© 2019 St. Martha's Guild, St. John Cantius Church, Chicago, IL

Making Scapulars

We started making our own scapulars several years ago in a workshop that we pulled together for a bunch of homeschool kids and their mommies. Making these is very addictive. The real-estate is very small and reasonable, so if you’re new to embroidery you won’t have to deal with the intimidation of a larger project. It’s just two inches. We can do two inches. Plus the results are so satisfying.

One, surprise was that there aren’t any rules for what goes on the front. It’s the wool and the color of it that determines what type of scapular you have. If it’s brown it is a Mt. Carmel.

And on the subject of wool colors, let’s talk about the five fold scapular. In the PDF file linked below you’ll find a colorful cross. It is our solution to the fat sandwich of a typical five-fold scapular – you know, the one that makes it look like you have a tumor growing on your chest. This way you have the five different colors of wool, but all in one layer. We cut out the shapes, blanket stitched the edges that butted up to each other and sewed them together.

 

Here is a link to a pdf file with several designs that we’ve played with.

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Scapular Designs

Tape the page to a window or a light box, tape your silk or linen over it and trace the design. Stabilize your fabric with some interfacing. Iron-on works fine. Stretch it in an embroidery hoop and go to town. You can practice many of your embroidery techniques without having to commit to ten feet of orphrey for a chasuble.

 

A few pointers: 

 

Make sure that your wool has been treated to make it colorfast especially if you have a light colored background for your embroidery. There are ways to help this problem using vinegar soaks, or you can get a small bottle of Dharma dye fixative from this site. This is especially important for the ‘five fold’ scapular design. 

 

Another concern is the choice of ribbon used to connect the scapulars. It will need to hold up to some heavy wear, especially if your scapular is going to be worn by anyone like my teenage boys. You should see what a pick-up football game can do to these sacramentals. I’ve resorted to leather laces for them. 

 

One other nice touch is to add the medals. I’ve found a really terrific antique bronze miraculous medal and crucifix at this Etsy shop. She has recently added the Saint Benedict medal too. Perfect! (and if you really want to destroy your schedule for the rest of the day take a look at what shows up when you search for ‘bronze rosary parts’ in Etsy.)

 

For more scapular designs and inspiration see this Pinterest board.

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This is a gallery of a set of antique scapulars that I have. I think these may have been sent out to as gifts to benefactors by nuns in a convent. Check out how they use some crazy versions of the buttonhole stitch to attache the brown felt to the silk embroidery. Might want to copy some of these on yours.