Why I do my own work - and a bit of Food Friday
Often people are surprised that I do all of my own sewing, that I don't contract contract out my work or at least hire assistants. I think there is an assumption out there that the designer comes up with a sketch and that is the smart work and then the "little hands" as they are known in the French couture world brainlessly bring the ideas of the designer to fruition.
I am both ends of the equation, I both come up with the big ideas and do every bit of the sewing. I find that this is in fact a strength. I have discovered over and over again that only with the actual manipulation of the materials I am able to elevate my work to something just better than it would be if I handing off the sewing to someone else.
Right now I am finishing up two tallitot, Jane's which is made out of precious family textiles and Jack's which is being made out of all new materials. Yesterday each of these projects presented me with a moment where I realized that the fact that I do every bit of the work makes each one a better piece.
I had reached a bit of an impasse with Jane's tallit.
As you can see here, the edges of the tallit are raw, and unfinished and need a proper finishing. I was not sure what the right edging would be. I wanted the edging to be unobtrusive and yet strong enough to take the hard wear that a tallit gets.
After rummaging in my stash I decided on making a binding for those edges out of white silk chiffon cut on the bias. It would be visually unobtrusive. Before I cut into the chiffon I thought about two things. One is that silk chiffon is a bear to cut accurately. it is even more persnickety when you cut it on the bias. Not only that, silk chiffon isn't really all that strong.
As part of my process of temporarily shelving that decision I got busy on Jack's tallit. I got a great deal of it done but then had to figure out how to edge his atara. Jack wanted his tallit to be decorated with blue and gold but he also kept mentioning that he wanted red in the tallit. So I rummaged through the ribbons in my stash and found a roll of blue striped narrow ribbon. Both jack and I didn't want the tallit to look like an American flag so getting the balance of the colors was crucial.
I embroidered the red diamonds on the ribbon, and then sewed the ribbon onto the atara/neckband with a wide gold zigzag.
If I had simple handed over the work to an assistant, i don't think such a good solution would have been reached.
It was time to go back to Jane's tallit and figure out the right edging. I did what I do when I am desperate and began tidying up my work space. I then rediscovered the linen that the beautiful lace was inserted into to.
Linen comes in various qualities with different characteristics. Some linen is fairly unprocessed and is full of flax stalks. There is some that has been bleached to a nasty greyish white. Some is pure white and as smooth at satin. The linen from jane's grandmother was smooth and finely woven. It was lightweight enough to fold easily into a bias binding.
So I made a bias binding out of the leftover linen. Functionally it was perfect. Even more so, it will be meaningful for Jane that that tallit that is all about her grandmother's beautiful linens is edged with some of that special linen.
We were invited for Shabbat dinner tonight. I am bringing Challah. My husband is under the weather and he is staying home. he wanted the rest of us to enjoy our evening with our friends.
I made him little challot, ( they are on their second rise now) and cooked him chicken .
He might be dining alone tonight but he will be dining well.
For those of you who want to know this week's chicken flavor, I rubbed the chicken with the tandoori spices my son bought me for Chanukah.