Project Canterbury

Embroidery for Church Guilds

By Sarah Cazneau Woodward

New York: James Pott & Co., 1896.

Part III. The Theory and Practice of Church Needlework.


The material for church hangings, whatever it may be, should always be obtained from some one of the church furnishing establishments, to ensure correctness of color. There are so many green shades that border on the emerald, so many purples that border on the wine, so many reds that have a yellowish tinge that it is always safer to purchase where one is sure of getting the right thing. The advertisements of these firms may be found in the Church papers. They all carry a large stock of fabrics suitable for hangings, velvets, damasks, tapestries, velours, broadcloth, Windsor cloth, Italian cloth and diagonals being the chief. Of these the velvets and damasks are too costly to be often used, tapestries and velours are intended for curtains and altar dossals, Windsor cloth is but another name for felt and fades quickly, Italian cloth is but another name for [40/41] farmer's satin and has not sufficient body to fall smoothly, and the diagonal is objectionable on account of the prominence of its weave. Broadcloth is by far the most satisfactory material unless damask can be afforded. It comes in all the ecclesiastical colors, is seventy-two inches wide and costs five dollars a yard. The price of damask is the same, but it is only thirty inches wide. A frontal, superfrontal, pulpit and lectern hanging can be cut out of two yards and a half of broadcloth unless the pieces have to be made larger than usual.

All the hangings should be lined with the same color as the outside, and silk, sateen and silk serge are used for the purpose. The silk is generally considered too expensive unless velvet or damask is the material to be lined, as it costs two dollars per yard, and is but twenty-four inches wide. The silk serge is a yard wide and costs a dollar and a half. The sateen is highly finished and is fifty cents a yard, thirty-two inches wide. This is what is generally used.

If the material selected be broadcloth, mohair bullion fringe should be used to finish it. It comes in all the colors, also "spaced" or mixed, a space of one color alternating with another, as [41/42] gold with green, with white, with red, white with purple or with black. Sometimes the spaced fringe has to be made to order, but generally it is in stock, and costs the same as the plain, one dollar and a quarter per yard. The width is also the same, three and a half inches.

Galloons are wide strips of mixed colors, woven like insertions, with edges, which can be applied in flat bands to save labor of embroidery, or to enrich fabrics which are already embroidered. They are generally put on in vertical stripes on each side of the hanging, and sometimes small pieces of embroidery are enclosed by them, as if in a picture frame. They, too, come in all the colors, relieved by gold. They are three and four inches wide and cost respectively three and five dollars per yard.

The silks used for embroidering large bold designs which depend for their effectiveness on the breadth of their treatment are the rope and embroidery silk. Small fine flowers are worked in filo floss, and faces and hands of figure subjects in split filo floss. When an effect of pure gold is wanted the Japanese gold thread has the merit of not tarnishing. It can be bought in several sizes, and in both dead and bright gold.

[43] The use of jewels on altar hangings is increasing. Their function is to define the spot of high light, and scattering them about, or arranging them in geometrical designs on the fabric is in bad taste, and detracts very much from the beauty of the work. A. very restricted use of them is safer. They are prepared for use either by being pierced, so that they can be sewed on, or set in an openwork setting, which can be fastened at various places to the fabric.

Spangles, beads and imitation jewels are all used to add to the rich effect of church embroidery. The two former are perfectly admissible, but the use of the latter is to be deprecated. The church furnishing stores do not even keep them in stock, and if wanted they must be obtained from dealers in theatrical supplies.


The measurements of the altar, lectern and pulpit should be taken with the utmost care, and after being made and verified, paper patterns should be cut and marked plainly. All the hangings should be made from one set of patterns. If measurements are made by different people, they will be sure to vary, and one set of hangings [43/44] will be a trifle too large and will sag, and another will be a trifle too small and will look scanty.

The cloths for the altar are either two or three: the frontal, which covers the entire front of the altar; the superfrontal, which covers the top and hangs a little way over the frontal, and, if a retable is used, the retable cover, which hangs in front to the top of the altar.

