Getting Vestments

Fr Fox commented on the deep gold color of the pope’s vestments for a dedication of a parish church.

I have a friend who, sadly, lacks a web page, but who acts as sort of an independent merchant in vestments and similar items. He contacts me a few times a year when he’s near Kansas City and I keep my antennae up for clergy who might appreciate his work. He will confess that he can supply cloth for a local person to sew a chasuble or something, but I think he prefers to shop vestments his associates make. One of his colleagues developed a very satisfying way to transfer digital images to cloth. It was amazing. I couldn’t use it, but I was amazed.

If a priest wishes to explore beyond the standard fare in the catalogues and the leftovers from the previous pastor, my first recommendation is to find someone who can sew and tailor vestments. Such a consultant might assist the priest in the purchase of fabrics from secular sources. Vestment cloth does come from the same animal, vegetable, or non-living sources as regular clothing.

Next step would be to peruse the many styles of liturgical vesture. My wife testifies her mother could develop sewing patterns from looking at a garment. If you have such a person at hand in your parish, great. But vestment patterns are available if you know where to find them.

As an artist, I find the notion of commissioning an artist to design and execute vestments to be a happy one. I actively discourage my friends and foes from purchasing statuary from catalogues. why should liturgical clothing be any different?

And many of the high-end liturgical goods companies might be willing to custom-design and manufacture something of your choice. If you think you’re bound to the usual ecclesiastical shades of white, red, green, and violet … you’re not. But don’t try a gold vestment during Advent unless you’re dedicating a church.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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16 Responses to Getting Vestments

  1. Mary ;Solaas says:

    You said that vestment patterns are available if you know where to find them. I am tasked with making white alb-like vestments for our First Communion classes and need to look at some patterns that are available. Can you help me?

  2. Todd says:

    Hi Mary.

    There are online vestment patterns available, such as here: http://www.churchlinens.com/liturgical_vestments.htm Also books such as these: http://www.amazon.com/Vestments-Seasons-Barbara-Bennett-Baumgarten/dp/0819218669.

    I’m in regular touch with a salesperson from a Canadian outlet which promotes their already-made vestments. But they do have patterns available, though that information isn’t always let out.

    My wife is the master seamstress in the family, so I wouldn’t be hugely qualified to send you to a particular place to say, “this is great” or “this is doable.” I would shop around. look at different books, contact the diocesan liturgy office for a parish that might make its own vestments or a priest who has someone do them for him–if you’re looking for the clergy stuff. For FC kids, I’m sure any basic alb pattern will do.

  3. Thelma Lohmeyer says:

    Hello,
    I will retire in two years and I want to make eastern rite priests vestments (Byzatine). I haven’t sewn since my mother died. But now I want to give back to God what he has given to me.
    Can you tell me where I should look for patterns for eastern rite priests vestments?

    In the Grace of Carmel (Third Order),
    Thelma

  4. Todd says:

    Hello, Thelma.

    I may have less experience with eastern rite patterns than with sewing itself. I can, after all, repair buttons and small stuff.

    I might suggest contacting Bernard at the blog “A Little Light from the East” on my blogroll. He will steer you straight if he knows the route.

  5. Rosalie says:

    i am looking for an alb pattern worn by a priest in the Catholic church. it must have a deep pleat down the front and back with wide sleeves. thank you for your help.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Rosalie, I would very much like the alb pattern if someone is kind enough to forward one to you.
    I have had requests for some by priests in our diocese (South Africa) and cannot find a source.
    Please help.
    I am also looking for new ideas for applique designs for stoles.
    Thanks for your input

  7. Jonah says:

    Do you know where I can find a pattern for the Pallium?

  8. Liam says:

    Jonah

    Probably not, since pallia for the Roman rite are made in one place – with wool from lambs raised by the nuns at the basilica of S Agnese Fuori di Mura outside the walls of the city of Rome and blessed by the Pope each St Agnes day – which are then bestowed by the Pope on the next feastday of SS Peter & Paul on metropolitan archbishops elevated and installed since the prior such feastday.

    The Pope’s own pallium, now differently designed, is made from the wool of lambs and sheep.

  9. Jacki Blackburn says:

    I need a pattern for a stole, I have the books but would feel happier if I could find a pattern.

    Please can anyone help?

    Thank you. J.

  10. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Jacki, suggest you contact Simplicity who use to have a pattern for the stole and chasuble. Haven’t seen it in the catalogues lately but they may be able to help. Failing that you can unpick an old one from church and cut a pattern from that.
    Still looking for the alb pattern and applique or machine ambroidry designs for stoles.
    Thanks

  11. Madaline says:

    I am looking for an alb pattern for big and tall men. I have a deacon and priest that I would love to get a pattern for. 6’3 250lbs. I have looked at alot of sites, I also heard that there is also precut albs, then you just sew up the seams

  12. Linda Fox says:

    Our church is still in the growing stages. We do not have the resources to purchase alter server robes. Therefore, we are looking for patterns for our sewing savvy parishioners to make. Is there one out there?

    • Todd says:

      Hello Linda.

      Some vestment vendors have them and will provide if asked. It’s been 15 years since one of my parishes had people willing to do that–I don’t know if the people are still around who spearheaded the effort, but if you come up empty with distributors, e-mail me and I’ll see what I can find.

  13. Valeri says:

    My son is studing to become a priest, we have a very limited income but I do have a sewing talent so would like to make his vestments. Our church purchased his Cassock and Surplus but next year he will need an Alb so I’m looking for patterns for one. I’ll check out the sites you listed but if you have any other suggestions that would be great. I will also be making the vestments he will need in the future.

    Thanks so much for the information.

  14. Valeri says:

    Thanks! :-)

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