How to Make a Nun’s Habit

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Over the last year I’ve received requests from folks about how to make habits and where to find sewing patterns and fabric. I’m hoping that you might have some suggestions for me to pass along to these folks.

I would especially like to help a woman who wrote me last week. She has volunteered to help a religious community by making their habits for them. The community is Cistercian and is having a difficult time finding the black and white fabric used to make their habit. I would be most grateful if you have any suggestions as to where to get fabric (keeping in mind the value of frugality), patterns for habits, and any other suggestions you might have for this woman who is trying to learn as much as she can (she has limited time talking with the nuns because they are cloistered).

If you happen to have some expertise in this area and would be open to connecting with this woman, I know she’d be so thankful — just let me know and I’ll hook you up.

Thank you in advance for any suggestions, ideas, etc. that you can offer. Sister Julie

Comments

Dennis sfo March 24, 2008 at 8:29 am

In response to your request for patterns, fabric and the like, I can only say that the market is an extremely narrow one, and the makers of habits are quite reluctant to divulge/share their knowledge. As a member of the Secular Franciscans, I and others are pursuing the quest to resurrect the original habit of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis, namely, a simple tunic and cord, without the cowl and hood. At Glenfont they’ll make you any habit you’d like, dating as far back as four centuries. They will not sell patterns, fabrics or other secrets of the trade, as it is their primary business in assisting to sustain themselves. I’ve found other manufacturers of religious habits to respond in like kind. In short, if you have business for us, we’ll talk to you. Otherwise, don’t bother us. Thanks. Many contemplative nuns/monks sew religious habits to sustain themselves as well. All I can say is,” pray on it, and the Holy Spirit will lead you to your source.

Sr. Mary Catharine March 24, 2008 at 7:50 am

Buona Pasqua. Sister, please have her email me and I can give her resources.

Sister Julie March 24, 2008 at 8:04 am

And Happy Easter to you and your sisters. Thank you so much for responding. I’ll forward your email. Sister Julie

Br. Dominic-Michael OHS March 25, 2008 at 8:03 am

I have bent myself to the task of sewing habits. My advice is to spend a lot of time looking at images of traditional nuns in habit, then spend an equal amount of time scouring pattern catalogues and used pattern sites. Choose a dress pattern, or skirt and bodice pattern, that most closely resembles what you are aiming for in your size or larger.

Sewing is a creative process, very few people adhere absolutely to the pattern details, this is the fun of sewing your own, so with forethought you can adapt these regular patterns to other designs…what is a habit but a certain style of dress? (and this goes for male habits too).

My own habit is “Linen”, actually a 100% polyester linen lookalike that is machine wash and wear. my scapular is broadcloth. cincture is cotton rope dyed blue. I also have an underskirt that is heavy cotton twill and brushes the tops of my shoes, black as a cassock as this is the purpose it serves. It hides my legs and adds a more formal look when serving or preaching. I suggest plain heavy fabrics, cotton twills, linen if you can afford it, or lookalike linen if you can’t. Fancy design or close tailoring is not needed, and is to be avoided. Look at Mennonite women for another example.

Whatever you do, use top quality thread and do a good job of stitching. Treat the Habit just as you would a vestment such as a chasuble or cope etc. Durability is essential and it is easier to spend an extra 20 minutes sewing carefully than hours later mending seams that give out.

I’ve never tried making a veil and “appurtenances thereto” – for obvious reasons – monks wear a hood.

Jen March 25, 2008 at 12:36 pm

Just a thought but do they have a SCA (society for creative anachronists) nearby? A lot of the members make their own period clothing. If they can’t track down patterns and fabrics, I don’t know of anyone who can.

Jen March 25, 2008 at 12:36 pm

Er, SCA chapter, that is. Teach me to comment without finishing my coffee…

k. edwards September 18, 2008 at 5:20 pm

hi-know this is an odd request–am looking for the head gear for a civil war era nun for a local film. Any suggestions–have had no luck making our own–have photos of the real sister–ours looked funny. Thanks for any help.

Sister Julie September 19, 2008 at 3:41 am

It kinda depends on which community of nuns because the head gear varied across congregations. What does the rest of the habit look like? Where is the nun located? or where is she from? That would give us an indication of what community she likely belonged to and therefore what her head gear might have looked like. Blessings on your search.

