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

Pesach (Passover) counter with Vinyl

Every year we line our kitchen counters for Passover -- some have specially-made counters just for Passover, others line them with vinyl or other waterproof material.   I wouldn't recommend contact paper as they are very hard to remove.

Walmart carries good quality shelf liner that can be used for counters and shelves.
Duck 20" by 22 feet counter liner 
Duck 12" by 20 feet shelf liner
The cheapest alternative is to get yards of vinyl at your hardware store or fabric store.  They come in so  many different styles and colors, and you can use them to line your cabinet shelves as well. You will need some kind of tape -- packing tape, duck tape, or paper tape -- to hold them in place.

My favorite place to shop for vinyl under $3/yard is at Hancock Fabrics. The vinyl is reusable as they can be cleaned by wiping them off with a damp cloth and air-dry.   Here are a few selections:

You can also get clear vinyl to line your dining tables by the yard. As we speak, the sale price is $1.07/yard!

Hope these solutions are useful and save you money. Have a kosher and joyous Passover from my family to yours!

Reusable Fabric Purim Bags!

On Purim, a Jew is commanded to give a gift of two different types of ready-to-eat foods that would require separate blessings before eating to his/her friend. This is called "Mishloach Manot" and generally, Jews who are able, are more generous in their gifts than the required.  Jews have been very creative in wrapping these gifts and they can come in simple paper bags, to those glossy gift bags, to Chinese take-out doggy-bags, to attractively-wrapped baskets, to professionally-wrapped gift containers.

Well, for this year, I've decided to reuse scraps of fabric from my stash to make simple recyclable bags. I didn't spend any money on gift bags.  I also reuse leftover ribbons from last year.  The bag that I made is truly simple, it is a 12"x8" drawstring bag, that resembles a mini laundry bag.

Here are the steps illustrated in pictures.

Step 1:  Cut out a rectangular piece of fabric measuring 16"x12".  Cut out a strip of ribbon about 28" long. With the wrong side of fabric facing you, fold over the right-side of fabric towards you at the top edge to encase the width of the ribbon plus seam width (1/4", or 3/8" or whatever you prefer!).  Leave the ribbon inside the fold and hold the flap with pins. See Picture 1. Start sewing across the fold at the edge.

Step 2:  Picture 2 shows the sewed edge.  If your fabric frays, like mine above, I use a pinking shears to cut the edge to reduce fraying.  A pinking shears has zig-zag edges.

Step 3:  Fold the fabric in half so that the 16" length becomes 8".  See picture 4.  Then sew alongside the 12" width from below the ribbon to the bottom and then sew across the bottom edge.  

Step 4: Turn-over your fabric to see your final product.  See picture 5.

Stuff your bag with Purim goodies. Pull the drawstring ribbon tightly to close the bag and tie a lovely bow or knot.  Make a few more bags, stuff them, and you are ready to deliver them on Purim Day.  This year, Purim falls Wednesday evening, March 7, 2012, and lasts until Thursday nightfall.  For Jerusalemites, Purim is celebrated on Friday March 9, 2012 just like the Persian Jews in Shushan, as described in the Book of Esther.

Purim Sameach!

Two-hour Purim Costume

Purim is not complete without costumes for the kids. Thanks to the SureFit Design's Children's Kit, I was able to whip up a last-minute costume for my son.  He designed his outfit using Lego Digital Designer, an interactive software for building virtual Lego scenes and characters.  So, this is what my son came up with:
Star Fleet Commander
My mission: I only had a few hours to make this costume from scraps.
Sewing level: intermediate

I had to take my son's measurements and draft a master pattern.  Then, based on the design above, I had to start designing by slashing the master pattern into pieces to match the colors.  Three colors were used - white, black and red.  Well, red is not a good color to use for Torah-abiding Jews.  So, the closest thing was orange. The sleeves are orange and the main bodice is white and black.  The rest of the embellishments are either sewn-in or iron-on appliques.

In two hours, I produced the following out of scraps.

Basic three-colored shirt
The embellishments were left for my dear son to do.  He made cardboard appliques that were attached via Velcro to the costume.  Here's the final product.

Happy Purim!

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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