It seems to be the season of the blue and gold tallitot. I was commissioned to make four tallitot in the last couple months and all are blue and/or gold! Two of them were some of the most simple I’ve made, one was by far the most complicated, and one (still in progress) was the first that involved printing our own fabric. Below are pictured and descriptions of the simple ones first followed by the detailed one.
The first blue tallit was made for a Bat Mitzvah girl who wanted a blue print. She and her grandmother found this gorgeous fabric and sent it to me to use for the tallit. She wanted the same fabric with no text for the atarah and corners so I chose sections of the print that worked well in those areas without completely blending in.
The second tallit was created for a woman being ordained as a rabbi at AJR (Academy for Jewish Religion). She was given beautiful embroidered kanfot (corners) and an atarah (neckband) and she wanted a silk gold fabric that would complement those pieces.
The more detailed tallit was for a woman who was becoming Bat Mitzvah. She had been involved in theater for many years and worked for Actor’s Equity. For this reason, she wanted to incorporate the comedy and tragedy masks as well as the color royal blue, which was the Actor’s Equity color. She also has a Westie dog (and had others before this one) and wanted to use an image of a Westie in the tallit as well. At first, we talked about a fairly traditional tallit which was white with blue stripes but then decided to flip those colors so the main part of the tallit was blue with white stripes. After some searching, we selected a royal blue cotton.
For the atarah, she wanted to use the Hebrew name “Keshet” she had selected and I suggested painting the drama masks on each side to elongate the atarah slightly. Since the blue fabric was relatively dark, I used my glass table and light trick to paint the atarah with gold fabric paint.
Next it was time to figure out the stripes. I didn’t want the stripes to be bulky or to have exposed seams and I thought I had come up with the perfect solution with enclosed seams. After a small sample, however, I found that there was too much stitching and it wasn’t as elegant a solution as I hoped (below left). Instead, I went with French seams and made them as small as I possibly could. Of course, on the first attempt I made them too narrow and the frayed edges showed through to the front of the tallit.
I had to go with slightly larger seams to avoid this issue. Below are pictures of the front (left) and back of the stripes (right). Once I was happy with the stripes and their placement in the larger tallit, it was time to serge and sew the edges.
Next, I printed the Westie and drama mask images onto cotton fabric for the corners and sewed them and the atarah in place. She also requested that we bring the blue and white into the tzitzit by using tzitzit tchelet.
With all of the elements in place, the piece was finally completed just in time for her Bat Mitzvah.
I hope all three women wear their tallitot with joy and pride for many years to come! In the next post, I’ll show how the tallit with custom printed fabric comes out.
If you’re interested in a custom tallit, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.