L. Pregenzer October 12, 2008 at 6:44 pm

You might want to look into the Daughters of Charity (St Elizabeth Anne Seton) in Emmitsburg, Maryland. This area (near Gettysburg) is steeped in Civil War History.

Anne October 24, 2008 at 8:35 am

I came across one of your blog entries from awhile back where a woman was looking to help sisters make their habits. I have a similar problem, but it’s on a smaller scale. The Sisters of Notre Dame in Covington are looking to have a doll in their archives with their habit. The problem is, they don’t know anyone who can make a habit for this doll that would be able to make it without a pattern. Where might I look to find a pattern for a doll habit that is exactly the same as the SNDs? They don’t even have a pattern for the original habit that the Sisters wore anymore, so they can’t look at that and make it smaller. Do you know anyone who can make this for us by looking at a doll that has on what we’re looking for?

Sister Julie October 24, 2008 at 8:46 am

Honestly, I don’t know, Anne, but I’m hoping others will respond here with some suggestions.

Katie November 11, 2008 at 3:32 pm

to K. Edwards: I can help you with habits for sisters of the Civil War era. The archives of the Daughters of Charity is closed at present and they get so many requests they are unlikely to respond.

Mary November 13, 2008 at 8:49 pm

Anyone have a habit or pattern for the Carmelites – St. Therese of Lisieux’s especially. Need it for a church play.

Sr Margaret November 28, 2008 at 12:13 am

With regard to Cistercian community in need of habits or patterns. We make our own and if you wish you may pass along our e-mail and we will do what we can for them.

Sharon November 30, 2008 at 10:37 pm

I came across your site by chance. Would you happen to know if Anne is still looking for someone to make a doll habit for The Notre Dame Sisters at Covington, Ky? I dress nun dolls and would be glad to dress one.

Sister Julie December 1, 2008 at 4:53 am

Hi Sharon, I’m not sure, but I’ll send her an email and tell her to check out your comment. Thanks for being willing to help.

Robbie December 1, 2008 at 6:09 pm

I am making a habit out of excess cloth my workplace has thrown out. Both are black and white pieces of cotton. They are excellent for making habits. Habits, like Japanese Kimono, are pretty much seamless and aren’t difficult to make. The wimple is pretty much the same in most habits. The veil is varied but pretty much uniform. The scapular also is varied. Good Luck to those who wish to make them. It takes ingenuity and creativity and imagination to make these habits!

Margaret February 18, 2009 at 9:20 am

I have an extensive “convent sewn” pre-Vatican II nun doll collection and have studied the techniques and details of each nun doll. If you use white linen for the coif (material around the face) and guimpe (collar), it will look “authentic”. The best method of making the coif is to make a “hood” with a drawstring in the back. This will keep the coif snug and secure. It will not slip.

For the habit dress such as the Sisters of Saint Joseph, Ursulines, Sisters of Mercy wore — make a bodice with very wide sleeves. Onto the bodice sew a pleated dress — 6 pleats would be enough on each side — a center with 3 pleats on each side — I would make the pleats deep so they keep their shape. Measure and hem before you set the pleats.

The veil should have a casing and I used a piece of thick black elastic to structure the veil. The veil should always have a casing and be structure — you could also use black cardboard that is wired with black tape the shape the veil.

If you look at photos of pre-Vatican II nuns, you can get further details. But I think with the information I gave, you could make a creditable habit.

Margaret February 18, 2009 at 9:23 am

P.S. Under the wide sleeves, you could cut down black stockings and wear this as “undersleeves” to the elbow. Or you could sew narrow undersleeves with an elastic casing at the elbow. Most nuns had a habit with very wide sleeves with undersleeves.

Pepper February 22, 2009 at 11:01 am

Nun’s habits were fashioned after mourning clothing, or so I have read. The headgear was also fashioned after the time in which the community came together. Besides the linen around the face and hair, the outer headpiece was frequently fashioned to block peripheral vision. Check out “The Nun’s Story” on DVD – very nice habits, indeed!

Sis Ann February 26, 2009 at 11:01 am

Need help sewing a franciscan nun habit. for a new sister. she does not know we are doing this for her. it has been hard to keep this from her but fun at the same time. The big problem is all of us had ours made and now the nice women who had made ours has moved away. One of the sisters thinks if she had a pattern that she could make the habit for her. Or if you know anyone that can makes habits would be helpful as will. Thank you and god bless you all the days of your life.

