Sewing For a Postulant


16 Aug Sewing For a Postulant

At the request of many readers, I am writing a post about my recent sewing project.

My neighbors’ 30-year old daughter, the oldest of seven children, is an Air Force Academy graduate. She completed tours in Iraq and Afghanistan while on active duty before settling in Columbia, SC as an engineer.

In March she made the decision to pursue the religious life and is joining the Dominican Sisters of Mary in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


Her parents paid me a visit shortly after her decision to ask if I would sew the official clothes Katie would wear during her postulant year.

The clothes include 2 white aprons, 2 blue aprons, 2 blue vests and 2 blue skirts. The Postulants furnish their own clothes which are handmade.  The exceptions are RTW white shirts worn with the skirts and vests.

Since Katie lives elsewhere I don’t have photos of her to show how the clothes fit. She is much taller and larger than me so the clothes look a little sloppy on my dress forms. The modeled clothes are from the Dominican Sisters’ website 😉

The girls wear the blue skirt and vest everyday for everything – even sports. The fabric must be 100% polyester so ironing will not be an issue. The skirt must be 10″ from the ground and the vest hangs 12 inches from the waist.




The service aprons are cut from a single piece of fabric placed on the fold  and slip over the head.  The instructions were sparse –  1. Sew the shoulder seams together, 2. Sew the back seam and  3. Finish the edges with bias tape.  There was no finished picture. I used 3 packages of tape for each apron.

Denim is the recommended fabric for both colors. The blue aprons hang 10 inches from the ground, the same length as the skirts.

IMG_0003 2


Based on the photos below I think I got it right.



When the Postulants serve dinner, they change into the white aprons which are six inches from the ground.  While Katie furnished fabric for the skirts and vests, I selected the fabric for the aprons. The white aprons are made from a fantastic lightweight stretch denim I found at JoAnn’s.  Had I not been so overwhelmed by the task ahead I would have bought some for myself.




So there it is – the wardrobe for a Dominican Sisters of Mary Postulant. 🙂

I am not Catholic and know very little about life in a convent, but I was pleased to help a young woman who has served our country with distinction and is now embracing a vow of poverty.

Best wishes to Katie – I hope the clothes hold up for a year!












  • Joyjc
    Posted at 06:29h, 16 August Reply

    So very interesting how specific guidelines are incorporated into making these garments. Good for you for helping her out.

  • Fran Giacobbe
    Posted at 06:40h, 16 August Reply

    Very interesting post. Thanks for both the photos and informative text.

  • Kath Johnson
    Posted at 06:59h, 16 August Reply

    So good to read your post. You must feel proud.

  • Patricia Flournoy
    Posted at 07:05h, 16 August Reply

    You never fail to live up to expectations! You are indeed special!

  • Mollie Bobo
    Posted at 07:27h, 16 August Reply

    What a lovely service you did for this precious child of God.

  • Becky Thompson
    Posted at 07:29h, 16 August Reply

    I sometimes wonder when I sew something for someone if they will really wear it on a regular basis or just when I’m around. You don’t have to wonder about that here! Your efforts will be on display every single day. God bless you!

  • Becky Bagwell
    Posted at 07:34h, 16 August Reply

    Love this, Sarah! So, so special !

  • Ann Carbone
    Posted at 07:35h, 16 August Reply

    What a lovely thing to do.
    Thank you for sharing

  • Sharon Kane
    Posted at 07:57h, 16 August Reply

    I am Catholic, from Michigan and have friends who received their education taught by the Dominican nuns, proud of it all. But what an honor and tribute to you that your neighbors would ask you to make the clothes their daughter will wear during this special journey of her life. You are such a blessing to them and I’m sure in their prayers too.

  • Sandy
    Posted at 08:17h, 16 August Reply

    This was a great post. You did an outstanding job.

  • Betsy Henry
    Posted at 08:23h, 16 August Reply

    What a wonderful way to share your many talents!

  • Lyn Cook
    Posted at 08:33h, 16 August Reply

    I agree with Sharon what an honor for her parents to ask you to do this. I am Catholic and the Dominicans are a fabulous Order to belong to. She has traded one uniform for another. Now serving the Lord God.

  • Carole F Mellin
    Posted at 09:01h, 16 August Reply

    You really ought to watch the great movie, “A Nun’s Story” starring Audrey Hepburn. It was made many years ago, of course, but still a wonderful movie. I don’t know if you can still even find it….mostly set in Africa on the eve of World War II.

