A plethora of sleeved overhead overgarments.

Sleeved overheads…

Although I had gawffed at them as being rather unsightly and looking slightly akin to-as other sisters have said…like a child playing with an adults shirt and keeping their head inside the neckline-after all, I’m a rather hardcore fan of the more traditional batwing abaya.Until I saw this rather neat sleeved overhead with a different style of cuffs. The cuffs are snug to the arm and give the abaya a puffed sleeve sort of a look. Very trendy. I got it for dirt cheap and had it taken in a bit under the arms so its not quite so boxy and has more of an A-line fit (another of my qualms with most sleeved overheads is the boxy look) and its in this rather nice mustaqbal crepe. Usually I prefer forsan or saloona for overheads as Ive found mustaqbal can be a bit static-prone but sofar this abaya has not raised any static havoc at all… and I’m actually surprised to say this, its quite comfortable, very cool and lightweight. Infact since I got it two weeks ago ive worn it almost every time Ive gone out. of course I put elastic in the head area so it stays on my head like glue. hehehehhe.

Ive come to understand why most overhead wearing local women wear the sleeved variety. They are definitely a bit easier to wear than the traditional batwings. You can carry your purse easier and you can carry packages, kidlets, groceries, whatever without much worrying about tripping over the extra fabric. You can go out in less clothing under it – if the overhead is sewn up the front (which mine is) as its closer fitting to the body, so less chance of something being exposed. Although I love the look of the batwing overheads, they truly are elegant and beautiful and can feel wonderful to wear, they do have a few downsides…namely the extra fabric which can make doing certain things a bit difficult.

But anyway, overall, Ive come to like the sleeved overhead I got. 

Here is some quickie pics to show the cuffs.

Also Ive come to the decision that upon returning to the US I shall continue or try atleast to wear the overhead frequently when going out. First because I’ve become very accustomed to them (so much so that when I go out in a shoulder abaya, I actually feel really strange and uncomfortable!) and I feel that they are a more superior form of covering and I love how they cover all, no hassle, no whatever.  But, I do know that in most areas outside of this region, the overhead can look a bit scary, but I think I will try to wear the sleeved style as its more of a hybrid and its not as big, voluminous and maybe…erm, “scary” to the average person. And we will be living in a suburb of a large, diverse city so I dont think I’ll have many problems, after all, before coming here I almost exclusively wore overgarments anyway and I preferred the bigger styles as well. Also I do know some sisters who wear niqab and overheads and they don’t get anything out of the ordinary from their wearing them. (obviously though, en’shallah once I am working again I will stick to professional looking shoulder abayaat and jilbab suits, but outside of work…I can wear what I choose, en’shallah)

What do you all think?


On a side note…before I continue with the rest of my post…check this hair flower out! Its a new style from UAE, its actually a hair scrunchie hair flower! This one isnt too big, but Ive seen some which are rather massive! LOL…


I was thinking about other styles of sleeved overhead overgarments and the Egyptian isdaal popped to mind. Actually I had one, a year and a half ago when I was in Graduate school I bought one from an online LEGIT Egyptian site as I wanted something like a batwing but more-erm, “modern” and the Isdaal looked like a lovely option, plus it was useful to keep in my bag to pop on for salaat , after all, my department was a whole 2 blocks from the masjid! LOL, alhamdullah, I’d usually just walk to the masjid to pray.

But, when I got it, I admit that I was disappointed with it. I was used to the traditional batwing and I assumed the Isdaal would have the same cut, but just with attached sleeves or something. But, it doesnt. The Isdaal has this different cut where the head potion is literally cut out of the fabric (so the design is not a huge square or big T) and the Isdaal doesnt stay on your head by its own weight-like the Gulf style batwings and sleeved overheads. It has to be pinned to an underscarf/headscarf to stay on. Plus, the one I got was shaped in a weird baggy way which made the hem rather narrow, so I had to open it up and give it a slit, but it sort of ruined the look. Needless to say, I didnt keep it for long, it just didnt hang right.