Daughterofst.francis March 18, 2009 at 3:41 pm

I too am looking into Franciscan spirituality and a habit of sorts but one for Lay Associates. For me this has become a modest brown jumper, white blouse and black headscarf. Pax et Bonum

Maria March 23, 2009 at 8:26 am

I was wondering what kinds of fabrics Sisters use for their habits. For example, the Dominicans, what kind of fabric do they use to make their habit? Which fabrics are more durable than others and which fabrics are more light weight but still durable? Thanks and God bless!

Kathryn March 23, 2009 at 8:45 am

Can anyone suggest the name of a fabric to be used for a simple veil? I am a hermitess and must sew my own habit. About the veil, I was able to purchase one from Fitzgerald before they went out of business. It’s a black material, very thin, soft and fluid, and it attaches in the back of the head with velcro. I was told it looks like “crepe de chine” but that particular fabric is way too shiny. Any suggestions?

angel March 23, 2009 at 1:09 pm

My name is Angel and I wear a religious habit….I made it myself and have permission to wear it….and have been making my own habit’s for 16 years……they’re really not that hard to make….you can use your inventivness,if you can find a picture of the nun’s habit…..I don’t belong to any order of known nun’s…but I used parts of different commercial patterns and my inventivness,to create a nun’s habit…I use teashot fabric or something like it(50 percent polyester and 50 percent cotton blend) it can not be thin material….I made a gown,scapular,cape,veil and long slip,as the habit is full length and cord for gown…..I hope this helps…..Angel

Sister Gayle OSF March 24, 2009 at 7:32 am

I think Fitzgerald’s is still in business, but limtited to a few days a week. One of our sisters just purchased veils forms from them. Maybe that helps!

Sister Gayle OSF March 27, 2009 at 6:40 am

I just got more current info about Fitzgerald’s, they ARE going out of business. They notified my Sister when she got her order. She’s seeing if anyone else out there is still in business.

little sister April 27, 2009 at 5:06 pm

Most of the original habits were made of fine wool serge, an expensive but practically industructible fabric. These habits might be cleaned only once a year with a soap and water shower and then allowed to drip dry. Think Woolite in a sprinkling can or garden bottle-type sprayer. Never scrub wool, friction makes it shrink. Dry cleaning was considered too expensive. Undergarments and dress shields were laundered frequently to keep outerwear clean. Some cloistered orders wore coarser fabrics. Fastenings were usually pins, hooks and eyes or ties. Undergarments were homemade of muslin in white or gray. A lighter fabric, literally called “nun’s veiling” was used for some of the sheerer veils.

Coifs, wimples, bandeaus and collars were made from linen, some items very heavily starched. In the 1950s and 60s, a substitute material manufactured from linen bonded to celluloid was very popular, since it held its crisp shape and was very easy to clean. Unfortunately, it was discovered that it was also highly flammable and so was abandoned. I don’t think the Cistercians were ever into heavy starch. In my dim recollection, their habit and accessories were soft looking.

In the spirit of poverty, most congregations of sisters made their own habits, and only ordered their distinctive white headpieces from a commercial manufacturer. Out of humility, no sister worked on the habit she personally wore, but sewed for another sister. Each motherhouse should have kept at least one habit and pattern of their traditional habit. Many of those habits changed several times over the years, even before the innovations of the 60s. If a pattern is not available, you might purchase a nun doll from a company like Blessings. Be quick, they are going out of business soon.

You might ask your library if they can obtain a copy of “Guide to the Catholic Sisterhood in the United States” by Thomas P. McCarthy. This was printed in several editions through the 1950s and 60s. It contains good photographs and descriptions of traditional habits with their details for over a hundred orders. No patterns, but if you sew, you might get a good grasp of the way these habits are put together from the pictures. If your library doesn’t have a copy, ask them if they can do an interlibrary loan.

As a last resort, you might visit a good nun doll museum and take plenty of photos. Good luck.

Patti B May 23, 2009 at 11:43 pm

Just curious. Does Fitzgerald’s have a website? I’ve been trying to find them for years, and thought they were long out of business. Is there an address where I could contact them before they go out of business? Also, when I was in the postulancy I was asked to contact a business called either Patrick’s or Fitzpatrick’s. They sold the same type of products as Fitzgerald’s. Has anyone heard of them? I’m trying to find a company that sells veil wires. Does anyone know where I can get them? Thanks

Sister Gayle OSF May 26, 2009 at 6:49 am

No, they don’t have a website. Believe me, I had looked.

