Download Fabrics Shopping List Let me say once again:
The beauty of our vestments and paraments is not determined by the amount of money we spend upon them. Beauty is determined by the excellence of our design and the competence of our workmanship.
For this reason, I offer fabrics that span the price spectrum – from $17/yard to $200/yard. All are of excellent quality; ‘inexpensive’ is NOT the same thing as ‘cheap’! I don’t do ‘cheap’. If you want ‘cheap’, you’ll have to go somewhere else to get it. (And, goodness knows, there’s lots of it out there!) I offer fabrics specifically for church use. That means, I offer the full range of our liturgical colors. Many people purchase liturgical fabrics from their local fabric stores. Generally, however, because our local fabric stores are geared toward the ‘fashion colors’, it’s difficult to find the liturgical colors in a local fabric store. I offer two types of fabrics: Patterned and unpatterned. I have two unpatterned fabrics – polyester and Dupioni silk. Both of these fabrics make handsome vestments and paraments.
POLYESTER: 60 inches wide @ $17/yard. This good fabric has a very slight ‘linen look’ pattern to it; the surface is smooth. I think of it as my ‘workhorse’ fabric because it works up well and does what I want of it. The colors are solid and true. It’s an excellent fabric choice for your first set of vestments. And, it’s an excellent fabric choice when budget is a consideration. Like the little black dress, you can dress it up or dress it down. Decorating this polyester with a fabric like Evesham would be excellent. This fabric also takes machine embroidery well. I’ve kept this fabric in inventory for almost 30 years and it’s served me well. The colors are: White, off-white, red, deep green, medium green, violet, Roman purple, deep blue and a nice, true liturgical rose (not Pepto Bismol pink!)
DUPIONI SILK: 54 inches wide @ $25/yard. Dupioni is somewhat slubby; it’s more textural than the polyester. Dupioni is silk – it has a lovely soft sheen or ‘glow’ to it. Dupioni silk is a great fabric to work with. It takes machine embroidery well. Dupioni is also very useful. I’m a big fan of ‘useful’ fabrics; fabrics that do several jobs well. Dupioni is second to none for making copes. Dupioni is the very best lining for chasubles because, unlike that wretched gold satin we see so often, Dupioni doesn’t sag all out of shape so you have to keep putting the hem up! As chasuble lining, the Dupioni colors give a wonderful contrasting flash of color.
The colors are luscious: Soft-white, cream, Pentecost red, Holy Week red, deep green, medium green, violet, Roman purple, medium blue and a slightly lighter blue, liturgical rose, black, wedding ring gold, old gold, silver. (Both the medium green and the rose are available only in 45 inch width and cost $20/yard)
I offer both the polyester and the dupioni silk as yardage. I also offer pre-cut stole lengths ($12). You can buy enough for one stole without having the remnant left.
I send samples of both the polyesters and the silks on request – no charge.
Now let’s talk about the patterned fabrics – the damasks, brocades and tapestries.
I offer the great liturgical damasks, brocades and tapestries manufactured by M. Perkins & Son in England. I cannot afford to carry an entire inventory (we’d be talking about an investment of $30,000).
I import individual orders. Of course, the shipping costs from England to the United States (or Australia or Canada) add a significant amount to the cost of the fabric. I am able to mitigate this shipping cost by combining several orders and bringing them all over at once.
Even with the shipping cost, I think you’ll find my prices are competitive.
Even given good prices, purchasing these fabric is a financial commitment and it is necessary that you should feel confident in your ability to make good decisions. I want to address that issue now.
Why do we choose patterned liturgical fabrics? If you’re reading this, you’re probably interested in designing vestments and/or paraments. The use of the great liturgical damasks, brocades and tapestries in your designs requires some basic information. It’s my job to make sure you have that information so you can be successful.
When I was just starting out in this ministry and a parish called me in to discuss a new set of vestments, I would pack up samples of every fabric I had and go there.
Now, I am not a stupid woman! It didn’t take me long to realize that this plan was foolishness! I was giving these poor people so many choices and they had so little experience that I was creating chaos! No possible way they could make a decision faced with so many choices! If I wanted to be helpful, I needed to organize my own thoughts.
Choosing a fabric turns out to be a process of elimination accomplished by making an orderly series of decisions. Each of these decisions eliminates whole groups of fabrics. By the time you’ve made these decisions, instead of being faced with innumerable choices, your choices number between 3 and 5 possible fabrics – no chaos; easy decisions to make Your first two decisions are made before looking at any fabrics:
The next decision is whether you want to work with patterned fabric – and if so, why? Here are two chasubles:
One is a plain-weave fabric, the other is a damask. Both chasubles are beautifully made; they fall gracefully, the curved edges are smooth, the neck openings are nicely finished, the central orphrey on the green damask chasuble is absolutely straight with no puckering.
You can clearly see the difference in appearance given by the lush over-all effect that damask adds. This is why we purchase the damasks and brocades – for the all-over lush appearance that plain-weave cannot give.
What you may not realize is that the lush visual effect is a factor of the of the damask; it’s not a factor of the pattern! The damask pattern of the green chasuble is Winchester. Winchester contains lovely motifs – roses and fleur de lys. But, that’s not what you notice in this picture, is it? You’re not saying to yourself, “Those are beautiful roses and fleur de lys!” What you notice is the lush over-all ‘look’ of the damask.
