Surplice Directions in the works

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Surplice Directions in the works

A dear friend has issued a challenge. That challenge is to create clear and easy step-by-step directions in the works for sewing a square-yoke surplice.  Today, I took her at her word and went to work.  I have several very old, as in 19th century old, vestment books which are dear to my heart. 

Those were pulled out and the studying began.  The square-yoke surplice has a two-piece yoke.  Following some old technical drawings, it did not take long to have a pattern drafted up.  That was the easy part.  It is always so much fun to pull out the pattern drafting tools and make a new pattern from scratch.  (And of course, it is even better if the pattern actually works).  Pattern drafting was one of my favorite courses years ago in design school. It is fun to be able to put those skills to work in a new way, making vestment patterns for the church.

Many of the wonderful old books, which were written for making various vestments for use in the church, provide only the most basic of instructions.  There is a great deal of “assumed knowledge,” which means anyone reading the book would be so familiar with the topic or the task, they would not require detailed instructions. Sadly, that “assumed knowledge” which was once handed down from mother to daughter, or senior altar guild member to new altar guild member has been lost.

Today’s task was to see if I could figure out the “trick” of making a square-yoke surplice.  In looking at the pattern pieces, it was pretty obvious which steps I would prefer to use in the construction process.  So, out came the camera, and the computer to jot down directions as the square yoke was sewn up.

Here is a quick look at the finished yoke piece.  What are your thoughts?  Will it be easy to attach the skirt and sleeves to this yoke?  I think so, but still have that step to go.

Quick Look at Yoke Piece

Finished yoke for square-yoke surplice pattern from

I have the directions and pattern off to my dear friend to get her feedback.  It will be interesting to know if this “solves” the construction dilemmas.  I will keep you posted.   We hope to have patterns and directions available soon for those interested in making their own square-yoke surplice.

Solo Dei Gloria

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Collection of Surplice Patterns

Pattern Making and Testing Samples

Carlisle Fabric in White for Roman Square Yoke Surplice Patterns

Ecclesiastical Vestment Pattern Making



  1. Carrie – I wonder if you are aware of the work of Elizabeth Morgan. She was for many years in charge of the diocesan Altar Guild for Albany, New york (I believe). She has a wonderful website where, among other things, she sells a pattern for a square yoke surplice. I have gotten my stole and chasuble patterns from her – her instructions are very complete and clear. She also carries a small stock of liturgical fabrics. Her surplice pattern can be found at

    • Yes, Elizabeth and I are in contact on a regular basis. We are working together on several projects at the moment. She is such a great lady.