Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sewing for a Higher Power, Part One

This summer, the rector at my church asked me to sew some vestments before all the drama of losing my job. After I agreed, he even went fabric shopping when he was in San Francisco! So I've had the fabric since July. He gently inquired about them recently and suggested that it would be nice to have the vestments made while the colors were still in season. Yeah, well, I've been working on vestments this past week. I delivered the chausable Wednesday afternoon and hope to have the stoles completed by the same time next week.

I drafted the patterns for this project with the help of a book called "Vestments for All Seasons" by Barbara Dee Baumgarten. This is a great book to have if you're interested learning about or making vestments. I didn't make any of the specific projects from the book. However, the illustrations were very helpful for developing the projects, and the diagrams were simple to draft patterns from. I used Do-Sew overlaid on a gridded mat to make the patterns

The vestments I'm making are fairly plain, although the stoles may be embellished later. Ornate High Church vestments don't exactly work with Northern New Mexico architecture.

The clergy wanted lightweight, natural fiber garments because of our hot climate. They wear several layers up there at the altar and it can feel warm. With the advice of the Satin Moon sisters, the rector bought several yards of silk dupioni on his trip. Two lovely shades, one a greenish gold with red warp threads and the other a dark green.

I washed and dried samples, and the results were great...except that that greenish gold? Its color shifted to red gold as you can see below. It's still beautiful but not exactly the correct liturgical color for the season.

Fortunately, the change was ok but this is something to keep in mind when pre-washing fabrics. Changes can happen. So why wash the dupioni at all? First, we decided that it would be best to launder the silk to avoid issues with water spotting, etc. when the vestments were worn. Second, it takes care of shrinkage. When tested, each fabric shrank lengthwise about 4-6%. The finished items probably wouldn't shrink when dry cleaned, but why take a chance? Lastly, the dupioni becomes more beautiful when washed--the shine gains more depth and the hand is more drapey.

Anyway, I finished the chausable and delivered it to church on Wednesday. I snapped a quick hanger picture just before leaving the house:

It's lightweight, with no lining in accordance with clergy's wishes. There's a facing to stabilize the neck opening. All seams are French seams. Originally, I had planned to bind the edges, but ended up turning up a hem instead--lots of hemming in a large cape-like garment like this.

Thursday and Friday, I worked on another church project (not sewing). I'll start in on the stoles at the beginning of the week. Three will be typical priest stoles, and the fourth will be a deacon's stole. Hopefully, these will be easier since there won't be so much fabric to wrestle with. I'll write more about those later as I get into production.

Sunday Update: One of the priests wore the chausable during today's services. Sure enough, the deacon spilled wine on the front of it, so prewashing was a really good idea! The wine should come out (they dabbed water on it immediately after the service), and because I prewashed, there will not be any water marks. The priest said it was a perfect weight for our warm weather, too.


Gorgeous Things said...

That chasuble looks beautiful! I made a couple of chasubles and a cope for my parish. They were really fun to make, especially the Passion Sunday cope and chasuble. I ended up using a bias binding for one chasuble. It was actually easier to deal with than a narrow hem.

meredithp said...

That looks great! That really is a great fabric choice.

I hate sewing for other people though. And the guilt from the clergy :-)

materfamilias said...

Oh, that silk looks gorgeous! Even in a photo, that sheen manages to shimmer subtly.