I love a challenge, especially when it comes to stitching and this lovely set provided a few along the way. There were the usual challenges like finding the right fabric for the lining replacement, figuring out how it was constructed to ensure careful disassembly, embroidery thread color matching, and so on.
The first major challenge came after I gently removed the original lining. This revealed the construction of the embroidery and that it would be impossible to remove and replace the pieces that needed to be repaired. This meant I was faced with repairing antique stump-work in place. That may sound reasonable enough but needles don't pass through mat-board very easily which is what, I am guessing, is tucked inside the lovely silk embroidery based on the way it sounded and felt to struggle to push a needle through. I also had to be very careful not to create any more damage while forcing the needle through the center. This was one of the most difficult repairs I have ever completed.
Next came the fun of pattern making from the old lining pieces and then stitching the new lining into place. This took some time to complete by hand but I just couldn't bring myself to place these beautiful pieces under a machine and risk oil dripping on them or any other damage. Once all of the pieces were reassembled all that remained was to clean and reapply the stole protector and collar protector on the chasuble. The lace on each is in excellent condition considering its age, but the fabric was quite worn. I replaced the fabric with new linen and reapplied the protectors to complete all necessary repairs to this exquisite set.
I love seeing these wonderful antiques return to the altar but, like parting with an old friend, I am always a little sad to see our time together come to an end. It's a funny thing to feel as if you have built a relationship with an inanimate objects and those who, long past, made and have used them. These pieces have such rich histories of offering the Holy Sacrifice and often traveling the world to land where they are now. They have impacted countless souls who were perhaps as captivated with them as I have been. It is truly a wonder to be a participant in the perpetuation of those prayers so I let it go with a joyful sigh of gratitude. That was until I received a message from the priest who owns this set asking if I could make the pieces that are missing — chalice veil and burse. I, of course, am thrilled to not only have a little more time but the opportunity to get to know the design even better by recreating it and applying it to new fabric. I will be sure to post again about the process of making these pieces when they are done and the set is truly complete. Now off to redraw designs, research fabrics and galloons, and all the other wonderful things I get to do! Deo Gratias!