In fact, pattern is one of the last design elements to be considered. That’s an important piece of information!
Most people go into fabric choice having already decided, “I like the Fairford pattern best!” And, they’re very surprised to find that they choose one of the other patterns (possibly because they prefer the shade of the color of another pattern).
It took me a long time to learn that pattern selection is one of the last design decisions. I can’t stress this to you strongly enough!
There’s a good reason for this: Vestments are usually seen from a distance. The pattern is only seen when you have the fabric close up. For this reason, it’s the damask ‘look’ that shows from a distance, not the pattern. (This is why we should always view our fabric choices from the middle pew.)
Once made up into vestments (or paraments), the pattern becomes part of the whole rather than a discreet and independent element. We use patterned liturgical fabrics primarily for their lush visual effect.
(This is true of galloons also. (Galloons are the bands of trim that we place along the edges of the orphreys. Note the 1 1/4 inch gold galloon along the edges of the embroidered velvet orphrey on the green Winchester chasuble. ) We tend to think we need to find ‘just the right galloon!’ There are jillions of galloons out there! We minutely examine every one seeking just the right one. And, in the end, the galloon becomes part of the whole. While it’s necessary to choose the right shade of gold (bright festal gold or the soft old gold for Lent and Holy Week), the pattern of the galloon is not as important as we think it is.)
I don’t mean that the pattern is unimportant or that the pattern is always merely a part of the whole. St. Margaret would be an excellent example. Those 7 inch diameter roses are wonderful! They’re spaced so that, used for a chasuble, the roses show nicely at each shoulder.
A closely related piece of information is the consideration of SCALE.
Your third decision (after cost and color) will be to match the size of the vestment(s) you are designing to how the size of the pattern. .
Scale is an important consideration. What’s more, you know it’s important! I’m going to try to put into words something you already know (even if you don’t know that you know it). I want to open your minds to the idea of SCALE – how it can work. I’m trying to get you to see – to visualize – in a different way. I’m not criticizing. I’m trying to help you see more broadly.
Probably the most familiar vestment fabric patterns are Agnus Dei, Ely Crown, Normandy and Tudor Rose. They’re all great patterns – very traditional. Every single one of us have seen them a hundred times. You can see pictures of them any day of the week in the catalogs of our great commercial vestment makers. Over time and with familiarity, our eyes have come to accept these four patterns as ‘standard’.
And, guess what! They are all the same scale! The individual motifs are 3 – 4 inches.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with a 3 – 4 inch scale! (Except that it gets boring after awhile.)
What bothers me is the fact is that we’ve become so accustomed to seeing liturgical fabrics in this scale that we’ve come to accept that ‘look’ as ‘standard’.
Go back to what I said about ‘lush over-all effect that damask gives’. What is the over-all effect of a 3 – 4 inch pattern? Seen from the middle pew, a chasuble made from one of these patterns shows as a checker board of small squares or circles. That’s not what you see when you look at the green Winchester chasuble that has a larger scale pattern. I want you to be aware that there’s a difference. Neither look is ‘better’ or ‘worse’; they’re just different. I want you to be aware of the difference.
I had a priest years ago who ordered a ready-made frontal for our long altar. It was made entirely of white fabric in the Agnus Dei pattern. The individual Agnus Dei motifs are less than 3 inches. That frontal was sooooo busy that it made me cross-eyed to look at it! That altar needed the visually solid and stable 14 inch Florence fabric – a repeat that balanced the size of the altar. Agnus Dei was the wrong scale for that large altar.
That we’ve become accepting of a single scale of pattern works out very well for the vestment fabric suppliers because it helps keep their cost of inventory down.
However, the cost of this ‘standard’ look is a loss of design flexibility and adaptability – a general loss of a portion of our own creativity. Which is a heavy price to pay! I’m sure you can see this. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.
What you may not understand is that acquiring fabrics with patterns in the proper scale is quite tricky! One would think that we could tell the scale from the length of the repeat. One would think that an 11 inch repeat would indicate a larger scale than a 4 inch repeat. Not necessarily!
When you look at pictures of liturgical patterns, notice whether the individual motifs are ‘in line’ or ‘staggered’. The Ely repeat is 6 inches. The Tudor Rose repeat is 10 inches. Their scale is the same!
Do you see the difference between these two patterns? The Ely pattern is ‘in line’. The Tudor Rose pattern is ‘staggered’. Repeat length gives us the information we need in order to match the fabric across a seam. You only need to allow one row of patterns to match Ely. You need two to match Tudor Rose. Each Tudor Rose motif is half the repeat length. By my ruler, those Tudor roses are 4 inches in diameter. The Ely crowns are 3 1/2 inches. When looking for liturgical fabrics, don’t depend upon the repeat length to to give you good information about scale.
Buying fabric over the Internet is difficult – especially if the fabric is expensive. What you really need to have are two-yard pieces of every fabric. Why? So you can see the way the pattern will work on the stole or chasuble or frontal you are designing. Obviously, I can’t send out two-yard pieces of six different fabrics! I’d go broke!