The frontal should be, when made, as long as the altar is long. It has no side pieces and is merely a facing for the front. It should be cut a little shorter than the altar height, so that when the fringe is added, it will just touch the floor. The superfrontal should be the length of the top of the altar, but nine or twelve inches wider. It covers the altar smoothly and the nine-inch fall in front is the part to be embroidered. This is also finished with fringe. The retable cover is made in the same way, to cover the top of the retable and fall to the top of the superfrontal. This front part is also the part to be embroidered, but it is not finished with a fringe. The pulpit and lectern hangings are in the form of scarfs, a fall of about eighteen or twenty inches being visible in front and bearing the embroidery.

A small brass rod, similar to those in use for [44/45] window sash curtains, is placed along the top of the front of the altar. Each frontal has a number of small brass rings sewed at the top, and the rod, which should be in sockets, can be slipped out and the frontals quickly changed. The fall of the superfrontal conceals this rod from sight. The superfrontal is spread over the top, and its own weight is sufficient to keep it in place. The retable cover, being so narrow, might slip, but as there are always vases and a cross upon it, these hold it in place.

It sometimes happens that a set of hangings seems a necessity at once, and there is no time for embroidering the various pieces. Sometimes, too, there seems to be no one who has the courage to venture on embroidering a large design. But the church furnishing stores, to which reference has already been made, keep on hand a large stock of patterns which they will either embroider to order, cut out in silk or velvet for applying, or furnish in a sort of honeycomb cardboard called cartonue. These are very accurately cut, and can be used as exact patterns, but they are often used just as they are for ornament in the place of embroidery. They are placed on the material and fastened down by close [45/46] button-hole stitch all around. The effect at a little distance is good, the card-board being of excellent quality, of a pale straw color and very precisely cut and measured; but it is, after all, a makeshift, and will never give satisfaction. These cartonnes cost from twenty-five cents to two or three dollars, according to size and elaborateness of design. Some are as large as twenty by twenty inches, and these are meant for the decoration of the altar frontal. They come in smaller sizes for banners, pulpit and lectern hangings, and in a very small size for bookmarks.

These card-boards are excellent as patterns by which to cut out silk or velvet for applique work, but equally exact patterns may be made by any one with a set of instruments and any knowledge of mechanical drawing.

Applied designs of silk or velvet are very effective, very beautiful and perfectly legitimate. When a large surface is to be covered with a solid color, it would be a waste of time to embroider it, as the pattern can be cut out of silk or velvet, and fastened on the material by the smallest of stitches, which can be concealed by a fine gold or silver cord laid over them.

Nearly all embroidered designs are also applied [46/47] on the cloth. They are worked on heavy linen, and, after being completely finished, the back of the work is covered with paste or with gum tragacanth, and a piece of tough paper is pressed against it. This is allowed to dry in the frame, and it will be found to give a body to the embroidery that nothing else will give, and secures all loose ends of silk. Then the work is cut out, leaving the merest edge (one-sixteenth of an inch) of linen all around, and through this linen the stitches which fasten the embroidery to the cloth are taken. Then a silk cord, the color of the cloth, is sewed around the design, and both conceals the linen and gives a finish to the work.

This embroidery of designs should be done in a frame, and those frames which are sold at church stores have four cross pieces with holes and pegs to regulate the size, and permanent webbing fastened to them. They are not unlike the old-fashioned quilting frames in miniature, and the linen is sewed in in the same manner, the pegs being tightened to hold the material perfectly true.

The design to be used being enlarged to the proper size, it should be traced on tracing paper. Then a sheet of carbon paper is laid on the linen, [47/48] and over this the pattern is laid. With a rather blunt point of hard wood, every line of the design should be followed. When the paper and pattern are removed, the design will be found on the linen. If any parts of the design are to be done in applique, these can be cut out and applied first, and the embroidery done afterward.

It hardly seems necessary to explain the embroidery stitches, in the present reign of art needlework. In ecclesiastical embroidery the field is circumscribed, as the work should be strongly conventionalized. The couching stitch, the filling in, outline or Kensington stitch, and the old-fashioned satin stitch or laid work, are familiar to all, and are sufficient to produce most beautiful results.


White, as emblematic of purity, is used on all feasts of our Lord but those of His Passion, on festivals of the Virgin and on feasts of saints who were not martyred. The Church calendars show exactly when this or any other color is to be used. Generally the white hangings, because used on the chief festivals of the year, are the most elaborate of all, but their glistening surface [48/49] and their symbolism makes them beautiful, even when slightly ornamented.

