Mitres & Godets

No not that kind of mitre! Some altar cloths are simple, they only have outside corners. Others not so much. Sometimes there are cutouts, sometimes we have to do an inside corner. Sometimes we sweat…

Now don’t actually get me started on cutouts for microphones! You spend forever wrestling with yards of linen to manipulate it into an altar cloth, stitching the entire thing by hand. Why hand sewing? Because you get a better quality end result, no contest! And then… after making a perfectly good cloth you have to make a hole in it because somebody thought it was a good idea to have a microphone sticking out of the middle of the altar! WHAT?! No, I can’t even speak about that. Yes, I’ve done it. I was not happy.

Anyway, right now I’m working away on a replenishment of sorts, for a small chapel. There is both a main altar and a tabernacle altar, they both require at least two cloths. (One to wash and one to wear!) The tabernacle altar is very lovely, recessed into a curved wall. This does mean that for these cloths there are four inside corners to navigate as well as the curve. Hmm…
Let’s take a look.

Measure twice, cut once!

Actually measure about fifteen times with this one! Cutting errors are upsetting. I often think that there are strong similarities between making precise linens and woodworking, other than the material of course.
By the way, I use pencil to make my markings and then scrub like the dickens to get the marks out. Tried and tested. I’m not a fan of disappearing ink pens… does it really disappear? Is there really no residue? Hmm.

Outside corner.

Here is a pretty standard outside corner, mitred and held in place and ready to stitch but what about the inside corners…
By making that mitre I am dealing with bulk in the corner by removing some fabric. On an inside corner I have the opposite problem, not enough fabric.

Now I’ve seen this problem addressed in a couple of ways and I was not satisfied with either. One is to simply do the cutout and apply a binding. But how to satisfactorily marry that to the other hems? Bind the whole thing and call it a quilt? Horrors!!
The other way I’ve seen it done was to make a kind of fabric sandwich. I can’t say that really spoke to me as an elegant solution. Horrors again!!

Now lets get something straight, I’m not an SCA type but if you make vestments and are interested in historical tailoring you learn a thing or two. Like how to make linen shifts or old fashioned albs, you learn about rectangular pattern-making. You learn about gussets and godets my dear!

The godets!

The altar cloth most definitely does not need a gusset. I did determine that godets would be the very thing. Small triangular pieces of fabric inserted where the fabric is cut open to make the inside corner. Ingenious. Fiddly. Tricky and picky. Right up my alley!

Front. And why-ever is this photo not B&W?
Ah ha! The back.

To be precise it is actually an inverted godet. I’ve never seen that done but someone must have done it as I cannot be the first person ever. In any case it’s one of those things where you just sort of sit with the wee problem and the solution comes to you unbidden. Inspiration… the Holy Spirit at work!

I utterly failed to get a picture of the finished cloth in situ. Sorry. But here is a picture of the back of it; corners, curves, godets and all… I’m quite pleased with it in a small way. And rather wonderfully, in the chapel itself you don’t really notice the cloth at all. What you see is the tabernacle. As it should be…

Thanks for reading.

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