Monk Habit Pattern: Help with Design Details

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Monk Habit Pattern: Help with Design Details

Monk Habit Pattern: Help with Design Details: Ecclesiastical sewing can sometimes be akin to a lost art form.  This is true even when it comes to making monk habits for monastic life. The making of monastic habits is shrouded in a bit of mystery. The story I was told is that the garments used to be made by the in-house tailor at the monastery. The tailor knew how to make the habits, and had the patterns. As the tailors aged and became unable to craft the habits, the community lost their skills and knowledge. Another tale suggests that at times, people traced and copied patterns, inadvertently distorting the design lines, consequently impacting the fit and function of the garments.

Several posts written quite some time ago discussed the drafting process of a monk habit pattern. Since the pattern appears to be an item of interest for many people, it is going to move up the priority list. There are two other patterns currently in the works, and the monk habit pattern will fall in line right behind those patterns.  But to offer a usable pattern, I need some help from you, my readers. I need to have some specifics on what type of pattern is needed.

Making a Benedictine-Style Monk

The pattern is currently in the drafting stages in a Benedictine style. It is a simple monk habit that has a high, close-fitting collar, a front placket opening, long 2-piece sleeves, welt pockets on the chest, and at the waist, and side openings to access pant pockets.  That is the basics of the pattern.  And here is where you can help. If you are aware of specific design details, such as:

  •  Does the back pattern piece have a seam or is placed on a fold
  •  What is a functional width for the lower edge of the sleeve
  •  What is a good width for the hemline – a nice fullness that is not cumbersome
  • What is a good length for the front placket opening
  • Is a placket opening better than an opening that goes to the bottom hem (A photo of this would help)
  • Is a placket opening in the front preferred or is it better to have the front opening extend all the way to the hem
  • How many buttons are ideal for the placket opening, and what size works best
  • Where should the sleeve cap sit – at the top of the shoulder or should the sleeve cap be a slight drop shoulder

These may seem like simple and obvious questions, but details, however simple, make a difference in the final outcome. And the goal is to develop a usable and correct pattern for all of you. So thank you for any help you may all have to offer.  Once the pattern is in a “beta” or trial stage, I may need a few volunteers to help test the pattern out.  Please keep checking back for updates.

Solo Dei Gloria

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  1. My husband was a Benedictine monk in simple vows for several years. He would be willing to help consult with you on the habit he wore during his time in the moastery. We could communicate here or via e-mail, just let me know.

    • Everyone has been so kind with offers to help with the monk habit pattern!

      Thank your for the offer for consulting on the habit. I will be out of town for a few days, and hope to contact everyone when I get back.

      Blessings, Carrie

      • Hi Carrie,
        I came across you post and I think I can be of great help and you in turn you maybe able to provide great help for me. I am a Benedcitine monk of the American-Cassinese congregation and I have been looking for a habit pattern for sometime. See my mother is a decent enough seamstress but she is very bad at / unwilling to make a pattern for me from my habit. I could send you detailed pictures of our habits if you would like. Or I might even be able to send you an old/worn out one for you to dissect. But I was wondering if I did that if there is a chance you might be willing to share a copy of the pattern you come up with with me so that I can have my mother make me a new everyday habit to wear?
        I will check back on here periodically and if your interested in the photos or whatnot let me know and we can come up with a safe/secure way to exchange emails or the like.
        God bless,
        Br. Demetrius OSB