The making of a Tallit
I always love making a Tallit. My current project is a White-Striped Tallit made from 100% wool.
A full-sized Tallit takes around 4 weeks of working full-time to produce from start to finish. I started this current Tallit before our move and then put it away for a while. I recently began the finishing work with the plan to have it completed by Rosh HaShannah.
There are several pieces in a finished Tallit -- the main body, reinforcement pieces for the corners and sometimes an Atarah. Each piece is woven separately and finished in its own right before being put together into a completed product.
The corner-reinforcement pieces for this Tallit were actually woven first. This past winter I worked with a pattern I found online that resembled a Star of David and redesigned it into a nearly-square patch with a Star on it that would work well as a corner-piece. Since this design takes quite a while to set up, I made a very long strip of pieces using several colors - including a set in white.
The body was woven in the weeks leading up to our move this past spring. It was quite a stressful time but weaving usually keeps me centered and I was thankful for the distraction. As this Tallit is for my favorite client (my husband), it was a distraction that I certainly didn't mind. Once again, the stripe pattern being used is one that my husband and I designed together (this same pattern has been used on Tzitzit and a black-striped Tallit for him in the past).
Not every Tallit has an Atarah and it wasn't decided until this past week if there would be one on this Tallit. Once it was decided, that was the next piece that needed to be made. The design used on it is a modified/mini version of the stripe pattern on the body of the Tallit. Whenever I attach and Atarah, I also attach a woven-fabric strip on the underside where the Tallit will actually lay on the head/shoulders. This extra piece of fabric is there to keep the body of the garment clean.
Not including the time spent on the corner pieces - I have spent the equivalent of 3 full-time weeks working on this project so far and there is about a week of work left. The fringe has been tied and I am almost done needle-weaving wool yarn into the gaps that occasionally form next to solid-stripes (this is a SLOW process, especially with this fine, wool yarn).
I still have to finish turning the woven material for the Atarah into a usable band and the corner-piece strip need to be separated into individual pieces. Then those pieces need to be attached to the body of the Tallit using the sewing machine. The last item is hand-sewing the holes into the corners where the tzitzit will be attached.