How to Sew Display Vestments for CGS
Beginner to intermediate level sewing project to outfit your church's Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Atrium with a set of six miniature Byzantine style phelonia (vestments). Cut-out-and-sew fabric can be ordered from St. Tabitha's Workshop (links below). Finished product will enhance the lesson objectives and give the children an almost identical representation of the real vestments.
- Cut out and Sew Fabric from St. Tabitha's Workshop at Spoonflower (one yard of satin in gold, blue, & green, and one yard of satin in red, purple, & white; see pattern choices below)
- All purpose thread (to piece the parts together)
- Gold and/or Silver metallic trim, 1/4” - 1/2" wide, 8 yds per 6 vestments (one spool of 4 yds of gold and one spool of 4 yds of silver complete one full set of 6 vestments)
- Gold and/or Silver thread (to attach trim)
- Gold and/or Silver cross appliques
- Pinking shears (optional but recommended)
- Fabric shears (or sharp scissors)
- Sewing machine
- Sewing pins
- Turning tool (chop stick, knitting needle, etc)
- Hand sewing needle
Prepare the fabric
- To keep the raw edges of the fabric from fraying in the wash and making a mess of loose threads, do one of the following: Sew the raw (cut) edges of the fabric with a loose zig-zag stitch; Cut along the edge with pinking shears; or Put the fabric in a delicates bag and let it fray.
- Machine wash warm or cool with phosphate-free detergent on a gentle or delicate cycle.
- Machine dry on a low heat setting.
- Iron the fabric as needed, on the reverse side, with the proper setting for the fabric (high for cotton, low for polyester).
Cut Out the Fabric
- Cut out the 12 vestment pieces along the edge of the pattern/solid color with pinking shears, cutting straight across the top of the neck cut-out.
- Use straight shears to cut along the lines in the neck cut-out.
Sew Shoulder Darts
- Fold the shoulders so the black "L" becomes a horizontal line with the fabric folded at the corner. Pin in place along the black line and put a vertical pin in at the end of the line (see photo).
- Sew a dart at an angle just below the black line, using the corner where your pins meet as your ending point. Backstitch start and end. Dart the shoulders in both the outer and lining.
Join Outer Shell and Liner
- Match the outer shell and liner with right sides facing and pin. Use more pins with the satin than you do with cotton since it is fairly slippery. Mark a turning hole at the bottom of the vestment that is about 2" wide.
- Starting off-center on the bottom of the vestment, sew around the entire edge with a ½” seam allowance.
- Backstitch and cut the thread when you get to the first shoulder dart, restart on the other side of the dart to go around the neck, backstitch and cut the thread at the start of the other shoulder, then restart on the other side of the second dart. Continue around to the turning hole on the bottom of the vestment.
- Trim excess fabric around the neck hole and cut the 90-degree corners. Pinking shears are recommended here but not required.
- Turn the vestment right side out and gently poke out the corners.
- Iron the seams flat with the appropriate heat setting.
- Hand sew the front closed with a whip stitch in the lining fabric. The vestments are only displayed, not used, so you do not need to leave an opening for a head to go through, or a workable closure at the neck.
Attach Trim & Cross
- Start attaching trim at the base of the back of the vestment: lay the trim flush with the edge of the fabric and sew it on with matching thread. Most trims will attach with a straight stitch, and be sure to backstitch. Don't measure the vestment and cut the trim, just leave the trim on the spool until you're back around to the start.
- Sew the trim on all the way around and back to the starting point. Overlap just slightly and secure with a backstitch.
- For the neck: start about 1/3 down from the neck on one side of the join, attach the trim up and around the neck, then back down the other side of the join.
- If using one of the mini crosses recommended in the materials list above, stick it onto the back of the vestment about where you feel the bottom of the trim on the front. Sew it onto the back of the vestment by stitching along the middle of the cross and bar (be sure to move the front of the vestment out of the way when you're sewing).
- If making your own mini cross with the trim used along the edges, cut the trim, pin it onto the back, and stitch it onto the vestment.
Enjoy the fruits of your labor and your hard work for the children of your parish!