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Shatnez - A Wool Coat Without Linen


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#1 aharonK

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 01:47 AM

I am currently working with a client who has hired me to help him design a line of men suits. My client is an Orthodox Jew, and apparently there is a law in Judaism the prohibits the use of Linen and Wool in same garment. I need a to know what to replace the linen collar canvas with. The goal is to find an alternative that does not compromise the quality of the garments. Please let me know if you have suggestions, as well as suppliers. Also if anyone has run into these kind of restrictions before id love to hear if you about how you handled it.
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#2 J. Maclochlainn

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 02:09 AM

Why can't you use linen? sha'atnez law only states that linen and wool can not be shu'a (combed), tavi (spun), and nuz (twisted) together. To my knowledge there are no laws against wearing a wool suit with a linen shirt.

If there is a worry that the linen fibres will split and penetrate the wool thus causing Nuz, then add a layer of dommet or silisia between the layers to keep them separated. This is an old law that in my opinion applied more to the spinning process than the actual construction.

Ask your client about my points and we can see where that goes.

J

Edited by J. Maclochlainn, 20 August 2010 - 02:14 AM.

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#3 J. Maclochlainn

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 02:31 AM

I looked more into it

According to Shatnez Testers of America

"What is Shatnez
The Torah forbids us to cover ourselves with any type of garment or fabric that contains both wool and linen. This would include a fabric, which is woven with both wool and linen or a garment, which is made of different materials and contain in them wool and linen that are permanently connected, (i.e. sewn or pasted). We are forbidden to wear such a mixture.

When we speak of wool, we are only referring to wool obtained from sheep or lambs. Other materials, such as camel's hair, mohair, angora, cashmere or alpaca wool, present no shatnez problems. Similarly, linen refers only to fibers derived from the flax plant, whereas other bast fibers, such as ramie, hemp or jute, may be combined with wool.

The Torah teaches us about the Mitzvah (commandment) of shatnez in two pusukim (verses) in the torah.

"Do not wear Shatnez - wool and linen together" (Deut. 22:11)

"A Shatnez garment should not cover you" (Lev. 19:19)

These two verses prohibit a Jew from wearing and garment which contains shatnez or covering oneself with such a garment.

Shatnez is an acronym described by the sages for combed, spun and woven. This means that if any of these processes done with wool and linen together the garment would be prohibited according to the Torah. In addition the Sages decreed that any lasting combination of wool and linen be considered Shatnez."

but as we see by the last section it only refers to the fabric being carded spun and twisted together. From my understanding of "different materials and contain in them wool and linen that are permanently connected" they go on to say "Sages decreed that any lasting combination of wool and linen be considered Shatnez". So in my most humble of opinions this is a man made rule and not the word of God as the Torah distinctly describes the the process of spinning the fibres together.
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#4 Martin Stall

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 02:54 AM

Whether or not something is shatnez or not isn't open to debate, Jason. While your interpretation may or may not be correct, the OP has to go by the specifications of his client.

Personally I'd probably look for a suitable canvass to replace the collar linen, but that can cause problems as well. Besides, many canvasses are a blend and can include linen fiber.
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#5 Schneidergott

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 03:34 AM

Even at the risk of being stoned: What about a non woven, non fusible interlining?
Against common believe non woven materials have a direction (not exactly a warp, though), so when cut on the bias it would behave similarly to a woven product, meaning it could be shaped.

It is definitely not "shatnez" and I doubt that the Torah is mentioning it.

Or just use wool canvas for the collar, perhaps with a touch of horsehair and cotton.

"Nur der ist Meister seiner Kunst, der immer sucht, das Gute zu verbessern und niemals glaubt, das Beste schon zu haben."
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#6 Martin Stall

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 03:55 AM

Fusible? Away, heathen! :Big Grin:
Sure, I believe your work rocks, but... have you considered, how are you going to sell that stuff?

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#7 aharonK

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 04:04 AM

in Judaism there is a concept of Written Law i.e.the Torah Oral Law i.e. what is now know as the Talmud. The belief is that Moses was given the Oral law while on Mount Sinai and that the oral traditions where passed down from generation to generation. One of the main aspects of the oral law is the concept that the rabbis of the interpretation of the Torah and the law become Law themselves. hence in Judaism you have diOrita law (direct from god) and diRabbanan (from the Rabbis). There for yes this is a law that is a man made interpretation of the biblical however according to Orthodox Jewish doctrine Rabbinic Law is to be fallowed as if it were from god because they believe that rabbinic law is an part of the oral law Moses taught. This is how the Passage "You shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk" ((Exodus 23:19, Exodus 34:26, and Deuteronomy 14:21) turned into a prohibition against the mixing of and Dairy product with and any meat product (sorry tangent). So I'm not about to go tell my client that his religious beliefs are wrong and I'm not going to even try to argue the finer point of Talmudic law with him because Jewish Law is possibly the most complicated intricate and sometime convolved system i can think of (I my self am Jewish and was raised Modern Orthodox so i have a little concept of how these things work). still thank you all for the advice.
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#8 J. Maclochlainn

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 04:31 AM

No I wasn't telling you to tell your client "his religious beliefs are wrong" merely giving my view to see where we are and if there is any flex.

What I like to know is what do orthodox men wear? you always see them in black suits or some variation of frock so makes you wonder what is in their collar. Also I know a good deal of orthodox jews that were tailors that entered America and England during the late 1800's worked with linen and wools in combination. Is the Mitzvah on just wearing shatnez or applies to touching shatnez?