What’s the alternative? We must work cooperatively. I must give you the information you need to have about scale. And, you must fully understand how scale works as you design the project.
Why is scale important? Because the scale of the fabric pattern causes the vestment to present itself differently. A 3 inch motif works wonderfully on a 4 inch stole. On a large frontal, a 3 inch motif is going to be busy. The Winchester chasuble that contains larger design elements is going to present a different ‘look’ on the vestments you design.
The people who design fabrics specifically for liturgical use understand that sets of vestments contain items of various sizes (large frontals, small stoles and Bible markers, veils and pulpit falls). With this in mind, liturgical fabric designers build into the fabrics both large and small motif elements – a variety of motifs that offer a variety of scales. As you look at pictures of fabrics, you need to be looking for this variety! You need to be seeing, not just the whole pattern but also the patterns within the pattern.
It’s my job to identify these different elements for you; giving you the scale information you need. Let’s keep on looking at Winchester – it’s a perfect example of what I’m saying. It’s not just that Winchester has a 14 inch repeat, it’s that Winchester has built into it two smaller elements – one larger than the other. This is the stole that goes with the green Winchester chasuble. The fleur de lys are 3 inches wide (same size as the Tudor Rose, Ely Crown, Normandy and Agnus Dei); they fit perfectly within a stole width:
Here’s another example of smaller motifs built into a larger pattern: This is the portion of Fairford that I use for stoles – the row of twining leaves that lies between the rows of pomegranates and pineapples -
(Do you notice how handsome the embroidery looks on the damask background?)
When you begin looking at the pictures of the M. Perkins fabrics, the accompanying text will give you this kind of information.
It would be much easier for me if I limited my fabrics to only one scale! I don’t want to do that because it means a loss of richness.
The first three steps of choosing a patterned fabric are:
The last two steps are
4. Shade of the color
Note: This page is in the process of being edited. I’m going to stop here because it’s my dinner time.
PATTERN: It’s a mistake to go into choosing damasks and brocades believing that the pattern will be the deciding factor. It isn’t! You’ll go through all these pretty pictures and think to yourself, “Oh! I really, really LOVE that St. Margaret!” And then you discover that, while St. Margaret is a great pattern, the scale is wrong! Or, the shade of green is wrong. Pattern is not necessarily the deciding factor. And, this is a good thing! When utilized properly, all the Perkins patterns are handsome. And, if you just LOVE St. Margaret, I’m quite, quite sure you’re perfectly capable of finding something to use it for – a beautiful super-frontal, perhaps? Those great big roses are magnificent across a super-frontal! And, St. Margaret offers the unusual benefit of coming in BOTH the damask AND the matching brocade! The frontal done it damask with matching brocade orphreys and super-frontal is a very nice look! As I sit here, writing this in the early morning hours, I know I’m running into trouble – this section is long. And, I worry about that. When I started out, I didn’t have some nice person to give me what I now know is the simple, basic information I needed. And so, I made every mistake – at least twice. And, I swore to myself then that, if I could help it, NOBODY was going to have to go through what I went through. So, I’m trying hard to give you the simple, basic information I had to learn the hard way – through experience and trial and error (too many errors!). I have a lot to pass on to you. Here’s an example of a time when pattern becomes extremely important – when the overall effect of the pattern is shown; for instance on a frontal. Chasubles are drapey – you never see a whole pattern. Frontals are flat, you see the entire, overall pattern. This is where photographs of large portions of the pattern are of huge help – Perkins is good at this. Here are two pictures, one of Winchester and the other of Florence: Do you see the difference in the overall effect of the patterns? Both are damasks. Both are in-line patterns with 14 1/2 inch repeats – they’re the same scale. The overall effect of Winchester is entirely different from the overall effect of the Florence. On a large frontal, the Winchester will appear ‘choppy’ while the Florence will appear fully balanced. Only if you know to look for it, will you be aware of overall effect. Perkins is very good about giving us large, overall photographs of their fabrics. Let me say one more thing about patterns: Patterns are not copyright. Anybody can weave any pattern; all they need is the computer disk. What’s more, anybody can weave any pattern in any yarn they choose – no matter that the yarn is second rate. Just because you see a familiar pattern, does not mean that the fabric is any good. Be very careful about this! Get samples and examine the samples for stability. If you pull it diagonally, how badly does the pattern distort? Will this fabric sag and droop all out of shape? Remember our decision-making steps:
