Let me say once again:
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’. We do not put cheap stuff in our churches! If you want ‘cheap’, you’ll have to go somewhere else to get it. (And, goodness knows, there’s lots of it out there!)
Purchasing fabrics from our local fabric stores is certainly an option – most of us do, from time to time. I offer fabrics specifically for church use. What that means is, I offer the full range of our liturgical colors. Our local fabric stores stock the ‘fashion colors’. They’re not the same thing. It’s difficult to find the liturgical colors in a local fabric store.
I offer two types of fabrics: Patterned and un-patterned. The patterned fabrics are the damasks, brocades and tapestries.
I have two un-patterned fabrics: Polyester and Dupioni silk. Both of these fabrics make handsome vestments and paraments. When used in combination with the more expensive damasks, brocades and tapestries, these two fabrics help us make inexpensive vestments that are wonderfully handsome. If you look at the websites of any of our ready-made vestment supply houses, you will often see this combination of simple, inexpensive fabric combined with a ‘fancy’ fabric. You purchase enough of the ‘fancy’ fabric to work the chasuble orphrey. Out of the remnant, you construct the matching burse, veil, pulpit fall and at least one stole. Simple. Inexpensive.
POLYESTER: 60 inches wide @ $17/yard. This good fabric has a very slight ‘linen look’ pattern woven into it; the surface is smooth. I think of it as my ‘workhorse’ fabric because it works up well and does what I want it to do. 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 Ely for color contrast or the Evesham brocade would be excellent. This fabric also takes machine embroidery well. It also responds well to the Simple + Beautiful fusing technique to produce vestments that are quickly made. 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. Being somewhat slubby, the Dupioni silk is more textural than the polyester. Dupioni is silk – it has a lovely soft sheen or ‘glow’ to it – it’s not shiny. Dupioni takes machine embroidery well. Dupioni silk is a responsive fabric and does not fray excessively.
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 Dupioni colors and shades are luscious: Soft-white, ivory, Pentecost red, Holy Week red, deep green, medium green, greyed green, violet, Roman purple, medium blue and a slightly lighter blue, liturgical rose, black, wedding ring gold, old gold, honey 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 both in pre-cut stole lengths ($12). You can buy enough for one stole without having the remnant left.
Recommendation: I prefer the Dupioni for stoles because it is so responsive to turning readily into the straight, clean stole edge folds – simply steaming and finger-pressing will do it. The polyester makes good stoles too but, being polyester it resists wrinkles and, therefore, the folding process.
I send samples of both the polyesters and the silks on request – no charge.
I offer the great liturgical damasks, brocades and tapestries manufactured by M. Perkins & Son in England. While I give you a great deal of information about the wonderful M. Perkins fabrics, I want you also to see their website. Go to: www.mperkins.com This is M. Perkins’ brand new website! Additional information is being added. I hope you enjoy it – I think it’s gorgeous!
Purchasing fabric on the Internet is difficult. Seeing pretty pictures simply isn’t enough. You really need hard information in order to plan your yardage – and M. Perkins knows this:
The new M. Perkins website either addresses these questions – or will address them in the near future. In some cases, I have the information because I have worked with the M. Perkins fabrics so extensively:
As we begin talking about the M. Perkins fabrics, you need to know that the terms I use – damasks, brocaded and tapestries are not exact terms. I’m not able to understand the precise terminology – even fabric experts disagree with each other about the exact definitions. And yet, you and I need to be able to speak to each other and understand our terminology. Here are my own simple definitions:
– Damasks are all one color with the pattern woven in (see the green chasuble below).
– Brocades are the same thing except the pattern is embellished with metallic threading (see the green/gold St. Margaret above).
– Tapestries are multi-colored – the pattern is woven in, not printed on.
I’m offering you these terms so we can talk together and understand each other. These terms work for me – and they won’t cause you any harm.
SHIPPING: I cannot afford to carry an entire inventory (we’d be talking about an investment of $30,000 – minimum). Instead of carrying an inventory, I import your individual orders. Of course, the shipping costs from England to the United States (or Australia or Canada) add to the cost of the fabric. I am often 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.
Here are two chasubles: Both are handsome. 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. One chasuble is a simple plain weave and one is a damask.
The effect of the plain weave is simple, bold and straight-forward – what is thought of as ‘contemporary’.
The effect of the damask is more complex and subtle – what is thought of as ‘traditional’.
Neither is ‘better’ than the other; they’re just different. Both are handsome.
The choice is yours to make.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably interested in designing vestments. Buying liturgical fabrics for the first time is scary! You’re in unfamiliar territory – even if you’re an expert. The use of the great liturgical damasks, brocades and tapestries in your designs requires some basic information so you can feel confident. M. Perkins knows this and I know it.
