Mishlei (Proverbs) 31:22,24

כב מַרְבַדִּים עָשְׂתָה-לָּהּ שֵׁשׁ וְאַרְגָּמָן לְבוּשָׁהּ
כד סָדִין עָשְׂתָה וַתִּמְכֹּר
She made for herself pleasant-looking bed covers; she also made herself white (linen) and purple garments to wear
She manufactured robes and sold them

Simplicity 2689 Girls Tunic Adaptation

Here is a pattern from Simplicity that I adapted for my girls. It is a pullover tunic with either a square or circle neckline on the front yoke.  The adaptation that I made was a higher jewel neckline reinforced with a standup ribbed knit collar, plus an extension to the sleeve length.

The Simplicty 2689 pattern comes in two sizes, one for regular girls and the other for plus-size girls. It also comes with a pattern for a front tie belt, which I ignored.  There are two lengths to the tunic, the shorter one goes to the hips and the longer one below the hips, like in the picture.


Simplicity sewing pattern 2689: Girls/Girls Plus Tops size AA (8-10-12-14-16) Simplicity sewing pattern 2689: Girls/Girls Plus Tops size AA (8-10-12-14-16)
"Girls or Girls Plus Dress,Tunic and Belt"



Simplicity sewing pattern 2689: Girls/Girls Plus Tops size BB (8 1/2 - 16 1/2) Simplicity sewing pattern 2689: Girls/Girls Plus Tops size BB (8 1/2 - 16 1/2)
"Girls or Girls Plus Dress,Tunic and Belt"



I also decided to adorn the yoke with lace -- colorful lace on the front, and cotton lace extension on the sleeves. I use three different lace patterns in all.  After all, this is a girl's tunic or blouse which is deserving of pretty trims, don't you think?


Are Layering Shells Kosher or even Modest?

According to the Gemara (Kesubos 72b), Chazal states that a woman violates Das Yehudis (Das Yehudis refers to laws of modesty based on convention (and enforced with rabbinic rulings)) if she spins in public and reveals her arms to people.  The upper arm of a woman has a powerful potential to arouse unwanted attention of the opposite gender.  The Midrash states that "Rav Shmuel Bar says that Shechem son of Chamor saw her (Deenah) and was attracted to her by procuring a glimpse of her arms and this aroused his distressing interest in her."

The elbow has the same halachos as the upper arm and must be completely covered since the upper arm occupies a substantial part of the elbow.  The upper arms may not be visible through the sleeves and this includes see-through sleeves or tight-fitting sleeves.  Rabbi Falk discusses this in "The Tznius Handbook" on pages 32 and 167.

How about layering shells?  Layering shells that are so popular among the masses today are made with soft, thin, stretchy material that when worn, are very tight on the body, including the arms.  These shells would not be appropriate for a Bas Yisrael.  These shells can be worn underneath an opaque blouse that covers over the shell however, this then defeats the purpose of the shell. If the shell is worn underneath a very loose and open cardigan, that would expose the parts of the shell which exposes the shape of the wearer, then it would also not be kosher.

Popular mass-marketed layering shell, comes in different colors and sizes
As you can see, the shell hugs the wearer showing off the curves


When worn under another blouse of the this type also made of stretchy tight material,
reveals the shape of the wearer in a very  immodest way


It doesn't matter whether you are skinny or more endowed, the shell makes you immodest!
It's like you're wearing a leotard in public.
Don't throw away your layering shells yet.  You can recycle them into modest headcoverings. Snoods, for example, are usually made with stretchy knits.  ModestAnytime.com offers lots of snoods made with these stretchy knits that cover your head well.

Faceless Styrofoam Wig Heads

I just came across a faceless Styrofoam wig head that can be used to support sheitels (wigs).  The Torah prohibits Jews from making graven images, and a styrofoam wig head is usually fashioned with a face. Many pious  Jews deface the head by removing the nose or ear.  With the availability of faceless wig heads, that should make life easier, I hope.


For more information about the prohibition on making and owning graven images, read this PDF file.

