Most sacristies in the diocese can probably boast at least one fair linen, credence table cloth or alb decorated with filet crochet lace.  Filet crochet patterns are made up of open meshes and solid meshes and use basically two stitches, the chain and double crochet. Patterns are illustrated on a grid or chart. On a chart, the blank square equals an open mesh, the X equals a solid mesh.  For this reason, filet patterns are easily adapted to counted cross stitch usage.

Filet crochet for the altar was very popular from late Victorian times right up until the 1950’s, with ecclesiastical crochet pattern books published by all the major thread companies and  generally used six cord mercerized crochet thread size 50 and a size 11 steel crochet hook.  Filet crochet was an economic way to achieve the effect of costly bobbin and other handmade laces from Europe. Many of our mothers and grandmothers labored over the beautiful and durable cotton filet crochet trimmings for altar cloths and altar server surplices, albs, pall covers, lavabo towels, superfrontals, and fair linen edgings.  Some patterns are available free online and other web sites offer the patterns at a small charge.  The fleur-de-lis, cross and crown, Agnus Dei, Tudor Rose, and Easter Lily were all very popular patterns. One good link for  church crochet and counted stitch embroidery patterns is http://www.holyneedle.com/store/customer/home.php?cat=18

This site offers some patterns free of charge, scroll to “altar lace” http:/http://www.crochetpatterncentral.com/directory/religious.php/www.

An excellent glossary of lace terms and types can be found at this link


Do you have some photos of filet crochet lace from your sacristy to share? I have a good many patterns in inventory which I can copy to send if you have a specific pattern in mind.  Revdma@aol.com

How to do a double crochet and chain