I am starting a series of blog posts (called "Pattern Profiles") that will provide a little more information on each pattern - from its history to geographical, cultural, and historical context, to sewing info. I won't be going in pattern numerical order, but will be picking patterns due to their popularity, seasonality, or perhaps just by whim. So, I hope you'll follow along and enjoy! (and feel free to suggest a pattern for us to cover)
And, I want to start this series with #107 Afghan Nomad Dress. This dress has gotten some love lately: a few customers have sent me pictures of their creations (above), and one is being shown right now at the NYC Museum of Art and Design exhibit "Counter-Couture" (the very top one). It seems everyone who has made this dress loves it.
The pattern features a full skirt and high-waisted bodice, with full three-piece sleeves and arm gussets. With no zippers or button closures (just an opening in the back), this dress is not hard to construct, and can be a way to display multiple beautiful fabrics.
This dress is traditionally worn by nomadic women in Afghanistan and neighboring countries (along the "Silk Road"). Typically, the dresses have embroidery at all the openings - neck, cuffs, and hem. This is said to repel evil spirits. The Folkwear pattern includes three traditional embroidery patterns, as well as some techniques for adding fringe, beads, and shisha mirrors.
Various fabrics are often used in one dress - plain or printed cotton, silk, and sometimes patches of velvet. To be most authentic when making this dress, you can mix colors and prints will wild abandon! The traditional costume is completed by a veil hanging down the back and gathered trousers under the skirt. But, this dress is great however you wish to wear it.