Dickey for Women

Dickies are an alternative to cover up exposed neck and chest areas while wearing immodest neck-lined tops. They come in different colors and styles and here are some of my picks.  These dickeys offered by ModestAnytime.com meet the high Jewish modesty standards that cover the collar bone with style.



Shopping for Modest Skirts

If you don't sew, you can purchase modest skirts at a variety of places online.  However, I have found that Blair offers some of the most affordable clothing online. Here are my favorite picks today.


Two Twenty® Tiered Denim Skirt

Two Twenty® Tiered Denim Skirt
Our versatile soft denim skirt offers five tiers with shirred detailing. Full elasticized waist. 34"L; Petites, 32". Cotton. Machine wash and dry. Import.


Drawstring Skirt Drawstring Skirt
Cool, casual and relaxing to wear. Plus, you can't beat the low price! Gentle elasticized waist with drawstring, handy slant pockets. Approx. 32"L. Super-soft cotton. Machine wash/dry. Import.


Blair Boutique® Tiered Velour Skirt Blair Boutique® Tiered Velour Skirt
Compare at $40!   Ideal for fancy family gatherings or holiday parties. Four shirred tiers fall from a gentle-fit elastic waist. Approx. 33"L; Petites, 30". Polyester steamed velour; machine wash/dry. Import.


Two Twenty® Corduroy Skirt Two Twenty® Corduroy Skirt
Ultra-soft, cotton pinwale corduroy and a beautiful silhouette! Seaming runs down from the elasticized waist to godets for a full, swirly drape. Misses and Women's, approx. 34"L; Petites, 31". Machine wash/dry. Import.

The above patterns are quite simple to make.  It would probably costs around $10 for two yards of fabric with a sewing machine or serger, thread, elastic and time.

Homemade Ruffles

One of the nicest things about having a sewing machine or a serger (or both), is the ability to make your own ruffles which you can then add to your garment, pillows, curtains, furniture covers, etc.  After having used a serger, I would prefer the ease of making ruffles using a serger over a sewing machine.

Here are some pictures that show what you can do with your machine to make ruffles.  Enjoy!

Create ruffled effect with a serger or sewing machine

Tons and tons of ruffles, save you money from buying at the store


Roll up your precious commodity around a cardboard; this one I recycle from purchased fabric

Attach ruffle to garment

Ruffle attached to garment, voila!

Thank you for watching. It might be worth an investment to you to own a serger.

The Neckline Test

It's fairly easy to test if your garment neckline is kosher or not.  We use the "necklace test" as recommended by Rabbi Eliyahu Falk, in his book, "Modesty - An Adorment for Life."  If your garment neckline is outside the vertical part of the perimeter (circumference) of the necklace, then the neckline is not kosher.  If your neckline shows your collarbone, then it is also not kosher.

Here is a picture I took that demonstrates this effect.


See there are two shirts being worn on the dress form.  The white shirt's neckline is beyond the vertical line of the perimeter of the necklace (in silver cord), hence it is not kosher.  The taupe shell worn underneath the white garment has a neckline that sits right inside the perimeter of the necklace and is deemed kosher. There is no way to check for the collarbone here as this is only a dress form, but the collarbone normally sits about one inch below the horizontal part of the neck, and it varies from woman to woman.

I hope this article helps someone! Happy sewing!

Simplicity 2852 Blouse Adaptation

It's hard to find patterns that are Jewishly modest, but I never give up.  Here is one which requires only a minor alteration, to the neckline, to make it perfectly modest.  It's the Simplicity's 2852 pattern.

Simplicity sewing pattern 2852: Misses Knit Tops size H5 (6-8-10-12-14) Simplicity sewing pattern 2852: Misses Knit Tops size H5 (6-8-10-12-14)
Misses Knit Tunics or Tops


If you prefer to wear with a shell underneath, then perhaps any of the styles will work, except that your shell must not be too tight fitting in the sleeves for the sleeveless styles, or be too contrasting in color with the garment.  I don't like layered clothes because in the summer, it gets too uncomfortable.  So I chose Style A, with a minor alteration to the neckline, by adding a mock neckband.  Style B (without a shell) has its sleeve too flair at the bottom to be considered modest as it reveals your elbow when you bend your arm.  

