When I was young, my grandparents used to insist on having all of their grandchildren over for Shabbat dinner every week. No excuses. My grandmother would make sweet tzimmes, chicken soup, chopped liver, gefilte fish, and always made sure that there was plenty of laughter and joy. It was my job to set the table, and I loved putting out the brown-tinted glass plates each week. It made Shabbat feel like a special day.
Now that I have my own family, I have been trying to revive some of my family’s older rituals. Shabbat dinner was the first one to bring back. Now my daughters set the table with a special white table cloth, candles, challah cover, and Kiddush cup. But I wanted to add something new to our place settings (maybe because I miss my grandma’s brown-tinted glass plates). So, my daughters and I made fabric placemats that we only use on Shabbat. Using their hand-made placemats gets my kids more involved in the Shabbat rituals and adds to their excitement on Friday nights.
I wanted the placemat to include a Jewish symbol, and to me, the easiest one to create with kids is the Star of David. It’s just two triangles. You can go with a geometric pattern (like I did), a free-flow like Ori, or a mandala with heart shapes like Zoe. The Star of David is embedded in all of our designs. Can you find them?
Before you start:
· Make sure you have all the material ready and the fabric cut; younger kids have little patience. Have extra fabric just in case.
· The stamping part of the activity is for any age. The sewing part is more involved. If you have older kids, I encourage you to get them involved on that part as well.
· Think of your designs prior to starting; try a few different compositions, using scrap paper and your stamps or colored pencils. You may be surprised at how nice the sketches come out. You may actually want to frame some when this project is done.
You will need:
One potato (makes two stamps)
Sharp paring knife to cut the potato
Shades of blue and white fabric paint
A shallow dish for the paint (can be a disposable plate)
White fabric (can be an old table cloth or sheet)
Scrap paper to cover your work surface
1. Cover your work surface in paper.
2. Prepare the potato triangle stamp–cut the potato in half (the short way so that you have a small surface)
3. Draw an equilateral triangle on the potato and cut the excess potato outside of the triangle.
4. Cut out the white fabric to approximately 12″ x 18″. You will need two rectangles per placemat.
5. Brush some paint on the triangle.
6. Practice on some paper prior to applying the paint onto the fabric so that you know how much paint to use.
7. Stamp the triangles on the fabric. You will probably need to apply a new layer of paint after each time.
8. Once finished, set aside to dry.
9. Get out the sewing machine (don’t be scared; it’s a really simple straight stitch!)
10. Sew the two rectangles together with painted or “right” sides facing together (inward), leaving a 3-4 inch gap for turning.
11. Miter the corners.
12. Turn it “right” side out.
13. Slip stitch the opening closed.
14. Top stitch around the perimeter.
15. Iron the placemats, and they’re ready for you to use!