Ora et Schola

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The Catholic sanctuary is a sacred and holy space. There is usually beautiful decor and artwork to help us enter into the mystery of heaven and assist during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 

Today, we will focus on the tabernacle. The tabernacle is where the Blessed Sacrament is kept. There may be Consecrated Hosts kept here that will be used at Mass or to bring Communion to a homebound person at a later time.

There is also usually a lunette (a clear, flat, cylindrical holder) with a larger Consecrated Host that is placed in the monstrance during Adoration.

It is beautiful to see a tabernacle with a Catholic tabernacle veil, and today I will show you how to make one for your parish if your pastor would like one!

I also ended up making an extra set with the left over fabric for our home! I love this purple one for Lent and Advent (see below)! Read on if you would also like to make some panels for your home altar!

Catholic tabernacle veil
home altar decor for lent

What is the purpose of the tabernacle veil?

Veils are used to cover that which is sacred. The Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity is present in the Holy Eucharist. The tabernacle veil is used to cover the Holy place where Christ rests in the sanctuary of the church. You may also see a veil covering the chalice (the chalice veil.).

In the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant was kept in the back of the temple. This location was known as the “Holy of Holies.” A curtain separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple. Only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies, and he could only enter once a year at Yom Kippur to offer the bloody sacrifice.

Leviticus 4: 5-6 states:

“The anointed priest shall then take some of the bull’s blood and bring it into the tent of meeting, where, dipping his finger in the blood, he shall sprinkle some of it seven times before the Lord, toward the veil of the sanctuary.”

Christ resides in the MOST holy place in the sanctuary of our Catholic church, and veiling the tabernacle conveys this holy and sacred place where Christ rests.

Catholic tabernacle veil

Different Types of Catholic Tabernacle Veils

Tabernacles come in all shapes and sizes. Therefore, there are different styles of tabernacle veils.

You should also talk with your pastor about his preferences for a tabernacle veil. It is crucial to get his input and opinion on the style, colors, and size.

The one that my pastor requested is basically 2 small curtains or panels that fit inside the tabernacle doors (like the one above, just without the top additional panel).

We found a tension rod that expands to the width of the inside of the tabernacle. The 2 panels hang on this rod creating our tabernacle veil.

Supplies and Materials Needed for your Catholic Tabernacle Veil

You will need to know how to hem to sew this simple tabernacle veil. I used a serger to make the process even easier, but you can make it with just a sewing machine. You will only be using a straight stitch for 4 hems.

You will need the following supplies and notions:

  1. Sewing machine
  2. Serger (optional but makes the process so easy!)
  3. Fabric scissors and/or rotary cutter/cutting mat and weights (I use large washers, mugs, or a scotch tape dispenser as a weight
  4. Iron and ironing board
  5. Sewing clips
  6. 1/2 yard muslin or practice fabric (try to find something similar to the liturgical fabric that you will use)
  7. 1/2 yard liturgical fabric – I used this one in white/silver and purple/gold, as requested by my pastor
  8. Coordinating serger and sewing machine thread
  9. Coordinating needles for your fabric
  10. Two pieces of 8.5×11″ pieces of 1 lb cardstock taped together to form a piece approximately 20 inches long. Make sure this is longer than your desired length of your veil.
  11. Paper scissors
  12. A small tension curtain rod that will fit inside the tabernacle (just behind the doors)
sewing machine and serger

Steps for Making Your Catholic Tabernacle Veil

1. Obtain measurements for the 2 curtains and for the width of the tabernacle

Every tabernacle is different. My pastor measured the inside of the tabernacle and let me know the width for the curtain rod. Then, he decided on the final width and length he wanted for the curtains.

2. Create a template

You will want to make a sturdy template so that you can easily cut your curtains the same size. This will also be helpful if you plan to make multiple sets of curtains in different colors. 

To make your template, first, overlap 2 pieces of 8.5×11″ cardstock by 1/2″ at the shorter ends. Tape it together.

