Back in March, I received a message from friend and former colleague Beth Kalisch who is a rabbi near Philadelphia. Her shul, Beth David Reform Congregation, was in need of a new chuppah for upcoming weddings, including her own this June. I was honored that she reached out to me and immediately started thinking about design options.
Since it would be used for many different couples with many different color preferences, Beth wanted to keep the chuppah neutral and simple. She suggested white flowers and preferred symmetrical designs so we settled on white lilies in the four corners with the text “Ani l’Dodi v’Dodi Li (I am my Beloved’s and My Beloved is Mine)” in the center. I found a beautiful image of lilies on Shutterstock.com and had four of them printed on fabric at Spoonflower.com. As always, Spoonflower delivered a vibrant, crisp image on quality fabric. Unable to find a silk fabric wide enough for the 6′ square chuppah, I chose a high quality cotton which matched the cotton of the flower images.
With the fabric in hand, it was time to get started! I printed the text onto paper and taped it to the dining room table (below left). Next, I found the center of the fabric, marked it with pins, centered the fabric on the text, and taped the fabric to the table (below right).
Now it was time for paint. The flowers that were going in the corners were white and grey with green leaves, so I started mixing grey, silver, and purple paint to find a subtle shade that would work well. (The purple was to soften the grey a little and make it more interesting.) The grey was too dark, though and the silver paint was too sparkly, so I added shimmer white to the grey/purple mix until I found a shade that wouldn’t overpower the flowers but could easily be seen on the fabric. I then carefully took the winning mixture to the fabric and started painting the text, using the printed paper below the fabric as a guide. Since I’m right handed, I move from left to right so I don’t drag my hand through the paint.
While the paint dried, I moved to the flowers. I can’t tell you how relieved I am that The Warm Company released their Steam-A-Seam 2 again! It is by far the best double sided fusible webbing I have come across and when they stopped making it for a while, things were rough! Now that I have a healthy supply again, I covered the back of the flower fabric with the Steam-A-Seam 2 and ironed it down (below left). Then, I carefully cut out all the flowers (below right).
Next, it was time to remove the paper backing and place the flowers on the chuppah. Careful measurements from the first one (below left) made placing the other 3 much easier (below center)!
Even though I adore Steam-A-Seam, I don’t trust it to keep these flowers in place while the chuppah is used many times over the years, so I used clear thread and a buttonhole stitch to sew around all the flowers (above right). The synagogue has a beautiful chuppah frame made of birch, so I created one-inch straps that could be tied to the frame at the four corners and at two points on each side.
Then I ran into a little trouble. All that was left was to add the straps and backing fabric, but I was put on bed rest because of early contractions in my pregnancy. This might sound familiar to those of you who follow my blog. Two years ago, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I was working on a chuppah when early contractions put me on bed rest. This seems to be a trend…
Once again, my mother came to the rescue! She took the completed top, straps, and backing and put them together so the chuppah would make it to PA in time for Beth’s wedding this coming weekend. I hope the happy couple enjoys the chuppah this weekend and that many couples happily stand beneath it over the years.