Friday 25 March 2022

Quarter-scale Chasuble Making at the RSN: Report

 The Guild of St Clare held its first Quarter-Scale Chasuble making day at the Royal School of Needlework on 19th March. The course was fully booked, and several participants had travelled long distances to be present. Our tutor, Heather Lewis, is a graduate Apprentice from the Royal School of Needlework, who is now based in York, but made arrangements to come to Hampton Court Palace specially to lead this workshop for us. She is an expert in liturgical needlework, and has taught our workshops at Hampton Court, on ecclesiastical embroidery and, most recently, burse-making.

It was wonderful day learning a truly exciting skill, the one most central to all our work at the Guild of St Clare. Several long-standing members were there, who despite their wealth of experience were keen to attend this ground-breaking course. 

I've made and mended many vestments myself but, as always, there was plenty of new material to learn. The Royal School of Needlework continues to teach the traditional techniques for hand embroidery and construction: every part of the chasuble is made by hand.


I was particularly interested to see Heather's technique for attaching braid to the chasuble. This, too, is done by hand: in order to avoid any wrinkles or distortion in the fabric it is kept flat on the table at all times.

It was a great pleasure spending time with the other participants, and thanks to glorious weather we had a fab lunch break together in the sunshine.

Thanks to the success of this occasion we are planning an annual day course at Hampton Court Palace, each one tackling a different skill relevant to liturgical needlework. Next year we hope to do a miniature Cope: look out for updates and information about online booking.

For more photos visit Joseph Shaw's Flickr page

Thursday 24 March 2022

Sponsorship for the Royal School of Needlework Certificate course

A young volunteer making a stole at a Guild event.
Traditional hand embroidery techniques, required for restoration of old vestments and the construction of new ones in the traditional way, was saved from oblivion in England by the Royal School of Needlework (as it soon became), which was founded in 1872. Today the RSN is commissioned to restore antique fabrics for museums and to create things for state occasions, such as the Coronation, as well as private commissions. They pass on these precious skills to new generations of students in their courses. including the skills of traditional vestment-making.

Their Certificate in Hand Embroidery, in which students master four different techniques by doing a project in each one, could be regarded as the entry level for serious work. 

It is, naturally, expensive and time-consuming. The good news is that the Certificate Course is also extremely flexible, making it possible for students to do it at times convenient to them, over a longer of shorter period of time. 

The even better news is that in association with the Latin Mass Society (and a benefactor) the Guild of St Clare is offering sponsorship which will pay up to 50% of the tuition fees.

We have already sponsored two students, who are now nearing the end of the Certificate. This year we will be able to sponsor two students.

The deadline for applications in 24th June 2022.

Making a burse, at a Guild event.