Altar Fair Linen with Lace Edge Trim

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Altar Fair Linen with Lace Edge Trim

Church Linens: Altar Fair Linen with Edge Trim and wide hem
Altar Fair Linen with Edge Trim and wide hem

Fair Linen with Lace Edge Trim: While traveling over the past few weeks, I viewed many exquisite pieces of Ecclesiastical Sewing and Church Embroidery.  The list of items is almost without limit. When one stops and ponders the sheer number of pieces viewed amongst a very limited number of locations, it is almost overwhelming. In many cases, the number of Ecclesiastical Linens, Church Vestments, and Altar Hangings numbered in the tens and hundreds. And to think that the hands of so many people created these works of art for use in the Church.

Having the honor to view so many pieces was at times almost overwhelming. And among the limitless numbers, a few pieces of Ecclesiastical Sewing truly stand out above the rest. Such was the case with the Altar Fair Linen in the above photo. Although this Fair Linen has long since been retired from daily use in the church, it is still in excellent condition. The wide trim at the hem is a lovely and elegant pattern.  Note how perfectly the scallops are positioned along the width of the hem, and are identical at both edges.

Church Linen Scallop Edge of Lace trim on Altar Fair Linen
Scallop Edge of Lace trim on Altar Fair Linen

Sadly, I admit I am not familiar enough with this branch of Ecclesiastical Sewing to be able to identify pieces. I believe the above trim maybe crochet, but I hope you will correct me if I am mistaken.  This is now on my list to research and become more familiar with the category of Lace and trims for Ecclesiastical use.

Design Detail of Edging Trim for Altar Fair Linen
Design Detail of Edging Trim for Altar Fair Linen

Trim Design

The fill of this trim is worked with a zig-zag type of design, filled in with star-shaped motifs. The design has little triangular peaks at the upper edge where it is attached to the Altar Linen.  And one more interesting thing to note is the hem depth of the linen, which is as deep as the trim. If one were to measure, the hem depth would be close to 5 or 6″.  This may seem a little strange to modern eyes, but the older reference books often talk about long Fair Linens having hems as deep as 6 to 8″, especially if the Fair Linen reaches to within an inch or so from the floor on the side drop. The additional weight of a deep hem most likely aids the Fair Linen in hanging well, due to the added weight from the hem. After all, one would not want the ends of a long Fair Linen to be fluttering about with the slightest breeze. One would expect and want altar linen to stay in place.

This lovely altar linen also has equally lovely hand-embroidered crosses. But those must wait for another evening.

Solo Dei Gloria

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Lace: the Forgotten Ecclesiastical Craft?

Lace for Church Use Instruction Book

Fair Linens: Part 1 Measurements

Fair Linens: Part 2 Hems

Back ground on Fair Linens

Church Linen by Dom Roulin

Altar Linen Fabric Selection


  1. I am certainly no expert, but it has the look and feel of Torchon lace to me. Perhaps someone with more experience can comment with more authority, but that would be a place to start. Regardless, I am fairly certain it is one of the styles of bobbin lace. Note the twisting of the threads, which is characteristic of bobbin lace. Anyway, here is the wiki for Torchon lace.

    • Thank you for the information on Torchon Lace. That is a good starting point for helping identify the piece. It is a lovely work.