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Loved the vestments thread

MargaretAnn | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

Dear ST, and all the others who wrote about stoles, vestments, and tallits

This was a fascinating discussion for me.  I am the wife of a clergyman, so I have had quite a bit to do with such things.  The only sewing I have done on these was to mend, and attach velcro in strategic places to keep them from slipping when worn.  I also attached name labels inside, because my husband is absent minded.  I would love to hear more about Sister Tracey’s creations, and pictures of all and any.  Those of you with fancy sewing machines could embroider the wearers name on the inside, in tiny letters. 



  1. SisterT | | #1


    Thank you!  I have some more pictures to post.  One of these days I'll see if I can get the pictures, the scanner and the computer all to the surface of the desk at the same time! 

    I have a 1962 or '63 Elna.  It is a workhorse that someone gave us when they upgraded to something fancy.  I love it, and it will have to be totally beyond repair before I replace it.  I do admit, however, that I have spent a lot of time at the Viking embroidery machines at Jo-Ann's.  When the Sisters saw the price of an embroidery machine, they handed me a bit of floss and a pack of needles.  Oh well....

    I started to make the vestments the way most of us are pushed into taking on more sewing projects--We went into a church goods store and when I saw the price of the vestments and the lack of quality, those famous words came out of my mouth: "For that amount of money, I could make something a lot nicer."  Hooked! 

    Sr. Tracey

    Edited 2/1/2004 4:30:30 PM ET by ST

    1. rjf | | #2

      By golly!.. "For that amount of money, I could make something a lot nicer."  My exact words!  I say it a lot but don't always get around to doing it and so do without.  But a gorgeous piece of fabric in a drawer makes me happier than wearing a tee shirt which loses its shape in one or two washings.  Hope your winter is going well.    rjf 

      1. SisterT | | #3

        Ummmmm...... I am in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA.  I don't think anyone else in the United States or Canada wants to hear about our winter right now!  :)


        1. FitnessNut | | #4

          You're right about that one!!!! :-)


        2. rjf | | #5

          Oh good.  I thought you might still be in the Washington area and their winter hasn't been too great this year.  If it weren't cold and snowy, we wouldn't have as much to talk about in the checkout line....if we can get out of the driveway.      rjf

          1. SisterT | | #6

            Okay, you tempted too far. 

            We talk about the weather out here too.  I was standing at line at nursery section of Home Depot yesterday, with pansy, poppy, pepper, lettuce and tomato seedlings in the cart--we were all talking about the picture on the front of the day's edition of the Los Angeles Times...New York under ice.  :)


          2. User avater
            ehBeth | | #7

            i will just say


          3. Marion6422 | | #8

            I remember in the days when I was living in San Diego how there would be headlines once in a while in the local paper when a RAIN was expected. -- Marion

          4. SisterT | | #9

            Oh! And when it rains the temperature plunges to 60.  Brrrr!

            Enough of that.  Here are some pictures of vestments I made for a friend from Tonga--the same friend who got me involved in working with Tapa in the first place, the origins of the vestments thread, I think!

            Her sister died here in Los Angeles and I made this for the funeral.  My friend wanted the coat of arms of the King of Tonga on the vestment--kind of strange to American ears to have the seal of a king on the front of vestments, but that is the symbol on the front and back.

            The brown fabric is dupioni silk with fusible interfacing applied.  I stabilized the Tapa by stitching along the straighter lines of the image on the tapa.  The fabric of the top of the arm openings and the collar is African, I think.  A friend who runs a vestment company gave it to me after I admired it in their warehouse (I tried to admire a more expensive brocade that her husband designed and had specially woven in Belgium, but she did not fall for that!).

            I have no idea how they are going to clean this thing, but I figure they have years and years of handling the tapa and they know how to deal with it.  If anyone has any brilliant ideas of how I can attach things that need special handling (other than by velcro) so that they can be detached and the rest of the vestment can be laundered or drycleaned, I would welcome the suggestion.

            The thread on edge-stitching was particularly useful here, on the collar and the arm openings...

            I hope the attachments come through okay.


            Edited 2/1/2004 4:38:27 PM ET by ST

          5. SisterT | | #10

            The jpg.s are not coming through--I'll have to attack this a little later this afternoon!


          6. SisterT | | #11

            I think I managed to upload the photos this time....

          7. FitnessNut | | #12

            Nice work, Sister! I think I recognize the fabric you used to trim the edges....I have a dressy cocktail type jacket with a yoke in the same fabric!

            I couldn't help noticing what a lovely garden you have there. Are those calla lilies? I'm not sure, but I don't think we can grow them this far north....too cold.


          8. SisterT | | #14

            Yes, they are calla lilies.  They were just sprouting then, but starting to bloom now. 


          9. HeartFire | | #13

            Very beautiful, who made the Tapa cloth? who painted it?.  I bought a piece of Tapa cloth when I was in Hawaii. I still want to get it framed and hang it up.  one of these days...

            Judy 7  of 9

          10. SisterT | | #15


            I don't know who made the tapa cloth.  We took flower wreaths for the funeral, were ushered into a room and the family presented these cloths to us.  It was quite an honor. 