It’s my job – my ministry – to make sure you have the information you need so you can feel confident and be successful.
When I was just starting out in this ministry, I didn’t know how to do this. When 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. Big mistake! Facing these poor people with 35 entirely different fabrics in 7 different liturgical colors, all priced entirely differently was a nightmare!
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 with liturgical fabrics 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 first.
To my great surprise, selecting just the right liturgical fabric turned out to be more a process of elimination than a process of choice. It took me the longest time to figure this out!
Let’s look at that green chasuble again:
What you may not realize is that the lush visual effect you see here is a factor of the of the damask; it’s not a factor of the pattern! The damask pattern of this green chasuble is Winchester. Winchester contains lovely motifs – roses and fleur de lys. But, that wasn’t what you noticed in this picture, is it? You didn’t say to yourself, “Gosh! Those are beautiful roses and fleur de lys!” What you noticed was the lush over-all ‘look’ of the damask.
Unless your design calls for a bold and distinct pattern (in which case you’d probably choose a brocade such as Wakefield or the green/gold St. Margaret), pattern is the last design element 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, in the end, they choose one of the other patterns.
I can’t stress strongly enough that – especially when considering the damasks – the specific pattern is the last design decision we make.
There’s a good reason for this: Vestments are designed to be seen from a distance – the middle pew. You don’t choose vestment fabric from a bunch of samples sitting on your kitchen table. Unless you intend to utilize a bold and distinct pattern, the pattern is only seen close up. Once made up into vestments, the pattern especially with the damasks – becomes part of the whole rather than a discreet and independent element.
(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.’ Well, my dears, 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 or the right shade of the color, the pattern of the galloon is not nearly as important as we think it is.)
The first three design decisions are made before you see any fabric at all. When you and I begin discussing samples, these first three design decisions are going to be information I will need. They’ll be the first questions I ask.
1. Budget. How much do you want to spend on this project?
2. Color. If your plan is to make violet vestments for Advent, there’s not a lot of sense in considering the greens!
3. Scale. Scale is an important consideration – how it works in liturgical fabrics. Designing vestments for the church is different from buying fabrics for our living rooms because, while we may use several different fabrics in our living rooms, all the fabrics in a vestment set are made of the same fabric. The vestment fabric we choose may have to be suitable for both the large frontal and the small burse and veil.
The people who design fabrics specifically for liturgical use understand that sets of vestments contain items of various sizes. 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, be looking for this variety! You need to be seeing, not just the whole pattern but also the patterns within the pattern.
I think of liturgical fabrics that contain several pattern scales as being ‘useful’ – the more pattern scales it contains, the more widely useful the pattern is to me when I’m designing. I also think of this facet of liturgical fabric design as ‘cut up-ability’ – ‘How many ways can I cut this fabric up?’
Let’s keep on looking at that green Winchester – it’s a perfect example of what I’m saying. The 14 inch Winchester repeat that works so well on that chasuble also 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 1/2 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 a smaller motif 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 (notice how nice the embroidery looks on that damask background) –
This usefulness and cut up-ability has a practical drawback! The M. Perkins pattern designs are so rich and offer such variety that it takes me FOREVER to choose which portion(s) of a pattern I want to use! I plan on having the fabric laid out on my worktable for DAYS! Every time I walk past it, I see something different. I know to give myself the time it takes to make my design decisions.
A trick: I bought a couple of yards of that red checked oil cloth that is white on the back that’s used for picnic tablecloths and cut it into 1 1/2 inch strips which I roll up. This roll of white 1 1/2 inch strips is invaluable to me during my design process! I pin a white strip on each side of each possible design. This allows me to see each motif clearly. I’ve been using the same roll of strips for 15 years!
I’m going on and on here about scale. It’s important! Here’s some more:
– 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 The ‘Standard’ Liturgical Fabrics.
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!
What bothers me is the fact is that we’ve become so accustomed to seeing them used that we’ve not only come to accept them as ‘standard’, we’ve come to accept that scale 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 a small-scale pattern 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 had a priest years ago who ordered a ready-made frontal for our 10 foot long altar. It was made entirely of white Agnus Dei – pure silk and very expensive. 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.
The cost of our acceptance of a ‘standard look’ is the loss of our own design flexibility and adaptability – a general loss of a portion of our own creativity. Which is a heavy price to pay!
– One would think that we could tell the scale of a pattern 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’.