You’re not ready to look at samples until you have made the first three decisions. Shades of Your Color (And, The Internet): Please, please, please keep in mind that the colors you see on your monitor are very likely to be way, way off!!!! Wonderful though the Internet is, it does not transmit color well – I should say, the Internet does not transmit the SHADES of color well. The Internet can tell us green is green and red is red but the Internet is extremely inaccurate about the shade of green and the shade of red. And, our monitors show colors differently too. The green I see on my monitor may be close to olive. I have no idea what shade of green you’re seeing on your monitor! There is no way to fix this problem. We just have to recognize it and deal with it! In other words, as you look at the fabric pictures I’m showing you, don’t reject any because you don’t like the color you’re seeing on your screen. You can’t have any idea of the true color until you hold the fabric sample in your little hot hand. At the end of the day, when you come right down to making your final design decision, it’s often the shade of the color that makes your fabric choice decision for you. Just the right shade that will work in your church is so important! I’m just now revising my method of organizing Perkins fabric samples. I’ve been organizing them by price – which is a good way to do it. But, I now realize that it’s important for you to see the range of shades within each liturgical color. Probably neither sample system is perfect. I’m going to give this a try for awhile. And, as long as we’re on the subject of shades of color, here’s a note about our liturgical reds: There are two liturgical reds – Christmas/Pentecost red and Holy Week red. Pentecost red is bright and clear – it’s also the red we use for ordinations. Holy Week red is burgundy or ‘oxblood red’. Only a few fabrics give one or the other. Most fabrics try to hit a mid-shade that can be used for either. Blended Fabrics: What are the true miracle fabrics? Linen, silk, wool and cotton. There are those among us who hold strongly to 100% pure. Our quilters fall down in a faint at the mere suggestion of poly/cotton. Many people long for liturgical fabrics in pure silk. I feel the same way! However, as I work with liturgical fabrics, I find that while I hold strongly to the idea of 100% pure fabrics, my practical nature, my working experience and what I see right in front of me, causes me to appreciate blended fabrics – as long as the blending has been done properly with a purpose in mind. Be aware that there are a lot of 100% silk liturgical fabrics out there. I recommend strongly that you get samples before ordering. Many contain silk yarns that are barely able to support themselves. At this time, I know of only two companies offering 100% silk liturgical fabrics that are worth the cost – Perkins is one of them. Let’s talk about silk for a minute: I restored a red chasuble/stole/maniple set years ago. I had the choice of using 100% silk or a blend. I chose the blend because it was impossible to visually distinguish between the silk and the blend – and cost was a major factor. We see a great many 100% rayon fabrics frequently they have the very shiny finish that many people associate with liturgical fabrics. While rayon is a wonderful yarn, I – personally – don’t prefer the shiny finish and look for rayon as part of a blend. I guess I’m saying that, over the years, I’ve come to have a strong appreciation for good blends. Project lay-outs: I lay out my vestment project using grid paper – one square = 2 inches. You can get this gridded paper from Staples – or, email me and I’ll send you some. I lay out my project using fabric repeats rather than inches or yards. When I’ve finished my lay-out, I do the simple math to change from number of repeats needed to total inches and then yards. In addition to giving me the yardage I need, this method also gives me a clear idea of how the pattern motifs will ‘show’ on each vestment; I know how each piece must be centered. In the fabric descriptions below, I will give you the information you need in order to work a fabric lay-out for any project with any repeat length. Domestic Fabrics | Traditional Liturgical Fabrics
These pictures are of Good Friday paraments made by Carrie using damask and brocade fabrics from M. Perkins in England. As you can clearly see, Carrie is an astounding vestment maker! Carrie’s use of fabrics is of interest. The black damask fabric is Fairford. The black/gold orphrey fabric is Wakefield. Two entirely different patterns used together.
OK. Here we go. Enough chit chat! Let’s get down to it and look at the fabrics! If you go onto the M. Perkins website – www.mperkins.co.uk – you will see that they group their fabrics into specific categories: Plainweave, Piece Dyed, Yarn Dyed Brocades, Yarn Dyed Damasks, Lurex Brocades, Brocatelles and Tapestries. I’m going to arrange the Perkins fabrics into a different format. I’m arranging the fabrics into three Tiers. Each Tier represents a different price range – because price is our first important decision.
Note: Pattern length and width may vary somewhat from piece to piece. There is extra allowed at each selvage edge for matching. Ely Crown -$40/yard (Stole length – $18 each) 55 inches wide – 8 patterns across – 6 inches between pattern centers on both length and width – the rose pattern falls in the center of the fabric - 52% poly/48% cotton. Colors: A special treat is that Ely comes in BLACK!!! It looks wonderful with the silver Dupioni lining. The ivory is a solid soft-white. The red is mid-way between Pentecost red and Holy Week red. The green is a solid green – not tending toward the yellow or greyed side. The square repeat makes Ely Crown especially useful because it is turn-around reversible. While it’s inadvisable to railroad any fabric, the pattern size allows you to cut a stole across the width. The pattern size and lay-out makes this an excellent fabric for making multiple stoles of 4 or 5 inch width. The crown motif will be central (making the rose motif central will give you only 3 1/2 stoles). Four stoles may be cut across the width with no waste. (Ely is not suitable for V-Back stoles without substantial waste). While the repeat size is too small to use for a large frontal, Ely is a good choice for small items such as pulpit falls, burse and veil sets, Bible markers and super-frontals – and will work for chasubles. Ely would be excellent cut as orphreys on one of the plain fabric – either silk or polyester. Along with the pattern, Tudor Rose, Ely Crown – first woven in 1890 – is one of our oldest and most traditional liturgical patterns. Ely Crown is a useful, inexpensive, traditional damask with a soft, true-damask sheen. If you want to try using damasks, Ely Crown is an excellent first choice. The shades of its colors are different from the other three in this group. http://www.mperkins.co.uk/products/02pdbrocades/ely.html Note: In the coming days, I will be revising all the fabric descriptions to coincide with Ely.
