About Carrie R and Ecclesiastical Sewing

Sewing has been a part of my life since I was about 8 years old. When my mom made my school dresses, she cut out Barbie doll clothes from the scraps, gave me a needle and thread, and let me go to town.  I was on my own to figure things out, and used those doll dresses for many years of play.  During Summer Holidays a few years later, Mom signed me up for a sewing class and hand embroidery class.  I made a backpack and did hand embroidery on it, and made a smocked top.  During the rest of that summer, I hardly left the side of her sewing machine, making many of my own clothes for school that fall.

Over the years, I took every sewing class available at school, and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Costume Design. I have continued that education, taking courses in hand embroidery from the Williamsburg School of Needlework, Hand and Lock of the UK, and The Royal School of Needlework. My passion is creating embroidery designs, couture sewing and tailoring, hand embroidery, and vestment making.

The first Ecclesiastical Sewing I did came during the college years when I made an Easter Stole and white Chasuble for my pastor.  Years passed before the opportunity to make Church Vestments resurfaced. It happened unexpectedly with the move to a new community, and joining a new church.  New vestments were needed, so I picked up the torch again, never dreaming where it would lead. There have been struggles with learning the craft of vestment making, trying to find information that once must have been common knowledge but now seems lost, or perhaps buried in the archives of Monasteries and vaults of vestment houses whose doors have long been shuttered. Now that knowledge gleaned from years of study, research and learning this lost art form is being put to a new purpose, with the goal of sharing that knowledge with others. Ecclesiastical Sewing has become a dream fulfilled, where we may serve those who also wish to have high quality vestments, fabrics, and patterns for use in making their own church vestments, or purchasing their own vestments made from these lovely liturgical brocade, damask, silk and tapestry fabrics.

Hand embroidery by Ecclesiastical Sewing
Agnus Dei hand embroidery design by Ecclesiastical Sewing

 

Ecclesiastical Sewing was established in 2014, and our online store opened in September 2016.  We are a small family business in Northern Minnesota. We offer high quality religious fabrics suitable for making church vestments. Our liturgical church vestment fabrics,which are woven in the United Kingdom, feature a variety of historical and traditional patterns, some of which have been created by Sir Ninian Comper, and other well know liturgical designers. While traditions are to be embraced, there is always the need to create new liturgical fabric designs. In 2017, we are pleased to announce our that our first Liturgical Brocade fabric, Luther Rose, will be available for purchase in early February to mark the Celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.

As thoughts came together for our online store, I thought of the struggles I encountered when I began making Church Vestments years ago. The struggles included a lack of patterns and instructions, as well as a lack of embroidery designs and suitable fabrics. Keeping these thoughts in mind, and to be of service to others as they create items of beauty for their houses of worship is the reason why we exist.

We hope you enjoy reading through our blog where we share projects, history and techniques relating to vestment making, liturgical fabrics, church linens, religious embroidery designs, and so much more. Please be sure to visit our online store: Ecclesiastical Sewing.  Where we offer liturgical religious fabrics, Church Linen fabric, silk dupioni fabric, brocade and damask fabric, patterns for making vestments, ready-made church vestments, altar linens, religious machine embroidery designs, galloons, trims, notions, and slate frames for hand embroidery.

Soli Deo Gloria

 

 

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17 Comments »

  1. Greetings Mrs. Carrie,

    My Mother and I are interested in buying the right embroidery machine for liturgical vestments, but don’t know which to buy since we have never embroidered. Could you be so kind to suggest one for us?

    God bless

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  2. Dear Carrie,
    I am looking to have 10 vestments made for a Church and several priests who are celebrating milestones (one who is 40 years ordained, one 50 years, one 60 years, and one who is to be Ordained in May.) I would like to know if you are aware of any Our Lady of Mount Carmel embroidery patterns or someone who can do this kind of work? 6 months doesn’t seem like a lot of time for this type of large order either but this is the first site where I found work of the fitting quality that I desire. Can you please help?

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    • Dear Fr. Behrend,
      Thank you so much for your kind words. I am humbled that our work would be considered in the same vine as the Sisters of Mount Carmel. I have admired their work for many years, and if we might be able to achieve even a portion of what they do with vestments, we would count it as a blessing. Your projects sounds like the best of celebrations, marking so many anniversaries as well and the beginning of a new ministry. I would be most honored to talk with you further about your project, and to that end, have sent you a private email so that I might learn more about your needs. I look forward to visiting with you.
      Blessings,
      Carrie

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    • Dear Fr. Behrend,
      The email that was sent may have ended up in a junk mail folders, so you can also reach me by sending an email through the website contact form which is found here. I look forwad to hearing from you.

