Afghan Fabric and Notions Haul

Today I thought I’d show you all some pretty fabrics!  I know I mentioned here that I’ve been on a fabric buying ban for a few months now, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t received fabrics in that time. My mom actually went on a trip to visit family in Afghanistan this fall, and returned bearing some textile gifts!

I swear I only asked her for some embroidered trims that are hard to find here in the states.  She brought back an entire suitcase full of fabric and notions.  I am forever grateful for my mother and her generosity, but holy moly is it a lot of stuff!  It’s been about two months and everything is still sitting in the same suitcase in a corner of my bedroom.  I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning and clearing lately, so this is sort of an inventory of the goods.  Maybe you all can help me figure out what to make with it!

Fabric

Looking at the fabrics my mother chose, I realize that it’s pretty obvious where my taste for bright colors, embellishments and sparkle comes from.  I’m quite enamored with all of these – they’re very pretty, if not at all practical.  Her intention was for me to make several fancy dresses, of course.

First is this dark blue embroidered chiffon.  There are also chiffon flowers dotting the edge of the fabric.  The design runs across the width of the fabric, and one of the selvedges is scalloped with a border design.  The vines extend toward the opposite selvedge.

Next is a bright blue chiffon with an embroidered paisley design.  This one is so unique!  In the close-up, you can see what looks like some couched stitches and fuzzy chenille threads (yarns?) used for the colorful paisleys.  I love the texture.

This one is an apricot colored mesh with stripes of rectangular sequins running parallel to the selvedge.  In the photo on the far right, you can see that there are actually two sets of stripes with some plain mesh in between.  The sequins in each set of stripes hang towards opposite selvedges.  I believe it is meant to be used like you would use a double border print, or maybe it is meant to be cut down the middle.  My mother has instructed me to make a gown with a tiered skirt.

The next one is also an embroidered mesh.  The colors are pale gold and silver on a black background.  The silver is metallic thread, but the gold is actually tiny sequins.  You can see them in the close-up shots.

And finally, this gorgeous piece!  It has seafoam green/blue (my camera had a hard time with the vibrant hues) and gold embroidery on an off-white mesh background.  There are also pearl, crystal, and bead embellishments worked in.  This one also had a matching gold satin lining, so it’s ready to go once I decide what to make!

My mother also picked up a few cuts of rayon challis: five solids, two border prints, and a small floral print.  She bought the solids to coordinate with some of the trims she purchased.  I really love the colors in the prints!

Embroidered Bibs

These are the pieces I’m most excited about!  They are neckline appliqués that are used for making Afghan dresses.  Now as I’m writing this, I’m realizing that many readers might not know what Afghan clothing looks like (except those family members who follow me – helloooo!), so if you’re curious you can see some examples here.  In my totally biased opinion, Afghan dresses are some of the most beautiful pieces of clothing made anywhere.

This first set is a little different.  The bib-looking pieces are obviously the neckline appliqués.  The rosette is placed in the upper center back (decorations on both sides!), and the border trim can be used at the hem of the dress and/or sleeves (also pant hems, I suppose).  The one on the left also had a rosette, but I didn’t find it until after I took these pictures.

The rest are more traditional.  The embroidery is done directly on cotton muslin, and when you’re ready to make your dress, you just sew it on (or set it in) and trim away the excess.  The skinny rectangular pieces are used to decorate the hems of the sleeves.  This type of mirror work is very common in Afghan clothing.  My mother bought these in two sizes – the smaller ones are for girls’ dresses (for my nieces, I presume) and the larger ones are for women’s dresses.  As you can see, my camera went crazy with the colors (especially the red), but they are really quite vibrant in real life!

Trims and Embellishments

The rest of the haul is all miscellaneous trims.  First up: some metallic jacquard ribbon, and various skinny trims.  The third one (from the left) has a fuzzy rainbow chenille yarns running through it – it reminds me of the paisley fabric.

Ric-rac and soutache braid in metallic silver and gold.

