Child Size Phelonion

Child Sized, Byzantine Style Priest's Phelonion (outer vestment)

Some little boys want to be priests when they grow up, so why not encourage their desire to do so? The child-sized phelonion is a one-size fits-all-boys project, from about 2-6 years old. It's perfect for the boy who can't wait to be an acolyte! (The length will obviously vary greatly, but head and neck sizes do not change drastically during these years.) This is a half-day project for a beginner-intermediate sewist, and only a couple hours for an experienced sewist. There are two ways to complete this project...the recommended way is on this page, but you could also make it the same way that the mini display vestments are made for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.


  • *Outer Fabric: Child Size Phelonion (one yard; Cotton Poplin recommended)
  • Lining fabric: look for a matching "lining fabric" or a slippery fabric like satin at your local fabric store
  • Thread: any thread for the Construction phase, decorative or matched color for the Finishing phase
  • 1/2" double fold bias tape in white - or - decorative edging
  • A small piece of velcro (both sides) - or - a decorative clasp
  • Optional: a large cross appliqué for the back


  • Sewing pins
  • Fabric scissors
  • Fabric marking tool (pencil, pen, marker)
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron
  • Optional: pinking shears

*Note about Fabric

If you want to add length to the back of the phelonion, you can purchase two yards of the same pattern, and two yards of lining fabric. Follow instructions below to wash your fabric, then adjust the length before continuing.

  1. Cut off the bottom of the first yard right where the curve begins on the left and right of the bottom edge (about 18" from the nape of the neck to where you need to cut).
  2. Figure out how much length your child needs from nape to hem.
  3. Measure the distance remaining on the cut first yard (about 18"), minus 1" for seam allowance at the nape and the join (should be about 17"). Subtract that number from your total length needed (let's say you need 36" of final length: 36"-17"=19"). Add 1/2" seam allowance to the remainder: that's what you need from the second yard (from the example, that would be 19.5").
  4. Consider trying to match the fabric pattern at your cut line so that the seam is "seamless"...that might take some adjustment to the math above, and remember that your seam will be 1/2" in from the edge on both sides (think about where your seam will be and match that line in the patterned fabric). You could also add some trim to the seam, or just not worry about it!
  5. Measure from bottom up on your second yard and cut straight across at the widest part of the phelonion (from the example, that would be 19.5" up from the bottom).
  6. Sew the pieces together with a 1/2" seam allowance.
  7. Continue with "Cut and prep the fabric" below.

Sewing Instructions

First: Prepare the fabric

1. Wash and dry the fabric to soften and pre-shrink.

  • You can treat the raw edges of the fabric so they don't fray in the wash, or let it fray. Since there is selvedge all the way around the fabric it's ok if it frays.
  • Wash with phosphate free detergent on gentle cycles.
  • Dry on gentle with no dryer sheet.

2. If the fabric is wrinkly or has any hard creases, iron the fabric on the reverse side. Use hot with steam for natural fibers, and warm with no steam for polyester.

Second: Cut and prep the fabric

1. Lay the lining fabric face down then lay the outer fabric face up on top; pin together in about 5 places.

2. Cut out the outer and liner fabrics at the same time.

3. Here is where you have to decide if you'll make the vestments using these instructions (finishing the edge with bias tape and a decorative stitch) or with the instructions for the mini display vestments (finishing the edge with trim). If you prefer using trim, or you don't have a decorative stitch you want to use, go to those instructions here. If you prefer to use bias tape, continue below.

4. Cut 1/2" into the edge of the neckline, following the curves, and trimming along the L shaped lines. The "L"s are 1/2" from the edge.


Third: Construction

1. Sew the shoulder darts: fold the neck down as shown in the photo; pin. Measure 1" down the fold, make a mark, then draw a line from the mark to the corner of the fabric. Repeat for the remaining 3 shoulders (outer and lining). Sew along the line, curving your stitches along the fold so it will drape nicely off the child's shoulders.

2. Match the outer and liner right sides together and pin along the two flaps that form the front. Sew together with a 1/2" seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance with pinking shears (optional).

3. Pull the outer & liner fabrics away from each other, then fold the outer fabric right sides together, and the liner fabric right sides together. Press the seams towards the liner side, match the seams carefully, and pin along the seam halfway from bottom to top. At this point, you can test the head opening on your child to be sure it fits, but it's not necessary.

4. Sew along the seam, right next to the existing stitches, being sure to secure the stitches on both ends, and being careful to only sew the two layers of the outer fabric together.

5. Open the phelonion as it will look when finished. Press the seams flat on the front. (If you look closely, you will see a light blue line down the center…that’s what happens when you catch the liner fabric in the previous step.)

Fourth: Finishing

1. If you haven't already, change your thread to a matching color. Choose a decorative stitch that matches the pattern on the fabric. If your sewing machine doesn't have decorative options, you could sew a straight stitch or utility stitch with a gold or silver thread for embellishment. Clip and/or pin the fabric around the neck so that it sews together nicely and doesn't bunch up or slip. Make sure the shoulder seams are aligned and put a pin/clip there to secure.

2. Starting with the front opening: Take the end of the 1/2" double fold bias tape, open it, fold the end down about 1/4", then fold to a point.

3. Insert the bias tape along one side of the front opening, point down, snug into the crotch formed by the seams, and trim the tape where it meets the neck.

4. Sew the bias tape to the edge of the opening on the front with the decorative stitch. Repeat steps 2-4 for the other side.

5. Cut a piece of the hook side of the velcro to fit the end of the bias tape. Sew it on to the end with a straight or zigzag stitch. (If you would rather attach a decorative clasp or hook-and-eye, attach the bias tape following the instructions, but without the velcro and the underlap. Make both sides of the neck opening flush and attach the clasp after the bias tape is attached. Small children have trouble with a hook-and-eye which is why I recommend velcro.)

6. Snug the bias tape onto the corner of the neck so that the velcro extends to the right (or left, you can do it either direction) with the hooks facing up (away from the child's neck). With the same decorative stitch as before, sew the bias tape onto the neck, all the way around.

7. At the other end of the neck, cut the bias tape slightly past the corner of the neckline, and cut a piece of the loop side of the velcro. When you get close to the corner, fold the bias tape into itself so that it is flush with the corner of the neck, and position the velcro face down under the end of the bias tape at the corner. Sew to the end with your decorative stitch; secure your stitches.

*Since the neckline is finished and yet the outer and liner are not attached to each other, now would be a good time to put a decorative cross on the back of the phelonion. You could attach an appliqué cross to the outer fabric or embroider a cross onto the outer fabric so that there aren’t stitches visible on the liner. This is also good timing if you're doing a double-sided phelonion.

8. Now to finish the hemline. Starting at the middle of the front of the phelonion (where the fabric is hemmed together), align the unsewn edges and pin/clip about every 6 inches all the way around. (If you are familiar with binding with bias tape, you could pin/clip the bias tape onto the edges so that you can trim and connect the bias tape properly before beginning the decorative stitching. I don’t do this because I worry that I’ll end up with a bunch or a shortage in the bias tape at the end.)

9. Starting at the middle of the back, enclose the unfinished edges with the bias tape and start attaching the bias tape with the same decorative stitch as the neck. Align the bias tape as you go, no need to cut until you're at the end. Sew all the way to the beginning. (If you properly connected the bias tape, you'll be able to sew all the way to the start of the decorative stitches and be done.)

10. As you get close to the starting point, trim the bias tape just past the start, and fold the edge under to make a nice edge. Sew to the end and secure your stitch.

All done! Give to your favorite little boy and enjoy all the hugs he will shower on you for this special gift!

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