Project Canterbury

Embroidery for Church Guilds

By Sarah Cazneau Woodward

New York: James Pott & Co., 1896.



Fig. 1. The Latin cross. Fig. 2. The Tau cross. Fig. 3. The Greek cross. Fig. 4. St. Andrew's cross. Fig. 5. The Maltese cross. Fig. 6. The Jerusalem cross.


Fig. 1. The Episcopal cross. Fig. 2. The Papal cross. Fig. 3. Another form of the Greek cross. Fig. 4. The cross potent. Fig. 5. The cross crosslet. Fig. 6. The cross of Dorat.


Fig. 1. Interlaced fishes, emblematic of baptism in the name of the Trinity. Fig. 2. The trefoil cross. Fig. 3. The fleur-de-lis cross. Fig. 4. Interlaced circles. Fig. 5. Interlaced triangles. All emblematic of the Trinity.


Fig. 1. The pomegranate. Fig. 2. The fleur-de-lis.


Fig. 1. Another fleur-de-lis. Fig. 2. A trefoil design.


Fig. 1. The Dextera Dei. Fig. 2. The dove.


Fig. 1. The crown of thorns. Fig. 2. The nail-heads.


Figs. 1 and 2. Variations of the trefoil and fleur-de-lis crosses.


The Agnus Dei, as represented in the catacombs.


The Agnus Dei, as in modern usage. Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.


Fig. 1. Red superfrontal. Fig. 2. Black superfrontal. Fig. 3. Green superfrontal (three times). Fig. 4. White superfrontal (three times).


Fig. 1. Grapes and wheat ears (for either white, green or red superfrontal). Fig. 2. Passion vine for purple superfrontal. Fig. 3. "Tunc dixi ecce venio." "Then said I, Lo, I come" (for any color).


The Trinity triangle, for a green altar frontal. Reading from the centre to the angles.

Deus est Pater, God is the Father.
Deus est Filius, God is the Son.
Deus est Sanctus Spiritus, God is the Holy Ghost.

Reading from each angle to the next.

Pater non est Sanctus Spiritus, the Father is not the Holy Ghost.
Pater non est Filius, the Father is not the Son.
Filius non est Sanctus Spiritus, the Son is not the Holy Ghost.


The I. H. S. crowned.


A white altar frontal.


A red altar frontal.


Lectern and pulpit hangings in green.

Fig. 1. Ego sum via, veritas et vita, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Fig. 2. Trinitas, unitas, Trinity, unity.


Fig. 1. Pulpit hanging in red. Fig. 2. Pulpit hanging in white, the Alpha and Omega.


Fig. 1. The anchor, emblematic of hope. Fig. 2. The shell, emblematic of baptism. Fig. 3. The star, emblematic of the Nativity. Fig. 4. The crown, emblematic of victory. Fig. 5. The rose, emblematic of religious ecstasy. Fig. 6. The lily, emblematic of religious purity.


Stole No. 1 is an extremely simple design, and is an excellent one for a beginner. The cross is indicated by five roses, with their leaves. The simple five-petalled rose is used, but if something a little more elaborate is wanted, the Tudor rose may be substituted.

The roses are worked as realistically as possible in three shades of rose pink, the leaves in two or [75/76] three shades of olive, the stems in brown or green filo floss. The centres are done in "seed stitch," in yellow silk. The horizontal lines below and above the design are each composed of two lines of Japanese gold, couched with gold-colored silk, and the lines connecting each rose with the centre may also be of gold.

This design is intended for a white stole. The only other color on which it would be admissible would be green, and on green the leaves would not be visible. Over the seam at the back of the neck a small Maltese cross worked in gold-color silk must be embroidered. There must always be a cross in that place. The fringe should be white.