  • Julie Culshaw
    Posted at 09:11h, 16 August Reply

    Very lovely

  • Nova
    Posted at 09:17h, 16 August Reply

    How very interesting, thank you for the post. I am not Roman Catholic, nor familiar with the order to which your neighbour’s daughter has been called. I have met numerous sisters from the Faithful Companions of Jesus, however, and must say that they are some of the most lovely and impressive women that one could ever hope to meet. To decide to join such a vocation would not have been taken lightly, but given her life experiences so far, she must be familiar with handeling difficult choices. Christian scriptures say that God will be no man’s debtor, and Katie will be more than compensated, in numerous ways, for what she appears to be giving up. How kind of you to agreed be involved in her preparations.

  • Barbara Byrne
    Posted at 09:37h, 16 August Reply

    What a beautiful thing to do. Very best wishes for her future.xx

  • Mary Jo Rice
    Posted at 09:42h, 16 August Reply

    Your gift of time and love raises the art of sewing to an entirely new level. The Dominican Sisters are outstanding women.

  • Carol Tuntland
    Posted at 09:46h, 16 August Reply

    Thank you for being willing to sew for a new postulant. Her service, in all ways, makes me humble.

  • Catherine Holcombe
    Posted at 09:56h, 16 August Reply

    Although not a sewist myself, I really enjoy your blog! Your sewing is extraordinary. So far, this is my favorite post! Well done!

  • Teri Stich
    Posted at 10:00h, 16 August Reply


  • Bernadette O'Brien
    Posted at 10:02h, 16 August Reply

    Wonderful story Sarah. Thanks for sharing this project and the link to the Dominican sisters. I was educated in college by the Dominicans and they are truly impressive women.

  • Mary Jean Cunningham
    Posted at 10:06h, 16 August Reply

    I am a 61-year-old Catholic and it is interesting to me to see the young women wearing habits, as growing up I was taught by Sisters of St. Joseph (whose order originated in France and had the unfortunate history of having several members sent to the guillotine during the French Revolution!). The sisters who taught me wore very complicated full-skirted, long-sleeved black wool habits and headdresses which were later discontinued and now I see the same order of sisters at church every week in pastel and brightly-colored clothing (usually pantsuits, which would have been shocking 50 years ago) while most of the women of the parish are dressed in black, our go-to color these days, rather than being reserved for evening and funerals as in the past – it is interesting to me to see what seems like a bit of a role reversal in choice of clothing colors – the sisters want the pleasure of wearing comfortable clothing in pretty colors and most of the ladies in the parish want the color that is most practical for work and travel and “goes with everything,” and black always wins. The postulant habits you made appear to be much more comfortable and easier to wear than the habits of old and I wish Katie well in what is a “countercultural” endeavor. She has plenty of experience wearing a uniform, anyway!. It is so kind of you to help her!

  • Jane Mary Green
    Posted at 10:31h, 16 August Reply

    What a beautiful donation of your time and talent to such an outstanding woman and the journey she will follow. I am Catholic and I am sure you will be blessed for your efforts! It reminds all of us enjoying this terrific sewing hobby that design comes in many ways and sharing it with others is truly rewarding!

  • Cissie Wellons
    Posted at 10:35h, 16 August Reply

    You can now say “I’ve done it all”! What a special gift for a special young woman.

  • Elizabeth Lewis
    Posted at 11:18h, 16 August Reply

    Thanks for sharing this story. I know the garments you make will serve her well

  • Debi
    Posted at 11:30h, 16 August Reply


  • Mary Lynn
    Posted at 11:59h, 16 August Reply

    You definitely have “Stars in your crown!” Such a lovely thing for you to do for an incredibly special person. Your clothes will witness many amazing things.

  • Maria
    Posted at 12:02h, 16 August Reply

    What a beautiful story, and what a great way to share your talent. What a blessing! <3

  • Alice Elliot
    Posted at 12:58h, 16 August Reply

    Thanks for satisfying our interest in this project. And best wishes to Katy may she find peace and comfort in her life in the convent. Thanks to her for her service.

  • Ann Thanos
    Posted at 13:16h, 16 August Reply

    I am so pleased that you shared this wonderful story, which is about much more than sewing. The postulant’s clothes are humble, but your gift of making them is divine, both literally and figuratively. Thank you.

