Simple Family Altar Cloths

Peter Fournier and Catherine Fournier

Domestic-Church.Com - Fridge Art - Liturgical Tableclothes The practice of family devotions and family prayer is benefitted by the installation of a family altar or prayer table in the home. A family altar is a place where the family can gather for prayer, where devotional objects can be placed, where the family rosaries and Bible might be kept and candles lit for special times of prayer. A family altar need not be elaborate - for many years our 'family altar' was actually the top shelf of a bookcase, easily visible but safely out of reach of our active inquisitve boys. (The bookcase was also fastened to the wall with angle brackets, to keep it from tipping over when the boys climbed it.) A simple way to decorate the family altar, to visually set it apart as a special place and to follow the liturgical seasons of the Church in the home, is to use an 'altar cloth' on the family altar. This family craft will show you how to make a set of 'altar cloths' each in a liturgical color and decorated with appropriate liturgical symbols.

What You Need:

  1. Enough fabric to generously cover your family altar, with enough to hang over the edge and at least one inch for hemming all around.
  2. Fusible interfacing (sometimes called 'Stitch Witchery)
  3. Contrasting fabric for liturgical symbols.
  4. Scissors, pins, iron, ironing board.
  5. Symbol patterns.

How To Make Your 'Altar Cloths'

  1. An 'altar cloth' can be of any fabric you like - cotton-polyester broadcloth is inexpensive, easy to wash and iron and comes in a wide range of colors. Felt or light weight wool could also be used, if you want a heavier cloth.
  2. Using an iron, fold and press a one-inch hem all around the cloth.
  3. Cut a one-inch wide strip of fusible interfacing, long enough to go all around the hem of your cloth.
  4. Slip the fusible interfacing inside the folded edge of your cloth and iron it all around to make a hem.
  5. Cut out symbols from contrasting fabric by pinning the symbol pattern onto the contrasting fabric and cutting out the shape. (If you don't have any pins, use tape.) See the list below for the symbols, click on each symbol to go to the pattern for it.
  6. Next, cut out symbols from fusible interfacing. Place the pieces of fusible interfacing underneath the cloth symbols.
  7. Place the symbols on the cloth in a pleasing arrangement and iron them in place.
  8. Place your altar cloth on the family altar. You're done.

Liturgical Colors and Symbols

Season: Advent Color: Purple Suggested Symbols: Star, Angel, Candles
Season: Christmas, Epiphany Color: Gold or White Suggested Symbols: Angel, Infant Jesus, Crown
Season: Ordinary Time Color: Green Suggested Symbols: Cross, Trinity Triangle, Fish
Season: Lent Color: Purple Suggested Symbols: Cross, Chalice, Nails
Season: Easter Color: Gold or White Suggested Symbols: Cross, Flame, Dove, Grapes, Wheat
Season: Marian Feasts Color: Blue Suggested Symbols: Flowers

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