Here's my latest commission, and although I live in California, and the client lives in the southeast USA, it was made with help from one of the best Judaica machine embroiderers on the planet, Marilyn Levy of Ontario, Canada. It's a tallit (prayer shawl) for a young man's bar mitzvah.
Like all my commissions, this one started out with a discussion with the young man's family. They wanted cotton, with a leafy design, in blue and grey, so I drew up choices.
They liked #1 best, the simple vines. What was most unusual - and why they needed a custom tallit instead of one off the rack - was that they wanted Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 on the atarah, the long rectangular band that marks the collar.
You know this verse: it begins, "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven."
An atarah is optional - store-bought shawls sometimes carry the embroidered prayer for donning it. But I've never seen one with this particular verse.
Initially, the family hoped we could fit in the entire verse, which is a long paragraph. They wanted the letters big enough to read from a distance. I make a sketch to show them what this might look like.
That convinced them that just the first line might be better. They wanted it in Hebrew and English. I told them I could only do this job if I brought in a subcontractor. I contacted my friend Marilyn Levy, a.k.a. "the TALLITmaaven," who graciously agreed to help. So now we had a three-way, international collaboration, with the family telling us what they wanted, Marilyn showing us what's possible in embroidery, and me getting everyone on the same page and doing the construction.
After much back and forth, here's a printout of Marilyn's design; the family was happy with the size and fonts she chose. (The straight lines help with placement; it's not part of the design.) Full size it was about 22" long.
I printed it out onto paper, cut out the lettering area and taped the two pieces together. I used that long paper strip to block out the area of the tallit where it would lie, and started sewing the other elements in place around it, while waiting for Marilyn to finish the fabric version.
Marilyn did a gorgeous, flawless job with the atarah, as I knew she would.
The one on the left is reversible, but the other one, not so much, because of where the name tag went, as you can see below. (I didn't want to set the name lower, fearing it would interfere with the fit.) The hat pattern is from my book, The Uncommon Yarmulke (sold in my etsy shop at https://www.etsy.com/shop/CathyPStudio.) I used the "large, 4-panel" pattern on p. 19, which fits most teens and adults.
And then I answered myself. Machine embroidery is a complicated hobby and/or business. The cost and complexity of an embroidery machine is just the beginning.