I think one work around is to use camel, alpaca and other non sheep wool, this way you could use linen through out. I know in the Victorian era they used a tabby weave wool canvas, it's not made anymore but I'm sure it could be manufactured again.
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#9 Nishijin

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 04:59 AM

You could try to find a ramie or hemp embroidery canvas, looking in organic fabric sellers, this type of canvas could be OK for collar canvas.
Or you can try to sell a 100% cashemere coat to your client. :Big Grin:

Or you can use sleevehead canvas, the twill horse mane canvas used for sleeveheads, this could be OK. Or a strong wool canvas with an additional layer of heavy wigan, this could work too.


I'd like to ask to experienced tailors here why is linen favored for collars. I can imagine many substitutes that would give good result when the garment is new, but I have no long term experience on how things age...
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#10 jcsprowls

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 05:41 AM

When making garments that are Kosher, it's a good idea to consult with the local JCC for guidance.

Many years ago, I was advised that the cotton/poly or cotton/hair canvases were acceptable for Kosher garments. For me, that meant replacing the linen undercollar canvas with a suitably springy cotton/poly or cotton/hair canvas.

That was the only component I changed. And, I haven't used linen collar canvas, since. Linen canvas is traditionally European; but, it is also more expensive by comparison, used in such a small area; and, the differences - at least to me - were insignificant.

I was never permitted in the workrooms of the Orthodox tailor shops, so I can't offer first-hand knowledge as to which materials were used for the community.

Point of edification: Shatnez is also a sequence of layering garments upon the body. The purpose is to mitigate hygiene problems, skin conditions, etc. Linen needs to be laundered to eliminate dander, sweat, etc that contribute to the risk of of disease/discomfort. If your undergarments are linen they can be laundered and - in that case - linen under wool is permissible because they're not joined. But, the linen canvas in a collar cannot be removed from the garment to clean it, so it is Shatnez - not good.
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#11 Schneidergott

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 06:19 AM

Fusible? Away, heathen! :Big Grin:



Non fusible, non woven interlinings/ canvas, used by tailors who were ahead of their time... :thumbsup:

"Nur der ist Meister seiner Kunst, der immer sucht, das Gute zu verbessern und niemals glaubt, das Beste schon zu haben."
"Only he is a master of his art who always seeks to improve the good and never believes to have the best already"

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#12 Martin Stall

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 06:25 AM

Oops, sorry
Sure, I believe your work rocks, but... have you considered, how are you going to sell that stuff?

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#13 J. Maclochlainn

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 06:41 AM

The purpose is to mitigate hygiene problems, skin conditions, etc. Linen needs to be laundered to eliminate dander, sweat, etc that contribute to the risk of of disease/discomfort. If your undergarments are linen they can be laundered and - in that case - linen under wool is permissible because they're not joined. But, the linen canvas in a collar cannot be removed from the garment to clean it, so it is Shatnez - not good.


Not trying to argue, but by this logic then cotton or anything short of plastic should be forbidden. Cotton is a laundered material that absorbs sweat, dander, and dirt for that matter so does wool.
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#14 jcsprowls

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 06:57 AM

You're off topic.

The issue, here, is how to make a garment that is not shatnez. I've explained what I've learned through experience. If you want to make for this sector, you need to consult with the local JCC for guidance and adapt your garment making processes to conform. There is no debate. You either do or don't make for this sector.
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#15 aharonK

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 07:04 AM

Thank you all for your advice. I will test out some cotton/poly or cotton/hair canvas as well as some of the other suggestions and let you all know which gives the best result.

As for what Orthodox men wear I think like most men today they wear cheap fused RTW or if they are buying better made garments they send them to a service that checks the garment for Shatnez. If linen is found the service replace the canvas/under-collar, often with a new cheap fused polyester alternative. As for the frock coat (called rekelekh for the week and the more formal bekishe for the Sabbath and holidays) worn by the Hassidic community are almost all cheaply made fused garments and most are poly/rayon anyway. As for Jewish Tailors during the late 1800"s and actually still today especially in the NY garment center I think though Iím not sure that there is nothing wrong with working on a garment the breaks the laws of Shatnez. It becomes far more complicated when I comes to clientele. An observant Jewish tailor could not make a garment containing Shatnez if he knew that the customer was Jewish and it becomes more complicated if say you are a Jewish factory worker at the Oxxfrod factory and you are making jacket that may or may not be worn by Jews. I am not a Rabbi and don't know what is and is permissible for all the multiple levels of culpability in the production of goods with Shatnez.

As for the concept that Shatnez is for hygienic purposes I donít know I do know that at least the Orthodox world considers the law to be one of the 5 hokes- which are 5 laws that we cannot make sense of but are fallowed purely because G-d commanded it.

And i agree while the debate about the law is quite interesting to me i am really more interested in adapting my process to my clients needs. Though I'm using my clients criteria for Shatnez of the JCC purely because he was simple very clear that he wants the suits to be wool and there for the can be no linen fibers with the garments.

again thank you all for your help
Aharon K

#16 jukes

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 07:30 AM

So linen pocket stays, and welt backing also bite the dust. :unknw:
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#17 Sator

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 08:08 AM

Here are a couple of more useful links on the subject of sha'atnez or shatnez, which is the clothing equivalent of kosher in the Jewish tradition:

http://www.mycustomt...om_Clothing.htm

http://www.beingjewi...os/shatnez.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shatnez

The other thing to keep in mind is that edge tape can sometimes be made of linen rather than cotton.

#18 J. Maclochlainn

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 09:02 AM

Thanks for the explanation Aharon, I was just trying to make sense of it in order to better understand the criteria to better help you find an alternative. None of my comments were to spark a theological debate. Fact is, I'm Hindu and I know about certain rules one doesn't quite understand. For instance in my sampradaya (tradition) we are not allowed to eat onions or garlic and no one really knows why. Also some people have a hard time understanding why we are vegetarian but can still drink milk.

Edited by J. Maclochlainn, 20 August 2010 - 09:03 AM.

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