Another Sister Julie, CSSF May 27, 2009 at 8:58 am

Our original habit was shaped like the Tau cross. Inside at waist level, near the center line front and back, were two tapes to adjust the size. When you tied them together, they formed deep pleats. Over this went a scapular. I’m not sure how many tunics were worn underneath. The ones I saw were blue or charcoal grey and of cheap cotton. There were also brown sleevelets, a Franciscan cord, a wooden rosary with a medallion of O.L. of Czestohowa, and a simple wooden crucifix hanging from a tape around the neck. Under the veil was a hood as described above, but the panels that ran down the face and neck were heavily starched (I heard the term “cement head” bandied about by the older sisters!) There was a heavily starched band across the forehead also. The veil was pinned to the top of the hood, the band, and on both shoulders of the habit. (I still wondered how the sisters could move their head or neck with all that starch and with all those pins!) There was a little flap to the front of the veil that the sisters would lower for different reasons: When they were on retreat, when they were somewhere they shouldn’t be like (*gasp!*) a restaurant!, or whenever the reader in the refectory spoke the names of Jesus, Mary or Joseph. (Around Christmastime, this created quite a breeze a mealtime, if I can believe the tales some of the older sisters!) When it was cold, or from Sept. 29 to May 18, the sisters also wore a brown cape. I think it was fingertip length, but the sisters always kept their arms in their sleeves, so I can’t be sure.

When we modified the habit, our veil forms were made out of Clorox bottles and white shoestrings. Imagine! I’m sure those were so veryhot, especially for our sisters in the South! Later we bought the forms (and wires). These were mesh caps, so there was at least some ventilation in them. We used pins with black tips on them–one each at the ears and one on the top. My students used to ask me if the pins went into my head. I asked them if their ears bled when they changed their pierced earrings. They of course answered no. I then replied, “Well, just like you, I hit the same hole each morning so the blood doesn’t gush out.” (Credit my dear classmate Sister Margaret for that gem!) Then I’d pull the cap away from my head and show them that the veil was pinned to the hat.

I entered in the era of drip-dry habits. Fabrics used were (ugh) polyester doubleknit, gabradine, baby gabradine, bengaline, and anything you could find in the correct “cloister brown” color (beige or taupe were also allowed). Now we had added the optional habit of simple, professional clothing in brown, beige, black or white. What makes us uniform is the style of the crucifix we wear and our simple profession band, as well as the charism we exemplify.

Vicki June 8, 2009 at 2:03 am

I have also offered to make our sister their habits but would love to find a pattern somewhere it would save trying to make it from scratch. If anyone can help I would be eternally gratefully.

Marguerite June 8, 2009 at 5:38 pm

I enjoyed reading this discussion. I did a presentation recently on the contributions of Catholic sister-nurses during the Civil War. I made the presentation dressed as a sister. It was fasinating researching and attempting to duplicate the habit and the rosary. On the advice of a Sister of Charity of the white coronette, I did not attempt to reproduce the coronette; however, I did take a black bonnet along to represent the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.

Sr Bev June 9, 2009 at 10:51 pm

It looks like many have the same problem. I’ve been asked to sew habits for our dispersed order and can’t find any premade. The answer seems to be in simplicity; you might find a pattern for a Palestinian thobe, which is a plain long tent-dress with long sleeves. Some have gussets or frontal inserts but easy sewing. Adding pleats or extra width shouldn’t be a problem. Scapulas are very simple just long long aprons, some have side ties, some don’t. They may be held in place by a rope girdle, cincture, or belt. Material in these days of variable indoor preset temperatures (for those of us who work in the outside world), should be half poly, half cotton. Colour is your own selection but I’d keep away from white, no matter how neat it looks, we don’t have servants or time for extra washing! In winter we may wear warm track pants underneath, and thermals, with the option of a long cape and long dark scarf. In summer some tend to dispense with the heavier habit and retain the scapular with dark slacks and a white blouse as it can get very hot here in Australia. Footwear is flat, dark, and practical, closed for winter, sandals for summer. As I’m about to venture into the sewing for our order, feel free to enquire.