For the centre of the frontal nothing is more suitable than the I H S with the crown above it, as the emblem of victory. To carry out this idea the word Alleluia, thrice repeated, will be effective on the superfrontal, with the Tudor rose before the first, after the last, and separating each word from the next. If there is a retable cover, three Tudor roses will be sufficient decoration.

A round piece of pale blue brocaded silk, twenty inches in diameter, should be cut out for the medallion. The letters and crown should be drawn on white linen, and after being worked in satin stitch, should be reinforced at the back by having tough paper pasted on. When this is quite dry the letters may be cut out with a slight edge of linen. This linen is turned in all around under the letter, and each letter is fastened into place with minute stitches. The letters and crown should be worked in gold color silk. The stitches holding the letters on the medallion are concealed by one thread of Japanese gold laid on and couched down with red silk.

[50] After this work is completed, the medallion is fastened to its place in the centre of the frontal, the stitches being concealed by a large cord of pale blue silk, or by several threads of Japanese gold couched down. The Alleluias and roses on the superfrontal are worked on linen in gold-colored silk, and transferred in the same way.

This is quite sufficient decoration for even Easter hangings, but sometimes there is a desire to have them more elaborate, and side panels or "stoles," as they are called, when used on an altar frontal, are very beautiful, and add materially to the rich effect of the work. Stoles of Easter lilies are most appropriate, and their erect manner of growth makes it possible to both embroider and design them from nature. They should be traced on linen, and embroidered in white, gray, a very pale water-green and a pale citron yellow, with the leaves in two shades of olive, and the stamens and pistils in yellows. The embroidery should be reinforced at the back and transferred in the same way, with a fine white cord to finish all edges. The Japanese gold thread is often used, even for Easter lilies, and is probably preferred by those who use it, but the white cord seems to make the transition [50/51] in color less abrupt. If the stoles of Easter lilies are used, lilies should be chosen, instead of roses, for the superfrontal and retable cover.

If still more work is to be expended on the altar frontal, the Agnus Dei can be chosen for the centre piece, instead of the sacred monogram. In either case, the medallion should be of pale blue silk, velvet, or brocade. The circular band should be of wine-colored velvet, on which the letters, when embroidered, are fastened.

The fleece of the lamb may be worked in white zephyr, with a shade or two of gray. The banner should be of a soft blue, though deeper than the background. The staff of the cross, and the cross itself, should be in gold thread, the feet in two shades of brown silk, and the ground a dull olive. The background may be starred with small clusters of spangles. A heavy cord of gold bullion would be a handsome finish for the background.

It is best to work the lamb on linen, with the foreground, and after applying this on the velvet, to work the cross and the other details directly on the velvet, as it would be almost impossible to transfer neatly anything so small and delicate.

This is a very elaborate design, and will need [51/52] much time and more patience, but it presents very few technical difficulties and will richly repay the work spent upon it. It is one of the standard designs of the Church, and the usual cost of it, embroidered and ready to apply, is fifty dollars. The zephyr is sometimes used for the fleece of the lamb, and sometimes a heavy rope silk, but the fluffiness of the wool makes it stand out in greater relief against the background. The colors used for embroidering on the white should be the most delicate shades obtainable. Pure white is very beautiful. More ethereal-looking hangings cannot be imagined than white cloth embroidered in white silk, and finished with a white fringe. If the light in the chancel is good the embroidery will be perfectly visible, as the texture of cloth and silk is so unlike that the difference amounts practically to a difference in color. If the embroidery is in gold color the fringe may be either gold, white and gold, or pure white, but as the idea of fringe is that it is a ravelling out of the fabric itself, it seems a little more consistent to have the fringe entirely of the color of the cloth.

The monogram of Alpha and Omega is suitable for the lectern hanging, and the crown [52/53] for the pulpit hanging. If the Agnus Dei is to be used for the frontal, then the sacred monogram, with the crown, can be used for the pulpit. The cross ought not to be used on the white hangings. Easter and Christmas follow Lent and Advent, when the cross is continually in evidence.

Sometimes, if it is desirable to have the letters a good deal in relief, they are cut out in cardboard, and fastened to the linen. One line of string then crosses each letter vertically and they are then embroidered with laid work. This string raises the embroidery silk in the middle, and gives a raised effect, the cardboard gives a stiffer, truer edge, and makes the work very definite.