  • Lisbeth Dambrowski
    Posted at 13:17h, 16 August Reply

    Thanks for posting the photos after our requests about this project. I found it interesting to simply think about how sewing helps so many people. Those who want to create something unique and individual and those who need utilitarian clothing for daily living.

  • Lisa C in Dallas
    Posted at 13:31h, 16 August Reply

    Thank you (and her family) for sharing this story. I was unfamiliar with everything about it (except your lovely sewing) so it was very educational for me. Please let us know what happens after the first year (you mentioned the clothes lasting a year).

  • mz johansen
    Posted at 14:20h, 16 August Reply

    I was raised as a RC and was taught by Dominicans. Good education. I imagine that Katie saw enough in her “in and of the world” life to really make an informed decision. I can understand this choice. Bravo to her for her calling and bravo to you for creating these utilitarian clothes to get her through an important year of her life

  • Alex in California
    Posted at 14:22h, 16 August Reply

    Important work.

  • Marianne
    Posted at 15:04h, 16 August Reply

    Interesting post, Thanks for sharing!

  • Kirsten Houseknecht
    Posted at 16:06h, 16 August Reply

    Bless you. Becoming a nun (or any other major life changing choice) is never easy, and s you know clothing i also a connection to the people who made it, and those who helped. I’m sure her habit will hep remind her of her support as she enters the life of a nun..

  • Jill
    Posted at 16:07h, 16 August Reply

    As sewists, we are used to having a dizzying array of beautiful colors, prints, and textures for making clothes that are meant to flatter our figures, make us feel good, and maybe even get oohs and aahs when people find we *actually* make our own clothes.

    That had to have been a very weird experience to take a break from that to make a line of clothing that is rather plain, utilitarian, and not exactly “fun” at all. But as a Catholic, I can tell you that the vow of poverty that so many religious orders take is so vital to what they do. One cannot serve God and man when one is obsessed with their looks and their adornments. You’ve helped this young woman jump start her next journey as a soldier of Christ. Blessings to you, Sarah!

  • Karen Helm
    Posted at 16:52h, 16 August Reply

    What a very unique application of your sewing talents for a very special young woman. This is a lovely post!

  • Merry
    Posted at 17:53h, 16 August Reply

    Thanks for the pics…I am Catholic & appreciate what you have done for this woman. God b.less you all…

  • Beth Kauffman
    Posted at 17:56h, 16 August Reply

    Wonderful – on so many levels!

  • Lamar Mendiola
    Posted at 19:16h, 16 August Reply

    What a nice post ! And on my birthday! I am Catholic, educated in Catholic schools by the Dominican sisters, and there was a time in my life I wanted to be nun but my parents said, No! What an honor to be asked by the family and what a fantastic job you did — so cool. Blessings to you and to Katie and her family.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 19:58h, 16 August Reply

      Happy Birthday, Lamar! I can only imagine how you must relate to the post today 😉 Best wishes to you!!

  • Linda LaMona
    Posted at 19:23h, 16 August Reply

    That is wonderful! A great gift to a young woman who has given much to our country! Great job with the garments and aprons.

  • Thelma Ferris
    Posted at 19:48h, 16 August Reply

    I just read through the posts, on my way to adding mine and reflected in them is the delight found by one and all in these very different garments, the purpose for which they have been made and your far reaching skills in sewing them. I can imagine the happiness they have brought the recipient. Well done!

  • Marjorie Mautino
    Posted at 20:35h, 16 August Reply

    she said yes to the religious life and you said yes to clothing her….that’s a beautiful story in itself!

  • susan Kelley
    Posted at 20:50h, 16 August Reply

    This is fantastic inspiration. blessings!

  • Jean O'Reilly
    Posted at 21:26h, 16 August Reply

    Thanks to Katie for her service to our country on multiple fronts. and so awesome of you to be so generous with your time and talents!

  • Julie Starr
    Posted at 21:44h, 16 August Reply

    I’m touched reading each of the comments. Your gracious act kindness is as important a gift as the garments themselves. Well done, Sarah.

  • MaryEllen
    Posted at 23:16h, 16 August Reply

    Great story & what a wonderful gift you have given this young woman on her life’s journey .

  • designdreamer
    Posted at 11:43h, 17 August Reply

    Also a Catholic here. AAMOF, i had an Aunt that was a Sisters of St, Francis nun. Also taught by them and remember the HUGE habits and heavy robes they used to wear. Pretty sure my Aunt was relieved when they were no longer required. A little bit surprised someone from South Carolina is becoming a nun. And marvel at (and APPRECIATE) her service to our Country.