Stole No. 2 is a more elaborate white stole. As the meaning of the lily is religious purity, its delineation is suitable for any of the feasts of our Lord. This lily, commonly called the Easter lily, is really the Annunciation lily, as St. Gabriel is represented as bearing it when he comes with his message to the Virgin. It is also sometimes called St. Joseph's lily, in reference to the legend that his staff budded with lilies.

The flowers are worked in filo floss, in blue white, cream white, water green, gray, and a pale [76/77] yellow. The stem and leaves are worked in three shades of olive green. The stamens and pistil should be in a vivid yellow. Much of the beauty of this design depends upon the shading and upon the disposition of the high lights, but any one who has had any practice in painting flowers from nature can assist the embroiderer in her work, even if she is not able to use the needle.

No. 3 is a simple stole for Lent or Advent. No elaborate design is given for these seasons, as the decoration should be kept in a subdued key. The cross is worked in gold-colored embroidery silk, in laid work, and as it is a most difficult matter to keep every line of silk in place without being a little loose, every two threads of silk are couched down with a deeper yellow sewing silk. Every alternating two threads are couched half way between the stitches on the first two threads, which will form a sort of diamond pattern. The couching adds very much to the beauty of the work, and makes it more firm and definite in outline.

The passion flowers are worked in "long and short stitch," in purple, the rays in a lighter shade of purple, and the styles and stigmas in [77/78] light green and the tendrils as well. Gold-colored fringe is, in this case, richer than a purple one for finishing the ends. The cross at the neck should be worked in the same manner and be of the same shape.

Design No. 4 carries out the idea of the altar frontal with the palm branch and pomegranate. The spread of Christ's kingdom, through the preaching and by the example and the victory won by the death of those "of whom the world was not worthy," is the underlying thought in this design.

In working it, the scheme of color of the altar hangings may be adhered to, or the palm branches may be worked in two shades of olive green. The oblique lines in the pomegranate are barred off by gold thread, with the seeds in gold-colored silk, and the pomegranates may be worked in greens, dull blues and orange or pale red--any red that will show distinctly on the red silk.

Sometimes, from motives of economy, the red stole is lined with green, which is also embroidered, thus making one stole do duty for two seasons of the year. This is not allowable in Church usage. Each color and use should be kept distinct.

[79] Stole No. 5 has for its motive the fleur-de-lis forming the extremity of the arms of the cross. It is a simple design for a green stole. It is very effective worked in a vivid red, the color diminishing, through a pale tint of red, to white at the extremity of the fleur-de-lis. The circles and lines enclosed within them are of Japanese gold, couched down with red. There is not much work upon it, but the effect is very brilliant.

Stole No. 6 is a more elaborate design for the Trinity season. The conventional trefoil ornament can all be "braided" on, so to say, with the Japanese gold, and the horizontal lines as well. The Gloria must be embroidered either in solid red or in red and white. Considering the elaborate effect of this stole, there is surprisingly little work on it. It is given to accompany the set of Trinity hangings, inscribed with Latin words.


Pugin's Glossary of Ecclesiastical Ornament.

Christian Symbolism in Great Britain and Ireland before the Thirteenth Century. J. Romilly Allen.

The Symbolism of Churches and Church Ornaments. By Durandus.

[80] Holland's Cruciana.

The Arts in the Middle Ages. By Lacroix.

Vestiarum Christianum. By Marriott.

Didron's Christian Iconography.

Bosio's Roma Sotteranea.

Kraus' Roma Sotteranea.

Sacred and Legendary Art. By Mrs. Jamieson.

Smith's Dictionary of Christian Antiquities.

The Book of Common Prayer, with legal and historical notes. By John Stephens.

Wheatley on the Book of Common Prayer.

Brockhaus' Conversation-Lexikon.

Encyclopedia Britannica.

Articles in Churchman.

Articles in Art Amateur.

Church Embroidery. Dolby.

Church Vestments. Dolby.

Church Needlework. Lambert.

Lanciani's Pagan and Christian Rome.

Reber's History of Mediaeval Art.

Project Canterbury