For style A, without an additional neckband, the neckline would be immodest as it's width would expose the part of your shoulder that's slopes down from the neck.  See the inset on the bottom left.  Some people might choose to tighten the neckline by making pleats around it, or adjust the neckline height at the pattern level, but my personal preference has always been a mock neckband.  Happy sewing!


My Favorite Tracing Paper

One of the most essential ingredient to sewing commercial patterns is tracing paper. Commercial patterns are usually multi-sized, and if you plan on reusing them, you don't want to cut out the patterns but instead preserve them. So, we end up tracing the patterns according to the size we need on another medium, usually tracing paper. Some commercial patterns, such as Simplicity, print their patterns directly on soft, tissue paper, which in my opinion, are hard to manage because they crinkle easily and too soft to manipulate.

My favorite tracing paper is cloth-like, made of a polyester blend (80% Poly and 20% Cellulose),  Pattern Ease Tracing Material Pattern Ease Tracing Material

To get a better view, here are some pictures of how I use them.



They are lasting, not wrinkly or crinkly, and fold well. They can be cut using fabric scissors.  It's recommended to reserve fabric scissors only for fabric use so as not to wear them out.  They are sold by the yard, around $2.00.

Rosh Hashana Dress for your Princess

For Rosh Hashana this year, I sewed a dress for my daughter, using a Simplicity 8488 pattern. The pattern is actually for nightgowns, but like the women's nightgown pattern which I adapted as a blouse, I decided to adapt this one for a child.

This pattern has a straight yoke and gathered front piece.  The dress I made has long sleeves much like in view D (see the girl with the teddy bear), except that it is longer to be a dress, and it also has a gathered waist section, using elastic thread.

The neckline, of course, has to be modest, and I chose to add a mock neckband to it. The sleeves are gathered 2 inches above the hem.


Since the dress is for Rosh Hashana, it has to have a compatible theme.  The fabric is printed cotton knit with apples, apples and apples!   What I love about this dress, besides the apple print, is the high quality interlock cotton knit that I purchased from Chez Ami, in addition to elastic thread and the lettuce-edge hem at the sleeves and dress.  I just love my Brother Serger for the ability to do the lettuce-edge narrow hem.  Visit my Sewing Library for hand-selected items that will help you love sewing!

Butterick 5356 Pattern Adaptation

I love blouses with yoke.  I think they are so modest and elegant.  Here is one pattern from Butterick 5356 which I've adapted to fit Jewish modesty standards. In this pattern, the yoke is together with the sleeve as one piece.  The front piece below the yoke is gathered at the center and assembled together with the yoke. The back blouse is not gathered below the yoke.

You have a choice of sleeve styles.  The sleeve in the "pink" blouse is a tad too short for me, and quite wide, so I have a choice of narrowing the sleeves by gathering the hem and then attaching a cuff to it.  The neckline is obviously too wide as you can see the collar bone and the shoulder.  To be Jewishly modest according to Halacha, I chose to add a neckband to it.

In addition, the pattern does not call for elasticized hem at the blouse.  I decided to do that to make it different.  I also decided to add a lace trim between the yoke and the blouse piece for the front and back.

So, as you can see in the right picture, my yoke blouse looks a bit un-recognizable from the Butterick pattern.  But thanks to it, I was able to flair it up to meet modest Jewish standards and hope to enjoy it for Rosh Hashana!

Wishing my readers a Kesiva v'Chasima Tovah!
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Training Girls in Dressmaking

In our times, it is highly commendable to train girls in the art of dressmaking and general sewing. Lessons should be given on this subject in schools, and if necessary, also in seminaries.

If the girl becomes really expert, she will even be able to make garments for herself, and later on, when married also for her daughters. Also, she could take up dressmaking as a profession.

Source: Modesty, an Adornment for Life, Rabbi Pesach Eliyahu Falk