Making an orange stole

I’ve had a request for a pattern and/or instructions for making orange stoles for Gun Violence Prevention Sunday – June 5th 2016.

The national #WearOrange day is June 2nd, 2016, and when my friend, the Rev. C. Eric Funston posted the event on facebook, he suggested that he might want to wear an orange stole that Sunday. I offered to make one for him – and for any of our diocesan colleagues who might want to join us that Sunday in offering from the pulpit the message that we are committed as people of faith to countering the rise of gun violence in our communities and homes.

As the project has grown and been shared beyond our imaginings, I am grateful for the opportunity to share the work of making the stoles. I am not, as the following will demonstrate, a seamstress of any experience or skill; I am simply doing the best I can to place the gospel between our children and our guns.

I have used cotton fabric, 44″ wide, in two orange designs for the main front and back of the stoles. I can make four stoles out of 1-1/4 – 1-1/2 yards of fabric, rounded out with a trim at the bottom. I used a children’s handprint fabric at the ends of the stoles (I bought 1 yard in the first instance), to represent our prayers, our trust, and our responsibility, reaching up.


I use the width of the orange fabric as a self-measuring device to make a standard length stole. The length can be adjusted by using more or less of the handprint trim.

Cut out two pieces each of the front and backing material, making sure to mirror the mitre pattern. Join the two front pieces together at the neck (hold them right side to right side, so that the seam appears on the wrong side), then join the two back pieces together in the same way. Attach the handprint trim to the ends. You now have a whole stole front, and a whole stole back.

Pin the front to the back, right side to right side, starting at the neck seam and working outward to the ends. Because these will be the longest seams you sew, be extra careful to keep them straight.

Once the pieces are joined together, turn the stole right side out, then sew up the ends by turning them in and either running across the bottom with the sewing machine, or, if you prefer an invisible finish, sewing them by hand.

This is the pattern I used for the mitred join at the neck of the stole:

stole pattern 001

Hint: open the image in a new tab if it gives you trouble.
Hint 2: this isn’t their original pattern because somewhere along the line I redrew it to the measurements I prefer, but I once got a stole “kit” from and it was great. If you want something more professional and helpful, I highly recommend the kit. 

Even as I was making this post, another report was crossing my news feed of a 5-year-old child who died of gun violence – an accident waiting to happen that found its time when she found a gun under her grandmother’s pillow, and another family is torn apart.

And here, in part, is what Bishop Hollingsworth (Diocese of Ohio) told his clergy this week, writing from his sabbatical:

Awareness that gun violence is epidemic in our nation and society is essential if we are to be creative and self-sacrificing in healing the culture of fear and aggression in which we live. The notion that gun safety regulations infringe upon individual rights is unreasonable. The lack of such regulations compromises everyone’s right to live in safety.

This non-partisan witness to the Prince of Peace, who gave his own life that all might be saved, is one way of reminding ourselves and others of the self-sacrifice required of us for all of God’s beloved to be safe. It is a sign of our belief in the God who cares for every one of us as a shepherd does his sheep, and of our commitment to be the voice, hands, and heart of the Shepherd in our own time.

I commend you to God’s keeping in safety, in passion, in love.

Featured image: clergy of the Diocese of Ohio preparing for Wear Orange Sunday. Photo by the Rev. Jeff Bunke.

This post has been updated.

Updated August 2019: unfortunately, the need for “orange awareness” has only increased since this post was first published. More recent reflections include:

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing , and Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, both from Upper Room Books. She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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