8 patterns across – 8 inch inline repeat along both the width and the length making St. Aiden a reversible fabric – the center falls on the small flower between two roses. 67% viscose/33% cotton
This is a nice fabric to work with. The larger rose design is 3 ½ inches wide, making this a very nice stole fabric. Four stoles may be cut across the width with the rose central. This is a very nice, all-over, small-repeat design. Visually, St. Aiden is of a ‘light’ feel rather than formal. The colors are both white and deep cream, Pentecost red, a soft rather than intense green, both violet and Roman purple and a very nice clear, medium intensity blue. If you are looking for a good ‘Mary’ blue, this a good one.
There are two motifs: the flowers and the thistles – 6 1/2 inch repeat – the center falls on the flower motif – there are eight flower and eight thistle repeats across – 67% viscose/33% cotton.
Colors: Bright white, Pentecost red, a soft green, both violet and Roman purple and gold. This is another very nice, all-over, small-repeat design. The pattern is more defined than St. Aiden. The motif combines the English rose and the Scottish thistle and was especially popular around 1900.
63% polyester, 27% viscose, 10% metallic – 10 ½ inch repeat http://www.mperkins.co.uk/products/05lurex/evesham_violet.html Again, we have staggered motifs. Each of those motifs are 6 ¼ inches tall and 4 ¾ inches wide – nice, useful size. While Evesham can be expected to ‘show’ clearly in a large space, it will also ‘work’ well as a contrasting fabric. For instance: as the super-frontal to set off a frontal or as orphreys on a chasuble. This is a very useful fabric – I use it a lot. The colors are ivory/gold, red/gold, green/gold, violet/gold, blue/gold and gold/gold. Note: Evesham is also offered in black in 100% silk, 56 inches wide. See listing in the next section.
46% Viscose/46% Polyester/8% Metallic yarn – 18 ½ inch repeat Now this, my Dears, is what is commonly known as a ‘SENSATIONAL’ fabric. Not only sensational but an outstanding price! This is a big pattern! And, its effect is all-over. It can be used as either a chasuble (all-over effect) or as a frontal (bold without being pushy). Venezia centers well for use as pulpit falls, burses and veils. Venezia does it all. And, of course, it’s rather festal! http://www.mperkins.co.uk/products/05lurex/venezia.html Here is Venezia in action – beautifully centered (see the Embroidery page):
And, you haven’t heard it all yet! Venezia also come in a red-predominant, multi-color tapestry – with gold – at the same price.
Can you tell that I love this fabric?
Now then: Let me tell you what’s so good about this lovely fabric. If you look at it carefully, you’ll recognize it as good old Coronation! And, it is! It’s that old stand-by Coronation pattern. However! Coronation is designed to give a solid visual punch – that’s what tapestries do – which is a useful and handsome visual effect! Venezia is different; it doesn’t ‘punch’. Venezia is softer, gentler, more muted in effect. I like it a lot! As compared to the price of the standard tapestries, I like it even better!
The white/gold Venezia and the tapestry Venezia are new offerings from M. Perkins. They’re responsive to our design needs. I recommend these two fabrics to you.
The First Tier gives you six fabrics – all under $60/yard. Three good damasks and 3 good brocades. Excellent quality. Good choices !
Before we go on to the next fabric group, let’s talk about cutting stoles. Some patterns have motifs that fit well on the width of a stole – Ely Crown, for instance. We simply cut the Ely Crown pattern so the dominant motif is centered; the two stole ends match. Easy. Other patterns don’t have an easily centered dominant motif – Florence, for instance. In this case, we cut the major motif up the center producing stole ends that are ‘mirror image’. Here’s Florence as a mirror image stole: Now let me throw you a curve: This is a lovely antique stole; do you see the worn edges where the stole was caught into the cincture? The ends don’t match at all! And, it looks just fine!
I would note here that M. Perkins does our liturgical shade of rose very well. Clergy often ask if the Perkins rose is really ROSE (as opposed to Pepto-Bismol pink). Yes, Virginia, the M. Perkins rose is the really, truly liturgical ROSE! Three of the Perkins fabrics are available in the liturgical rose: Winchester, Florence and St. Nicholas.
55% cotton, 45% viscose – 1 ¼ inch repeat http://www.mperkins.co.uk/products/03ydbrocades/romsey.jpg As you can tell from the repeat size, the pattern is very small. The effect of the pattern is textural rather than decorative in itself. Romsey lends itself well to simple, understated vestments that are lightly decorated. It also lends itself well to serving as a background for dominant decoration such as major embroidery or dominant orphreys. The colors are ivory, red, green and violet.
55% viscose, 45% cotton – 1 ¼ inch repeat With its small repeat, York is an alternative to Romsey. York comes only in ivory and ivory/gold. http://www.mperkins.co.uk/products/03ydbrocades/yorkyork.html
55% cotton, 45% viscose – 7 inch repeat Glastonbury is one of the patterns designed by William Perkins around 1890; showing the rose and quatrefoils containing the crown of thorns; a clearly liturgical fabric. The pattern is sized nicely for smaller projects like stoles and burse/veil sets. And yet, the pattern is also subtle enough that it works as a background on larger pieces. Glastonbury comes in a nice variety of the liturgical colors. The white is toward the golden side, white/gold, the red is toward the Holy Week red rather than Pentecost red, a good medium green, both violet and Roman purple and a good gold. (Martha, our Cathedral seamstress, is using the Glastonbury gold as exterior facings on the Winchester green – six matching chasuble/stole sets). Glastonbury is a popular and useful smaller-patterned damask.
