QUAERITUR: making vestments

From a priest reader:

I’m sure you’ve posted on this, but I cannot recall when…

I’m interested in who you would suggest to make a vestment, particularly a rose one, so it’s just right.

My preference would be either a Gothic style, or if I could see an example, perhaps something like the vestment our holy father wore some time back, which I’d describe as a very ample “fiddleback”—perhaps you recall the one I mean.

The Altar Society wants to donate this, and has $800 to put toward it. A full set with all the parts would probably be out of our reach, but we may be able to get several nice pieces.


You know… I think someone once did provide a link to a site with patterns for making vestments.

However, you should also consider purchasing vestments.

I was in the church goods section of Leaflet Missal in St. Paul, MN on Monday and there were a good selection of rose vestments in the so-called Gothic style having a good color, and not the nasty bright pink you sometimes see.  Ask for John in church goods at Leaflet.  Leaflet would be limited in the Roman department.

Remember: "fiddle-back" is a vague and misleading misnomer.  There is a sort of real "fiddle-back" which has Spanish influence I think.

Also, Gamarelli in Rome has the classic Roman cut, with all the necessary pieces.   They do low Mass sets or any number of pieces for whatever level of solemnity.

In the meantime, perhaps someone out there can dig up that site which had the patterns for vestments.

The classic modern Roman cut does have specific proportions for its design and certain details which are to be included, such as the pattern of the galloni or "orphries" or "trim" or whatever you choose to call it.  Sometimes people think that any chasuble with the squared sides is "Roman".  They aren’t.  For example, Roman vestments don’t have a big Cross on the back.

If you are looking for the pattern for the historic vestments, which Gamarelli would call the "taglio filipino", because of St. Philip Neri, I am not sure where you would get the pattern.  I suppose some day I could take the measurements from the vestment I have in that style.  I don’t have dalmatics for it, however. 

Maybe you good readers can help.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Father:

    Thanks for posting this, especially so promptly!

    I don’t mind admitting I sent the email; and I apologize, I did mean to buy this vestment; my hope was a recommendation on the best place, especially in order to get the right shade of rose.

    My thought was this was an opportunity to get a vestment in a different–yet classic–design. And yes, it was the “taglio filipino” vestment I meant, which the holy father wore last Pentecost, and posted on your site here. I’d love to have a vestment made like that, if not this time, then another time. But if that’s not doable, then the classic, Gothic style is what would suit our parish best.

    The Altar Society may, ultimately, go for a gold vestment; which would be very nice and easier to get right, of course; but a recommendation on a maker would be helpful, thanks to all.

  2. Kaneohe says:

    Fr Fox – check out the links at The New Liturgical Movement blogsite – they have links to many excellent vestment purveyors that can assist you.

  3. Legisperitus says:

    So, is the one in the little picture there with the big cross on the back Roman or not Roman? I’m confused now.

  4. caveat emptor says:
  5. Ed Francis says:

    Fr. Martin Fox –

    Below is an interesting note from the Sisters of Carmel March/Lenten newsletter. At last word, they were swamped with vestment work and unable to take new orders, but that may have changed.

    “We have also been working our way through repairing a small mountain of very old vestments. This intricate work is most painstaking, but so very interesting. The clever ingenuity of our expert seamstress Sisters discovers a way to “heal” the vestment for another few years of wear. Sometimes we find beneath the vestment linings notes written by the makers of these vestments, often by communities of nuns. The notes record the date of its completion and where it was made: precious relics of another age—an age of faith and matchless devotion! Recently, we opened the lining of an old chasuble to find the page of a French calendar from the 1890s!”


  6. Trevor says:

    Perhaps some ladies in the parish are handy with a sewing machine…


  7. As a satisfied customer of


    For a beautiful rose set (complete) well within your budget:


  8. Reverend and dear Father:
    I am the North American sales rep for Tridentinum. We advertise on the NLM. We are an Italian firm and have culled the sacristies of the great cathedrals of Europe for patterns and styles of vesture that have lasted. We have fine reproductions as well as original creations. All of our vesture is hand embroidered and/or handmade with original silken, gold, cotton, or woolen threads. We have a chasuble modeled after the one wore by St. Charles Borromeo. It is a beautiful cut somwhere between a \”fiddleback\” and a gothic cut. The Apostolic Palace makes use of our vestments and Msgr Guido Marini is very pleased with our work.

    Feel free to contact me for a consultation. Perhaps we may be able to help. We design and craft our vestments with centuries,not decades in mind.

    J. Basil Damukaitis

  9. Josephus muris saliensis says:

    You want to look at : http://www.tridentinum.com/ These are the people who made the Holy Father’s Philippine vestments.

    If you would like paper patterns, plesse post this on this thread (if Fr Z allows), I have friends who could assist with patterns from monastic workshops.

  10. Josephus muris saliensis says:

    Sorry, J. B. D. You beat me to it.

  11. Herbert says:

    These are beautiful vestments. I would like to share one information. I visited a Church museum in Manila several times. Its called the San Agustin Church (still functioning as a church but keeps an extensive museum of religious art and history). I have seen there on display a series of very old vestments dating back at the time when the Philippine Islands was still a Spanish Territory. They have those fiddle backs made of silk with embroidered with designs of tropical plants and trees such as coconut trees and palms. However I notice that these fiddle backs were small in comparison with the fiddle backs that I see today. If an average person with an average height would wear them it will not even reach the knees, perhaps just the lap. Why was it small? was that the fashion of the times? its small almost like a jacket. But I would not think that the priests were tiny. During colonial time most of the priests in the Philippine Islands were Spaniards and Spaniards are tall mostly.

