Saturday 26 December 2020

Handmade Christmas at St Philip's Priory, Chelmsford

 Fr Stephen writes: "If it's red, and not a flower, then I've sewn it this week (the last week of Advent)...Getting good at upcycling old bits!"

Fr Stephen has a remarkable gift for making beautiful new altar furnishings out of crumbling old bits of vestments: I hope he'll give us a tutorial one day soon!

Friday 25 December 2020

Hand-stitched Christmas presents

It's the time of year when our sewing efforts are directed away from vestments and embroidery, and towards the children on our present lists. This year I enjoyed myself enormously, making felt crowns and more stuffed animals, with clothes to go with them. James Sharpe has also taken a break from Royal School of Needlework homework to make a felt cat. 

Luna and Alfie, made by Lucy

Felt crown, made by Lucy

Another felt crown, also by Lucy

James's marmalade felt cat

Friday 18 December 2020

Completion by our 2020 sponsorship winner of the Jacobean Crewelwork module

 Regular readers will remember that our Royal School of Needlework Sponsorship was this year won by a religious, who because of the hidden nature of the vocation prefers to remain anonymous. Despite the difficulties posed by the lockdown, our winner has already completed the first module of the Certificate Course: Jacobean Crewelwork. This is a beautiful piece of work, admirably executed, which already displays the skill and imagination which the RSN exists to foster.

The colour scheme is charming, and shows a real feeling for colour.

I particularly love the use of trellis stitch in this piece: it's perfectly even, and the patterns are original and fun.

The unnamed embroiderer of this piece comments: "I was trying to figure out how long it took in total and know it's over 100 hours and probably somewhere around 150 hours or more...The romantic in me likes the idea of the sacrifice of hundreds of hours in making, say, a vestment and imagines the holy Angels adding this offering up to God at the Mass whenever the vestment is worn. 

"In meeting other broderers I was amazed at how talented others are; though it is also a little saddening when this talent is not used for God's glory, which is why it is very pleasing to me that the Guild of St Clare exists."

We are delighted to see the award in such hands as these, being put to such good use. Congratulations to our winner, and thanks for all you do to promote the use of embroidery in the service of God. 

Wednesday 16 December 2020

December Vestment Mending day in Oxford

Thanks to the exemptions relating to instruction and training, our vestment mending day in December was able to go ahead, despite the restrictive Covid 19 tier system. 

We had a lovely day of sewing, mince pies and generally setting the world to rights: it was a delightful island of normality in this rather peculiar Advent season, which is usually so full of sociable festive preparations.

I hope we will be able to hold further sessions in the New Year, when mince pie eating will continue at least up to Candlemas.

Monday 14 December 2020

Completion and gift of faldstool covers to Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane

 Many members will recognise these faldstool covers, which have been under construction for many months. They were completed during lockdown, and when lockdown 2 was lifted, we were able to take them in person to Maiden Lane to present to Fr Alan Robinson. They were needed for the Second Sunday in Advent, when the parish was expecting a visit from Bishop Robert Byrne of Hexham & Newcastle Diocese.

To my relief they fitted the faldstool as they ought, and looked beautiful in the magnificent setting of Corpus Christi, which Fr Robinson has lovingly restored. He has been spending his lockdown in making as many improvements to the church and its furnishings as possible, and the church is a fitting place for pontifical liturgies for which the faldstool is needed.

We have enjoyed making these covers enormously, and many Guild members have learned a lot about the traditional methods of vestment making in the process. I know that Fr Stephen Morrison OPraem, of the Chelmsford Norbertines, is particularly looking forward to assisting at a Pontifical Mass at which the black set will be used, as he himself contributed largely to the making of it.

Our next commissions involve making stoles, maniples, chalice veils and burses to complete Low Mass sets belonging to the Latin Mass Society. This will make use of the same skills that we have honed in the making of the faldstool covers: after this, I hope we'll make short work of them.

Thursday 3 December 2020

Sewing and lace-making lessons in London

 Claire Fitzgerald, one of our generous and dedicated volunteers, is offering sewing classes for children and adults: for more information or to get in touch with Clare, click here.