Sr. Helga June 15, 2009 at 7:56 am

Depending on the syle of habit, like most people said, some commercial patterns can be helpful and you can just adapt them. When trying to sew something particularly difficult or new, I just sew it out of the cheapest fabric I can find like muslin. Also, if you’re trying to make a cowl neck, remember to cut it on the bias, I learned the hard way.

Both companies, Fitzgerald’s and Fitzpatrics have closed. However, the veil forms can be made out of mesh material. You can find it at uphosltery fabric stores. It’s the stuff they use to make umbrella’s for patio sets.

Patt B. June 16, 2009 at 10:24 pm

Sorry to hear that both Fitzgerald’s and Fitzpatrics have closed. Does anyone have any idea what type of metal that veil wires are made from? I remember them as being very easy to bend, so they were easy to make comfortable. I plan to start covering my head full time in accordance with 1 Corinthians 11, and the call to pray at all times. I think a veil wire would be very helpful in keeping the covering in place, and comfortable. I’ve tried a plastic hair band, and a springy wire hair band, but they both give me headaches as they are tight. Any info/advice would be greatly appreciated.

Karen June 23, 2009 at 1:36 pm

I have a left of field suggestion… I know its a little different than the other suggestions but the costume designer for the movie “Sister Act” with Whopi Goldberg was Molly Maginnis. Those costumes looked very similar to how the habit I remember the lovely teaching nuns in school wearing in the 1960′s. I just did a quick bit of web research and it appears she is represented by the Innovative Artists Agency in L.A. if anyone wants to contact her to ask her about how they were made. As they had real Sisters as technical advisors in that movie it is likely they were accurate. Ok, with that left field thought out of the way…It is also possible for many competent seamstress’ to “reverse engineer” clothing if you give them an example into their hands. This is even easier for them if its “an old one” that they can unpick and trace a new pattern. This may help if no pattern can be found quickly enough to meet a need.

Sister Teresa Grace, C.R. June 24, 2009 at 6:27 pm

I’ve learned a lot reading about making habits! What a great discussion! I found the web site of old patterns very helpful. We are also looking for a company that sells habits. We are in the process of making our own, but not everyone has that skill. Thanks for your web site, Sr. Julie! It’s terrific!

Mother Alexandra July 1, 2009 at 8:35 am

Thank you, Sister Julie for your web site. I have had to learn to make my own habits. There are no patterns available but other patterns can be adapted as others have stated. I started with a shirt pattern that I liked, fixed the collar and sleeves accordingly, and then extended it. In the interest of saving time, I would like to find a Benedictine monastery of men or women who would allow me to buy just the black tunics. I am an Orthodox nun and that would be suitable for me. If anyone knows of such a source, please let me know. I make my head coverings. Fabric is always difficult. I look for something that is mostly natural, light and breathes, being careful not to purchase anything that will be see-through. (That could be a real problem for a nun!) Stores sometimes do not sell what I need in black, so I have learned to shop online, frequenting vendors which will send a swatch. Usually, it is a minimal price.

KvK July 8, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Dear Mother Alexandra, There is a business on the web that advertises roman and orthodox nuns habits — Gothic Garments I haven’t dealt with this person but it might be useful to buy one habit and then make a pattern off of it. I also have a picture of a fransciscan habit with pleats at the shoulders if you want to contact me I could email it to you.

Sister M Catherine July 16, 2009 at 6:15 pm

I am desperately trying to find a pattern for the French Discalced Carmelite habit. Three sister and I are currently forming a new Carmel with permission of our local diocesan Bishop. If you know any thing about Carmel you will know there has been for the last 30 or so years much difficulties bewteen carmels. Each adopting different constitutions etc. and in various forms of the habit.

As a new community we wish to stay clear of many of the politics involved. We wish only to be a small humble peaceful community living the traditional Carmelite life. However it has been almost impossible for us to get either an old habit or a pattern of it as well as the mantle. Because we are a new endeavour and because of past and present unrest we can as of yet find no Carmel to give us a pattern or habit. If anyone could help us we would be so very grateful. We could then make our own. To all here please be assured of our poor prayers. Please pray for us as we try to find our Lords will. Happy feast Of Our lady of Carmel!