Red is used on the Feast of Pentecost and the name days of martyrs, as symbolical of the descent of the Holy Ghost in the form of fiery tongues and of the shedding of the blood of the faithful followers of the Redeemer.

Nothing more appropriate can be imagined for the frontal than the Chi Rho cross, surrounded by palm branches. It is said that wherever this [53/54] is seen in the catacombs at Rome it denotes the resting place of a martyr. Certainly nothing is more touching than the symbolism of each of these emblems. To carry out this idea of suffering triumphantly borne the superfrontal might well bear these words from the Te Deum: "The noble army of martyrs praise Thee." The retable cover needs only three small crosses, or pomegranates, if they are used on the frontal.

The background for the Chi Rho cross should be of gold-colored silk, with the letters embroidered in black, and the palm branches in gold. There is not the possibility of wide choice of colors suitable for embroidery on red. There is something gaudy about blue on red, and while red on green is exceedingly effective, green on red is always a disappointment. Black and gold color are always the safest to use. They modify and yet intensify one another. The words on the superfrontal can be cut out of black-corded silk, if the work of embroidery seem too great, and the finishing cord can be of gold, or of gold-colored silk, with the finishing cord of black. White can be used wherever black is suggested, but there is a certain shallowness of effect when [54/55] white is used on red, which must be seen to be appreciated.

The vesica bearing the Chi Rho, with the palm branches, is quite decoration enough for a frontal, but if more is wanted, and in many churches the red hangings rank next the white ones for elaborateness of work, a powdering of pomegranates can be used, either four large ones, two at each side, or many smaller ones, arranged according to taste in some geometrical pattern. Remembering that the symbolic meaning of the pomegranate is the extension of Christ's kingdom, it brings to our mind that "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." The pomegranates may be worked in black and gold, or in olive, dull blue and orange, according to taste. They are so conventional an ornament that it is really quite immaterial how they are worked, provided the colors are all soft and good. The centre should be lined off in gold thread, with the seeds in gold silk, but the rest is purely a matter of personal fancy.

The cross and crown are suitable for the pulpit and the anchor for the lectern hanging. If a text is wished for the pulpit hanging, "He that overcometh shall inherit all things" (Rev. xxi. 7) [55/56] carries out the thought of the season to its fitting and triumphant conclusion.


Green, the color of nature's life, is used for every day on which a festival does not fall except in Advent or Lent, and those which, coming within the octave of a festival, must follow its rule and assume its color. It is used in the Epiphany and Trinity seasons, and after Trinity Sunday its use is only broken by the colors used for saints' days, either white or red, until the first Sunday in Advent. In the year 1895 it was used on twenty-three Sundays, as all the holy days except Michaelmas fell on week days.

The thought of the Trinity season is that most mysterious and majestic one--the Triune God. The meaning of the designs selected for the hangings used at this season should be most carefully considered. The Trinity triangle is, above all other designs, the most suitable one for the most prominent place--the altar frontal.

Sometimes these lines are curved and the Latin words omitted, but the meaning of the design is then entirely obscured. The superfrontal never looks better than with lettering, and there is a [56/57] particular significance in using the words Holy, Holy, Holy, but it would be more in keeping with the triangle on the frontal to use the Latin form of these words, Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, with the fleur-de-lis in alternation, and to use fleur-de-lis for the retable cover.

A simpler decoration for the altar hangings is very easily chosen, as there are more designs suitable for the Trinity season than for any other. The interlaced circles and interlaced triangles are always in good taste for pulpit and lectern, and to carry out the idea of using Latin words, designs for pulpit and lectern hangings are given which can be used if something less hackneyed is wanted.

While the Trinity triangle, when made, is a most brilliant and effective design, it is one by no means difficult. It must be drawn accurately, so that which ever side is uppermost, it will be perfectly true in form. To have this design absolutely exact, the length of the base line should be determined and drawn. Then with one end of the line as a centre, with a radius the length of the line, an arc should be described, and from the other end of the line as a centre, with the same radius, another arc. The point of intersection of [57/58] these curves is the apex of the triangle, and from this point lines should be drawn to each end of the base line. The points where these lines meet are the centres for the three small circles. The larger central circle should not touch the sides of the triangle, but the short inner strips should just meet the sides of the triangle. If the triangle is drawn correctly, there will be no difficulty about the proportions of the rest.

