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sewing seams

Mordechai Pinchas Sofer

Oddly enough, sewing is the thing I used to find the most difficult thing to do in sofrut. I did a bit of knitting when I was much younger, but knots and thread and stuff seem to be a bit beyond me. Fortunately Vivian z”l was very good at this sort of stuff and Dr Eric Ray z”l also prepared a very useful paper which this web page draws heavily on. The original material is copyright and cannot be reproduced without his permission.

There are two parts to the sewing:
1. Sewing the yeriot (sheets) together and
2. Sewing the sheets to the atsey chayim (wooden rollers)


There are basically two methods, one which is known as the ‘blind-stitch’ which has been practiced since around 1800 and one prior to this known as the ‘cross-over stich’. We will concentrate on the former here since that is what is used today, though in repairs to pre-1800 scrolls one would try to match the stitching used.  Initially one has to make holes evenly spaced in the tough parchment using a needle (preferably gold plated) starting a little way away from the parchment.

folding the k'laf
gold plated needle making holes

‘Blind-stitching’ folds works by folding the parchment under, so that in the front one, one can just discern stitches going through the fold as the stitching only shows properly from the back. This is why on the two side of any ruled out k’laf one has to leave an addition c. mms onto the margin length to allow for this foldover.

One does not start right at the end of the k’laf but leaves a small gap to allow some give when the k’laf is held open/stertched. The giddin is pushed through the k’laf (this isn’t as easy as it sounds as the material is quite tough). A loop is created, the needles threaded through it and pulled tightly to the right which knots it tightly.

joining the seams
sailor stitch
sewing seams video

This is a ‘sailor-stitch’. The first simple stitch may then be doubled back to strengthen, though this is not absolutely necessary. Similarly the last stich may also be doubled, or the middle one. This is called ‘prior-stitching’.

 Otherwise it is ‘simple-stitching’ only vible along the underside of the k’laf because of the fold over.

 The last stitch loops through the ‘prior-stitching’ twice an pulled tight to knot the giidin securely. The excess giddin is then cut off close to the knot.

Glueing on re-inforcement strips of parchment is an option, however not really necessary for a new work. However on repairs to sewing on old scrolls they can be valuable. They should not be positioned right up to edges either. (remember the glue must be kasher - a sythetic PVA will do if glue made from old k’laf boiled is not available.

CLICK HERE or on the graphic above to download a short .WMV video (playable on Windows Media player 7) showing sewing two yeriot together.  File is only 448 kb so the quality isn’t great.

The back of a stitch

The alternative to blind stiching which was the practice

over 200 years ago is ‘cross stitch’ right is a picture of an old scroll using this.

Mordechai Pinchas

200 year old stitches from the front

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