Clergy Stole

What a joy it was to make this stole for our young, exceptional pastor! He has the wisdom, powerful teaching and Biblical understanding of a much older, more experienced pastor. Our church is growing in leaps and bounds with his leadership.

Sunday in the pulpit he wears a suit and tie. A traditional black robe hangs in his closet, but he said he doesn’t wear it because without a stole he looks like a judge. Hmmmm…I thought, I could make one!  How hard could it be? How long could it take?

Well, let me tell you this one was not hard but it did take a very long time. Operator error again. I made so many mistakes!

Whenever I take on a project unlike any I have made, I like to research the subject to get a comprehensive view of just what is involved. Google took me to a lot of blogs and sites for free patterns. Pinterest took me on that same route. Both have numerous free patterns, mostly labeled quick and easy. I didn’t want quick an easy. I wanted good. So I looked further.

Again and again, the name Elizabeth Morgan came up, listing her patterns and book, Sewing Church Linens. Aha! I had purchased that book in anticipation of working with my dear Aunt Rheeta to make a communion cloth for her church. But the book did not address stole making.

At her web site,, there were so many inspiration photos. I read about her stole teaching kit and called to order it. What a charming lady she is! She feels strongly that, for so many reasons, church vestments should be sewn by the congregation. It is a blessing for both the sewists and the church to use their talents for the glory of God.

During our lovely and lengthy chat, I learned that Elizabeth is 82 years old and has been making clergy stoles and church vestments for 30 years. She is the stole guru I had been seeking! She is without question the guru with decades of experience and one who teaches seminars around the country on the subject of church sewing. Elizabeth Morgan is one who is willing to hold my hand and mentor me as I began this new sewing adventure.

In our chat, Elizabeth directed me to Deb Schneider at Windstar Embroidery Designs. Deb has digitized classic and vintage liturgical embroidery designs from an 1850 book of hand embroidery liturgical designs. Windstar also offers a huge variety of other designs, but my focus was on the religious category.

Wow! This site was had me planning a baptism stole, a communion stole, stoles for weddings, advent, Easter, Pentecost and more! (Can you see how I get a little carried away?) I ordered this design (along with several 2 yard cuts of dupioni in white, green, red and gold). And now I’m thinking about making pulpit drapes and more from the scraps.

The design is spectacular and stitches perfectly. My only problem was that the default size for a stole is 4″ wide x 54″ long from the shoulder. This design, like most, is offered for hoop sizes 4 x 4, 5 x 7, and two other larger sizes. The 4 x 4 size stitches out at  1.57″ wide and 3.57″ in height. I needed no wider than 4″ but I wanted the design to be larger.

A tidbit from Elizabeth Morgan: the design should be identifiable from the middle row of pews. This cross when stitched in the 4×4 size would be 1.5″ wide and 3.5″ high, certainly not be recognizable from the middle pew row, even in a small church.

Deb offered to resize this beautiful cross to whatever measurements I wanted! She did so immediately, widening it to 3.5″ x 7.88. She also offered me some valuable advice and was extremely helpful and friendly. What incredible customer service!

I will be a regular Windstar customer, for church designs and others.

Though the stole teaching kit came with true purple silk dupioni, I was nervous about making my first stole with just one piece of fabric which left no room for error. As it turned out, I had almost 5 yds. of this magenta dupioni in my stash, just longing to be used.

Two pieces of dupioni are cut lengthwise about 57″ long and 6″ wide. So in theory I could make 3 stoles from one 57″ length. It was reassuring to have that plenty of extra fabric. And it was a good thing I did!

Soooo many mistakes were made. For example, after incorrect cross design placement on one side, I decided to cut the dupioni 14″ wide.Then I could embroider the crosses at the hem in one hooping. This also guaranteed that they would be equal distance from the hem.

After stitching the first cross, I began the second. Halfway through the design I discovered that the lengthy yard-long far end of the stole had become folded under the hoop when I changed the bobbin. I had stitched through both ends of the stole.Yikes! Again and again, I made mistakes. From my 5 yds. of magenta dupioni, I probably have enough fabric to make one more stole. And perhaps some pulpit drapes with my huge pile of scraps.

A few personal touches were added. On the lining Psalm 19:13 is embroidered.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my head be acceptable in Thy sight, my Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14. This scripture is available to be sent to you by leaving your request as a comment on this blog post

On the opposite side our pastor’s name is embroidered, just in case he leaves it behind at Ruby Tuesday’s after church.

While I worked and worked on this, my to-do list has grown. So I won’t be starting another stole any time soon. But I do have all that pretty dupioni and there are all the gorgeous designs from Windstar. I can’t wait to start again.

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