Church Linens

nap lavabo CR


I was honored to make these church linens for a mother to give her son upon his ministerial ordination this very Sunday.  This thoughtful mother has made up a gift package that includes these and other items her son will need as he pursues his calling.

Made of very fine linen, two communion napkins (or “veils”) to cover the elements were embroidered, hemstitched and edged with tatting. The napkin corners were rounded because mitering tatting is way above my skill level.

Pin stitch was worked around the perimeter with a #100 sharp needle.  I’ve learned that using a wing needle with tatting is a recipe for disaster.  But stitching slowly and carefully with the sharp, there were no tatting casualties.


slightly modified design is from ABC Christian Symbols collection

slightly modified design is from the spectacular  Christian Symbols collection of ABC Embroidery Designs


The baptismal lavabo is made from a blank linen guest towel with three rows of hemstitching.




I had a hard time coming up with a design that suited me.  What I wanted was a simple baptismal shell with three water drops symbolic of the trinity.  After an extensive and unproductive search of both my design library and on-line designs, I finally bought this  design from Embroidery Library, deleted the green scroll and rotated the shell.




After more on-line searching I purchased this cute umbrella from Urban  Threads JUST FOR THE RAIN DROPS!!!  Note to self:  Learn to digitize!!!  Then the shell and rain drops were combined.




Finally,  I was pleased with the design.

For machine embroidery, cotton thread has always been my preference, but especially for this project the matte finish seemed more appropriate. Fortunately, several years ago I came across cotton thread that suits me perfectly for monograms and other machine embroidery.

As I prepared to begin a project monogramming linen napkins for a wedding gift, I looked my threads over.  I happened to have a mini king spool of Robison Anton’s 100% cotton 50 wt. quilting thread.   It is intended for machine quilting so it is soft and pliable. After quick stitch rehearsal on a linen scrap I absolutely loved the look.

Later, my daughter requested a similar set of napkins so the thread was used again.  The heavier weight and matte cotton finish gives machine embroidery a look much like hand embroidery.

The Robison Anton thread spool identifies it as 50 wt. but does not specify the number of plys.   It stitches more heavily than my 50/2 DMC machine embroidery thread so I am inclined to believe that it is 3 ply.  I went on line and ordered three of the 3000 yd. king spools, one each in white, ecru and eggshell.  That was 5 years ago and soon I am going to have to order another spool of white.

I really enjoyed this project.  For such a milestone in the life of this young man and his family, it was a special joy to participate in this small way.



14 responses to “Church Linens

  1. Absolutely beautiful, Janice! I know this young man will treasure these forever. What a blessing to have been able to participate in such a special time in his life.

  2. Absolutely beautiful linens! You did such a wonderful job with the tatted edging and creating just the design you wanted on the baptismal lavabo. I know that the young minister will remember the love of his mother each time he uses these.

  3. Thank you, Jane. It really was a special blessing to be able to help equip him for answering God’s call.

  4. Thanks, Karen. Wasn’t that a thoughtful, loving gift from his mother? I really enjoyed getting the lavabo design just right.

  5. Shirley Boyken

    You got my attention again! Lovely work and great detail. Several years ago a dear friend gave me a bolt of Belgium linen that I plan to donate to a church in some form of embroidered linens. You’re getting my mind working in that direction again! This linen is exquisite and I want to be sure that my work will be worthy of it’s beauty.

  6. Absolutely beautiful! Such a lucky young man. I also love the look of cotton thread for embroidery instead of the rayon that is usually used. The only time I every use a wing needle is for making entredeux.

  7. Those are amazing.

    I have a nephew in Catholic seminary right now and a brother in law who was ordained a Deacon a few years ago. I’ve made both of them embroidered corporals with a design I also got from Emb library.

    I love your take on these and will be referencing them for the future for gifts for my nephew upon his ordination.

    From your Sigma Kappy sister in WA!

  8. Shirley, I know you will do something fabulous with that linen. I can’t wait to see!

  9. Sandra, making any church linens is such a labor of love. I’d love to see pictures of the corporals you made and know which Embroidery Library designs you chose. It’s great to hear from an SK sister. Keep on sewing!

  10. I’ll email the photos to you. The photos don’t quite capture the work as well as it turned out.

    There are specific rules for making Catholic altar linens and I did my research before. I could not do any kind of hem stitching as the open holes like that are not in line with the requirements (bits of consecrated hosts could potentially fall through hemstitch holes.)

  11. I can’t find an email contact for you on the site. Can you get in touch with me and give me one? thanks.

    the design I used from Embroidery library is called:
    Ornate Cross (Redwork) Product ID: E3563
    3.21″(w) x 3.85″(h)
    (81.5 x 97.8mm)

  12. Sandra, thanks for the design info. Please do send photos to

  13. Suzette McCarty

    I am interested in purchasing a baptismal lavabo like the one you have pictured with the shell for my granddaughters baptism on May 21. I’m wondering if it is possible to also have her name, Madison Marie McCarty and the May 21, 2017 (the date of her Baptism) embroidered on the linen. Also a cost estimate.

  14. Suzette, I have replied privately. Thanks for your interest.

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