having the pre-made applique look nice when attached is “in the details.” One could simple stitch the cross applique in place, and hope for the best. Or one could take a tip from the pages of a vestment maker and “couch” the applique in place.
The process of “couching” an applique in place requires a few special items. The thread in the above photo is a #3 Gold twist. This is a “very nice” gold twist with a Gilt finish. The Gilt finish means there is a tiny amount of real gold in the threads. That small amount of gold adds a depth of shimmer and shine that metallic thread can not match. There are many sizes and types of twist available from various resources such as Hedgehog Handworks and Tanja Berlin.
The twist has to be in proportion to the size of the applique. If the twist is too small, it will end up looking out-of-place, or getting lost and not showing up at all.
The gold twist is placed at the edge of the applique, and a stitch in taken to hold the twist next to the applique. Come up at an angle just to the outside of the twist, go across the twist, and take a tiny stitch into the edge of the applique. As the thread is being pulled to the back side.
There is a wide variety of thread that will work for the couching stitches. One could even use a contrasting thread in a black, red, or other color to offer a little variety.
Continue working your way around the applique. Before starting to couch the applique in place, think about how you might start and stop the couching stitches. Is it possible to tuck the ends neatly under the edge of the applique? Or will you need to over cast and end and butt two ends together?
Take extra care when working around corners to ensure the couching threads fit and molds to the corner angles.
Here is the finished cross couched in place. The couching creates a little extra detail at the edge of the applique, and fills that bit of space where the applique might sit up a little higher on the fabric and leave a gap at the edge.
The same techniques of couching can be used with machine embroidered emblems and goldwork appliques. The cross appliques are available in a variety of sizes and colors, from tiny for use at the neckline of a stole, to medium sizes.
So for those who might be more of a seamstress or tailor, and less of an embroiderer; or when time will not allow for a hand embroidered cross, this creates a nice way to add detail to a Chalice Veil or other Ecclesiastical Vestment without embarking on a major embroidery project.
Solo Dei Gloria
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Filed under: church vestment, Ecclesiastical Sewing, Ecclesiastical Vestments Tagged: Chalice veil, church embroidery, Church Vestment, couching stitches, Cross, cross applique, Ecclesiastical Sewing, Ecclesiastical Vestments, Gold twist thread, Goldwork, goldwork applique