From Idea to Reality
After I met with Charlie and his family just after Thanksgiving, we each had a copy of this sketch, a basic diagram for his tallit with reminders for me about size and the design.
We had decided on a wool/rayon blend for the main body of the tallit and a soft wool and Lurex blend for the stripe. Charlie also chose a beautiful black, metallic gold and white wide gros-grain ribbon to border the stripes.
Charlie wanted the colors in the atara/neckband to refer to the colors in the tabernacle( blue, turquoise, purple and red).
Very soon after we met I started piecing silk for the atara.
The time had come to actually assemble the tallit. I cut all of the wool to size. I suppose that if I had an assistant I would have given my assistant the task. However, I do every bit of work involved in making all of my pieces.
I have found that my doing each of the tasks required in putting a tallit together I often makes design decisions exactly because I am handling all of the materials.
My original intention was to use just one layer of the wool/Lurex blend. Once I had cut the fabric I realized that while the face of the fabric was beautiful, the back was less lovely. I also wondered about the stability of just one layer of the wool. So I decided to back the wool with itself. The result was lofty and soft and luxurious.
Originally we had planned for the stripes only on the face of the tallit to be bordered with the striped ribbon. As I looked at the tallit I felt that there wasn't enough visual contrast between the stripe and the body of the tallit.
One of the things that makes a traditional tallit beautiful is how the woven stripes from the face and the underside of the tallit play off of one another when a tallit is draped over the shoulders. Most pieced tallitot have a pretty face side but the underside is blank. when you drape the tallit over your shoulders, that interplay of stripes is missing. It is something that I find disturbing when I see such a tallit in synagogue.
To be sure that Charlie's tallit does not suffer from that lack I decided to cover the seam with black ribbon. Before I began to sew the ribbon to the tallit, I thought that the ribbon would be so much more attractive with a bit of gold embroidery.
So, I chose a stitch on my machine and embroidered something over four yards of ribbon.
Then, just because I could, I stitched the ribbon to the tallit using a teeny zig-zag stitch using a fine Lurex yard that is really not designed to use in a sewing machine, but the color is so beautiful that I force my machine to do the work.
It's a subtle bit of shimmer. You probably aren't even conscious of it but it makes it all work better.
Then it was time to apply the wide grosgrain. Again I used the teeny metallic zig-zag stitch.
My next task is to hem the entire tallit before getting back to work on the atara and the pinot.