  • Peggy Lobello
    Posted at 15:49h, 17 August Reply

    What a wonderful opportunity to serve those that served our country and now the Lord. They turned out wonderful. 😇😇

  • Joan
    Posted at 19:18h, 17 August Reply

    Great job, Sarah! A lovely window onto something remote from my own life, yet fascinating.
    My best wishes to Katie in her future life!

  • Hawaiianei
    Posted at 07:06h, 18 August Reply

    I was completely Catholic school educated – Grammar School (Sisters of Mercy) High School (Presentation Sisters) and College ( Religious of the Divine Compassion) – I’m thankful the Katie for dedicating her life to God and thankful that there are people like you to help them – bless both you and Katie

  • laura towe
    Posted at 16:09h, 18 August Reply

    thank you with all the awful news in the world you give me hope

  • Kath Truran
    Posted at 05:06h, 19 August Reply

    What an exceptional young woman. She is an inspiration in this time of selfishness and self absorption you are wonderful to create such beautiful garments for this young woman. God bless you

  • Carol in Denver
    Posted at 16:43h, 19 August Reply

    It looks like the good sisters have given considerable thought to creating a minimalist wardrobe for the postulants. Such a wardrobe frees their time to do good and necessary work. I am especially intrigued with the aprons. The seamed shoulder area means it will stay in place but there are no ties to mess with, catch on things or become frayed. A serviceable pocket and generous length add to its appeal, as far as I am concerned.

  • Rachel
    Posted at 09:12h, 20 August Reply

    So interesting and what a lovely thing to do!

  • Colleen Bell
    Posted at 12:07h, 23 August Reply

    You did a wonderful job as usual, but I am grateful for your service to do this noble task. I was wondering if the apron pattern is available to the public? Thank you so much for encouraging us all over the years.

  • Andrea Verbanic
    Posted at 13:05h, 23 August Reply

    I went to an all girls Catholic high school and was taught by nuns. We all loved them! They are special people. Nice work by you!

  • Cheryl
    Posted at 08:37h, 27 August Reply

    What a wonderful story and amazing young woman! Her previous life experiences will serve her well with her future religious life!

  • Celeste Yanisch
    Posted at 15:38h, 30 August Reply

    I hope that you someday get to meet Katie, because she must be an absolutely amazing young woman. She made it through the Air Force Academy, which is an experience most strong men cannot handle. I just visited the Academy and watched the new students in their 3rd week of training. One group did push-ups for 45 minutes, another did downward dogs with the end people belly-crawling around the line to crawl through the line of “dogged” students, one group marched all over the courtyard in incredible maneuvers…it was exhausting to watch, much less do.( And they do it all day for 6 weeks…many do not make it.) And to have completed stays in two very dangerous countries? This woman must be truly amazing to decide to enter the convent. And you, Sarah, are equally amazing to have been asked to make these garments and to have made them so beautifully for someone you haven’t met. I think this post truly demonstrates how every woman can find her skills and then explore them…widely different skills and talents but all equally valuable in the world.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 11:07h, 03 September Reply

      Celeste – I know Katie! She just lives in a different city 🙂

  • Cheryl
    Posted at 23:12h, 05 September Reply

    What a beautiful story.

  • Cheryl
    Posted at 23:13h, 05 September Reply

    What a beautiful story!

  • Carol Terborg
    Posted at 22:11h, 10 September Reply

    I have had your tunic book on my wishlist longer than I remember. While cleaning up my wishlist I came across your book and began to read the reviews. The reviews and questions I always read when deciding to purchase or not to purchase. I loved the idea. I use old patterns all of the time and now that’s become a chore. Anyway, one of the reviewers remarked that after reading your blog, she had to have the book. So here I am, reading your blog and I like what I am reading. What a wonderful thing to do for someone and what a feeling of accomplishment and just plain satisfaction it must have given you.
    Thank you Julie Starr. Now I think that I must have your book as well.

  • Elizabeth
    Posted at 17:34h, 15 September Reply

    I LOVE that you so generously did this for this young woman. This is so wonderful and it warms my heart. Anytime an opportunity to spotlight my faith is a great day!!!! A family that my daughter attends school with also had someone in this same postulate class and is in the photo in the center of this article. Thank you for sharing this project with your readers.

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