Hooked on Needles

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Religious Embroidery

A few weeks ago while showing off my collection of cotton dishcloths, I mentioned that I would be leaving town for a short visit to Kansas for my mother's 75th birthday. Well, I have gone and come home again. It was a wonderful trip and I did pass out all of my dishcloths. The first two went to a nice lady sitting next to us who was traveling to Texas for her niece's wedding, one for her and one for the bride. When we arrived in Kansas City, we were picked up by a high school friend I had not seen in over 15 years. She got the next four. All the others were distributed to various relatives, and my Dad even got a chance to use his and report back to me while I was still there. He loved it!

But today I am not going to focus on dishcloths. In fact, I plan to drop that topic for a good long time! I must move on to something different!

This friend who picked us up at the airport just happens to be the Prioress of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles in Kansas City, Missouri. One of the things this order of Sisters does to support themselves is make vestments for priests to wear while celebrating Holy Mass. They are also in the process of learning how to do the traditional hand and machine embroidery that seems to be a dying art among even the religious. I had the privilege to see some of their work in progress, and that is what I wanted to show you today.

Religious Embroidery suppliesThis is just a small sample of the machine embroidery thread which was given to this little group of nuns by an order of nuns from O'Fallon, Missouri who used to do this type of work and no longer does. I am sure they were quite happy to pass on their skills as well as their supplies so this work can continue. You can read a little about this HERE if you are interested.

Religious Embroidery suppliesYou can see how old these boxes are, and there were drawers and drawers full of boxes just like this. What a treasure!

Religious Embroidery suppliesIsn't that silver thread just beautiful?

Religious Embroidery suppliesThe gold is even more beautiful in person. And so heavy to hold too!

Religious Embroidery suppliesThis is my old high school friend, now called Mother since she is the Prioress, showing off their wall of vestment patterns. The machine in the corner of the picture is an old Singer which is run by foot power! It's a treadle machine and they say it works like a dream.

Religious Embroidery suppliesThis looks like a mass of gold worms, but in fact it is only one of the many boxes of different kinds of gold used for decorating vestments. No wonder they are so heavy!

Religious Embroidery suppliesThis wall of old library card catalog drawers was full of every variety of hand embroidery thread you could imagine. What a clever way to make use of good furniture that is no longer needed in libraries.

Religious Embroidery suppliesHere are some of the machine embroidered samples that are used on vestments.

Religious Embroidery suppliesThis is a very old embroidery stand set up with the piece in progress stretched in the middle. The dove that is being copied was machine embroidered, but the work in progress is being done by hand.

Religious Embroidery suppliesThis is a piece being done by hand on another old frame. The detail is stunning.

Religious Embroidery suppliesHere is the face before shading has been added. Still so beautiful.

Religious Embroidery suppliesThis is a close-up of Our Lady's Immaculate Heart. The centers of the flowers have not been stitched yet and appear to be drawn thread. Isn't the shading just beautiful?

Religious Embroidery suppliesIn this picture, you can get an idea of the little workstation where one Sister spends a good portion of her day with her hands busy, and many prayers being offered for the holy priest who will wear this piece of art on his vestment someday.

In the next post, I will show you another form of handwork that these Sisters do, and which I tried a while back and could not master. It's called bobbin lace.

Happy Stitching!

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  • What a fantastic opportunity to see these gorgeous threads and amazing work first hand.

    By Blogger Abby and Stephanie, At May 20, 2009 at 7:33 AM  

  • oh my goodness, how fascinating! the embroidery is absolutely gorgeous! and aren't you a sweetie to give the lady and the bride each a dishcloth...☺

    By Blogger Purple and Paisley, At May 20, 2009 at 8:18 AM  

  • I have a high school classmate that is also a Nun, she was the girl no one expected to become a nun, just like the movie "Trouble with Angels"!! Thank you so much for aharing this beautiful work with us, just stunning, and so nice to know that hands still make these.

    By Blogger Jane's Fabrics and Quilts, At May 20, 2009 at 11:47 AM  

  • Fascinating Mg! Such crafty work being done there! Wow! Awesome! 8-)

    By Blogger Myra, At May 21, 2009 at 11:32 AM  

  • Wow Mary Grace! What an amazing trip you had...don't you just LOVE to give things away? I do!

    I have never seen so much thread in my life...such an interesting story! Thanks for sharing it with us!
    God Bless You,

    By Anonymous Merry, At May 23, 2009 at 11:07 PM  

  • Mary Grace, thank you for sharing about the Benedictines of Mary and their carrying on the tradition of liturgical embroidery. My late mother was a laywoman liturgical embroiderer, and I am blessed to have her apprentice piece and one of those odd old frames in my home.

    By Blogger Patricia Cecilia, At October 25, 2009 at 8:54 PM  

  • What an exceptional tour! Thank you for sharing! and God Bless the Nuns for all their wonderful work!

    By Blogger shelly, At January 27, 2012 at 7:42 PM  

  • gorgeous threads!!!!
    best regards

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At February 26, 2012 at 3:27 AM  

  • Thanks for sharing loved the color and beautiful work hope the nuns continue this art. Cindie

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 14, 2013 at 7:54 PM  

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