      Blessings,
      Carrie

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  3. Hi Carrie,
    Regarding the vintage embroidery patterns: there is a comment at the bottom of the image of the Fusil Cross with double border center primrose and leaf shape which says “see permissions and restrictions”. Does one need to gain permission to use this pattern before embroidering it for use in one’s church?

    Thank you,
    Julia Leo

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    • Dear Julia,
      Thank you for your inquiry. The design is available for individual use for your own church. That is just fine and I hope it turns out lovely for you.

      Would you be so kind as to let us all know when it is finished? We would love to see photos!

      Blessings on your work!

      Carrie

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  4. Carrie,
    I love your blog site. I am looking for instructional material to repair a piece of Battenberg Lace. Do you know if anything exists such as this and if it doesn’t do you know of anyone who repairs? I have some
    books,(old reprints) but am having a hard time with it and have scoured the internet. I only found
    1 video for 65$ (I have not purchased) that I am not even sure would be what I am looking for. Do you know of anyone or anywhere I can go to either get more instructional material or send the lace to repair it?
    God Bless,
    Joanne

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    • Dear Joanne,
      Thank you for your kind words.
      With regards to repairing something as special as Battenberg Lace, have you checked into resources such as textile conservation sources? One such place is The Textile Conservation Workshop. While I am not specifically familiar with the organization or their work, they might be a good resource to contact and to see if they can direct you to additional resources. It looks like they also do repairs, so it might be possible to get a quote.
      Another place to contact might be the Royal School of Needlework in the UK. They do repairs and conservation on a variety of textiles. They might be able to direct you to other resources as well.
      A final thought would be to contact any museum near where you live if they are large enough to have a textile collection. Many universities have museums and someone on staff familiar with textile conservation. I went to the University of Minnesota, St. Paul Campus. We had a small museum – The Goldstein Gallery with a wonderful textile collection. The museum director at the time was very familiar with textile repair and conservation. It has been years since I have been on campus, and I am no longer familiar with the museum director, but it might be worth a call to see where they might be able to direct you.

      I hope some of this may be of help. Please keep us posted on you your repairs come along.

      Blessings,
      Carrie

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  5. Hello,
    I’ve been dropping by your sewing room for a couple of years now. The new look is exciting, and I look forward to your selection of fabrics. I hope you will continue to post photos of work in progress and tutorial style entries. The small church I attend has some lovely old stoles that are no longer in use. Do you have any suggestions about incorporating them into other hangings? Perhaps a parament of some type? It seems a shame to leave those matched sets of embroidery hanging in the back of the sacristy.
    Sincerely,
    Elizabeth

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    • Hi Elizabeth,
      I am so glad to hear some feed back on the new blog update. And rest assured, the plan is to continue posting photos of works in progress. I have a rather large project that is in the beginning stages, but not yet ready for any postings. Once I am a little further ahead on the project, I will be sure to share some information. I am also working on a post with a few ideas on how you might incorporate the stoles into new projects. It is taking a little while to find the photos in my old books.

      I hope you have a wonderful Easter Celebration.

      Blessings,
      Carrie

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  6. Carrie, I have a booklet, “Vestments and how to make Them”, by Lilla Weston. I bought the booklet a few years back and the pages62-63 were missing. It is the chapter on copes. My 1st question to you is, do you have those pages and can you share? The 2nd question is, how do you line a cope?I have taken your advice in your other blog areas and perused my own smallish collection about lining copes, and there is no mention of the steps to take. I am at my wits end. I have an ophrey banding ready to sew down. The method that I am planning to use is lay the band down, wrong side up, place the long edge of the cope along the edge (right side up), pin or tack in place, then sew across. finally turn the band over towards the front of the cope and stitch down, During that time I’ll place the morse and the stitch the hood to the back of the vestment. I really hope you can help me with the lining problem. I’ll be waiting your reply with real eagerness. Thanks for your blog too, it is totally loaded with information. Yours in Christ, Tanya, Happy Advent.

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    • Hi Tanya,
      How frustrating that is to have pages missing in a book, but it does happen. I will email you separately with the pages on copes from Lilla Weston’s book.

