Liturgical Brocades: St. Aidan and Cloister Brocade

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Liturgical Brocades: St. Aidan and Cloister Brocade

Liturgical Brocades: St. Aidan and Cloister Brocade: Fabrics for church and academic use…that does sound rather odd on first thought, doesn’t it? When thinking of fabrics for church use, depending on a particular faith, one or two images usually come to mind. The first may be of textured fabrics that are somewhat loosely woven and bulky. The second may be of heavy tapestries and brocades or richly embroidered fabrics that are stiff and very ornamental. Both types of fabrics are frequently used in a large number of churches.

Today let’s take a look at two fabrics that are slightly different from the usual thoughts that come to mind.

St. Aidan Brocade

St. Aidan Red Liturgical Brocade Fabric

This first fabric is St. Aidan. It is a piece-dyed brocade that is available in a variety of colors suited for both church and academic wear. The colors blue, green, ivory, red, violet, Roman purple, and white correspond to the various seasons of the church year. They also relate to academic degrees and college colors used in academic robes and gowns.

Doctoral Gowns and Hoods
Doctoral Gowns and Hoods

The gowns and hoods are made in colors as determined by the college degree and academic field being bestowed. Just as the church has a long history of traditions supporting various uses of colors, so does academic wear.

St. Aidan Green Detail

St. Aidan and Cloister are quite popular for academic use, especially in the United Kingdom.  The fabrics are not a “heavy” brocade, and so they drape well for use in doctoral hoods and academic gowns, as well as in church vestments such as a chasuble. St. Aidan features a  vine and floral design that swirls across the surface of the fabric in a diaper (or diagonal) pattern. While commercial companies often offer more costly velvets and other fabrics, these patterns are not as frequently seen in the academic year in the United States.

St. Aidan Blue Detail

St. Aidan has one additional advantage over many other religious fabrics. It is one of the few liturgical patterns available in this lighter shade of blue. This is a nice blue for use in Mariam vestments as either trim or an entire garment such as the chasuble or stole.

Cloister White Detail

Cloister Brocade

Cloister is another favorite fabric for use in vestment-making and academic gowns.  We have talked about Cloister  Brocade before with its thistle and rose motive. Cloister and St. Aidan, as piece-dyed brocades, are priced as an “introductory” brocade. That means they have a more affordable price point of under $45 per yard.  The design of both fabrics is subtle when compared to some of the other brocade fabrics.  These liturgical fabrics, as with all fabrics, are suitable for some things and are not as suitable for others.

I would recommend both fabrics for use in making pastoral stoles that do not have a great deal of heavy hand embroidery or goldwork embroidery.  Small or moderate amounts of either hand or machine embroidery would work fine. To determine if either hand or machine embroidery requires additional support or backing fabrics, conducting a test sample would be a good idea. The use of lightweight orphrey bands and trims or galloons would provide nice design details for stoles made from these fabrics.

Cloister Roman Purple stole

Exploring Fabrics and Design Options

Chasubles would work well in both fabrics, again keeping in mind the weight and amount of various trims, embroidery, and orphrey bands. An orphrey made from another color of the same fabric might provide design options, too.  Careful planning is the key to success when deciding the use of these fabrics.  It is always a good idea to make small test or trial pieces to be sure various fabric weights work well together.

Because Cloister and St. Aidan are both lighter-weight brocade fabrics, the use of lining fabric for chasubles and other vestment items would be a wise idea.  And did I mention chalice veils? Both fabrics would work well for chalice veils with linings. I hope this might provide inspiration for future vestment-making ideas, or even perhaps take on the challenge of making academic gowns.

Soli Deo Gloria

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St. Aidan Liturgical Fabric