            They are Tongan in source.  I learned from some web research that the Tongans use more iconographic material (pictures) than other islanders.  The series of pictures on the cloth presented to us were of the king's shield, a wild boar, and a bird.  I thought it would be great to put a picture of a wild pig on the priest, but kinder people intervened!  :)  Oh well!.....


          11. SewTruTerry | | #18

            Is tapa cloth similiar to mud cloth?  My husband and I have an African mud cloth on stretcher bars like a painting and hung in our bedroom. Love the pictures especially seeing the wonderful flowers.  I am here in the Midwest and we are currently enjoying what we call a tropical heat wave.  It was actually12 above zero this morning when we woke.  This as opposed to 12 below zero that we have "enjoyed" for the past week. 

            Keep up the wonderful work and send more pictures.

          12. SisterT | | #19


            Tapa cloth and mudcloth look a lot alike in terms of designs and colors, but that is where the similarity stops.  Mudcloth is woven; tapa is pounded bark (mulberry).  I think mudcloth is easier to care for.  I was hesitant to sew tapa onto the vestments, but my friend insists that they will know how to clean it....glad it is not my problem!

            I have relatives in Ohio--they had only one day of school last week because of the ice.  Kids were happy, parents are going nuts!


          13. SewTruTerry | | #20

            Hate to say it but the kids in Ohio are wimps when it comes to snow and cold.  I'm in a suburb of Chicago and the  only time the schools are closed because of snow would be if they couldn't get the snow plows out.  That will never happen or there will be elections lost again. LOL.  I mean to tell you that the new comers see snow falling and hear the weather man say that we will be getting 9-12 inches of snow they all start thinking that school will be closed.  ROFLOL  Last week we had 12 below 0 temps and wind chill to -25 and the wee little ones still went to school. 

            Any way I am glad I asked about the tapa cloth as I learned something from it and it is nice to know that even at my age something can be learned.  But next question, since you said it was mulberry paper that it was made from did you use a longer stitch length to sew it together?

          14. SisterT | | #22

            I did use a longer stitch length, and when I am working with it I make sure that the tapa is always supported by fabric in such a way that the fabric and not the seams in the tapa takes the pressure.


          15. rjf | | #16

            Really handsome!  The tapa looks great and the striped, red-lined edging is terrific.   Most elegant.      rjf

          16. carolfresia | | #17

            Stunning! I would not have thought "chasuble" and "tapa" together, but this is really magnificent. Tapa can be so playful and ethnic, but here it's very dignified and elegant.

            I was on the phone last night with a friend from LA, who very kindly tried not to talk about the good weather. OK, she did rub it in a bit, in a sympathetic way...but worse for us here at Threads is that our very talented art director, Karen Meyer, is moving to LA in just a week. This is a real double whammy: we're losing a very important part of our staff, AND we have try to keep a stiff (frozen, perhaps?) upper lip at the thought of her gardening and going to the beach and enjoying the SoCal climate. When I moved to LA a few years ago, hardened New Englanders assured me I would "miss the seasons." On the contrary, I smiled my way from November to May! Who can complain about going to the beach in a t-shirt on New Year's day, and watching seals and dolphins?


          17. Michelle | | #21

            What a stunning piece piece of work!  I love the combination of the tapa on the cream together with the brocade.

            Greetings from Jerusalem.


          18. SisterT | | #23

            Thank you Shelly!  It is neat that people in the US, in Australia, in Europe and in Jerusalem can meet in one place and talk about sewing!


          19. User avater
            ehBeth | | #26

            Sister T (hmmmmm that rhymes with Mister T, need to think of another name to use, ST has unfortunate connotations for me) : beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. No, I'm not channelling Lawrence Welk! The tapa is fabulous, and the whole project came out so wonderfully. I got a bit teary looking at it, glorious works of art can do that to me.

          20. SisterT | | #27

            Thank you! My sister calls me "Sister Sister", which is, I suppose, a much needed improvement over her adolescent years ("Twisted Sister").  My name is Tracey, so feel free to use it!  :)

          21. User avater
            paddyscar | | #24

            Wonderful work again, Sister! 

            What about reverse buttoning - sewing the button holes in the garment and attaching buttons to the back of the attachment - it allows for easy exchange and removal of shawls, collars, cuffs etc.

            Also anchoring with curtain weights in hemlines of the attachments, will provide stability and remove any 'waves' that might occur between button holes.

          22. User avater
            paddyscar | | #25

            Wonderful work again, Sister!

            In place of velcro, what about reverse buttoning?  button holes in the garment and buttons on the back of the attachments such as collars, cuffs, stoles.

            Adding curtain weights in the hems would eliminate any 'waves' between button holes on hanging pieces such as stoles.

          23. SisterT | | #28

            Oh, now that might work!  Thank you so much!  I had thought of buttons. but could not come up with anything that would not detract from the tapa.  The stabilized silk has plenty of body--it would support the tapa very well.

            Thank you, thank you!


          24. User avater
            ehBeth | | #29


            I just re-read the thread. Got to the part about being presented with the tapa. I can't imagine how that felt. It's clear that the tapa is important. Being honoured with it must have been a very meaningful moment. 

            Then I looked at the pictures again. <sniff>

          25. SisterT | | #30

            Check to Sacred Threads thread for more on the Tapa.  Now that we have whined at Carol to establish the thread, I feel guilty not using it!

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