Sister Julie July 17, 2009 at 7:21 am

Sister M Catherine, I don’t know where to find such a pattern but I do know there are many helpful people that visit this page. I’m hoping that one will stop by with a tip for you. Be assured of my prayers as your new community takes shape and follows the inspirations of the Holy Spirit.

Sister Mary Paul July 24, 2009 at 4:59 pm

I am a Diocesan Religious Solitary and wear a Habit. Gothic Garments, Paul Bernardino, made them. Excellent and Authentic. The only problem I encountered was that he tended to have too much work and was delayed at sending the completed garments. He is highly knowledgeable.

Sr. G.M.Assumpta July 24, 2009 at 9:48 pm

I am a member of a Community for mature women (45 and up) that has chosen to wear a Habit. Our Community allows for some adaptation according to special circumstances- e.g climate, work/ministry environment. (I wear a simple no-Cap Veil in the style made by Religious Garb Manufacturer, Mario Bianchetti, Milano and Rome. Check their website to view veils and Habits).

God bless those of you who are hunting for patterns, making decisions about the style of your Habits, laboring at making them,and choosing to be a visible witness. God bless those of you who choose differently and are quietly being His hands, eyes, ears, feet and heart to a hurting world. To the former I suggest you choose something simple and serviceable, something that reflects what you are about and allows you to carry out your life of prayer and apostolate. Our blouse and jumper is very sensible and comfortable. The scapular we receive when we make our vows is not cumbersome. The white veil we receive is quite traditional but, as I have already mentioned, can be less so in some locations and for good reasons. God be with all of you. Thank you for this site, Sr. Julie.

G. Stanovich July 29, 2009 at 12:32 pm

There is a company known as Wright’s out of Missouri. They do the same business as Fitzgerald’s. In fact, they have aquired many of Fitzgerald’s patterns. They are making veils and other items for several communites that were customers of Fitzgerald’s. Hope this helps.

Cat August 10, 2009 at 3:31 pm

I’m starting out as a costumer for the Marin Chaucer Theatre in northern California and will no doubt be making nun’s clothing. I’ve been researching using period illustrations and paintings, websites such as gothicgarments.com, search results for “how to put on a wimple,” and the very friendly people in the Society for Creative Anachronism, as well as costume-related groups on facebook.

With regard to fabric, so far I have determined that I loath polyesters and their blends. Linen takes a lot of work in the up-keep and maintenance, but breathes well and flows nicely (and is very authentic). I love the wool serge, and yes it is expensive. Cotton is very easy to find. My favourite fabric source? The Goodwill and other pre-used clothes stores, even the local dump! Cotton sheets are wonderful to sew from. Taking apart a piece that already has some structure saves a ton of time. And, you can usually purchase the fabrics you want already w/ zippers and buttons (I save them for other projects) for less than the fabric costs. Yard sales, too. And I have no fear of dying fabrics into brown or black – it’s really very easy (add salt to set dye in cotton and plant fibres, vinegar for wool and silk). Another bonus for working from pre-used fabrics is the lower impact on the environment: thumbs up on that one.

Mary Elizabeth August 14, 2009 at 10:19 am

Greetings. Does anyone know at what time the oversleeves were attached instead of being removable. Thank you.

Charles August 26, 2009 at 2:06 pm

I am trying to find a pattern for the old style Felician habit, or at least the white parts. I am also interested in knowing how the middle seam was sewn down the middle of the guimpe without having the stitches showing! Thank you and God Bless

Patricia Cheesman August 29, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Please can anyone help. I am looking for a pattern or someone in the UK or USA who can make a Dominican habit. We are a group of Dominican tertiaries here in the UK who follow the old traditional ways. Our current habits are so well worn as to consist of darns and patches. Many thanks

DollyLover62 September 10, 2009 at 6:57 pm

Regarding nun dolls and habbits.. has anyone tried Brown House Dolls? Their Patterns have been around for ages.. Their prices are fantastic and their patterns are offered in a various doll sizes. If you have problems with their site, call them. They offer a catalog and they also advertise in the back of doll magazines. The patterns are very easy to follow too. You can find the web site in any search engine- Brown House Dolls. GOD Bless

Bonnie September 24, 2009 at 9:09 am

I made an outfit for a Renaissance Dominican nun and I used a pattern from McCalls for a male “robe” and just elongated the sleeves. I fortunate enough to have a convent near me and borrowed a veil to make mine. I have since made a longer version of the veil out of lightweight cotton. The fabric I used was called, oddly enough, monk’s cloth and it comes in white and a creme color. I got this fabric at JoAnn’s Fabrics, it runs about $10 a yard with a width of 45″. When I first started to visit the Ren Faire near me I was often asked if I was a real nun. I looked in a book for a picture of a nun to make my outfit. Hope this helps someone.

