19th Feb 2008

The Rainbow Road Stole

Rainbow Road, full view

Clerical Stole made of light wool suiting and cotton batik pieced applique, applique is satin-stitched with variegated thread.


This is a stole I made last summer for a minister friend who will be ordained this May up in Canada. I haven’t put pictures of it anywhere yet, because he hasn’t worn it yet! But I needed to look at some color, and this jumped immediately to mind.

Rainbow Road close up

The ideas I started with were the rainbow flag, but not really the rainbow flag, and to keep the design looking deliberately more masculine, with a smaller yoke since the minister in question is a bit slighter than others and he didn’t want a blanket hanging around his neck. I thought first about doing a bargello style, very regular shaped pieced blocks down each panel, but wasn’t too happy with the drawings because I wanted more movement besides the color. Then we started talking more and came up with a spiral, which kind of echoes the Yellow Brick Road, and there we were.

Rainbow Road back

I used a light wool suiting fabric as the base, to give it a more masculine nod while still using all of these fun bright colors. I chose the batiks very carefully to be bright but not garish, and not too solid, to give the piece more movement. Then I started to play with piecing it together, first working with free-form scraps and then sewing strips together and cutting them apart to sew back together.

Rainbow Road Detail 1

The process was highly enjoyable, putting the colors together and just letting myself cut and sew without thinking too much about math or precision. It was almost the exact opposite of working on the Tree of Life stole, which was all about precision, and also a completely different process than the more minimalist Celtic stole.

The bars at the top right and bottom left serve two purposes - visual balance and also hiding necessary seams. Since the suiting has a slight herringbone, and allowed me limited lengths, the seams were much more jarring than I liked.

Rainbow Road detail 2

The “swoop” at the bottom I made at least twice before I got the right combination. And I was at a loss for how to applique the whole road effectively, but luckily had found a really neat, and complimentary, variegated thread to use in a satin stitch.

Rainbow Road Detail 3

I am sad that I won’t be at the ordination where this will be officially laid on my friend’s shoulders, but I can’t wait to see the pictures!

One Response to “The Rainbow Road Stole”

  1. Sean Says:

    This is beautiful, Jess. It reminds me of my favorite stole which depicts a tree planted by the river of life. The design plays from side to side on the stole, much like this one. So…
    how much to commission one?

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