Beaded trim and mirrors.  These are real glass mirrors (dresses can get very heavy with all the fabric and embellishments).  The colors on these match each other: green, purple, and magenta.  The magenta color keeps showing up as red, though.  Have I mentioned my camera troubles?

Another mirrored trim.  These are actually just shiny sequins, not real mirrors, which I think is pretty neat.  It makes it a lot lighter than it would be if there were actual glass pieces in there.

Lastly, I had to share the shoes!  They have nothing to do with sewing, but they really complete an outfit, don’t you think?  They’re made of leather and need to be majorly broken in before I do any extended amount of walking in them.

Hope you enjoyed seeing my latest acquisitions!  Do you like learning about sewing in other parts of the world?  When I started sewing, I was very focused on making western style clothing because that’s what I wear most days.  However, as I am analyzing my style through the Curated Closet, I’ve realized that I have a second wardrobe of Afghan clothing (as well as Pakistani and Indian style clothing), that was all either purchased abroad or made here by a family member or local tailor.  I’m not really sure why I never felt the desire to make these types of clothes myself (until now), so that’s given me some food for thought.  Has anyone else experienced this type of wardrobe duality?

Have a happy holiday! I hope it’s stress-free and fun for everyone.  I’ll be back with some festive NYE wear next week.

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Comments

  1. Meg

    Wow, these are stunning! I can’t wait to see what you make! Those bibs in particular are just amazing.

    I have a whole stash of batik, ikat and mudmee fabrics from when I lived in Indonesia and Thailand, as well as some other trimmings I picked up in Laos, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. It’s hard to decide what to make with them, as many of them are (literally) handmade and I want to do them justice!

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      Henna

      Yes, that’s the hardest part, right?! And your stash is the stuff of dreams! I really hope I don’t mess any of this stuff up, or she might not bring me any presents next time 🙂

  2. Emily

    Beautiful! Those rayons are absolutely beautiful! And the yokes are gorgeous also! Lol if your mother ever brings back to much let me know. Can’t wait to see what you sew up

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      Henna

      Haha I may have to ask her for more of the bibs – my sisters have already laid claim to some of them! I’m hoping to use one of the fabrics very soon!

  3. Becca G

    Your mother is a blessing to you to bring you such beautiful fabrics, bibs & trims back from her trip.
    I especially liked the paisley fabric which might be beautiful as a long duster worn over a fitted silk top & either wide leg slacks or fitted trousers in a coordinating blue. I also like the soft teal mermaid fabric. Your mother is right the peachy color would be perfect as a tiered skirt on a dress & she brought what looks like the perfect color match to underline it. You can see that she loves you very much.
    The clothing you linked to is absolutely gorgeous. I’d feel like a princess wearing these. It would be a labor of love to make one of these dresses as I think it would take some time to complete but would be well worth it. Do you know where any patterns are available? I’d love to make
    some Indian style clothing also they are very beautiful as well as looking comfortable.

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      Henna

      Ooh that’s a great idea for the paisley! I was worried the design would be a little overwhelming, but as a duster it would be broken up a little and a great punch of color. I’ve actually been looking out for a pattern to make an Afghan style dress for myself, but now I’m thinking it would be easy to take a simple dress pattern with a gathered skirt (like the Emery from Christine Haynes) and make a few changes to it. I know Folkwear patterns (they have a website and also sell through some fabric shops) has a pattern for an Afghan dress, but it has a lot of panels and no shaping, and it’s just not really what I’m personally looking for.

  4. Lisa

    I love learning about sewing in other countries and traditional dress in different places. Thanks for sharing these. They are really cool.

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  5. Asiyah

    You have an Afghan-American (non-relative, though you never know) reader too! 🙂 Love the haul and can’t wait to see what you do with it.

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  6. Vesna

    Oh my, your mum is awesome! Those are some really special fabrics and trims, I can’t wait to see what you’re gonna use them for! My favourite is (as one would expect) the apricot mesh with sequined stripes, although all of them are beyond gorgeous.

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      Henna

      Yes that apricot mesh is right up your alley! As always, I just wish I had more places to wear fancy dresses! Guess I’ll just have to go grocery shopping in sequins?

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