Making Your Own Clergy Stole: Stole Making

Winter has set in full force in Northern Minnesota. Daily, I come in contact with people telling of the placed they are off to in the quest for warmer weather and no snow. Since winter travel is not on the agenda for the near future, it is a good time to throw an extra log on the fire, brew a cup of tea, and get to work on lots of Ecclesiastical Sewing projects.

Pastor or clergy stoles have been in the works for the past few weeks at Ecclesiastical Sewing as we begin creating our line of stoles. Each pastor or priest stole is hand-made one stole at a time. Ecclesiastical Sewing is not a large company. We are a small family business, and we are blessed to be working with some very talented people who help hand make each vestment.

Because we make our vestments one at a time, we can take the extra steps to do certain things by hand. Here is one example: most of our stoles have a small cross at the back neckline. Each cross is carefully hand stitched in place.

making clergy stoles
adding a small cross to the neckline on clergy stole

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1Roberts, Carrie. Adding a Small Cross to the Neckline on Clergy Stole. January 20th, 2017. Personal Collection, Ecclesiastical Sewing, Baxter, MN.


I am picky when it comes to sewing. I remember lessons my mother tried to teach me about quality workmanship when I was young. Those lessons have stuck. So, when I make vestments, I like to take the time to do things using a little extra effort so the finished garment, what ever it may be, looks like it is a custom, well-made item that will last for years. So it is with clergy stoles.

Like a well-made house, all stoles begin with a solid foundation that is based on the use of a canvas interfacing. When I made my first stole many years ago, I did not know what to use and found a lambs wool something or another to use as an interfacing. It provided a soft bulk, but no firmness. Over the years I transitioned to Pellon, fusible interfacings, and all matter of products. Nothing gave the stoles the correct balance of “weight” and body so the stole would hang correctly. Finally, I was introduced to cotton canvas, and it has been a love affair ever since. There are alternate materials, such as Dowlas, or Hair canvas, but those items are a bit more difficult to find, and often much more costly. Cotton canvas gives consistent results.

adding interfacing to pastor stole
Canvas interfacing pinned in place for tailor basting

 

When making a stole, I find it most helpful to lay out one long end of the stole, work that end, and then turn to the other end. In the above photo, the canvas interfacing is being pinned to the wrong side of the face fabric. It is then tailor tacked in place. (Yes, I do tailor tack the canvas in place by hand most of the time! This is one exception to my rule because I was photographing the rest of the stole making process.) It takes only a few minutes to tailor tack the canvas in place and often avoids hours of frustration later on.

sewing a pastor stole
Stitching the pastor stole

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2Roberts, Carrie. Stitching the Pastor Stole. January 20th, 2017. Personal Collection, Ecclesiastical Sewing, Baxter, Minnesota.


Once the interfacing is in place, the entire stole is flipped over, so the right side is placed face up. The lining is placed right sides together with the face fabric, pinned, and stitched along the long neckline seamline.

pressing while sewing priest stoles
Pressing sets the seams and prepares the fabric to be turned

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3Roberts, Carrie. Pressing Seams. January 20th, 2017. Personal Collection, Ecclesiastical Sewing, Baxter, Minnesota.


Pressing is something that makes all of the difference between an ordinary and extraordinary finished garment. It is important to take the time to press at each step along the way when making church vestments (or any garment for that matter). The first step in pressing is to press the seam exactly as it was sewn. This was a long seam, and to the entire seam is pressed with a lift and set motion (as opposed to ironing which is a back and forth without lifting motion). This prepares the lining so that it is ready to be folded over the canvas to the back side of the stole.

finishing the lining on a clergy stole
Lining in place for finishing the clergy stole

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4Roberts, Carrie. Preparing to Finish Stole. January 20th, 2017. Personal Collection, Ecclesiastical Sewing, Baxter, Minnesota.


The lining is in place on the back of the stole, and it is time to finish the opposite edge – by hand!  To learn more about making a pastor or clergy stole, we offer a 20 plus page instruction booklet with photos with our pastoral and priest stole pattern for those interested in making their own clergy stoles. The finished stoles can be seen on our website Ecclesiasticalsewing.com.

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.

References:

Ledbetter, N. & Lansing, L. (1981) Tailoring: Traditional and Contemporary Techniques. Virginia. Reston Publishing Company.

Reader’s Digest (1976) Complete Guide to Sewing. Reader’s Digest. New York, Montreal.

Weston, L. (1914) Vestments and How to Make Them. London. A.R. Mowbray & Co.

Mackrille, L. (1939) Church Embroidery and Church Vestments. Maryland. Cathedral Studios

Hall, M. (1901) English Church Needlework A Handbook for Workers and Designers. London. Grant Richards.

Hands, H. (1920) Church Needlework. London. The Faith Press, LTD.

Schaeffer, C. (2013) Couture Sewing. Connecticut. Taunton Press.

Spool Cotton Company (1934) Sewing Secrets. New York. Spool Cotton Company.

 

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