Designs for Church Embroidery: an Original Copy
There is something special about a rare vintage Church Vestment book. Maybe it is that sense of wonder and awe that an Ecclesiastical Embroidery Book is still around and in usable condition after 125 or more year. Maybe it is the sense of wonder at an inscription in the frontispiece: who was the previous owner and what did they use this book for. And what happened to the book in the many years since that time. Was the book forgotten and left in an attic for years? Or worse yet, was it left somewhere to become damp and musty? A book may be rare, but a musty smelly rare book is never any fun. And then there are the true treasures. Books that show wear appropriate for their age, but also show that they have been cared for over their lifetime.
One must not forget the authors of these rare church vestment books. We are familiar with the names of many who wrote about vestment making from the past two centuries, but know little or nothing about their lives. Who were they, and what inspired them to write about the art of making church vestments? The names of some of my favorite authors on the subject of church vestments, vestment making and embroidery are: Anastasia Dolby, Miss Lambert, Ella Church, Hinda Hands, Maud Hall, Lucy Vaughan Hayden Mackrille, Beryl Dean, Lilla Weston, and A. R. and Alethea Wiel. This list, while not complete, represents authors whose works are well know, and what I might consider to be the “classic manuals” on the topics of vestment making and Ecclesiastical Embroidery. This list focuses on authors who wrote in English, but they had contemporaries who wrote in other languages such as French, Dutch, and German.
But what is it about a vintage book that makes it special?
Each vintage book is unique and special. In the case of Designs for Church Embroidery by A. R. the distinctive features of the vintage book begin with opening the front cover. To my surprise, there is a colour card of filo silk floss samples. The author notes the following in her introduction to the book:
“The colour card at the beginning of the book has been inserted by the kind permission of Messrs. Liberty & Co., of Regent Street, London; and A. R. cannot say enough in praise of their colours and the Filo Floss silks sold by them. Many of the colours, she says, are perfect; and this verdict is made after comparing them with many original pictures of the old masters in Italy and elsewhere – the shades of red, green, blue, and browns being spoken of with special praise.”
Imagine how useful it would be to have embroidery floss samples available whenever starting a new project is ready to begin. The silk samples show from 4 to 8 colours in a group. The gradations among the colour families is subtle, but very nice. After 120 or more years, the silk floss still looks wonderful!
Another advantage to having an original copy of a book is the image quality. Sometimes to original work is slightly larger in size which means the illustrations might also be larger. Such is the case with this book. The original design lines are clean and easy to read.
And if one is extremely fortunate, the designs can be larger as is visible in the photo about. Now, I am off to enjoy looking at all of the lovely designs in my vintage book.
Solo Dei Gloria
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