      When lining the cope, it is laid out flat, wrong side up. Depending on the fabric, a chalk line can mark the CB. If there is any danger of the cope fabric staining from chalk or other markings, then I would baste a line of thread along the CB, and then measure 15″ or so on either side of CB and mark again. Repeat this until each edge is reached. Place similar markings along the wrong side of the lining fabric as was done on the cope fabric. Then, with the lining folded along the CB, place wrong sides of lining to cope fabric, matching center backs. Use long basting tacks and tack along the entire length of the CB seam. Then fold lining along the next line, matching both fabrics, and repeat the process, working toward the end. When one side is finished, go back and repeat the process on the other side. When complete, the lining should be tacked to the cope fabric in about 7 places running from the orphrey edge to the curved hemline. The bottom edges of the cope and the lining should be hemmed separately (as a skirt is hemmed), and not together. Once the orphrey band is attached as you describe, and the final hems are finished for the lining and the cope fabric, the basting stitches may be removed. The lining should be hemmed at least 1 inch or more shorter than the cope hem. I would also make long thread tacks and tack the lining to the cope at the hemline at the CB and at what is the halfway point between back and front in the area that would normally be a aide seam.

      One other thing to consider is that the lining fabric should have a firm weave, and not anything prone to sagging. Because of the curved edge, the fabrics will hang out over time, and we do not want the lining to end up longer than the cope fabric.

      An alternate method is that if the fabric seams of the lining and the cope fabric match, the basting can be done on the seam allowances and left in place. This sometimes will not work because of variances in fabric widths. Beryl Dean’s books are also useful when it comes to making copes.

      This may seem like a great deal of work, and it is, but making a cope will require some careful preparation in the lining to have it turn out well. I hope this helps answer a few questions. Please be sure to share a link of your finished project! It would be delightful to see how it turns out.
      Blessings,
      Carrie

      Layout for basting lines for cope fabrics and lining fabric

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I just tripped on your blog and somewhere on it you were wondering about blue markings on a pounce pattern. I seem to recall reading someplace about a set of carved wooden blocks for embroidery patterns that were stamped with bluing; any possibility that you are seeing dried bluing? I am considering experimenting with bluing paint with a very fine brush for marking linen whitework (purificators) patterns. The blue washout pen line is fatter than I would like…

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    • Hi Esther,
      Although I have never seen wooden blocks used for transferring embroidery designs, it might be possible that they were used, as were wood cuts for printing. The actual vintage patterns in my collection that are from a monastery do have the pounce marks on the pattern, resulting in heavy staining of the paper. Examples of vintage church embroidery patterns show the design lines among the pounce marks. My patterns have the same type of staining as do the embroidery patterns in the collections of two other monasteries that I have visited.

      I agree that the blue washout marker is not the ideal product for marking altar linens for hand embroidery or fabric. I often find the markers sometimes do not wash out completely, and leave “ghost” markings of a faint yellow or tan color that come back and stain the fabric. Another method of marking altar linens is to trace the design on tissue paper or tracing paper, and to use a tiny back stitch to outline the design, and then tear the paper away. Then the stitching methods of choice are worked over the back stitching lines. Several well know books on the topic of whitework, including the volume from the RSN use this as one of their recommended methods of marking linens when doing whitework. I too have used this method, and find it safest so as not to risk damage to the linens, but it is also time consuming to do the back stitching, especially if the design is complex.

      Let us know if you try the bluing with a fine brush, and how that works.
      Best regards,
      Carrie

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  8. Hi Carrie:

    Are you available for project work? I have a type of lace rochet that I would like made but it’s just to expensive if I have it made in Europe.

    My cell number is (484) 951-5337. I can receive texts.

    Peace and blessings,

    Michael

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  9. Hello! I just stumbled on your blog and am entranced with your beautiful work
    I am trying to find a school or program or instructor in the U.S. to teach me in church embroidery but I know not where to look. Have you any suggestions? Thank you kindly!

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    • Thank you for your kind comments. The post for has a few listings of courses available for church embroidery. The list is not exclusive by any means. There are many great resources available for learning this lovely craft. You might also consider contacting the Embroiderer’s Guild of America. They offer various embroidery classes, but not specifically relating to church embroidery. The Royal School of Needlework offers course in San Fransisco . One other great place to look for online instruction from a great blog is Needle’nThread. I hope some of these resources might be of help to you. Best regards.

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