Wobin September 24, 2009 at 11:30 am

Can anyone help me find a pattern and or measurments for a Dominican Habit or someone who makes them… Thanks…

sandijj October 12, 2009 at 12:04 am

looking for a pattern for the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy habit, like St. Faustina. Any siggestions??

Sr. Maria October 28, 2009 at 12:06 pm

I am looking for ready-made habits that I purchased at Fitzgerald’s along with the veils. I will try Wright’s for the veils, but still need the Fitzgerald type “dress habit” in navy blue. It’s a simple blue habit with a round collar. Is there any place to purchase these simple habits already made? Thanks!

Robyn October 29, 2009 at 4:27 am

Patt B – if you’re still looking for mesh veil forms, the Wright’s website says that they’re coming in November 2009, and there’s a photo of one in the catalogue (see Patti B’s posting). Might be a customer there myself soon – just heard I’ve been accepted into the community I have applied for transfer to (already a Tertiary – now transferring)!

John SFO October 29, 2009 at 5:03 pm

A great company that makes habits is gloryandpraisevestments.com. The owner Mrs. Theresa Perkins is wonderful she will work with you and will bless your life. She made a habit for an OFM friend of mine and it looks beautiful, you can tell God blessed her with talent. Peace and Good

Sr. Maria November 6, 2009 at 6:23 pm

Thanks Joe, I’ll give it a try. I appreciate the information.

Br. Dan December 12, 2009 at 2:31 am

I would like to know if anyone knows how to make the “Ruffs” that went around the heads of the SSCC Nuns?

elleblue February 16, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Wright’s Catalogues bought stock and patterns from Fitzgerald’s before they went out of stock. Check out his site for pre-made veils.

ella February 20, 2010 at 4:00 am

Hi. I don’t know if anyone is still following this thread but if you are looking for cloth you might try Gohn Brothers. They are a supplier for the Amish. It’s been awhile since I got a catalog from them but if memory serves they had several types of plain black and brown cloth that might work for habits.

Sr. Marie Teresa February 21, 2010 at 4:02 pm

I have come into vows as a Diocesan hermit and have the difficulty of finding the right material for a winter weight habit. Broadcloth is a very fine material for summer weight. I have come to like a heavier material, used knit, but the interlock brings so much static. Is there a pattern for long slip that might help with this and what kind of material, other than the nylons? Any help would be appreciated.

Sister Julie April 9, 2010 at 7:58 am

I am not familiar with the different kinds of dress, but there’s a number of folks who check in on this page regularly and hopefully can help!

Fr. Tommy March 15, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Glenfont Habitry is a nice place also.

Rocamadour April 27, 2010 at 4:18 pm

I’m looking for the habit , veil and the white thing under the veil of the SSVM (Servants of the Lord and the virgin of Matara) congregation. Hopefully, can someone helps me?

WP April 30, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Hi Sr. Marie: I don’t know if this will help you, but I used to play with the SCA’ers (society for creative anachronism) and I once found the best material to make a dress of a nice heavy weight (as I am always cold!) in the curtain and upholstery section of JoAnn fabrics. It was not too stiff or scratchy but nice and thick. I don’t know about possible static – I actually never got to make the dress before we moved away from our SCA group – but the material was great.

As a general note, in addition to SCA’ers, anime and other scifi convention-goers can often be great sewing/costuming resources, especially for when you are just going off of pictures, as many of them are making very elaborate costumes just based off of pictures of characters from their favorite shows or movies and they often turn out really amazing! I actually met a girl at an anime convention that did a nun costume because that was a character in a show. I’m sure it was not accurate to any real life order but it was a really nice costume, and all based off of cartoon drawings. I bet if someone like that had a picture of real people in varying habits they could work wonders!

