Friday, June 15, 2018

My Summer Project

Last summer I had two commission requests.  They were both for High Holiday Torah Covers.  The requests were based on Torah covers I had made previously for a local synagogue.  

 I was so busy and consumed with my Mini Mosaic quilts and products that I was hesitant to accept these commission.  But one commission came from my favorite Rabbi's synagogue in Maryland.  He travelled all the way from MD to our place in the Poconos to marry my son.  How could I say no?  I couldn't. 
 The other request was from a synagogue in Germany.  They had found my Judaic work via the Internet.  We e-mailed back and forth a few times.  Frankly, I was hesitant because of my other commitments.  The woman who made the request was in the US visiting her daughter.  I tried to put her off.  I thought my fee would discourage her, but she was still interested, so I suggested we talk about what she envisioned. That phone conversation and this woman touched my heart and made me cry.  I could not control my emotions when  she recounted her journey about how she came to be involved with this synagogue that was built on the ashes of a synagogue that was burned to the ground by the Nazis.  About how she taught Russian Jews who left the Soviet Union in the late 1980's and early 1990's thanks to liberated emigration policies learn about being Jewish because they were forbidden to learn about their religion in Russia. How could I say no?
So, my summer project has begun. I will set aside my other projects, until I complete these Torah Covers, 5 of them. Every Torah that is used during the High Holidays need a special, plain(ish) cover.  The High Holidays start the evening of  September 9 th this year. 
I am starting with the covers for Germany since I need to ship them with plenty of time. 

And so I begin. I will share my process as I go.

The Torah covers are made from  white, off-white and cream colored luxurious silk dupioni.  I am a quilter, so I make them as if they were quilts. They need to last for many years.  Most Torah Covers are not made this way.  Lots of them are made from velvet or satin.

Step #1 for me is to quilt the top section with pomegranates - a very meaningful symbol.
I designed the quilting on a piece of paper that is the same size as the top section of the cover.
I placed a piece of clear Solvy over the drawing and traced it with a yellow soluble marker. Then I pin the Solvy to the silk.  Why did I use yellow? The Solvy is removed after quilting by tearing it off.  If there are any remnants left, it will disappear into the gold thread that I use for quilting.

After layering the silk with very low loft batting, muslin and the Solvy pattern, I free motion quilt with variegated rayon thread through all the layers.
I could never color within the lines:

 but the yellow lines were really a suggestion, so I didn't have to follow them exactly.  I could never quilt a balanced pomegranate design without it.
The next step is to remove the Solvy.  Frankly, it is my second least favorite step.  (You'll have to keep reading my blog for the summer to see what is my least favorite step in the construction!) I rip it off, trying to get off as much as possible.  This is what my discard pile looks like:

 It's nice to have a buddy cuddled up next to me while I'm doing this.  Now, I will use my very pointy tweezers to remove the last little bits and bobs that are still located in the tight quilting designs.

This is when I think that there should be a better way, but I can't think of it!
Follow on Bloglovin


  1. Those are beautiful Torah covers! I'm looking forward to reading about and seeing your progress on these commissions.

  2. how wonderful! I am sure these will be very much appreciated! So glad you couldn't say no.

  3. I love the pomegranate design. Nice quilting too.

  4. They are really beautiful! Very lucky congregations!


Thanks for stopping by. I'd love to hear from you.