By Anna Streetman
It started with a simple question from a friend back in February 2009: “Have you ever thought about making tallit?”
Meg Fisher, a talented seamstress who has been sewing since the sixth grade, took the opportunity. She immediately made three tallitot and brought them to popular Jewish gift store Gifts From the Heart. Two of them sold on consignment the next day.
She soon started her own website, Elite Tallit (www.elitetallit.com), and began making custom tallitot on request.
Today, Elite Tallit is a thriving business. Fisher is always working on at least one tallit during the week; during a recent week when she made time for an interview, the Temple Kol Emeth member was working on five.
A tallit takes eight to nine hours to complete, depending on the complexity and special requests. On an average day, Fisher spends five to six hours sewing the prayer shawls.
The price for a custom tallit is around $280, although the cost varies with the choice of fabric.
During her career, Fisher has made several unique tallitot.
She made one tallit completely out of leather after a client had searched in vain to find one elsewhere. Another tallit was made completely out of the ties from a client’s grandfather.
One of Fisher’s favorites is a tallit that was designed to imitate a stained-glass window; she cut holes in the black fabric and placed sheer fabric underneath, which she painted different colors.
Fisher said her favorite part of making tallitot is helping her clients decide what they want so that she can fulfill their dreams.
“I once made a tallit for a girl’s bat mitzvah after her father died of ALS,” Fisher said. “When he was buried in his tallit, some pieces of it were cut off for the kids. I put a piece of it on the back of the atarah (the embroidered strip in the middle of one long side) over her heart. During the Havdalah service, when they said a prayer for her dad, she smiled at me and rubbed that piece.”
In addition to making notable tallitot, Fisher has worked with notable clients, including Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank. Fisher this year made him a new tallit and kippah from the fabric of his bar mitzvah tallit.
Her skills aren’t limited to tallitot. She makes chuppot, kippot, table covers, dresses and more. Fisher also does clothing alterations. She often works with a wedding gown to make a chuppah with the fabric.
Fisher even sewed her own wedding dress 26 years ago.
A mother of two teenagers, Fisher also works with Jay Givarz, a senior mortgage banker at Fidelity Bank, three days a week. Fisher said Givarz is “very supportive and understanding” of her work at Elite Tallit.
“I never knew that when I started sewing in sixth grade,” Fisher said, “it would become my livelihood and my passion.”