Weighing Choices

the last time I posted about Charlie’s tallit my big decision was which fabric to use for the atara. I ended up choosing the wool broadcloth.

My next step was painting the letters onto the wool. I began with by painting the lettering with a flat tipped brush with black and then I outlined the letters with gold paint.


I was planning to embroider around the letters. I wasn’t sure if I would machine embroider or work by hand.  Each have certain advantages. Machine embroidery is faster, but fiddlier. What I end up doing is essentially using the sewing machine as a paint brush.  While it is doable with a whole verse full of lettering one needs to be in the right mood to approach the task.


I was going through a mild case of food poisoning from a restaurant meal and frankly my ability to focus was not at it’s best. I decided to hand embroider around the letters. It would take longer but worked with how my brain was working.


Before I could start though, I needed to support the fabric. If you attempt to embroider on flimsy floppy fabric you will want to tear your hair out and do lots of cursing. There are lots of ways to beef up fabric to make embroidery easier.


If I were doing this 100 years ago I might have pasted some paper to the back of the fabric I planned to embroider. The 2015 method of doing the same thing is to iron on a fusible interfacing.  Fusibles sometimes unpeel from their backing with age. This tallit will be getting lots of wear, and will be folded and unfolded daily. I decided to go with a longer lasting choice.


Instead I just basted another layer of wool behind the painted strip of wool. Basting keeps the layers of wool from shifting as I do the embroidery. This is a step that I used to regularly skip.

charlie miller (5)

Now I baste when it will make my life easier.


I had two different gold threads to choose from, and I had thought that I would outline the letters in an embroidery stitch known as--- wait for it------- outline stitch. I tested out both threads.

charlie miller (6)

I voted for the darker thread. I also realized that I didn’t love the look of the outline stitch and decided to outline all of the letters with a chain stitch.

charlie miller (8)

I have been listening to podcasts and have been working away. The food poisoning is now gone and the letters are mostly outlined.

This evening I went to a Shiva house. I was rewarded on my way home with  what has been called Manhattan hedge where the setting sun lines up with the grid of the Manhattan streets. I took these photos while standing in the middle of the street. SAM_4578SAM_4579


I was not the only person standing in the middle of the crosswalk taking photographs. SAM_4580


  1. Hi Sarah,

    I find this blog on the Pattern Review site, since I'm a sewer. I really love it, although my background (Irish Catholic) is very different. But I love the warmth, and the gentle, joyous descriptions of so much of your life. Thanks for doing it. Makes me smile and brightens up my day.

  2. Wow! thank you for your kind, kind words. Delighted to have you stopping by. I was brought up in the heyday of ecumanism and was brought up in a mostly Irish catholic neighborhood. I have been involved with the dialogue of making Judaism understandable to those who are not jewish since my earliest memory. The language and imagery of the Catholic Church is certainly familiar to me..

    Thanks for letting me know who you are. It's always nice to know some of the faces behind the stats.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts