I started thinking about making this chuppah the same day my son got engaged. The deal was if he got married by a rabbi, I would make the chuppah. Since we know a wonderful rabbi, I figured that he would be an important part of the ceremony and I needed to design the most beautiful and meaningful wedding canopy that I could.
I knew the basis of my design would include a tree. Trees are such a significant symbol for many situations in Jewish . In the Talmud which is a book of ancient Jewish law, it says that a cedar tree should be planted upon the birth of a son and a pine tree should be planted when a girl is born. When the boy and girl get married the trees shall be cut down and used to form a chuppah.
To add meaning to this piece of tradition, I sent out fabric leaves to all of the guests with a pen and directions for signing and writing a special wish for the couple. These leaves would truly make the chuppah a canopy of warmth and love.
There is no standard size for a chuppah. I decided to make it 6 foot square. Based on my technique for appliqueing, I chose to make it in 4 quadrants. I could deal with working on a section that measures 36"x36". I chose a background fabric that looked like sky. I backed it with low loft batting and quilted it with a straight line design.
I used a variegated rayon thread.
Then the branches were added coming out of each corner. They were fused and machine appliqued with a blanket stitch. The leaves were added next, except for the ones that would overlap another quadrant.
I squared it up and held my breath as I trimmed it.
I made 4 of these.
After trimming I stitched the 4 quadrants together and added the scalloped edges.I was planning on adding appliqued letters in both English and Hebrew in the center with the traditional saying, "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine". BUT, I really felt liked I had achieved the vision of laying on your back and looking up through the branches and seeing the sky. I auditioned many different types and colors of letters, but they all took away vision.
Swirls of blue organza gave the feeling of the sky without being distracting.
On 2 of the swirls, I wrote those special words, both in Hebrew and English.
The final step was attaching the backing and quilting around all of the leaves and branches. I bound it like I would bind a quilt. I did add a sleeve at the top and the bottom for suspending it from two wooden bars. Holes were drilled at the ends to attach it to the supports.
Planning the frame to hang the chuppah was the next challenge. I use these quilt display stands when I lecture. Their actual purpose is for hanging photography backdrops.
It's hard to see from the photo, but the poles were set up so that they were lower in the back than the front. The guests could then get a good view.
I wrapped the poles with a satiny type fabric. I wasn't super happy with how it looked. I thought I could wing it, but I feel like I should have made tubes and then gathered it around the poles.
A view from the dock.
The newlyweds were thrilled.