These pieces should be cut out of heavy white corded silk. The letters should be worked on the linen, in a frame, over cardboard, reinforced at the back, cut out, applied on the silk, which should in turn be applied on the cloth, and the stitches concealed by the finishing cord. The embroidery silk should be a rich red, and the finishing cord around the edge of the triangle should also be red, and this scheme of color should be adhered to throughout, the word Sanctus being in white, fleur-de-lis in red, the three interlaced circles on the lectern hanging white and red, the interlaced triangles, one white, the other red. The triangles and circles may also be cut out of silk, if it be desirable to economize labor. If the Latin text be chosen for the pulpit hanging [58/59] its brilliancy will be enhanced if it is worked in red, relieved by white.


Violet is the penitential color, and is therefore used in Advent and Lent, on the Rogation Days, Ember Days and all vigils.

The cross with the crown of thorns is the most suitable emblem for use on the altar frontal. For the superfrontal a running vine of passion flowers is very appropriate, or, if that be considered too much work, a plain Maltese cross, alternating with the nail-heads, will be sufficient and will carry out the symbolism. A plain cross on both pulpit and lectern hanging (the Greek cross on one, St. Andrew's cross on the other) is better fitted to the spirit of the season than anything more elaborate.

White, relieved either by gold, by black or by olive green, is the best color for the main part of the embroidery. The crown of thorns and the nail-heads are best worked in browns, with the crosses in gold or white, and the finishing cord in black or in green.


Black is used only on Good Friday, and it is advisable to have these hangings perfectly plain. [59/60] If lettering is wished for the superfrontal it might be "He was bruised for our iniquities." A set of altar hangings of perfectly plain black cloth, with fringe of solid black, bearing along the super-frontal this text, would have a dignity about it from which any line of ornament would certainly detract. The letters should be worked in silver thread, as white is too glaring on black, and gold, in the usage of the Church, is not permissible on Good Friday. There is a growing fancy for working a text, instead of any symbol on the pulpit fall. The verse must be short, as well as suitable. "Take heed how ye hear," "Good understanding giveth favor," "The sower soweth the word," are merely instances of suitable texts. But on the black pulpit fall, any suggestion of a subject for meditation would be manifestly out of place.

The foregoing suggestions are by no means meant to be hard and fast rules. They are offered merely to show the underlying thought in every symbol, design and text. The possibilities of variations are many. Designs may be combined, as the cross with the crown of thorns, grouped, like the vesica, the Chi Rho and the pomegranate, or they can be divided, using a design in a [60/61] medallion, by itself. Designers for church embroidery in the future, if they wish to achieve original work, must delineate Scriptural scenes, or must return to the beautiful illumination in colors of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The emblems the Church uses have no charm of novelty, but they have the better and more enduring merit of antiquity. Many of them have stood for the same truths for fifteen hundred years, and are not only too beautiful in themselves, but too rich in religious association to be neglected, even for the exquisite modern designs of ecclesiastical artists.


The pieces of Communion linen which are generally used are the fair linen cloth, the corporal, chalice veil, pall and purificator. The burse is the portfolio which holds all these pieces.

The fair linen cloth is, when made, the width of the altar, but it is a yard longer, so that it hangs down eighteen inches at each end. It should be double hemstitched all around, and a Maltese cross should be embroidered in each corner. The ends may have a knotted linen fringe, which is sold for this purpose at a dollar and a quarter per yard, or they may be left plain. [61/62] The corporal which is placed under the paten and chalice measures twenty-one by twenty-one inches, and is double hemstitched. It may have a cross embroidered in each corner.

The chalice veil is sometimes nine and sometimes twelve inches square. It is made of the finest linen cambric, hemstitched, and should be marked with a cross or monogram in the centre. Sometimes it is edged with very narrow lace.

The pall is, when made, six inches square, and is stretched and fastened over a square of cardboard. It is used to place over the chalice before the chalice veil is spread over it. It is made of linen, embroidered in the centre with the cross, sacred monogram or crown of thorns, and another piece of linen, perfectly plain, is stretched and fastened over a similar square of cardboard, and the two pieces are overhanded together by the smallest of stitches.

The purificators are twelve inches square, hemmed or hemstitched, and marked just above the hem in the middle of one side with a cross. They are used for purifying the sacred vessels, after use.

