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

Home-made Girl's Buttoned-Down Shirt

My daughter asked for a buttoned-down shirt and I obliged. Making such a shirt may be intimidating at first, but with patience, it can be done with beautiful results. First of all, you need to find a pattern for such a shirt. For me, I've been sewing with SureFit Designs' Children's Kit, which comes with a pattern drafting bodice for childrens' sizes. All you have to do is measure your child, copy the measurements, connect the dots for the back bodice, front bodice, sleeve, collar style and cuff patterns. The front bodice comes with a connected interfacing. You have to also make a back collar interfacing to join with the front interfacing.

The instructions to assemble the pieces are provided in the kit. They are very straightforward. If you want a placket (slit) for your sleeve to enable easier wearing when you put your hand through your sleeve, you can learn how to do it outside the kit.  There are several videos and tutorial blogs if you google them. I decided to sew a continuous placket, which I find the easiest. 

Here are some links:


Here's a video tutorial for young girls on how to sew this placket style.

Sewing buttons and button holes can also be intimidating, but they are actually easy to do, with patience and the right tools. Your modern sewing machine probably comes with a buttonhole sewing foot and button sewing foot with a darning adaptor.  Here's a video tutorial showing you how to sew buttonholes using a standard buttonhole foot.

Here's a video tutorial on how to sew buttons on your garment.  You can only use flat buttons with a machine. I did mine by hand, which I find the fastest!

A great primer on sewing buttons and buttonholes can be found here.


So, after all these learning, I made my very own buttoned-down shirt for my daughter.

Soft Baby Book

One of the greatest things about sewing is that you can make your own gifts for your family and friends. My friend had a baby boy recently, and I sewed up this cute little soft book for him. I know, it's too early for him to read, but we all know that if you read to your baby (starting around 3 months, when he's alert) often, he will develop a love for reading when he's older. This is an investment that young mothers and fathers can take advantage of as early as possible.

The materials for sewing a soft, baby book, are so easily available.  I got mine at Walmart, a great place for arts and crafts and sewing supplies.
This product is a kit which comes with fabric and batting. It makes ten pages and measures around 7"x10". The words are short and sweet. The most important thing about the book is the pictures.  The bright colors of the pages are ideal for baby to stimulate his brains.

It is quiet easy to make, although I've never done it before. The pages are printed on the fabric and  you just have to cut around them, line them up with the batting in between pages. This is the result of my efforts. The parents (and I hope the baby too) love it!

Other fabric books you can make for yourself, available in Walmart are below:

Home-made Talis Katan

I had the occasion to make a talis katan for a Bar Mitzvah boy recently. A talis katan is a four-cornered garment worn by Jewish men and boys in order to fulfill the commandment to attach tzitzis (fringes) onto its corners as in verses Bamidbar (Numbers) 15:37-40.

37. The Lord spoke to Moses, saying:

38. Speak to the children of Israel and you shall say to them that they shall make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments, throughout their generations, and they shall affix a thread of sky blue [wool] on the fringe of each corner.

39. This shall be fringes for you, and when you see it, you will remember all the commandments of the Lord to perform them, and you shall not wander after your hearts and after your eyes after which you are going astray.

40. So that you shall remember and perform all My commandments and you shall be holy to your God.
 Today, we are not able to attach a thread of techeiles (sky blue wool) because we are unable to produce this type of thread from its original source. The majority of Jewry do not follow the minority opinion of the current generation that the source of techeiles is a snail Murex Trunculus.

There are halachos (laws) detailing the construction of the four-cornered garment and the tzitzis. After learning from my Orthodox Rabbi, I felt comfortable making this garment according to halacha. The minimum size of such a garment has to be 18 inches by 18 inches in dimension for a Jewish man over bar mitzvah, according to the ruling of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, zt"l.

The minimum size talit katan that should be worn by anyone over bar mitzvah age depends upon which Rabbinical authority you follow, as shown in this chart. If you are uncertain which of these opinions to follow, consult your Rabbi.

Hazon Ish                                                 24" x 24" (60 x 60 cm)
Rav Chaim Naeh                                      20" x 20" (50 x 50 cm)
Rav Moshe Feinstein l'hatchila, preferred  22" x 22" (55 x 55 cm)
Rav Moshe Feinstein b'di'avad, minimal    18" x 18" (45 x 45 cm)

source: HaSofer.com
Young boys under bar mitzvah age can be trained to wear talis katan as well, whose size fit their smaller bodies.

The fabric for the talis katan has to be wool (preferably) or another natural material (silk, linen, cotton).  Polyester is synthetic and shouldn't be used on a talis katan, as ruled by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, zt"l, even though you will find polyester and polyester-cotton blend talis katan being sold in the stores today. Those who do not go by Rabbi Feinstein's ruling have their own halachic authority to go by.
According to halacha, wool is considered the fabric of choice for either a tallit gadol (prayer shawl) or a tallit katan, but cotton is also permitted. Both the Vilna Gaon and the Chazon Ish purportedly wore a tzitzit garment (known as “arba kanfot” or “tallit katan) made of cotton. Many Chassidim, who typically wear the tallit katan on top of their shirt, choose synthetic fabric because they do not wrinkle like cotton, but Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ruled that only woven fabrics – wool, cotton, linen, silk – are viewed as real garments according to halacha. He argues that in this regard a tallit katan made of synthetic fabrics that are not woven would be considered akin to leather, which is explicitly exempt from the obligation of tzitzits.

Source: Ben's Talis Shop
Tying the tzitzis string is a mitzvah that according to my Rabbi can be done even by a woman, but preferably by a man. Tzitzis string can be purchased commercially from kosher sources. The following video is a great tutorial on how to do this.

I examined an existing commercial talis katan to see how it is sewn, and I noticed that the hem along the edges are sewn with a thicker embroidery thread using a narrow-rolled hem, made on a serger.  The corners are reinforced with a square patch that contain a small hole to insert the tzitzis. I fabricated a copy of this style of talis katan with a custom size, 18" by 20" for the Bar Mitzvah boy.  This is what I produced.

Modest Jewish Clothing, the Video

Our friends at ModestAnytime.com has just released a new video with acapella background music by Rabbi Ari Goldwag.  It's inspiring to those of us who commit to modesty, the Jewish way.

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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