Red and Gold Liturgical Brocade Fabrics

Ecclesiastical Sewing recently had a very special project in the works. When an idea takes root and begins to turn into a project I have the joy and privilege of walking over to Ecclesiastical Sewing Studio 2 and pulling fabrics off the shelves to take a closer look. Sometimes the fabrics migrate back to Studio 1 where they will “live” with me for a while as the ideas simmer away.

For most of my clients and those who follow along on the blog, I realize that you do not have the opportunities of seeing the beautiful liturgical brocade fabrics beyond something like this:

The above photo is a great shot that shows the detail, scale, and layout of the St. Hubert Brocatelle pattern. These photos were labor intensive, taking several long days of blood, sweat, and tears, to capture the entire line of fabric line. While the above photo can show you many things, the nature of the liturgical fabric remains hidden, shrouded in mystery!

The beauty of having a liturgical fabric ‘live’ with me is that I get the time to learn about the fabric, to study its characteristics, to learns its traits, strengths, and even its weaknesses. Sounds kind of funny so you say? Well, yes! It does!  Every liturgical fabric has unique characteristics which are distinct and special. And with the aid of a few photos, I hope to share the characteristics this stunning Brocatelle.

St. Hubert Liturgical Church Vestment Fabric

When I select the lovely fabrics from the Ecclesiastical Sewing Collection, it is often fun to look back at the fabric description:

St. Hubert Liturgical Brocatelle

St. Hubert, designed by Sir Ninian Comper, was first produced as a liturgical fabric pattern circa 1890. This design has been recently reintroduced on a church fabric and is still lovely for use in making church vestments. As with most of Comper’s textiles, inspiration for St. Hubert is of Netherlandish origin. This work comes from a 15th-century painting from the exhumation of St. Hubert. The fabric, made from a blend of cotton, silk, and metallic fibers, shimmers with accents of gold. While St. Hubert has a predominant right side, the fabric is also suitable for use in the “reverse” side, which makes for interesting design options. An example would be using the “right” side of the main body and using the “wrong” side for orphrey trim or accents. Set your creativity loose and see what can be done with this unique liturgical fabric.*

St. Hubert is a liturgical design that has stood the test of time, having its origins back in the time of Sir Ninian Comper, a well know church architect and designer. Comper designed everything needed for a church from the vestments to the interiors, exteriors, and all of the furnishing. Knowing even this little bit of history makes one realize how truly beautiful such a fabric is. The design looks as fresh and relevant today for use in the church as the did when the pattern was first created.

Knowing that history, one might become a bit intimidated about cutting into such a fabric.  As I prepare to use this special liturgical fabric, the first thing I notice about the St. Hubert Brocatelle is:

  • There is a subtle texture to the weave of the flower and vine motifs. That is a plus to have a bit of a textured surface on the fabric.
  • The fabric falls into easy graceful folds without any stiffness. Hummmm………great for garments that hang in folds! (Think chasuble and cope).
  • Metallic threads (not just lurex threads). Great with light reflection which means orphreys or full garments.
  • Vertical vine motif  – easy to cut into orphrey bands. ( A little fabric can go a long way when it is cut into pieces).

St. Hubert Brcatelle Liturgical Fabric

It is now time to cut the fabric. And I will readily admit that there is always that instant of fear, hesitation, and doubt that creeps into the mind when cutting into a fabric as rich and expensive as St. Hubert. Yet, that is exactly the reason why I take the time to study, learn and know about the fabric before making that first cut. And, so with a boost of self-confidence, and reassurance,  along with careful and thoughtful planning, the first cut is made. For the current project, St. Hubert will be cut into orphrey bands. The vine motif is perfect for centering and cutting orphrey bands. This pattern is not as symmetrical as are some of the other liturgical brocades but that will be an advantage for this use.

The long narrow orphrey bands are cut and ready for use. The next step is to select trims.

St. Paul Braid for Church Vestments

St. Paul Braid is perfect for use with the St. Hubert brocatelle fabrics. It has an antique gold finish that looks nice with the more muted gold found in the fabric. St. Paul Braid is a narrow metallic braid that is available in a wide range of fabrics.

St. Paul Narrow Metallic Braid

There are several ways of applying trim to orphrey bands. My preferred method is to apply the trim to the orphrey first and then apply the orphrey to the finished article. The trim is positioned to the fabric with a slight amount of ease. Notice that the pins are placed very close together. This prevents the trim from moving out of position which would result in a “wavy” trim placement. Some might say “Why don’t you use a fusible web or glue the trim in place and then sew?” My answer is that these are for use in the church. The fabric is expensive. The trim, while not expensive, can still add up in cost. We prefer to use more couture levels of work by either careful pinning, or by hand basting pieces in place rather than using the modern fusible methods. Care must be used with some trims and fabrics as on occasion, they are heat sensitive. Low iron temperatures are a must with some fabrics or trims such as the St. Paul Braid. And if for no other reason, stitching can be carefully removed and repositioned. Fusibles are unforgiving and immovable. Once a mistake is made with a fusible, it is there forever.

The red St. Paul Braid has been pinned to the orphrey and is ready for stitching. The trim is eased slightly to the fabric to minimize the chances of puckering. Using a walking foot or even feed foot is very helpful when sewing.

This part of the project takes time and extra care to ensure that everything flat and smooth prior to placing it on the final vestment. One other item of interest with St. Hubert is the fact that the fabric is completely reversible. Either side can be used as a right side. The above photo shows both sides of the fabric. The orphrey is the true right side (with the red ground) while the fabric in folds is the wrong side (the gold ground) of the fabric. Fun – right?!

I hope you enjoyed this close-up look at a unique and beautiful Liturgical Brocade fabric – St. Hubert.

So which is your favorite side of St. Hubert – the “right side” or the “wrong side” and why?

Soli Deo Gloria

Please visit our website at www.ecclesiasticalsewing.com to see our complete line of liturgical fabrics, embroidery emblems, embroidery designs, church vestment patterns, altar linens and church vestments. You may also contact us through the online webpage to inquire about custom orders or vestments.

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