All embroidery on linen is usually done with [62/63] the finest white cotton floss, as silk will yellow in the washing, but the chalice veil is generally embroidered in silk, as the linen cambric is so fine, and is used with so much care.

The burse is made of two pieces of linen stretched over cardboard and backed, as was the pall. These are fastened together at the bottom, and a gore or pleat of linen set in at each side, to give play and to hold the sides apart. The burse should be made large enough to hold all the pieces of linen.


The dossal is a curtain hung behind, or at the two sides of an altar. Sometimes it is a permanent fixture, and sometimes it is changed with the changing color of the altar hangings. Sometimes it is embroidered with a powdering of roses, lilies or pomegranates, and sometimes enriched with horizontal bands of embroidery or galloons. But beautiful materials, durable and rich and in all the church colors, can be bought, and these are sufficiently handsome left perfectly plain. Their beauty lies in their soft, full folds, and in the background they afford. In one of the churches in Boston the white dossal hangings [63/64] are of perfectly plain, heavy cloth. When pots of lilies, chrysanthemums or other white flowers are massed against them at festival seasons, the effect of the blending of high lights and textures is exquisitely beautiful and poetic.


Banners are much and increasingly used at Sunday-school and guild festivals and on all processional occasions, and great interest is taken in making them as beautiful and symbolical as possible. Many guilds and Sunday-school classes are named in honor of some saint, and in such cases the saint's emblem, as well as his name, are worked on the banner. A banner may be bought with the desired name of the guild stamped upon it in golden letters. For any ordinary purpose this answers sufficiently well, and the expense is very much less, but if the design wanted were at all out of the common run, it would be necessary to give a special order, and the stamping is, of course, very inferior to properly executed embroidery. "Banner silks" of an especially stout quality are made and sold especially for the purpose in many colors, as one is not restricted to the five ecclesiastical colors in [64/65] banner display, and they come in many widths, from twenty-four to seventy-two inches. Fringes, poles, tassels, and all the ornamental adjuncts are also kept in stock. The back must be covered with plain silk, to cover the reverse side of the embroidery, and sometimes this side is also embroidered.


The stole is a long strip of silk, satin, damask, or other rich material, which is placed over the shoulders and falls nearly to the hem of surplice or alb. It is generally three yards long, exclusive of the fringe. Stoles are of three kinds: the Eucharistic, the baptismal, and the preaching stole. The baptismal stole is always white, whatever the day or season of the year. The Eucharistic stole, like the preaching stole, is of the same color as the other hangings. Its significance is the easy yoke of Christ's service.

There are two standard shapes for the stole. The first requires a yard and a half of silk. As it must be joined in the back, to fit smoothly around the neck, the silk is cut lengthwise, making two strips. A quarter of an inch is allowed on each side for turning in, and the dimensions when made are:

[66] 2 3/4 inches wide at centre.

3 inches wide at the end of 10 inches.

3 1/4 inches wide at the end of 34 inches.

3 1/2 inches wide at the end of 44 inches.

Then increasing in width gradually for the next ten inches, until it reaches a width of six inches at the extreme end. This makes a very graceful stole, but it is not so well shaped for purposes of ornamentation as when the slope is more evenly distributed over the entire length. Moreover, it is a waste of material, as, with care, two stoles can be cut from the same length of silk, a yard and a half. To do this the silk is divided lengthwise, but each piece will make a stole, if the silk is twenty-four inches wide. The piece of silk, which measures twelve inches by fifty-four, is folded on a slant in such a way that the widest part is eight inches at each end, and then cut, carefully following an exact slope. This gives two strips, each with one straight edge and one sloped one, the wide end measuring eight inches, the narrow one four inches. The straight edge is now sloped slightly, taking off three-quarters of an inch at the top, and widening to an inch and a half at the bottom. This leaves the strips three and a quarter inches at the top in width, [66/67] and six and one-half inches at the bottom. When a quarter inch is turned in for making, it leaves the dimensions the same as the other:

2 3/4 inches at centre.

6 inches at the ends.

But the slope is more evenly distributed over the entire length, and there are two stoles instead of one. This, of course, can only be managed with a plain fabric. With a brocade the pattern must not be reversed.

This shape is especially desirable if a very long design like one of lilies, or of letters on a scroll, be chosen for embroidery.

