01 April 2009

Habits Sewn!

I rec'd the following email from Emma Friemoth, the habit seamstress for the Eastern Province novitiate. I've edited the email to restrict the content to information about habits:

Dear Fr. Powell, O.P.,

My name is Emma Friemoth. . .I am the Habit Seamstress for the Novitiate of the Province of St. Joseph. My fee is indeed closer to $200 than what they are currently paying, and I am in constant search for a durable, breathable, non-wrinkle, off-white fabric. I recently have found several fabrics that have potential for meeting these requirements and they are currently being tested for durability in habit use.

This late summer and fall I am expanding my sewing business from part time to full time and would be happy to open discussion. . .about sewing habits.

My contact information is as follows: emmathecapegirl(at)gmail(dot)com


  1. and she does wear capes too!

  2. Are there rules about what kind of fabric can be used for habits? I get the impression that you can't just toss a habit into the washer and dryer.

  3. Anita,

    No rules on the types of fabric...color, yes; fabric, no. Colors, however, run from brilliant white to a darkish cream. I've seen some that were stiff as cardboard and other that looked more like stocking material. And yes, most certainly, habits can be and are laundered in the washer and dryer. Some friars will have theirs dry-cleaned, depending on the fabric...

  4. emma does makes capes. She's well known as "the cape girl"

  5. Anonymous1:29 PM

    Read Humbert of Roman's commentary on the state of the Friars habits in Early Dominicans. It is priceless! Written in the early days of the Order it shows that nothing has changed!

    This is a fabric we especially like: Yards-NEW-White-Poly-Wool-Cloth-Fabric-Material_W0QQitemZ260326243443QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item260326243443&_trksid=p3286.m20.l1116
    We use it for winter habits. For summer we use TeeShot but I'm looking into some polycotton made by Robert Kaufmann.

    Do friars really DRY CLEAN their habit? There really is no need. They just need to wash them...more than they currently do!

    Your OP sisters in Summit

  6. Hear that, Friars!? Sister says wash your habits more often!


    Friars' Chorus: "Yes, Sister..."

  7. Anonymous7:00 PM

    I have found that the nuns' habit material doesn't suit us friars because we wear different kinds of attire underneath. Nuns have slips, I think they call them tunicelles (or whatever it is that ladies wear) and we do not, we only have the one layer of the tunic itself. So we need heavier fabric that is not see-through when standing in front of the light.

  8. Anonymous6:20 PM

    For years, I have worn OFM made "femuralia" beneath my habit--these are a sort of religious "underwear" that resemble bermuda shorts, but are a bit longer--coming to about the knees, but with no pockets. In our province, it was the custom until the early 60's to wear what they called "antiphons" (why they called them THAT I have no idea). They were cut just like knickerbockers, with buttons at the knees which kept the friar's socks from slipping down. They were white, often made from old flour sacks, but were far fussier to make than the OFM style, and since I am a tailor, anything simple is on the side of the angels. But the point I wanted to make is that, if a friar is wearing these, with a white shirt or even just a t-shirt, the weight of the fabric doesn't really matter because back-lighting isn't that much of an issue.

    Oh, and OFMs in some provinces also wore undertunics, cut almost the same as the tunic except with narrower sleeves. These really are very convenient. But ANYTHING is preferable to wearing trousers beneath the habit. Besides being HORRIBLY uncomfortable, it's also really ugly seeing cuffs stick out beneath the hem of the habit.

    Fr. Martin Farrell,op