Do you see the difference between these two patterns? The pattern of the Ely on the left is linear. The pattern of the Tudor Rose on the right is staggered. By my ruler, those Tudor roses are 4 inches in diameter. The Ely crowns are 3 1/2 inches. The size of their patterns is virtually the same. And yet, the Ely repeat is 6 inches and the Tudor Rose repeat is 10 inches. Their repeat sizes would indicate that the scale of the Tudor Rose is nearly twice that of the Ely. Each Tudor Rose motif is half the repeat length because the pattern is staggered. The Ely pattern is ‘in line’.
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.
The first three steps of choosing a patterned fabric are:
Do you notice that you’re able to complete the first three steps of your design work without seeing actual samples?
For the last two steps you need samples
4. Shade of the color – There isn’t just one liturgical purple. Or, liturgical red. Every liturgical color comes in a nearly infinite variety of shades! You will find that the M. Perkins fabrics give you a good range of color shades.
Of course, in order to see your choice of shades, you need to see samples. Here’s how we work the samples:
I request a $50 sample deposit because samples are expensive. I must have them back! Your sample deposit is refunded to you when my samples come home to me.
After doing your preparatory design work in steps 1 – 3, having the actual samples in your hands is very exciting! Being able to lay them out in front of you is fascinating! Moving them around in various combinations is just plain fun! Seeing the variety of shades of color choice organizes your mind.
Seeing the variety of shades of the color can also be of practical help if you need to clear your design through a committee or your clergy. Laying out the fabrics on a shade continuum is a very effective and helpful organizing tool. The visual organization is clarifying. Your committee or clergy will see their choices immediately. Color shades should be appropriate for the church they serve. Take the samples into the church. View the samples from a distance rather than right up close.
5. Pattern – And, finally, last but not least – we get to choose the pattern we like the best! Having decided upon price, the seasonal color of the project, the preferred scale of the pattern to be used and the shade of the color that works best in our church, we find that the number of choices is narrowed down to 3 or 4 fabrics – possibly fewer. It’s almost as though the fabric chooses us rather than the other way around.
So, you see that 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 I’m going to show you 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.
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 7 inch diameter 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 (30 years ago!), 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.
I’m going to be giving you pictures of the M. Perkins fabrics (if only I’ll stop talking!) Here’s something to watch for – the over-all visual effect of the pattern. Not all vestments show the over-all effect. For instance, chasubles are drapey; you don’t see the entire pattern. Frontals, however, 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’ because the roses are so dominant on a large, flat surface. On a frontal, 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. Will this fabric sag and droop all out of shape?
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!
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; many contain silk yarns that are barely able to support themselves. I recently built two maniples that were missing from a set. I used a white 100% silk purchased from a highly reputable supplier. That fabric was dreadful! It frayed spontaneously. At this time, I know of only two companies offering 100% silk liturgical fabrics that are worth the cost – Perkins is one of them.
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 and M. Perkins blends well.
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 repeat lengths 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 each piece must be centered.
Stole Lengths: (Gosh, I keep thinking of more stuff I need to tell you!) A number of the Perkins patterns are particularly good for making stoles. Constructing a stole out of these wonderful fabrics is a good way to get a ‘feel’ for how they work up. I offer a good selection of ‘stole lengths’ in a variety of colors. The stole lengths are just the right width and length to make one stole – you don’t have a large expensive remnant left over. If you would like to see a list of the stole lengths I have in stock, email me and I’ll send the list along.
(9/22/15 – The following portion of this page is under revision to bring it up to date with M. Perkins’ new website.)
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 white Fairford 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!
Here’s the blue Fairford in use – Pulpit fall and two stoles: Look at the red Fairford stole just up a bit – do you see that the damask in the body of the stole is all one color? The blue Fairford has the damask emphasized by using two shades of the same color – nice! This is a beautiful set!
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!
I want to take a moment and talk about an an extraordinary fabric I’ve been experimenting with for a few months called ‘Roman Scroll’. Roman Scroll is a heavy metallic fabric that comes in three shades – gold, old gold and silver. So far, I have used only the gold. Here it is – a true wedding ring gold:
My primary concern about this fabric was whether it would be gaudy (you know how you can never tell until you have it made up?). So I made it up for our Cathedral Dean. The stole is nicely festal and NOT gaudy! It’s perfect! The Dean wore it for Christmas Eve services. (Which must mean that he likes it too?)
I’m just now cutting stoles in the old-gold and silver. When I have them done, I’ll put them up so you can see them.
The Roman Scroll fabric 54 inches wide and costs is $125/yard. I’m offering 13.5 inch widths that will cut both 4 inch and 5 inch priest’s stoles for $65 each. For a V-Back stole, you’ll need a double width.
If you want to make a special stole, this fabric is something to give serious consideration. I like it – a lot!