My new Afghan Nomad Dress

By Molly Hamilton
on October 14, 2017

My new Afghan Nomad Dress

I was inspired by Etro's 2017 fall ready-to-wear collection, especially this dress that looked so much like our Afghan Nomad Dress.  

Etro dress

So, I thought I would try to make my own!  When I was in NYC in August I found some beautiful Liberty fabric at a great price at Mood.  I also found a few yards of beautiful, wide embroidered silk trim at Virgin Fabrics in the Garment District.  Then, Rachel at Botanica Tinctoria sent me indigo-dyed organic cotton crocheted lace.  A vision was starting to come together.  

I use our 107 Afghan Nomad Dress pattern and made a few alterations.  First, I shortened the skirt to my knees and took out a lot of the skirt bulk.  I used maybe half to 2/3 the amount of a traditional Afghan nomad dress.  I just did not need or want that much bulk for a shorter skirt (also the fabric was expensive enough that I thought I could do with using less!).  And, I think I probably could have used even less width in the skirt, especially since it is a little bit of a heavier fabric than the lightweight, translucent lawn I used for sleeve and bodice, and doesn't drape as close to the body.  I also flipped the back to be the front (and front to be the back) because I like the neckline of the slit in the front.

I started by sewing the embroidered trim onto the bodice (by machine).  Then, I hand-stitched the crocheted lace between the trims and at the bottom.  The bodice already had the center slash cut into it, so I was just stitching on top as if it was not there.  


I then I cut the slash at the top of the bodice for the neckline through the trim, and tacked the back, or lining, of the bodice to the front bodice piece. From there, I just followed the pattern instructions. I did a blind hem stitch on the bottom edge.  


I love how it turned out - love the colors - and it is very comfortable.  

Anyone else inspired to make their own Afghan Nomad Dress?




Pattern Profile: #107 Afghan Nomad Dress

By Molly Hamilton
on March 20, 2017

Pattern Profile: #107 Afghan Nomad Dress


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.