You Say Tallis. I say Tallit. We say Talliot.

Every fall at the Jewish high holidays I think, “I should sew Jordan a prayer shawl.” Then, it quickly leaves my head and I move on to something else more fun.

In Bali w. Stephanie

So, last year when my friend Stephanie (who I traveled to Bali with) said her son was going to be a bar mitzvah in 2017, I volunteered to sew him a tallit as a test run for Jordan’s eventual prayer shawl.

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I suggested Stephanie ask her dad for an old necktie that we could use for the neckband (attarah). We thought it would be a nice way to represent and connect the generations for years to come.

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Using that tie Jeannie and I picked out silk dupioni for the color blocking at the prayer shawl while we were in New York before Christmas. Due to my extremely bum hand at the time, Stephanie and her daughter came over and did all the fabric cutting with my guidance. So, all I really had to do was sew!

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I’m sorry I don’t have any construction photos. I swore I took a slew of them and even posted on Instagram while in progress. But, I can’t find any of them now. So, this post is more for posterity than instruction!

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I used this link for ideas about sizing — bearing in mind he would need to use this as as adult too. And, they are reform so not super observant / religious so it didn’t need to be very long or wide. The main fabric came from my stash. A nice beefy off white wool with a faint plaid pattern. The tie was an all bias, massive PITA to deconstruct and work with. But, the sheen is beautiful and goes well with the silk.

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For anyone attempting this project, I used the eyelet template from my Singer buttonholer in the corners. Make interfacing and a walking foot your friend.

Stephanie ordered and tied the corner strings (tzizit) using a YouTube video.

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Overall it was a satisfying project. And, I’m glad it helped me be part of such a big occasion for their family.  Stephanie and I hope this becomes an heirloom that he will wear on his wedding day and perhaps even pass on to his son.

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At the bar mitzvah party with Stephanie wearing Burdastyle 12-2010 #102 I made back in 2013.

I wish I had sewn one for Jordan for our wedding! But, it didn’t even occur to me that I could sew one. He borrowed his dad’s for our wedding and isn’t sure where his is from his bar mitzvah. When he goes to services he uses the loaners at the synagogue. We actually have his great-grandather’s prayer shawl framed in our guest room.  So, I figure I have another five months before sewing one up for him too.


  1. What a lovely thing to do for your friend and her son! I am sure this will be a treasured item and an even more treasured memory for a lifetime.

    • Thanks, Shirley! Let’s see if I ever get around to making one for Jordan ☺️.

      On Tue, Apr 18, 2017 at 1:59 PM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:


      • I’m sure you will because it will make an amazing Anniversary or Hanukkah gift! I loved watching the progress of this make on Instagram. It’s pretty awesome that you made your friend an heirloom piece!

  2. I love this post so much. What a wonderful gift for such a memorable occasion, for both Stephanie and Jake. You’re such a good friend, Renee! And a remarkable human being! Glad to know you.

    • Staaaahp. I’m just ok 🙂 We have so few heirlooms that it’s nice to help create some for families.

      On Tue, Apr 18, 2017 at 2:47 PM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:


    • Thank you! I don’t know where I got the idea. But, it worked out really well. I offered to do the same for my husband’s. And, he told me he needs to have the prayer for putting it on embroidered at the neckline (as is tradition) because otherwise he’d have to mouth the words!

      On Tue, Apr 18, 2017 at 4:33 PM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:


      • That’s so funny. When I had my bat mitzvah, I was encouraged to choose this pretty silk one with abstract-ish representations of Miriam dancing post-Exodus, and the neckline said something like “And Miriam led the women in dancing” or whatever the actual quote is. And I never, not once, remembered to say the blessing because it wasn’t written on my neck! Since then, I’ve switched it for an enormous (i.e. WARM!) spare one of my dad’s, and feel very silly that I have to sound it out each time before swooping my tallit around me.

  3. What a beautiful thing you have done for a friend and her son, extra-special by incorporating the grandfather. Beautiful gift of friendship. Thank you for sharing.

  4. This is a beautiful project, sure to become meaningful over the years. I love that the Mom and sister of the bar mitzvah boy helped–your generous gift connected three generations! How lucky they are that your sewing skills and knowledge were available for this special item, which is beautiful on so many levels–as a sewn item, as an essential component of a child’s milestone ceremony, and as a gesture of deep affection. Brava!

    • Thank you! He was definitely only mildly interested in knowing he had a custom tallis. But, his mom and grandmother really appreciated it. I love his mom to pieces and she’s been a terrific friend. It’s not often I feel comfortable making something for someone. I’m just happy they like it and we joked that we better see at his wedding!

      On Tue, Apr 18, 2017 at 5:40 PM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:


  5. how lovely, incorporating the tie is a truly wonderful idea – I have an old silk cravat of my dads and its in my sewing box….I never know what to do with it (its got some age issues) but I keep it there to remind me of him and am waiting for an appropriate project to include it in

    • I joked my dad out of most of his older items. I regret it now (especially his purple paisley three-piece suit!) He had one tie I loved and I ‘took’ it for Jordan. I might ask Jordan’s living grandfather if he has a tie to contribute to the cause!

      On Wed, Apr 19, 2017 at 5:02 AM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:


  6. I LOVE this post! What a terrific idea to suggest using a family tie! One day your little friend is going to remember you with great fondness. How many kids get a bespoke tallit? Also, as I’ve said before, he is so adorable. And you look wonderful in that dress.

    • Yeah! I was thinking how sharp he looked that day. He also is a pretty reserved kid and he did such a good job with his torah portion. I also love that dress. But, it’s gotten a little gapey in the bust. When I find a good fabric I’ll definitely make it again.

      On Wed, Apr 19, 2017 at 8:39 AM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:


  7. So cool! When I was that age, I had friends who were twins, and their mom made them almost-matching talises for their b’nai mitzvot. I always admired her fearlessness at tackling something so special. And now yours too! It turned out beautifully. What a great project idea and gift.

    • Thank you, Claire! That’s a beautiful story. I’m really happy with how it turned out. My knitting machine can do something called ‘knit weave’ and I considered trying it to make fabric for the tallis bag. That’s probably why I haven’t started one for my husband yet. I am not big on sewing pillow case / zipper cases 😀

      On Wed, Apr 19, 2017 at 10:46 AM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:


  8. Renée, I agree with everyone here…that’s a wonderful gift you’ve given your friends son! You are truly a sweet person! But, don’t forget the hubby… I’m sure he would be absolutely grateful (and surprised!) to receive one from his lovely wife too!

    • Haha. Myra, honestly I’d already kind of forgotten about it! My hand problems are mostly under control now so I should at least cut out the fabric. That way I can sew it when I’m in the mood. I saved my wedding dress to use as a lining for his prayer shawl too.

      On Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 6:28 AM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:


      • That’s a really great idea to use your wedding dress and very sentimental too! Sorry about your hand problems, I must have missed a post and glad to hear that it’s now under control and better I hope!

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