55% cotton/45% viscose – 14 ½ inch repeat This damask is very ‘ecclesiastical’ in appearance – traditional and dignified. The roses are 5 inches in diameter and the fleur de lys are 4 inches in width. The scale is fairly large and shows strongly. Winchester cuts up well for stoles and orphreys, either along the fleur de leis or along the roses – and centers well for smaller vestments and paraments. It’s not my favorite as the main fabric for frontals. The ivory – shown here – is two toned – giving a real ivory effect. The red is toward the Holy Week red rather than Pentecost red. The green is a deep, solid forest green. Winchester comes in both a deep blue-violet and a clear Roman purple, an excellent gold and a lovely true liturgical rose. Good, solid colors. A handsome, useful damask. Note: Along with Winchester, I think of the next three fabrics as ‘The Classic Liturgical Damasks’. This group is distinctive in that both St. Margaret and Fairford come in both damask and the matching brocade. For instance: you can use the damask for the base fabric and the brocade for orphreys. A frontal of blue St. Margaret damask with a super-frontal of the blue/gold brocade roses is a stunning combination. As well, the brocades work very well as orphreys on other fabrics – both plain and damasks.
60% cotton, 40% viscose – 14 ½ inch repeat Florence is ELEGANT!! The Florence pattern shows well in large pieces – both frontals and chasubles (stoles will tend to mirror image). Florence appeals to me strongly for its balance – not too strong and bold. This pattern was designed by William Perkins, inspired by Italian lace-work. The scale is the same as Winchester but lends itself to large spaces better than Winchester does because the individual pattern motifs are not so visually dominant. Florence offers a good color range. Three whites! Bridal, ivory and deep cream. The red is toward the Holy Week red rather than Pentecost. A good green. Violet. And! The lovely liturgical rose – on my monitor, the shade is coming up pretty accurately.
Let me draw your attention back to the fact that Florence comes in three shades of white. Go to this excellent website www.holyroodguild.com and look at their lovely chasuble called ‘Cana’. This subtle tone-on-tone treatment works so well! Nicely done. This is what Florence’s three shades of white are so good for! The ivory combined with the deep cream will give the tone-on-tone effect.
60% cotton, 40% viscose – 19 inch repeat The 7 inch roses in this pattern make a very strong statement. A row of them across a super-frontal is striking; the roses centered on a chasuble orphrey is equally striking. http://www.mperkins.co.uk/products/03ydbrocades/tcmargaret.html Using the combination of damask and brocade is striking. The damask motif is more ‘showy’ than Florence and the brocades are very strong. This fabric is able to make strong statements and will require good design skills. The colors are white (a white-white), ivory/gold, violet, a wonderful Christmas/Pentecost red, a deep, deep green, bright blue and black. All colors come also with gold – brocade. A nice fabric that makes a good, strong statement. (The black/gold is magnificent!)
60% cotton, 40% viscose – 21 ½ inch repeat Fairford is a Victorian Gothic pattern after the William Morris School, composed of two major motifs (the pineapples and the pomegranates) that are separated by a row of twining leaves. Fairford is one of my favorites – because it’s so widely useful. I appreciate ‘useful’. The rows of twining leaves make lovely stoles. This is the Fairford red damask with the red brocade as orphreys. The ivory, red, blue and violet also come in gold brocade. The black comes in both a gold brocade and a SILVER brocade. Green, gold and white come only in damask. The blue is strong and dimensional (If you want a soft blue, St. Aiden’s or St. Nicholas are the fabrics to see). The Fairford blue will carry. Don’t forget that blue is a recessive color – it goes gray over any distance. We need a good, strong blue for large churches and strong lighting – and this is it!
I know that it’s hard to tell from the detailed picture of a pattern how the fabric will appear in use! The above blue/gold detailed pictures makes Fairford look as though it would knock your sox off! And, the blue/gold combination is strong. However, here is a picture that shows how the white Fairford pattern appears over a large, flat area – a very lovely and historic frontal – quite large! I wish the pattern showed up a little better. It shows more strongly in the original photograph but fades now that I have put it up on the website. In real life, the damask effect shows well without being dominant – a perfectly balanced support for the remarkable embroidery.
This Fairford fabric was undoubtedly purchased – many years ago – from Perkins. Perkins has been offering the Fairford pattern since, probably, the early decades of the last century. Classic!
The patterns used for the embroidery come right out of the Embroidery Pattern Catalog. Also, classic!
74% cotton, 14% Viscose, 12% metallic – 18 inch repeat http://www.mperkins.co.uk/products/06brocatelles/ludlow_white.html While green/gold, blue/gold, violet/gold and black/gold are available as special orders, the red/gold and ivory/gold are carried in stock. Ludlow is an impressive fabric! My first thought is: Laudian Frontal! But, that’s too limiting for this fabric. Ludlow serves a particular purpose; it’s meant to give a very different effect from the damasks and brocades – similar to what the tapestries do. While Ludlow appears very strongly in these photographs, in real life, it becomes an all-over pattern; it will ‘fit’ just about any space. It goes very well with the Perkins Cloth of Gold. Ludlow would be very exciting to work with!
