Lenten Church Paraments


These Lenten paraments were made at the request of our pastor for our River City Church of DeBary.   The   purple fabric reflects the liturgical color for this season.

The embroidery is another beauty from  Windstar Embroidery Designs which has an enormous selection of spectacular liturgical designs.  This one is offered in two sizes, the smaller for the side-hanging bookmarks and the larger for the pulpit scarf.


Additionally, the cross drape, seen on the far right, was included in the set.  It is a 4 yards by 45″.  The set was hung the day before Ash Wednesday.

I’ve been sewing for many, many years and created a variety of items from clothing to quilts to home dec.  But none of this experience seemed helpful as I ventured into the world of stitching church paraments.  There are so many things that go into making what looks like a simple project.

As usual, I did a good bit of research for standard sizes, etc.  But nowhere could I find specifics on actually making the standard 3 piece set: pulpit scarf and two bookmarks to hang on either side.   Instructions for altar cloths, stoles, priest robes and other clerical garb are plentiful.  My on-line searches rendered only information for purchasing them.

I’d really like to take a tour one of the companies which makes the standard paraments, all of which are perfectly flat and hang straight.  I want to know the best fabric choice, the best lining,  the best stabilizer and all the considerations that go into making a worthy parament.

While I am not entirely satisfied with these. they are a huge improvement over my first set.  They were green for “ordinary” time, the period between special church seasons. Even after taking them apart three times in an effort to eliminate the rippling, they still were unacceptable, in my opinion.

This picture taken from the back of the church looks marginally okay.



But when parishoners were seated in the front 3/4 of the church,  what they see is this up close image….shudder! Additionally, the large cross blocked almost half of the design, though it is not obvious in this photo taken at a bit of an angle.

They were made of silk dupioni and lined/interfaced/stabilized differently in each of my three painstaking attempts to fix them. They look like someone wadded them up for a pillow, though they were pressed absolutely flat an hour before they were hung.  I am embarrassed to show these, but hey, we’re friends, right?


And we’re trying to learn from one another.  So if any of you have experience, tips, advice or whatever, it is obvious from these photos that I could use any help you have to offer.  I would be so appreciative.

As soon as I finish a few more must-do’s, I’ll work on white paraments for Easter.  So send me any tips and advice you have.

Meanwhile, Christians, keep this in mind:


There’s something about it that makes sense, Lent. You give something up, and everything’s more joyful. Elaine Stritch



16 responses to “Lenten Church Paraments

  1. from Martha Pullen forum: They look wonderful, Janice. So nice to see your lovely church. So many are so plain, no pews now, just chairs and no adornments. None of our churches have Sunday evening services any more. When we arrived here from England in 1948 we of course were Anglican. One of the first things my mother did was look for a church group she could join. It happened to be a sewing group at a Baptist Church. As a nine year old I joined every group and it and the local library were my life through my later teen years.

  2. Thanks for your kind words about our church. Your childhood sounds wholesome and enriching. Churches and libraries usually have good people, good instruction and good environments. And just look how nicely you turned out!

  3. from MP forum: You are such a blessing to your Church, Janice! Your work is beautiful and a gift from the heart!!
    I took an online academy from Jenny Haskins a few years ago–just so I could become comfortable with stabilizers. It sure was a confidence builder for me!! We learned that applying Jenny’s “Sheer Magic” stabilizer to the back of silk dupioni gave the fabric more support for embroidery designs–less likely to have wrinkles after embroidering.

    Here’s what she says about Sheer Magic:

    “Jenny’s Sheer Magic

    Fusible Sheer Support for Delicate Fabrics

    There are many delicate fabrics such as silk, satin, dupioni, taffeta and others that can be damaged by the embroidery process. The constant needle penetration on the light fibers can cause shredding and distortion. Sheer Magic creates a protective barrier for the stitching to form in without changing the drape or feel of the fabric. Simply fuse one layer of this magical material to the back of the fabric to be embellished and then stabilize as normal. Sheer Magic will add support without bulk and help your masterpiece come to life!

    •Creates a bond with delicate fabrics without changing the face or drape of the fabric.
    •Fuse over the back of an embroidery design to cover scratchy stitches.