Good luck to all the sewers and searchers! 

susan quinn yelle June 2, 2010 at 7:11 am

Dear Sister, Our churches merged. We have tried to have equality in everything, right down to the dolls. We have one complete of the Sisters of St. Joseph. However, I’m having a terrible time in locating information on the Sisters of Ste. Christien. They were of French decedents. I would like to try to make the doll outfit for our church in Amesbury, MA. Thank you for the site.

Friar Aidan June 10, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Sister, I am a part of a small ecumenical order of Franciscan Friars who presently do not live in community (we are hoping to do so eventually). We have been having trouble finding white cotton cords for use with our brown habit. Would you or any of your readers have any idea of where we might find a supplier. We have wool (off white) cords, but are really more interested in the old fashioned cotton ones. You are doing a great work with this apostolate, Sister!

Another Sisters Julie, CSSF June 11, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Friar Aidan, have you tried a regular fabric store? Cotton cords are sold by the yard there.

Kim D June 28, 2010 at 7:40 am

Hope you can help me with this question. I am costuming a production of The Sound of Music, and our director would like Maria to have period correct undergarments under her postulant costume. I can find no information about this anywhere. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance.

Reed July 6, 2010 at 9:12 am

Rev Sister, Do you make Episcopalian Nuns Habits and Cornets like the Sisters of Saint Mary wear ? Or the long habits the Sisters of Teachers of the Children of God wear ?

Nancy Meinradt July 9, 2010 at 5:57 pm

A company that sells a variety of styles of veil, dress, suit, shoes, sweaters, habits is an Italian company, Bianchetti – Abbigliamento ecclesiastico. They sell a variety of other items so you have to look at website and surf to find the women’s religious ware. The catalogue favors the habited currently active orders in Europe verses the pre-Vatican II habits that would now look more like costume. However, they are serious clothiers and may have active/monastic/contemplative orders that have traditional type habits they provide to not identified on line. Worth a look into the company for the interested student.

AmyR August 8, 2010 at 5:44 pm

The websites cited – Mariobianchetti for clerical male, wrightscatalog for female headwear, and gothic garments for reproduction male habits cover a lot of ground people are asking about here. Doll garmets can be made “freehand” to match photos by any creative seamstress or taylor. Many shoe repair shops or drycleaning shops have someone who does “clothing alteration” and these individuals are usually very skilled at making garments.

Most habits would have been cotton or wool, depending on location. Linen is accurate, but also very delicate in terms of cleaning and moisture. Consider “suite weight” wools and linen-look fabrics for better performance. Cotton blends do have a problem – they develop odor problems with frequent wear. So you can use blends, but over time it will shorten the useful life of the garment.

True: SCA, costumer, and any decent seamstress can usually recreate a garment from photos, usually basing it off other existing patterns/garments. The garments worn by monks and nuns are typically based off medieval garment forms or dresswear of the 1930s. There are only so many ways to sew something for the human form, basically. So if you want something reproduced, find some kind of picture or other representation, post that graphic in flicker and then post the link here. It is much easier to post recommendations to a picture rather than post them to a specific order. Alternately, if you want more of the same that you have, I would just call local drycleaners to find their alteration and repair person and bring the garment to them. They can look it over and develop a pattern to make a replacement or make the same in different sizes. If it means regular work for them, they can be very accommodating.

Jan Molinell August 9, 2010 at 1:16 pm

In visiting Vicksburg, MS two weeks ago, I came across some mural near the ferry with the sisters of Mercy tending to the sick in their white habits (nurses) and some in black and white habits (teachers). You might look there for civil war pictures of nuns in habits

sistermaryemmanuel August 13, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Re: question about wire in Nun’s veil: a wire hanger – the straight part can be used by cutting it to size from the middle if the ear around the top of the head to the other ear and then bent to fit. The ends can be wrapped in masking, black or paper tape that can be perodically replaced… hope this helps.

Cecile September 4, 2010 at 10:26 am

Please be extremely careful in ordering from ebay. There is one supplier that is authentic and one that is definitely not. The habit patterns are NOT from convents; they look like the real thing but upon a closer inspection one who has ever worn one of their advertised habits can see that they are phony at best. If you look at the habit of the School Sisters of Notre Dame (the first modification) and the Sisters of Mercy you should be able to see the sad attempt to copy them immediately. This group has moved around quite a bit and has changed their ebay seller ID often. There was even a disclaimer posted by one site saying they were not connected to the other one. Buyer beware!