Changing Plans?

The best laid plans often have to take a sudden change. And so it is with an Ecclesiastical Sewing Project.

Advent Altar Frontal Embroidery Design
Advent Altar Frontal Embroidery Design


The Advent Set is underway, but plans are being changed quickly.  There are several reasons why I have had to initiate this change. One, the entire loss of last weekend, as well as loosing today to work on the project. The other reason being a change in stitching plans and thread selections, due to a delay in getting supplies. Life seems to have a way of disrupting a  Church needlework project, who’s beginning was so promising.  What to do now?


Church Needlework by Hinda Hands
Church Needlework by Hinda Hands

It was time to do a quick review for some options in my favorite church embroidery books. This fragile favorite Church Needlework is by Hinda Hands. My copy is so fragile, that I will soon retire it to the shelf permanently, and will order a reprint from Amazon.  This is a favorite resource, which makes the original all the more precious.  Although not detailed with step by step, how to do something, it does a good job of providing a basic outline of many topics relating to church needlework and the making of various article for use in the church service. The author acknowledges that in her day there were many Guilds and Associations offering lengthy courses in church embroidery. She wrote the book with an understanding of “assumed” knowledge that is lost to us today.  Still, her books have much to offer in the way of understanding concepts behind many techniques (although not with step by step details).

The topic of interest at this time is the section on applique or applied work. Miss Hands acknowledges that

outline is a distinct method of ornamentation, used independently of any “filling;”

as an adjunct to applique; and as enclosing portions of the background

to be further enriched, but not entirely covered.

But the good Lutheran question comes into play: What does this mean?

Applied or Applique Work for Church Embroidery
Applied or Applique Work for Church Embroidery

 “Outline work and applique go naturally together because they are very often

mutually dependent upon each other.”

Outline work is done with couched threads which are dependent upon a brilliant design for their beauty.  The couching itself is simple. There is no intricate detail or elaborate use of color and shading which may hide a few defects in stitching. In couched work, the outline becomes the definition of the forms, separates the colors, pulls a design together.

Applique Work with couching and scroll accents to soften the hard edges
Applique Work with couching and scroll accents to soften the hard edges

Another thought from Miss Hands that I want to mention is that sometimes a design can be to harsh. The addition of scroll work coming of the outlines will soften up those hard lines. In the above design the leaves are applique work, and the veins are accents of couched threads.  The author also mentions chain stitch is a wonderful alternative for outlining a design.  Those who know tambour work could perhaps incorporate that chain stitch into the outlining as well.

Written in another day and time, the information about creating a paste to apply applique fabrics together is a bit dated. Depending on the project, the fusible web available today offer a fast and easy alternative to pasting embroidery designs.

Red Smooth Passing with silver thread for outlining
Red Smooth Passing with silver thread for outlining

Now back to the Advent Altar hanging project. The original thought was to fuse silk to linen, outline or embellish, and then applique the cut out mofits to the silk.  Did I mentions plans sometimes have to change?

Smooth passing thread in Red for applying couched outline
Smooth passing thread in Red for applying couched outline

In looking at the framed up Omega Symbol, the two strands of Red Smooth passing for couching are very fine. They will work, but to apply those to the linen, cut out the Omega, and then apply that to the silk altar frontal will be a lot of bother, and could cause other challenges. Taking a chance, I will apply the Alpha and Omega directly to the blue Silk Duioni, which means the Altar frontal and superfrontal need to be cut to size.  Guess it is time to put the books away for now, and cut some silk fabric so I can move forward with this Ecclesiastical Sewing and church embroidery project.

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.





    • The red passing is nice. It comes from Tanya Berlin out of Canada. Thank you for the resource on the metallic kid. There is no time to place an order from the UK right now, but it is nice to know about the red metallic kid for future use.


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