Whitework Embroidery for Church Linens

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Whitework Embroidery for Church Linens

Whitework embroidery for Church Linens – there is something about the simplicity, and seeing one color used for an embroidery design on altar linens. There is an elegance that is difficult to describe; a simple form of beauty that is not dependent upon a painter’s palette of colors. The finished Ecclesiastical Embroideries worked all in white and looked so simple – deceptively simple. Yet, are they really that simple when one takes a closer look?

Fair Linen with hand embroidered design done in whitework
Fair Linen with hand embroidered design done in whitework

Features of Fair Linen

This antique Fair Linen, while stained, and scorched, with holes from a too-hot iron on one end, features a lovely hand-embroidered IHC motif in the center of the Altar Linen, surrounded by four smaller cross designs for the corners. Worked completely in white threads, the Ecclesiastical Embroidery is still lovely amid the linen stains of age.  The central hand embroidery design is relatively small, considering the Fair Linen is wide and long.  And although it might not be a large embroidery design, it is well executed, with lovely, even stitches.

Whitework embroidery for Church Linens is a type of embroidery that I have been wishing to explore in more depth for quite some time. I never dreamed of being able to travel to take a course, but sometimes wishes can come true. The time is almost here. I am off at the end of next week to take a series of classes that focus specifically on mastering the stitches used for whitework embroidery on altar linens. I will be sure to have my camera with me, and if possible try to post my embroidery course progress, (depending on internet connections).

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. Sign 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.

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Trial Run at Marking for Whitework

Whitework Altar Linens

Fair Linens: Part 2 Hems

Whitework Ecclesiastical Embroidery Pattern


  1. Hello Carrie, About 2 years ago I attended the embroidery sessions at the Williamsburg School of Needlework. It was so enjoyable. I am returning there this summer for hemstitching and tatting. I work on small altar linens a little bit every day and when I have a modest collection finished, I donate them to the church. I have photographed some of the linens and posted them to https://www.pinterest.com/bayoubobbin/faits-accomplis/ .
    Enjoy your classes!

    Melissa Matthews

    • Hi Melissa,
      I am heading to Williamsburg to take their course in altar linens, including the hem stitching. I have heard such good things about the school and am looking forward to the classes. When are you taking the tatting class?
      I hope you enjoy your classes as well.