It was like this…

(picture taken from Islamic Boutique)

Although I do know sisters who love the Isdaal and they hang good on them, on me…nah. Plus, I like mine to stay put via its own weight and the elastic trick…which you can’t add elastic to the Isdaal.

But, one perk to Isdaals is you can get them in colors sometimes… I could totally dig a sleeved overhead in grey or brown.

But, check out this picture of an Egyptian girl with an Isdaal…it flows really well and seems to be very A-line, see I could dig that one. Hmmm…

(Two Egyptian girls)

What do you all think of the Egyptian Isdaals? Do any of you wear them?


There is a similar style popular in Iran now called by many names…chador-e melli, chador-e Lubnani, Chador-e Daneshjoo…I wont go into all the name differences,as Ive done posts on them before, but they are basically a regular chador cut into so there are sleeves. Actually I could not, for the life of me, figure out how one made a chador-e melli from a regular chador…UNTIL I found several patterns online! LOL. If anyone wants to make your own, let me know and I will share the patterns, they are obviously in Farsi and you have to know 1-how to make a regular, traditional chador or have 1-2 on hand you can cut up and play around with. I ended up cutting up some sheets and made a mock one, I was going to try to have a abaya shop here replicate it in crepe…BUT, upon trying to explain the concept…gave up, and seriously, the tailors here do NOT comprehend other styles of covering than, that which they are used to making on a daily basis. LOL.

One reason why they have become so popular is not so much the ease of wearing them because they are a cheaper alternative to the traditional manteau (coat) and chador…as they come ready made and Ive heard they are much cheaper and are closed up the front, so no need of a manteau…just pop over jeans, teeshirt and scarf and voila…

But anyway, here are some examples…

There are several different versions but all are similar to below pictures; They have elastic on the inside to keep it on the head better and it fits and flows like a traditional chador, but no hassles of holding it closed and wrapping it around oneself, which is why it remains most popular with students and those who work.

For the very conservative wearer, there are also kinds which just have a hole  for the hand with cuffs and are closed entirely up the front-really similar to a batwing overhead abaya.

And the style has trickled down to be popular for house and prayer wear…they are even being touted as good for working out and  being active. Which, btw, I do agree, its really hard serving tea to guests in a traditional house chador…I think these would make life easier in that regard!


16 thoughts on “A plethora of sleeved overhead overgarments.

  1. I have always thought that overhead abayas look uber-elegant too. Thanks for explaining the different styles. I saw the isdaal a lot in Egypt and like the look, but I did see a lot of ladies adjusting and seeming to have trouble keeping it on their head.

  2. I think that isdal in the picture of the two Egyptian girls looks really nice! And that hair flower is so cute!
    Inshallah you don’t have any problems wearing the overhead abaya in the US, I think that’s great you want to do it.

  3. I love overhead abayas, I agree with Fahiima that they look veeeery elegant. The new Iranian chadors are great too! I don’t think I could pull off one without sleeves of some kind so I feel better seeing that those are around, inshaAllah when I go to Iran some day I can get one!

  4. In Egypt an Isdaal is any type of sleeved overhead abaya so I’m sure there are different styles in fact I know there are as the Somali sisters here often go to Egypt and bring them back; and some are really just like coloured, sleeved Saudi overheads. The only ones I’ve seen in the west for sale though are the zip/fasten right up to the chin, exact same length at the back, no real walking allowance type that I ended up selling on ebay. If you’ve tried that type of isdaal and then other types of overhead abayas you will never go back to the isdaal; trust me. I love the puffy sleeved overheads; there were a couple of sisters here making them and I saw sisters with them, and fell in love with them but those particular sisters are not sewing anymore and even as an experience overhead abaya dressmaker I couldn’t for the life of me figure out a good way to gather the fabric of the main body into the cuffs, I’m guessing that the bit that goes into the cuffs is in itself a slight sleeve, but don’t know well enough to risk wasting good fabric.

    Aha mustaqbal crepe that is the other name for internet crepe and yes you do get some very decent varieties that are good for overheads mashaAllaah. I’m very shocked though that I managed to find a great variety for £2 a metre on the roll here in the UK though; another sister has purchased some and I will be making her an overhead abaya with it; InshaAllaah it will go well.