Then, draw a rectangle in the middle of the paper of the FINISHED measurements that you would like each curtain to be. 

Next, decide on your seam allowances and hems. This is what I did: I made the long, side seam allowances 1/4″ since I planned to finish the end with my serger and then hem them. I you do not have a serger, you may want to make the side seam allowances 1/2″ each so you can fold in and hem 1/4″ twice.

On the top, I added 2 inches to be folded over twice for a 1 inch hem. This is where the tension rod will go through, so you don’t want this to be too small.

On the bottom, I left 1 inch to be folded twice (1/2″ each) for a thinner bottom hem.

Cut out your template INCLUDING the seam allowances. This will make sewing many curtains very easy!

3. Create a muslin (sample) set (follow steps 4- 7 below)

I used the initial measurements that my pastor gave me to make a practice version, and he ended up wanting the final version to be slightly wider. So, it really is important to make a practice set first to make sure your priest is happy with the dimensions.

I used some white silk I had on hand, and he liked it so much that he kept using it until the final versions were made.

You can use any cheap, scrap fabric that has a similar drape and feel to your final fabric. Silk is actually a tad thinner and flowier than the liturgical fabric I bought, but it worked for a trial run.

I redrew a new template based on the new measurements and got to work on the final version!

4. Press and cut out fabric 

Press your fabric well with an iron to get out any wrinkles. Be sure to test the iron on a scrap of your fabric to see how much heat it can take. You may want to use a presser cloth (white cotton piece of fabric) in between the iron and the fabric if the fabric is very delicate.

When your fabric is wrinkle-free, you are ready to cut.
Position your template on your fabric. If your fabric has a pattern, decide what part of the pattern you want to show on the tabernacle veil.
The fabric I used had large crosses every so often. So, I marked a cross in the center of my pattern template and poked a hole so I could line it up with the cross on the fabric. Take your time, and make sure everything is straight under the template.
Cut out 2 identical curtains using a rotary cutter and weights on your cutting mat. 
Catholic tabernacle veil

5. Serge all of the edges

If you have a serger, go ahead and serge all 4 edges on both curtains to finish them. I only keep black, white, and grey serger cones on hand, so I used black thread on the purple fabric since it wouldn’t show from the front. 

Keep the serger knife engaged so it can cut off any fraying strands, but DO NOT cut off any fabric with the serger knife.

6. Hem the 2 long sides with 1/4″ hem

Serging makes this part easy. Fold and press the 2 long side seam allowances at 1/4″. You just need to fold over the width of the serged edge since the serged edge is 1/4″. Press well, and then hem using a straight stitch on your regular sewing machine.

If you didn’t serge these edges, then fold and press them over twice at 1/4″ each time. Press well and clip.

Be sure that the width is the same as your template.

Repeat with second panel.

7. Hem the top and bottom

Fold up the bottom (shorter) hem 1/2″ twice and clip. Press well. I like to use clips on the more delicate liturgical fabric rather than poking holes in it with pins.

Fold the top 1″ twice. Press well. I must have cut this one a little short, so I just pressed and sewed the wide top hems over about 1″ and made sure they matched.

Repeat pressing and clipping for second panel. Make sure the patterns are facing the correct way on both panels, and clip them next to each other so that you can make sure they are exactly the same length. Use the template as a guide to get the final size as accurate as possible.

Sew all hems with a straight stitch. Make sure to sew the top hem 1″ from the edge and the bottom inch about 1/2″ from the edge.

Press all hems well and rejoice! You have finished your new tabernacle veil!


Catholic tabernacle veil


Ad majorem Dei gloriam! When we use our talents for God’s glory, He is well pleased! I was so happy to be able to use my self-taught sewing skills for a veil for the place where Christ rests. Just awesome! I hope you found this tutorial helpful if your parish needs a Catholic tabernacle veil.

Do you like crafts and DIY? Be sure to check out some more DIYs here:

Free Crochet Patterns

DIY St. Lucy Crown


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Sewing machine, serger, and Catholic tabernacle veil

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