I was excited to get an email from a woman from my parents’ synagogue asking if I could make a custom tallit for her. She wanted something purple, lightweight, and not too big. Little did I know that this would prove to be a difficult request. After visiting New York City’s garment district and walking through countless fabric stores, I discovered that there are very few purple fabrics and even fewer pretty purple fabrics that were the right weight for a tallit. I took photographs of several fabrics and sent them to my client and she selected a beautiful lilac fabric with free style flowers on it.
The fabric had a fairly wide border at the bottom and she wanted a shawl style tallit (not a full size one). Using the full border on a narrow tallit would be overwhelming, so we had four options. (1) Use the full border and accept the fact that there isn’t much of the main fabric showing; (2) Cut off the black section at the bottom of the border; (3) Eliminate the border completely; or (4) Use the full border, but move to a wider tallit to compensate.
We decided to go with option 2 – cut off the black section and keep the desired width. The next challenge was what to put on the atarah (neckband). My client didn’t want to include the words of a prayer or Torah verse and we eventually decided to draw flowers similar to those on the fabric with a purple fabric marker on the atarah and four corners. The result is a soft, feminine tallit that met all my client’s needs. I hope she enjoys wearing it for years to come!