Returning Home – Monastic Habit

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Returning Home – Monastic Habit

Returning Home – Monastic Habit: Half a world away, and heading home.  After a month of emails, a little work with the seam ripper, re-cutting, and basting back together, it is time for this monk’s habit to head back across the Atlantic.  With such a range of items that make up church vestments, it is astonishing how diverse and creative Ecclesiastical Sewing can be.

Working on this monk habit has been a delightful project and hopefully much good will come from it.

Monk Habit Ready to be Returned
Monk Habit Ready to be Returned

The project all started months ago in reply to an email.  A young tailor from a monastery needed to acquire skills ranging from fitting, basic knowledge of construction, and pattern drafting; and so he requested help.

Challenges in Monk Habit Pattern Design

The stage was set, and the challenge was underway. The monastery had habit pattern blocks in several sizes. A little history was shared on where the patterns may have come from, along with the history of technical difficulties encountered while working with the habit patterns.

The most challenging problem had to do with fit: both in the sleeves and around the arms.  While I have done quite a range of Ecclesiastical Sewing, making a monk habit has been something new.  Trying to do any research online relating to monk habits is a challenge at best.

After doing a great deal of digging through historical pattern-making resources, I was finally able to locate several sets of instructions for drafting a Monk Habit.  The pattern has been completed.

But back to the habit. The question may be lurking: How did the monk habit in the above photo make its way to my home from the monastery in Europe? Thankfully, through the kind generosity of some persons connected to the monastery, this garment made its way Stateside.  They are returning to Europe shortly, and so the monk habit must head home with them.

When the habit first arrived, it was a large size and had construction problems with the front-facing.  The garment front had been cut on the straight grain, but the front placket facing had a curve. Putting straight and curved pieces together resulted in a ….*..?….@….*….  well one can imagine. This monk habit, made from a beautiful wool coating fabric similar to a Wool Melton, is intended for use as a winter habit. Rather than having the project be scrapped because of the front-facing and sleeve issues and wasting the lovely and expensive wool material, the monk habit was brought to the States and arrived on my doorstep.

It took hardly any time at all to undo the facing. The challenge was to re-cut the habit to a smaller size, correct the front placket, and see if the sleeves could be redesigned for a better fit, allowing movement.

The changes have been made, the garment has been tried on, and it appears to work.  The pieces are basted together so the fit can be checked on the intended wearer.  It is hard to send something off without being able to finish the project. Since the monks cannot come to me or I travel with this habit to Europe, off it must go, awaiting the hands of another to see it to completion.

And so I must also for this evening.

There is more work to be done with the Monk habit pattern draft, and I will be sure to keep you updated on that.

Solo Dei Gloria

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