• Julie S.

We’ve been framed! And it’s so wonderful!

Updated: Jun 18, 2019

When Fr. P mentioned that he had some embroidery frames for us to use whenever we got around to embroidering bigger things, all of this loveliness was somehow not what we expected.

Talk about delicious patina

These embroidery frames were retired a number of years ago from the embroidery house run by the Sisters of the Precious Blood in O’Fallen, Missouri. These beauties churned out a river of vestments in their day. When the 1970s blundered in shunning all things beautiful, these workhorses slowed down and finally tipped up in a corner until Fr. brought them to Saint John Cantius.


I’m noticing a few interesting things about these lovely stretchers and one big mystery. The nuns used that beloved ticking fabric for attaching the project to the frame. The square frames have ticking on adjacent sides and it is full of little threads from multiple projects. They feel like small sacramentals to us and we are loathe to remove them. The largest pair of stretchers was missing the separator bars. Karen’s wonderful husband made us a new set to replace them along with a classy mallet to hammer these into submission if necessary.




What’s that skinny stick for? It came along with the big pile. You can see it in the fourth image below. It feels important, or maybe it was used to play with the monastery cat.


I can't wait to blow off the dust and put these ladies back to work. First project – a burse for that purple velvet chasuble set.




Update ~ November 3, 2016

This is so neat. I have some back story on these delicious embroidery frames. They came from the convent of the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood in O’Fallon, Missouri. Sister Mary Hiltrudis ran the Ecclesiastical Art Department. She and the 20 nuns who worked with her are the ones who originally made the purple velvet chasuble that we are refurbishing. I have just un-retired one of their stretchers to create the gold work embroidery for the burse that will match their chasuble.

The kids caught me staring off into space over that one.

1938 image of one of the embroideresses from the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood



Update #2 ~ February 19, 2019 About that deep affection for this small embroidery frame. After fighting with hoops we thoroughly enjoyed the solid drum of our linen laced into this antique.

So much so, that we were always waiting in line for a turn with it. We have some other new slate frames that work fairly well but they’re usually a bit larger than needed, plus we were really digging the throw-back vibes from this one.


That got us thinking about just making more like it. This size is perfect for many pieces that will come up regularly; stoles, maniples, chalice veils, ciborium covers, burses, apparels. So we made six frames with canvas stretchers from Blick Art Supplies. They’re super inexpensive. Buy four sides and just slide them together at the corners. We found that they were tight enough that you didn’t need to worry about them slipping apart – in fact we had to use a hammer to get them settled all the way. Fabric and pretty tacks, a sharpie marker to add a little decoration, sand paper to take the sharp edges off and a little stain and these were ready for action. Our frames are made with heavy duty stretchers. They had a little quarter round edge along one side to keep the canvas off the wood. That seemed overly thick so I ran the pieces through my husband’s planer and shaved them off. Perhaps the regular weight stretchers would work fine. An added benefit is that you can exchange sides to make different sized frames if needed I can see a long orphrey band up through the middle of a long skinny frame.


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