How to make clergy vestments

Updated November 21, 2016

Liturgical vestments are essential for carrying out church services in accordance with Roman Catholic law. Vestments are ceremonial garments worn by Catholic clergy during times of mass, public prayer, ordinations and celebrations. According to the Everything Vestment, traditional vestment pieces worn by a Catholic priest include the chasuble, burse, veil, stole and maniple. Varying levels of church hierarchy require different vestment accessories. A bishop, for example, may also wear a tunic, while an archbishop will fashion a pallium (wide neck band).

Obtain a vestment pattern. Contact an organisation specialising in church linens and vestments. Speak with an administrator about the church figure your vestment is for -- a priest, for example -- and ask for the necessary patterns. Visit websites like and/or to browse pattern options.

Purchase the fabric. Use silk for the outer layers of all vestment items. Choose a rayon-acetate fabric, tapestry or dupioni silk. Obtain enough satin to line the inside of vestment pieces. Select appropriate colours -- vestment green rather than lime green, for example -- for the clergy you are dressing. See pattern details for needs and measurements. Buy cardboard to complete the burse.

Measure and cut the five standard vestment pieces based on your selected patterns. Fit each piece to the body dimensions of the individual wearing the garment. Make the stole, for example. The stole is a long, thick strip of pattered fabric draped over the chasuble. Choose a fabric (silk) and colour (ivory or gold) you desire. Measure a 5-inch width for the body of the silk. Measure the slanted distance from the shoulder to the waist. Measure the length of the piece hanging down from the waist to the knee. Cut the fabric. Continue measuring and cutting for each of the remaining four pieces.


A chasuble is the main body garment worn over the neck and shoulders -- draping down the clergy member's front and backside. The burse is the cardboard-covered cutout of a cross carried by a priest during ceremonies. Veils are hooded headpieces covering the hair and forehead. The maniple is a 1-yard long silk band that hangs over the priest's arm.

Things You'll Need

  • Vestment pattern
  • Rayon-acetate fabric
  • Satin
  • Cardboard
  • Silk
  • Scissors
  • Cutting board
  • Measuring tape
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Computer
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About the Author

Jeffery Keilholtz began writing in 2002. He has worked professionally in the humanities and social sciences and is an expert in dramatic arts and professional politics. Keilholtz is published in publications such as Raw Story and Z-Magazine, and also pens political commentary under a pseudonym, Maryann Mann. He holds a dual Associate of Arts in psychology and sociology from Frederick Community College.