Aunt Rheeta’s Communion Cloth

The linen is white, but the lighting was so poor that I had to edit the picture to show details.



Very few sewing projects have given me as much pleasure and satisfaction as this one. Made 2 years ago, in collaboration with my dear aunt, Rheeta Booth, for her church, this set of liturgical linens includes an altar cloth (cover) and communion veil which covers the elements before communion is served.





Aunt Rheeta was so excited about this project. The exquisite Swiss liturgical lace had been purchased several years before, from Farmhouse Fabrics.    At the time, I had no specific plan but felt certain this exceptional lace it would fill a very special need.




Several years ago, when Aunt Rheeta returned from Russia, where she had served as a missionary, she brought with her a lovely hand embroidered cloth. She donated it to her very small church for use as a communion cloth, but through the years, it had become worn.

During her visit two years ago, we were plundering in the sewing room when I happened upon the lace. The light in her eyes told me it had found its purpose.

We planned and researched church linens on-line and bought the book SewingChurch Linens by Elizabeth Morgan.  The white altar cloth or “fair cloth” was to be embroidered with five crosses, one on each corner and one at the center front.  These represented the five wounds of Christ.

The book by Elizabeth Morgan included a chapter with specific instructions on how to launder and care for the linens.  It was so interesting to learn all these details.

While laughing and catching up on family news and more than a little family history, we pulled threads and printed templates and embroidered and hemstitched….. and as was so often printed in society page articles in our tiny hometown newspaper before it folded, “a good time was had by all.”




The altar cloth and communion veil pieces were finished the evening before her early morning flight home, so the whole cloth pictures lack good lighting. And somehow, no picture at all was taken of the communion veil. Since then, Aunt Rheeta’s granddaughter Leslie Ann Booth came to the rescue and took the close up photos. Thanks Leslie Ann!

Fine Irish linen and liturgical lace insertion are the foundation for this set. Embellishments include what seemed like miles and miles of hemstitching done on my beloved Brother 4500D and machine embroidery stitched simultaneously on my Brother ULT2003D. The elegant, classic designs are from the Christian Symbols collection from ABC Embroidery.

The embroidery was done with 100% cotton Mettler 50/3 Silk Finish thread and the hemstitching with Madeira Cotona 80/2.  The extra weight of the silk Finish thread created embroidery that was beautifully raised and dimensional.




The altar cloth has a simple 1″ pinstitched hem.  The much smaller communion veil is trimmed with the liturgical lace which has a picot edge.

After each use, Aunt Rheeta carefully launders the linens, rolls and stores them on a cotton covered tube then  starches and presses them before they are next called into service.

It has been years since she left the foreign mission field, but as she cooks and delivers meals to the sick, visits shut ins, cleans the church when her turn comes up, hosts prayer meetings in her home and serves the church as an elder, she has never left her life of Christian service.




It has been said that our life is a gift from God.  What we do with that life is our gift to God.  Aunt Rheeta gives Him great gifts.

P.S.  She also lives a very active life.  Just months before this picture was  taken at my daughter’s wedding, my sweet brother Jon, standing just behind Aunt Rheeta {at age 72!!!} had taken her and my 78 year old mother parasailing in the Caribbean!



6 responses to “Aunt Rheeta’s Communion Cloth

  1. Pingback: Aunt Rheeta’s Bible Cover – Janice Ferguson Sews

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