I have a priest that I dearly love who is approaching his 10th anniversary of ordination, and I want to make him vestments. I am an skilled seamstress and embroideress, so that is not the issue. But I am wondering if it is ok for me to make these or do I have to get special training or a blessing from the bishop or something before I make them? I have checked on the internet and in the local library and have found nothing on the subject, I was wondering if you have a source that might be able to help.
First, thanks for using the feminine forms “seamstress” and “embroideress”. English is a wonderful language. We should use more of it more often.
Anyone can make vestments, man, woman, Catholic, non-Catholic, non-Christian. This is not a problem. You don’t need a special blessing from anyone, though I can’t see why you couldn’t ask for one as you begin your work. We should ask for blessings more often, as well.
There is no special training other than, perhaps, experience and helpful tips from others. This would be important when attempting to make something like the extremely difficult cassock. The collars of a cassock and how it falls are tricky in the extreme. I have seen some attempts at cassocks that look hardly better than a flour sack dyed black cut up the middle. Quantum potes, tantum aude!
It would be a really good idea to have at hand a model for your work. Get a good example of the vestment you are trying to make. Ask Father how it is used, how it is supposed to be worn. What pitfalls there may be. Off the top of my head, for example, if you line a chasuble or dalmatic, make sure that you aren’t going to bake Father. The lights in a sanctuary can contribute a lot of heat, not to mention the weather. Your lining might make that vestment a real burden. Also, a lining that is all shiny and elegant and silky and pretty – to your eyes at least – might make that chasuble a chore to wear, as it’s slick interior makes it to slip around or constantly slip back as the weight of the larger, longer, back portion drags it backwards or sideways. There is one set of vestments that I am inflicted with from time to time – nice to look at, no doubt – that are seriously annoying. I am constantly pulling them back into positions.
Oh, the horrible hardships we poor priests have to shoulder!
Anyway… if you think you can do the work well, have at! Good luck! Do your very best with the very best materials. Our liturgical worship deserves nothing less.
Perhaps readers here can chime in with more tips.