51% silk, 49% cotton – 27 ¾ inch repeat Another very handsome, dominant pattern whose motifs, like Ludlow’s, are staggered, so that the actual motif size is about 14 inches. “An elegant Gothic Revival design. Based on Netherlandish textile designs of the fifteenth century, often depicted in the art of Jan Van Eyck.” Perugia is a fascinating and handsome fabric that gives a ‘one-of-a-kind’ effect. I like it a lot. It comes only in red/gold. The red is the deep, oxblood red of martyrs and Holy Week. An outstanding fabric.
42% cotton, 31% silk, 27% metallic – 17 inch repeat Wakefield is a ‘brilliant’ fabric! Wakefield is a ‘subtle’ fabric. How can I make those two statements about a single fabric? Because Wakefield is back-to-front reversible – while one side is ‘brilliant’, the reverse side is quite soft and subtle. Fascinating! For instance: The ‘white side’ of the white is quite flashy while the ‘gold side’ is wonderfully soft. The white is on the creamy side, a deep Christmas red, violet, blue, black and gold. I couldn’t resist giving you a number of colors to look at. All of them show the ‘brilliant’ side. This is a great fabric. http://www.mperkins.co.uk/products/06brocatelles/wakefield.html Note: This last group of damasks are the high-silk content, classically traditional liturgical damasks – very best. The high-silk content gives these fabrics a lovely soft ‘hand’ and deserve the extra luxury of lining.
100% silk – 16 ½ inch repeat A classic Gothic design incorporating the pine cone and Ogee figures drawn in the Italian style of the 16th century. Perkins has brought this classic pattern back into production. I can’t give you a link to it because it’s not up on the Perkins website yet. It is offered only in white.
100% silk – Available in two repeat sizes: 19 inches and 9 inches. The smaller repeat gives 10 patterns across, the larger repeat, 5 patterns across. The motif combines the pine cone and Ogee. Go back to the Evesham brocade to see this pattern; the pattern won’t show on black in a photograph.) It’s very unusual to see 100% silk fabric that is 56 inches wide. The silks usually seen are a great deal more expensive and not as wide. The only color offered is black. The black silk Evesham would pair VERY well with the black/silver Fairford brocade, using the silver Dupioni silk as lining. Go back up to the green Winchester chasuble picture – that IHS done in silver on the breast of a black silk Evesham chasuble? Yes! A black Dupioni silk cope with Evesham as the front orphreys and the shield with the IHS in silver on the shield? Yes! Excellent!
58% viscose, 42% silk – 10 inch repeat http://www.mperkins.co.uk/products/04yddamask/tudor.html Along with Ely Crown, Tudor Rose is probably our most familiar and best beloved liturgical pattern. Because the roses are staggered, the motif is actually half the repeat, making it a perfect pattern for especially lovely stoles. The subtlety of the pattern has made it a soft background for all vestments. It comes in only two colors: a creamy white and Christmas/Pentecost red.
58% viscose, 42% silk – 7 ½ inch repeat Chelmsford has been a standard pattern in the M.Perkins line since the 1920s. The colors are an ivory-white, violet and both the red and the green are deep. http://www.mperkins.co.uk/products/04yddamask/chelmsford.html
58% viscose, 42% silk – 27 inch repeat Absolutely my most favorite fabric – the repeat is so large that St. Nicholas is not widely useful – but, I do love it. I spent a blissful summer using it to construct a full set of vestments for a parish up north of me. St. Nicholas has a very large repeat of lovely ‘shells’ which makes it especially appropriate for vestment sets that include a large frontal. This is a very old, very traditional design often used in Warham Guild sets with tapestry orphreys. The colors are ivory, Christmas/Pentecost red, ROSE, a wonderful green, violet, the perfect ‘Mary’ blue, a luscious gold and black. I have a a few smaller pieces of St. Nicholas in the country. http://www.mperkins.co.uk/products/04yddamask/stnicolas.html
58% cotton, 42% silk – 14 inch repeat http://www.mperkins.co.uk/products/04yddamask/truro.html Truro is the only Perkins fabric that comes in this deep blue (I’ve included the black close-up so you can see what the ovals look like). I’m blessed to have an old Warham Guild set done in this dark blue with black and silver orphreys – so simple and so very elegant – as only the Warham Guild could be! We used green Truro to make a set at St. Luke the Beloved Physician in Saranac Lake – years ago! Gracious! This is a soft/soft fabric that responds well to lining. Truro’s other colors are ivory, red and green.
67% polyester/33% cotton – 8 inch repeat I have never used this Perkins fabric – I can’t think why not! I’ve handled St. Hubert many times and am always impressed by it. My friend, Nancy Marie, uses it often in her commissions – you can see why! http://www.mperkins.co.uk/products/06brocatelles/sthubert.html Each of the ‘circle’ motifs is 4 inches wide. The colors are white/gold, red/gold, blue/gold, gold/gold and black/gold. Graceful fabric that works up well – says Nancy Marie!
