Many of you who follow this blog have no use for these! You may belong to a church that doesn’t vest, doesn’t have a robed choir or even a paid minister. Those of us who are still in the “high” churches, though, sometimes have need for these weird clothes. I have lost almost all my vestments in some move. (If anyone knows where they are, please tell me!) Although I am not in need of any right now, and I do have access to some old albs and stoles, I am a cassock and surplice kind of woman, which is about as Plain as vestments get.
Butterick has the cassock pattern that was made for me previously, a simple Roman style, with buttons down the front, stand up collar and deep cuffs. (Pattern 5509). It has to modified a bit for me – I’m short, and hourglass shaped, not straight and narrow or portly, like male priests. I require darts.
I found patterns for surplices, both round and square-necked, at Church Linens and Vestments (http://www.churchlinens.com.) They also have patterns for a Tridentine (Latin mass) fiddleback chasuble – a rarity these days, and why you would make a new one when so many old ones are begging for homes, I don’t know – as well as a gothic chasuble and a deacon’s dalmatic. Included in their inventory is a pattern for a cassock-alb, which is the traditional style of Anglican cassock, sometimes made in white for the altar services, and black for the choir offices. They have stole patterns. For those who aspire to sew for a bishop, they have instructions for making copes and mitres. (God bless me and the Church if I should ever have need for either!)
Everything Vestment (http://www.everything-vestment.com) has patterns suitable for Anglican, Roman and Lutheran churches. They offer a full vestment set pattern – chasuble,stole, maniple, burse and veil, which is also aailable in plus size (that is, the chasuble and stole). They have a book called How to Sew Vestments, and I would recommend this to altar guilds or sewing circles about to undertake a large sewing project for the priest.
Butterick has a costume pattern (5441) in their “Making History” line that has bishops’ mitres and ‘crowns’ – what were once called tyres, a tiara like headpiece for women. I would use this if I were making wedding crowns for an Orthodox wedding.
Convent Embroidery and Vestments (http://www.sewvestments.com) is just what you think – nuns who sew for the church. They have available an alb pattern, the nightie-type that ties at the neck, and a “Guide to Vestment Design and Construction.”
The Liberal Catholic Church (http://www.global.org/Pub/LCCI_Vestment_Patterns.asp) offers some free printable vestment patterns, for a surplice, alb, cottas, and amice. These are all the simple, old-fashioned types, and I will use their surplice pattern for myself. These are very basic patterns, which you will have to enlarge and size, so it isn’t for the geometrically challenged or inexperienced. Get someone else to loft the patterns, though, and they should all be simple to sew, although there are no directions.
Honestly, I think that’s enough. Prists and altar guilds get, metaphorically, wrapped up in the vestments too often. The idea was that we would all look about the same at the altar, with no show of wealth or position. So as to know who to watch when, the priest wore the stole, and then the chasuble. The deacon wears a different kind of stole, and a tunic called a dalmatic. The archdeacons and canons are distinguished by the cope, the bishop by cope and mitre, and sometimes a special kind of tunic. It’s my opinion that is all rationalization. If the bishop knows who is doing what in the church, do we need distinguishing dress? That defeats the purpose of the Plain cassock and alb. I have done all services in just cassock because I got called out of the vestry and forgot to go back for the rest. No one noticed! I’ve forgotten stoles many times, and when it was really hot in the church, I celebrated in street clothes. This scandalized other priests, but the congregation didn’t care. God makes you a priest, not your clothes.
For those who like such fancy dress, fine. I’m not one of them. Jesus Christ had no priestly garments.