  5. I’m wearing an overhead sleeved abaya to work for the first time today. I had one made in ‘neda’ fabric in Sharjah when I was visiting there a few weeks back-it flows beautifully. Had a few curious glances this morning, but so far so good 🙂 By the way, I’m an Ethiopian living in Ethiopia, a country with a large muslim population but with a dominant christian culture so you’re bound to get nasty remarks and stares here and there. But Alhamdulilah, good tides to the strangers right 🙂

  6. By the way, I tried to get one replicated here by a tailor and it came out nice but the cut at the bottom is just wrong. Could you please post a diagram of how the cut at the bottom should be in order for it not to drag and be just right. Note that the streets of Addis (my city) are really dirty and I don’t want mine to drag, just be long enough to cover my skirt. Thank you so much for your overhead abaya posts, they’ve been really helpful.

    • sorry sis, I dont really know how they do the hem of the overhead abayaat…you have to see one to be able to know how it is, but I guess the overhead is sorta like a huge C if that makes sense, the sides are a lot shorter than the front/back and usually the back is longer.

      A chador is made entirely different.

  7. Oh, and one more thing 🙂 I love the chador that the sister in the 8th picture is wearing (chador-edaneshjoo, standing sister with pink fabric in hand). It’s a tie-back, right? I would love if you could send me the pattern for it. The tailors here can pretty much make anything mashaAllah. Better yet, if you could get me one just like it from Iran when you leave in a few weeks, that’d be great. Please email me with your response.

    • wa salaam, actually sis, no its not a tie-back. Its actually a traditional Iranian chador where they added holes for the hand and then stitched it up the front/snaps (?) and there is the de rigeur elastic inside that most chador wearing women use. Its next to impossible for tailors outside of Iran to comprehend the chador and how to make one…trust me, I know…Ive tried to get tailors here to copy the Melli style (cuz dangit I didnt bring my sewing machine and I can sew a chador)…I even did a mock up and brought my own chadors in, showed them how to sew it and then were to cut for the melli style…and no..forget it, its just beyond the realm of their comprehension…they dont get anything other than the usual “ra’as” style.

      I donno whether I can find that style of melli when I go…but I will look. If you send me a comment…via my Arabian Threads eCrater store with your height and all that we can discuss it.

  8. Assalam alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakathu…

    What is the name of the chador in photo #7? Mashaa Allah, I would like to buy but do not know what to search for.

    • salaams, thats called a “jalabeeb” and you have to order via that company…its hard though cuz you will have to try to send money to them in Iran and well if your in a western country, thats hard, they dont have any relatives here in the US or Canada which you can send the payment too. I can get though similar modern chadors via another company…so send me a message with your email. en’shallah.

      • Assalam alaikum,

        Insha Allah, I do not have your e-mail address to send you a message. I do not know if you can see my e-mail address, if you can please send me a message. Jazak Allahu khayrn.

      • wa alaikum as salaam

        I appreciate your enthusiasim for the modern chadors but, sister, I really cant help you ith sewing one.I just dont have time… but if you cull my archives I have plenty of pictures up about these styles and I did post a few months back with directions In farsi from various irani sewing sites directions for sewing this stuff. You can try to use those.

        Best of luck. Fyi you cant “add” sleeves to a chador, they cut into the chador to make the sleeved styles, but first you need to make sure the chador you made is the right length and width and that just comes with practice. OK Best of luck

  9. as salaamu alaiykum. my name is Umm Yasir. I sooo agree on you with everything u stated. Wanting an overhead to be flowy and loose, but not boxy is always my problem. I have been making off the shoulder abays,niqabs,shaylas,and yemini khimars for about ten years and went to school for sewing. My question is: The pattern above looks like the back piece of an overhead. Is the front the same with the face cut out or is there just a deep scoop neck? it would really help if maybe I can see a picture of how the front pattern looks. My email is azainah5@gmail.com. Jazakullah khaiyraan

  10. A-O-A! can anyone tell me that how can i stitch chador with sleeves (modern chador)……???
    if any one have this then plz snd me detailed pics of chador so i can stitch it….plz…………..

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