Several weeks back, my student designed and made a zippered tank top for herself. Her classmates and friends fell in love with the tank top and placed orders. Although my student suggested that her friends might want the top in different colors, or with some other design variations, they all wanted exactly the same thing. my student mentioned how boring it can be to keep producing the same piece over and over again.
One way I keep fropm being bored is to work on m,ultiple projects at one time. I worked on the pinot/corner pieces for two different tallitot at the same time.
This Sunday, I went to the Columbus Avenue Craft Show. I have been going to that show since I moved to New York in 1982. Some of the vendors exhibiting on sunday have been exhibiting since I first moved to the city. Unlike my student, some of them are clearly not bored by producing the same item over and over again. Some of them are showing exactly the same items for nearly thirty years.
One could argue that most of what I produce is essentially the same thing. I make lots and lots of tallitot. That's true. But in all these years of making tallitot, while some may have been similar, no two have been identical.
Right now I'm working on finishing up two very different tallitot. Some of my work is sitting at one of my machines and doing the work. Lots of my time is taken up with mulling over problems. The stripes on josh's tallit are made out of a skirt make partially from old Ikat dyed Thai silk. One of the edges of the skirt was charmingly hand hemmed. Josh, his, mom and I all liked the crudeness of the work. I had planned to include that rough stitching as it was, on the tallit. I also had to figure out how to edge the rest of the tallit. Here you can see the hand done hem next to the temporary serged edge.
Several years ago, a client brought me a tallit that she had purchased. The hems were simply serged and turned. Not an elegant hem.The tallit was apparently, an expensive one. I was surprised. Being self taught, I always worry about the quality of my sewing.
I didn't want to do that sort of a serged and turned hem for this tallit. While it is certainly quick to do, it isn't very pretty , nor is it sturdy. The hand woven silk is old. it is very beautiful but has signs of wear. I need the edge to provide a measure of protection for the silk.
After significant mulling, I realized that a binding would keep help keep the tallit intact. I have a roll of bronze colored middy tape. I like that color keeps things a bit sober despite the glitz of the metallic. Middy braid is also relatively unfussy to use. I did realize that there was no way I could apply that braid smoothly over the hand stitching. I also realized that the hand done edge, while charming would open a technical can of worms. I decided to get rid of the hand hem.
Here is the edge of the tallit with the bronze middy braid. I used the lovely diamond stitch that came with my machine. The sewing gods were smiling on me. Metallic thread can be pesky. It tends to break easily. Sometimes the tread breaks every few inches as I sew. Today though, the thread behaved. I even got each of the four corners folded into a lovely miter
As I work on a tallit I think back to my initial meetings with my client. I try hard to make each tallit reflect their likes and dislikes. As I approach each decision I think about what will make my client happy.Were Josh a different sort of a guy, I would have edged this tallit in black grosgrain. Josh, unlike lots of boys his age, has no fear of a bit of flash. I also know that Josh wil appreciate how the stitching picks up the woven pattern of the silk.
So this is how making each tallit stays interesting. Each tallit has it's own set of issues to solve. Each, it's own challanges.