I mentioned before that, when I started out making vestment in 1985, I had no nice person to tell me how to do it. Additionally, I didn’t begin at my parish level; I started right out working with many of the 120 parishes in my diocese. Because the pressure and confusion of needing to learn so much so quickly was so intense, I didn’t realize at the time how much the Holy Spirit was reaching out to me by giving me seamstresses who were soundly grounded in their sewing skills – that I did not have. Being in my late 40s, I had the energy and drive; they had the skills. Together, we were an unbeatable combination! Thank you, Holy Sprit! I remember coming up against the subject of tapestries. Tapestries give us a sure-fire method for creating classic vestments with practically no design work. Depending upon how much money you have to work with, you choose a tapestry that will coordinate with either a polyester or a damask, cut the vestments, cut the tapestry into 6 inch wide orphreys and apply them using the ‘standard’ dice braid galloon. Instant classic vestments! (Tapestries are expensive but, cut up into orphreys, a little tapestry goes a long way.) But, there are four ‘standard’ tapestries. Which one? Why would you choose one over one of the others? Who knew? So, let’s do that now. Working with me, you’ll have access to 3 tapestries: Aragon, Verona and Portuguese. There are two other tapestries: Venetian and Coronation. Venetian is one of the original tapestries; it was designed by M. Perkins and Perkins still weaves it. Venetian is very beautiful! However, it is not available to us because, it is so beautiful, that a vestment house in Europe purchases all of it that Perkins weaves. Coronation is an enlarged copy of Venetian – the scale is about 1/3 larger than the original. Now, here’s a a couple of funny things about tapestries: All of them (except Portuguese) include a fancy urn or jardinière as a design element. As long as the jardinière is of small to moderate size, it’s just a decorative element – part of the whole effect. In Coronation, however, the scale increase emphasizes the jardinières by 20%, making them heavily dominant. The first time I noticed this was at our National Cathedral that utilizes a portable screen made of Coronation between chapels. All my eye saw were the urns! As well, both Venetian and, therefore, Coronation include in their design a really lovely crown! Now, to the best of my knowledge, jardinières are not major Christian symbols; however, crowns are. And, the crowns in these two tapestries are so understated as to be invisible. In order to see the crowns, you really have to search! So! In and of themselves, our tapestries are not liturgically eloquent. Our tapestries gain eloquence by their beauty and the purpose to which we put them. Here they are:
You’ve learned a lot by just seeing all three of them together in the same place. You’re seeing a lot of blue, aren’t you? Especially in the Aragon. Keep in mind that blue is a recessive color; if it is not strongly emphasized, it will fade out and disappear. The first time you hold Aragon in your hands, you think, “Oh, dear! I didn’t realize the blue was so strong!” Lay the Aragon on the altar and look at it from the middle pew; the blue will settle down nicely. Notice that the colors in Aragon are different from those in Verona. The Aragon colors are clear, strong and bold. The Verona colors are muted, soft and subtle. The Fairford green works well with Verona. Portuguese has a different emphasis: (A big difference is that Portuguese has no jardinières!) The emphasis in Portuguese is upon the poinsettias and most vestment/parament designs center upon them. The Portuguese pattern contains a row of poinsettias that are ALWAYS laid across the super-frontal with a single poinsettia centered in the orphreys of both the frontal and the chasuble. I hope this gives you a better idea of what you’re working with when you consider using the tapestries. Now let’s get more specific.
61% cotton/39% Viscose – 15 inch repeat Aragon comes in two colors – red predominant and green predominant http://www.mperkins.co.uk/products/07tapestries/aragon.html Both colors of Aragon ALSO come with gold (which will not show up in a photograph). The effect of the gold is to lighten the color-weight of the Aragon. There’s a great deal of color-weight packed into Aragon! The gold doesn’t so much glisten or sparkle as it just lifts the color burden, making the entire fabric ‘feel’ visually less weighty. You can see this when you look at samples.
61% cotton/39% Viscose – 22 inch repeat http://www.mperkins.co.uk/products/07tapestries/verona.html Verona simply isn’t as ‘big’ a fabric as Aragon. There’s more empty space; fewer elements for the eye to grapple with. Chasuble orphreys usually place the central peony at the top. If there is an exterior facing yoke, the two blue flowers are usually central. Stoles, of course, will be mirror image. Like Aragon, Verona also comes in a version with gold. It’s very lovely! As with Aragon, the gold serves to lighten the effect, However, as Verona is already light, the gold makes the effect buoyant. I really like it a lot! This is how the picture comes through – it doesn’t do it justice! It just makes it look washed out.
54% cotton/30% Viscose/16% silk – 25 inch repeat http://www.mperkins.co.uk/products/07tapestries/portuguese.html Portuguese is Portuguese. Portuguese is a wonderful damask that is not used often enough – in my opinion. As a full frontal, it’s distinctively, traditionally, lush. As orphreys on a chasuble it’s lovely. Laying out Portuguese so that it does the things you want it to do takes time and patience. Your design work won’t happen immediately. I live with Portuguese laid out on my worktable for DAYS before I’m ready to take the scissors to it. Portuguese is a bit of a challenge – and well worth it!