Cloister Liturgical Fabric

As the new Ecclesiastical Sewing Website launch date approaches, I thought it would be nice to have a few feature posts to highlight some of the beautiful liturgical fabrics that will soon be available for sale.  But the usual way of uploading photos in the blog posts does not seem to be the best way to show off these lovely church vestment fabrics. I admit that I am not very tech savvy, and so I’ve been trying to find a better way to upload a collection of photos for viewing. Of course many of you may be saying right about now, “Use a photo gallery…doesn’t she know that yet?……..” Well, now I do, and in time, I hope to continue to learn and be able to update the site more. So thank you for your patience in the process.

The subject for this photo gallery is the Liturgical Fabric Cloister. Cloister is a piece-dyed fabric which means the color is completed after the weaving is done. The fabric is originally woven as “grey” goods without the use of dye. Once the weaving is complete, the fabric is dyed to the desired colors. This method of manufacture is useful in that it allows for an affordable liturgical fabric at an introductory price point. The drawback with this method of manufacturing is that it limits the depth of color. It had vivid colors, but they often lack the richness of color found in more expensive church vestment fabrics.

Cloister is a reversible symbolic pattern which dates from around the year 1900.  If one looks closely, it is easy to see the two main design features of the Scottish Thistle and English Rose which were popular at that time. Cloister is a lighter weight ecclesiastical fabric that would work well for making stoles, chasubles, tunics, dalmatics, chalice veils, and other vestment pieces.  Cloister would work well with machine embroidery, when the proper stabilizers and backings are used.

In addition to the colors below, Cloister is available in Roman Purple, Violet, and white. Cloister is also frequently used in the making of University robes in the United Kingdom. The pattern repeat is small which makes Cloister a little easier to work with than some of the larger pattern repeats found in other ecclesiastical fabrics. Cloister is a fabric that has grown in my estimation over time. The design elements found in Cloister are steeped with hundreds of years of history. The English Rose was the emblem which played a prominent role in English History during the 30 years of the War of the Roses. While the English Rose history dates back many centuries, the Scottish Thistle has an even older history. The rose and the thistle also have a liturgical significance.

Liturgical Rose Design

“The Rose. This refers to the prophecy of Isaiah, where it is stated that the desert shall blossom as the rose at the coming of the Kingdom of Righteousness. The rose is said to date back only to the thirteenth century. It is  used in a conventional form as in Figure 35,  and seldom in a naturalistic manner. The rose is extremely common in Gothic wood carving, and many a bench end is adorned with it. It is a common charge of heraldry. The wild rose details at Amiens Cathedral, somewhat less conventionalized, are among the finest examples of perfect sculpture extant.”  – F. R. Webber, Church Symbolism*

“Thorns and thistles, woven together, represent the curse placed upon the earth……” – F. R. Webber, Church Symbolism*

When one takes the time to really look at a liturgical fabric, one can see the thought and” care that was taken to include symbols and design elements that are filled with symbolic meaning in the history of the church. For those interested in learning more about Church Symbolism, I recommend Rev. F. R. Webber’s book Church Symbolism. 

I hope you enjoy looking at a few of the liturgical colors available in the Cloister Pattern.

        Solo Dei Gloria

Be sure to visit our online store front Ecclesiastical Sewing where you may shop for Liturgical Fabrics, altar linen fabrics, church vestment making patterns, liturgical machine embroidery designschurch vestment trims and notions and so much more. You may also find us on  Ecclesiastical Sewing  on Facebook , Twitter, and Pinterest. Sing up for our mailing list  at the bottom of the page on our online store front and receive a free copy of our Small Linens Booklet as our way of saying thank you for following along.

*Webber, F. R. (1938) Church Symbolism. Cleveland. J. H. Jansen, Publisher.


Filed under: Ecclesiastical Sewing Tagged: Church Embroidery and Church Vestments, Church Symbolism, Ecclesiastical Sewing, Liturgical Fabrics


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