Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Making Altar Blankets (AKA 'Drop Cloths')

I know there are some folks who are wondering what on earth I'm talking about when I say I need to make 20 altar blankets....thinking, 'Are we covering our altar for some strange ritual?' or 'Do folks take naps at church?' or some such thing. The problem is that there really isn't a good term for these things. 'Modesty blankets' is another term that maybe sums up their use the best...they really have two applications. The first is obviously for modesty; especially since low-cut pants have become such a fashion item. If someone is kneeling at the altar at the front for prayer or ministry, low cut pants can become a little too revealing, so we just have a practice of dropping a square of cloth over the back of someone at the altar who has any skin at all showing between the bottom of their top and the top of their pants. That takes care of the minor and the extreme. The other application is to cover someone who is overcome and falls down; very hard to describe to someone for whom that is just not a part of their worship experience. It does happen sometimes that people who are being prayed for fall down...what is happening in the individual's spirit is so intense that he/she simply cannot stand. So we cover them until they are ready to get up. If you cover everyone, then a lady who might be wearing a top that is a little lower cut than she realized is not singled out, but covered just like everyone else. So that's still really a modesty application.

Anyway, we're launching a new congregation and they need some blankets. By trial and error, I've learned that the best size for them is about 45" square...that's big enough to cover but not so big that it's heavy and awkward. So the best fabric is 45" wide, cut into 45" lengths and serged across the cut edges.

But, wouldn't you know, Wal-Mart didn't have any appropriate 45" fabric on the dollar table...it was 60" or 68" wide. I made one batch in 60" squares a few years ago and they really are rather awkward to use, so I'm trimming the width on this fabric so they're easier to handle. It's polyester and will likely never,ever wear out. I'm cutting the fabric into 5 yard lengths (4 blankets), then trimming off the excess and the yarns are so strong that I can pull a lengthwise thread for the whole 5 yards.

It's going to take longer to chop it down to size than it will to finish the edges...


  1. thanks Lisa for the information. I'm very happy to get some help from your blog. This item is not very well known but I'm preparing to make several. They are a comfort in the moment needed. :)
    God bless your life today. Teresa in California

  2. Thank you so much, I needed some for the Ministry we've started and this has helped me tremendously! God bless you.

  3. Thank you for this. I have to make some for my church....AND I finally have a name for them! :)

  4. Thank you for this. I have to make some for my church....AND I finally have a name for them! :)