  12. This is something that came up while we were hanging around the sacristy one day. Is there a distinction between “taglio filipino” (as worn by Philip Neri) and what would be described as “Borromean” style (as worn by Charles Borromeo), or are they basically the same?

  13. Susan Maria says:


    My Vestment Design Studio can provide a stunning Rose Vestment for the price range you are seeking.

    I would suggest the British ‘Florence’ two tone Rose fabric, which is a deeper shade of rose, and not as bright as the standard rayon rose fabrics. Note that there are limited weaves available in Rose. I’ve found over the years that some customers like the deeper rose shades, whilst others really go for the brighter pinks. The finished look of the vestments also depends on the expert handling of the stitching and interior construction of the pieces.

    The trimming needs to be stitched down in such a manner that it does not pucker or corrugate. Baggy, billowing linings (one time I had to completely reline by hand an expensive, brand new ITALIAN vestment that was going to Park Avenue, New York, as the lining was dreadful!) All this is very important. We can provide you the complete set: Chasuble (either Gothic or Roman); Stole, Maniple, Burse and Chalice Veil. Lining in pure 100% silk; fully trimmed and with bullion embroidery on back of Chasuble.

    God bless you and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

    Susan Maria Evans

  14. rljfp says:


    You might want to check out the Agnus Dei Vestments @angusdeivestments.com. Mrs. Lynn Guillory has become quite an accomplished maker of all types of vestments. She takes a special pride in “recycling” abandoned antique or vintage orpherys, galloon and fringe and she only uses the best liturgical fabric. Mrs. Guillory is also very reasonable. It will only take a minute to check out her website and she could probably fix something up in your price range.

  15. ALL: I will permit the links posted to business to remain.

    I should be consulted before posting what are clearly your own advertisements for your own commercial businesses.

    [In other words… if it is your business, please check with me. Okay?]

  16. Julie says:

    I recently came across a new order of traditional contemplative nuns in Kansas City, MO, the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, who make vestments for priests by hand. Their website is http://www.benedictinesofmary.org if you’d like to look at their website. Look at the bottom right hand corner of their home page for their online store called the House of Ephesus for more information on what they offer.

  17. Peter says:

    Mr Michael Sternbeck of The Saint Bede Studio specialises in Gothic, Borromean and Philip Neri style vestments. He has produced some wonderful designs and had the privilege of supplying vestments to the Holy Father for the consecration of the new altar at St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney during World Youth Day. I believe that the Borromean or Philip Neri styles are the ones you are looking for. You can see his work on his website – http://www.saintbedestudio.bizland.com – or on his blog – http://saintbedestudio.blogspot.com/

  18. Peter says:

    David L Alexander,

    The Philip Neri and Borromean vestments are discussed here: – http://saintbedestudio.blogspot.com/2008/09/chasubles-of-16th-and-17th-centuries.html

  19. isabella says:


    I had the same question not too long ago. I went back and looked at the archives on this blog and several people had some really helpful suggestions. It was on December 16, 2008, if you want to go back and look at the answers I got.


  20. Gina Karako says:

    Dear Father,
    With Fr. Z’s permission to post a response to your inquiry, I invite you to browse my website, http://www.vitafidei.com. I design and make Roman Chasuble Sets which include: maniple, stole, burse, chalice veil, and chasuble. I consult with a traditional FSSP priest/tailor regarding particular pattern designs for the St. Philip Neri, Roman, and Gothic chasubles, dalmatics, copes, humeral veils and much more. I will design to meet your particular specifications and budget to produce an exquisite set of traditional vestments worthy of the Holy Sacrifice. I would love to speak with you regarding your particular needs,
    specifications and budget. You may view my work, and contact me at 214 968 1427 or email at gina.karako@gmail.com. There are few things I enjoy MORE than to design a set of vestments for a priest to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. If you have already found someone to meet your needs, that’s great. Otherwise, I would love to visit with you.
    God bless,
    Gina Karako, Vita Fidei

  21. Rick says:

    at this website you can purchase good vestment patterns made by nuns:


  22. Lara says:

    Of course you cannot forget to consult the Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles!!! URL http://www.benedictinesofmary.org/ At present, they are unable to work in the fields as much as they need to as they were ousted from the prior farm in PA and relocated across country (US) to Missouri where they are working diligently on a Capital Campaign and sewing vestments to support themselves.

    They do GORGEOUS work!

  23. The priest is clothed for Mass.

    But, remember… so are altars.

    A reader sent this:

    Here are some beautiful examples of Or Nue embroidery: vestments & frontals, particularly one of Our Lady that people interested in making unique vestments might like to see.  Unfortunately, one estimate was that it took 30,000 hours of women sewing to produce a complete sets of vestments (including cope).  But how beautiful.  I think the technique could be used for orphreys to customize plain vanilla vestments.



    I don’t know if you want to post this or not, but for sheer beauty, I don’t think this can be touched.  People (including me) spend hours creating costumes for ren-faires, SCA, etc., so why not for the Church?

     But it would take a large, enthusiastic altar guild to do it in a reasonable time frame.

  24. Derik Castillo says:

    I remember reading a good review of Saint Charbel vestments in this blog. I don’t know if they are still in business.

  25. Thanks to all who offered suggestions and links; I’ve investigated several already.

Comments are closed.