    •Keeps fabric from raveling or shredding during the embroidery or stitching process.
    •Available in Natural and Black

    How to use Sheer Magic:
    1.Cut a piece of Sheer Magic at least one inch larger than the embroidery design area.
    2.Place the fusible side (textured side) of Sheer Magic to the wrong side of the fabric and press using a low temp, dry iron (silk setting) **It is necessary to use a pressing cloth or sheet between the iron and Sheer Magic.
    3.Using the appropriate stabilizer in addition to Sheer Magic, embroider or embellish the garment.
    4.If desired, after the embroidery is complete, fuse one layer of Sheer Magic over the back of the design to keep it from scratching the wearer’s skin. Use a burst of steam to create a permanent bond between Sheer Magic and the base fabric. **Refer to step two when fusing

    Sheer Magic Sizes Available: 30″ x 3 yds, 30″ x 25 yds”

  4. Thank you for your kind words and for the wonderful information! I am going to check this Sheer Magic out! Actually, the problem seems to be more about a lack of permanent contact between the front, back and lining. With that stabilizer and perhaps a permanent bonding spray, I might have greater success.

  5. They look amazing – what design set from Windstar did you use….. People look at the Priest Stole and think oh piece of cake…. but if it were so places that sell ecclesiastic fabric and stoles and vestements would not have a stole kit for beginners… one website the lady has made it her life long work. I am sure that I have her webpage bookmarked. lI am not sure where our Pastor got his new vestments…. originally he just used what belonged to the church but after couple years he has upgraded…. I have seen some exquisite garments – his are garish… and I bet he paid $1000 for each of the seasonal vestments wonder if he bought the PINK one for Latare Sunday…

  6. from MP forum: I was one of those clueless gals who though a stole and these paraments would be quick and easy. WRONG!!! We had a former pastor who dressed like the pope, except for the hat. My preferece is for a plain robe with a nice, seasonal stole. These are the designs I used from Windstar Embroidery: Celtic Cross with Draped Crown of Thorns Celtic Cross with Draped Crown of Thorns (2597PES)
    Format: Brother/Babylock (*.pes)
    Hoop Size: 4″ x 4″ (100mm x 100mm) $10.00

    and Celtic Cross with Draped Crown of Thorns (2597PES7.75×11.75)
    Format: Brother/Babylock (*.pes)
    Hoop Size: 7.75″ x 11.75″ (200mm x 300mm) $10.00

  7. From MP Forum: They all look lovely, Janice…you are a blessing for sure.

  8. From MP forum: You are too kind. The green set is pretty rough! But thank you for recognizing my efforts.

  9. From MP forum: So pretty.

  10. Windstar Embroidery Designs are all just wonderful, perfectly digitized and very tasteful. I’m glad you like them.

  11. from MP forum: Just beautiful Janice. They look perfectly perfect to me! I’d say you did a wonderful job.

  12. from M forum: Just lovely!

  13. Janice, this is another beautiful project and I’m sure it will be a blessing to your congregation during this season of Lent. I have never attempted paraments like these, but I remember reading in the material from Elizabeth Morgan on clergy stoles that her “set back” method of stabilizing and constructing stoles can also be used for altar and pulpit frontals. Coincidentally, I made a second stole for our interim pastor, of purple silk dupioni and using exactly this Celtic cross and the crown of thorns designs from Windstar. I don’t know how to post a photo here, but will try to send it to you so you can see it.

    As usual, your work is beautiful and inspiring.

  14. Hi Nancy! I loved seeing the gorgeous stole you made for your interim pastor. Talk about inspiring! I have not yet included an ophrey because our pastor seems to prefer a simpler look. But I am eying some appropriate pieces and might venture into that territory after seeing yours. I can’t figure out how to post the photo here in the comments, but with your permission, I would love to post it to the blog. With all the designs that Deb Schneider has on her Windstar Embroidery Design site, it is quite a coincidence that we both chose the same design for our Lenten church projects. I did use the “set back” method on the green pulpit frontal but apparently, I did something wrong. It was obviously an abysmal failure though I managed to execute it satisfactorily on the stole. As soon as I can squeeze a free time from my schedule, I want to make more paraments. It is so nice to chat with you about these church projects.

  15. Shirley Boyken

    Several years ago my church hired a “renowned designer” to create a set of paraments. This person used ultrasuede as the base fabric and did quite a bit of applique in her design. They were proudly hung and were miserable looking. I just couldn’t keep my mouth shut so I suggested to the committee that maybe I could do somethings to help how they looked. Basically, I DE-constructed them, taking them all apart. There was interfacing between 2 layers of Ultrasuede plus the Ultrasuede appliques and it was just too much. There was wrinkling, puckering and all sorts of bad behavior from that fabric. It wasn’t easy, but I did manage to get most of the interfacing removed, and re-sewed the fronts to the backs and they are still using them and they are holding up quite well. Lesson learned, interfacing (in this project) did not work in the Ultrasuede!

  16. Oh, Shirley, what a shame money was spent on something that was not worthy of hanging in your church,. But when you finally loosed your lips, it was wonderful for you to fix them. Maybe next time they should hire you!

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