The Eucharistic stole, worn with the alb and chasuble, is always the more elaborately ornamented of the two. Sometimes stoles are made up perfectly plain, but they ought at least to have a cross at each end, and one over the seam at the neck. It is said that this is a requirement of the Church, but a great many stoles are in use with some symbolic design worked on the ends, and the cross only at the neck.

Sometimes on a festival stole the embroidery covers as much as twenty-four inches of each end, and is a mass of fine needlework, spangles and jewels. A beautiful modern instance, [68/68] embroidered on white brocade, has a cherub with folded wings at each end, the pinions a mass of mysterious faint tints and the face exquisitely wrought in life-like hues.

Sometimes the embroidery is done on linen, as it is for the hangings, and then cut out and transferred to the stole in the same way. But often the embroidery is done directly on the silk, and this calls for special directions.

The linen is mounted on the frame in the same manner as if it were itself to be embroidered, and on it are pasted the two ends and the middle of the stole, where the embroidery is to come. When this is perfectly dry, the pattern is traced upon them. This is done to prevent any twisting of the design, which sometimes happens if the marking is done before mounting the work.

If the stole is a white one the design can be taken off by the use of tracing paper, but if it be red, violet, green or black, it will be necessary to proceed in a different way. The pattern must be pricked with a needle over every line. Then it must be laid carefully in place, and a little cornstarch must be rubbed with the fingers through every hole. If this is deftly done, and the pattern not moved, on taking up the pattern the [68/69] design will appear in a series of white dots, faint, yet sufficiently distinct. This must be gone over at once, for it would rub if it were not fixed, with Chinese white and a little water. When it is quite dry it will be ready to embroider.

After the embroidery is completed the whole stole has an interlining of white linen, and is lined with a lining of surah silk of the same color. Between the lining and outside the fringe is placed. Twelve inches of fringe is what is called a "stole length," and is sold at a fixed price, generally seventy-five cents for a solid colored silk fringe with a heading. As the stole at each end is six inches, nothing whatever is allowed for turning in, and the heading must be overhanded strongly, or it will ravel out at the ends. Putting in the fringe neatly is really the most troublesome, as it is the last thing to do in making a stole.


There should be at least two bookmarks of each color--one for the Prayer Book, the other for the Bible, or one for each of the books in use. It is convenient to have each one made double, to indicate the places for the first and second lessons in the Bible, and for the Psalter and Collect for [69/70] the day in the Prayer Book. They are made of ribbon and unlined, but a bit of the same ribbon is overhanded by the selvages to the reverse of each bookmark, to conceal embroidery stitches. The fringe is set in between the two, or else is the ribbon ravelled. Sometimes the bit of ribbon put on at the back is embroidered with the same design, so there is no reverse. Ivory registers are sold by the church furnishing stores, to hold the ribbons at the centres.


Besides the usual wardrobe and drawers necessary for the storing of altar linen, surplices, cassocks and stoles, it is necessary, or at least highly desirable, to have a special place in which to keep altar hangings. There are few churches, except those of very recent erection, in which there is much space for shelving. Most vestry rooms are so cramped that it is a matter of careful study how to store the barest necessities. Moreover, if altar hangings are folded, as the larger pieces must be, to be laid smoothly in drawers or on shelves, their own weight makes a heavy crease through the middle, and if they are not needed for several months, as from Lent to Advent, or [70/71] from Epiphany season to Trinity-tide, it is almost impossible to efface this mark.

Chests are very often used, and can be made handsome enough to be effective pieces of furniture in church porches or vestibules, where the exigencies of space may demand they shall be placed. A good size is six feet six inches in length, three feet six inches in height, and two feet six inches in depth, but their length and depth must be regulated by the size of the altar frontal, which is the largest piece. This chest has wooden rollers in it, secured in sockets, and over these the altar cloths are hung. There should be at least five rollers, one for each set of colored hangings. The smaller pieces can be hung over the frontal. The chest should have a cover and a lock. Thus secured, the pieces are free from dust, and from unauthorized handling as well, and if the chest is made of or lined with cedar, immunity from moths is also secured. The writer is familiar with a church where the embroidered hangings have been in use for twenty-five years, and they are fresh and brilliant to-day, owing to the intelligent care with which they have been handled.

Project Canterbury