Feeling the Need

5 banners in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation


Have you ever felt called to do something, regardless of the fact that you had little or almost no free time?  And when the nagging feeling would not go away, you just rolled up your sleeves and got to it?  There is a whole backstory to this endeavor at the end of the post.  That story is not about sewing, but about the need  to sew.

That’s what pulled me from my busy-ness to make these five banners.  Five hundred years ago on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the  door of the Wittenburg Castle Church in Germany.  This launched the Reformation, the essence of which is expressed by the five “Solas”  which are illustrated in the five banners.

One side of our sanctuary has 4 stained glass windows, in shades of blue and gold.


wall opposite the new banners


But the opposite wall is common to the Fellowship Hall so no windows could be installed.  It was just blank, except for two lights and some electrical devices.

So what called me?  Firstly, the blank wall which begged for some visible inspiration.  Secondly, a gut feeling that I had to sew more for my church.  We are commanded to share our talents, but I can’t sing so the choir was not an option.  Sewing is my best gift and I had done some other sewing for the church.  So sewing is what I needed to do.

As I rolled up my sleeves, our dynamic young pastor suggested that a banner for each of the 5 Solas would perfectly match his plan to preach one Sola on each of the 5 Sundays in October.

Okay, now I had a plan.


The Celtic “S” in Sola is from Martha Pullen’s  Celtic Alphabet from the 2014 Internet Embroidery Club.  The Bible is a design from Embroidery Library and the text, ” Thy word is truth.”  is curved and abbreviated.  The original cross was removed and replaced with a smaller one from my design library. The original design has 80.093 stitches!  So I converted the Bible into an applique’ with ultrasuede.  That  reduced the stitch count to 60,000 which is still a lot of stitches.  Those roses are very dense.  The gold corners are from Urban Threads.

But after starting, I felt like poor Sisyphus rolling that boulder up the hill only to have it fall back on him again and again.  I had rushed out to purchase the fabric and settled for what was available, not what was ideal.  The fine white cotton twill was lovely but it puckered terribly.


“..faith as small as a mustard seed.”  The magnifying glass was an applique design. I used clear vinyl for the “glass” and inserted a small yellow bead for the seed.


So I widened my search and bought a heavier twill.  But the results were hardly any better.   I realized that the enormous font I chose was making some satin stitches almost 3/4″ long.  The banner and the font were just too large.  And no matter how much starch was applied nor how many layers of stabilizer were used, the twill still puckered.


“It is the gift of God.”   Gratia was another major challenge as I could not find an applique’ gift that was appropriate. Finally, in my design library, I happened upon a  basic square applique’ from Embroitique.  It was just what I needed.  “Grace” was first embroidered so that it was inside the gift box.  Then old gold organdy was applique’d  over that text. The bow was extracted from another design and added to the box.


Ultimately, I dropped back and punted to the heavy cotton duck that I had used for interfacing on the stole I made for our pastor.  I was concerned that cotton duck was not dressy enough, but flat and unpuckered  trumped the more elegant fabric.


“Salvation in no one else.”  The applique’d Celtic cross is from one of my favorite sites for church embroideries, Windstar Designs.  I’ve raved before about their incredible customer service, flawless designs and huge selection, But I can’t say it often enough.


The background piece is royal blue cotton duck.  It hangs free behind the white embroidered piece which is joined only along the top edge.  Both pieces are fringed rather than hemmed.


“…do all to the glory of God.” This is another beautiful design from Windstar Designs.


Information about the banner is embroidered on the sleeve of each one.


information embroidered on each banner’s sleeve


The “back story” begins with the 2009 lightning strike that caused the church to burn to the ground.



At the time, finances were tight.  A year before the fire, the Session felt the church could no longer afford insurance and proceeded to drop coverage.  One devout church member  anonymously stepped up to pay the annual  premium.   So coverage continued.  Thank God for that member’s generosity and foresight!

By 2012 both the separate preschool building and the church itself were rebuilt. While the insurance payout helped pay for the construction, the membership felt the need to leave their current denomination in order to join the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC). Separation from the previous denomination incurred a very large exit fee.  The amount due has been paid down significantly, but there is still a large balance due.  Thankfully,  the church is growing in leaps and bounds so the financial and spiritual future of the church is bright.



Therefore the sanctuary is without many visible, tangible items of personal church tradition found in older houses of worship, items which were lost in the  fire.  Now we are filling in those blank spaces, like the sanctuary wall.  The Sola banners are one small step toward beautifying God’s house.



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