Clerical Patterns

This is the second update of this post. Much has changed since I wrote this 5 years ago.

wordpress blog post vestments

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. (Butterick has changed this pattern number a couple of times. Currently, it is 6844, and it has been 6765). 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.

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.

I found patterns for surplices, both round and square-necked, at Church Linens and Vestments ( 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.

Clergy Stole Patterns on Etsy has PDFs to purchase, and the owner is an experienced liturgical seamstress. Stoles can be very satisfying to sew, even fun. They are a quick creative project. (

If you can draft your own patterns, there are a number of books available:

20 Simple and Elegant Vestment Patterns, by Cheryl and Russell Miner

Vestments and How to Make Them, by Lilla B.N. Weston (1915, Anglican)

How to Sew Vestments, by Lynn Greene and Sue Merriam

Vestments for All Seasons, by Barbara Dee Bennett Baumgarten

These are available from Amazon and others.

Everything Vestment is no longer online.

Convent Embroidery and Vestments is no longer online.

The Liberal Catholic Church website is no longer functional.

Priests 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 wears 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 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.

7 thoughts on “Clerical Patterns

    • It is all weird and wodnerful and even medieval. You can always visit one some Sunday! If you are baptized and take communion in your own church, you may take communion in an Anglican/Episcopal church. Roman Catholics have different rules, as do some Lutheran churches.

  1. I just stumbled across this blog and I am glad I did. I have just started making vestments and altar appointments, so this is very helpful information. Thanks for taking the time to get all the pattern information in one location.

    God bless!

    • I am a cassock and surplice type myself. Well, that might be obvious. Some priests love to wear vestments, but I always found them a nuisance. Perhaps it’s because I am petite, but I always felt like a kite in a chasuble.

  2. I have never been to a church which does not use Eucharistic Vestments. I’ve never seen Mass celebrated without a Chasuble,

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