Ive had a few inquiries about how exactly one sews a chador for some time now. But, its hard answering this because even though its a very, very simple process, unless you have a chador to use as a pattern or have seen them made enough times that you know or know someone who can show you, its not very easy explaining how one makes one. Even drawing a diagram doesnt really help. I’m sure some of you remember my post about the trial/tribulations of having an abaya shop in Khobar make me a chador?-if I had HAD my sewing machine with me in Saudi I could have popped one out in an hour or less, but I didnt.
So anyway, here is, in pictures how a chador is made. Ideally you need either a-someone to measure you with the fabric draped over you lengthwise or b-already have a chador that fits, but if not, then you can probably “wing it”. I suggest using some really cheapo material to practice on. This past trip to Iran it seems like everyone gifted me chador material. I dont know why this trip I got so much, in previous trips I’d only get material if someone was getting married or had been on Omrah/Hajj (as is traditional), but this trip, for really no apparent reason I came back with gobs of chador material. LOL. Maybe cuz we had bought everyone material while we were on Omrah and they wanted to reciprocate but I can tell you, my husband keeps being surprised because I keep showing him all the new house hochadors Ive been making.
So first off, you need a fairly big, clean and tidy room to work in as you will be laying items out. You’ll need to somehow figure out sizing on your own-sorry! But I will show you how one is pieced. This particular hunk of material was given to me by a sweet friend and wonderfully enough, she gave me a LOT of material which made piecing very very easy. Normally people give chunks of material which are “just” enough and you have to piece the chador together like a jigsaw puzzle which can be frustrating. I highly suggest buying over the amount suggested so pieceing is easy.
Length of material to buy;
Generally for single width material the general rule of thumb is 4.5 meters or 5 yards. BUT, if your using cotton, cotton blend or material which is narrow I suggest 5 meters or 5.5 yards. If this is your first time making a chador, add an extra 2 yards so piecing will be easy! If your lucky to find double width material 3.5 meters or 4 yards. Adding extra is needed.
Here is one I made a few weeks ago. This one is a “jigsaw” puzzle chador in that it was barely enough material and I had to piece it with what seems like a bazillion itsy pieces so it would be the right length. The material is actually see through but has a burn out in the fabric so some areas are opaque.
Material to buy: Okay, I’ll be frank, outside of Iran or Makkah or Medinah in Saudi (where all the fabric shops sell “meshki” crepe and printed material for chadors-just ask them!) it will be HARD to find the same fabrics that are used for chadors. There just isnt a market and yes, chador crepe IS indeed quite different from abaya crepe. If you have access to crepes used for abayaat for the Gulf market. A lightweight Japanese crepe will suffice. I dont suggest making a black chador unless you have access to the right types of crepe-sorry, it just wont fit/drape right. For a house or prayer chador, you can get by with a light cotton or cotton blend-although the preffered fabrics are a bit different from the types normally available in the west. You can “get by” and make do with them. Keep in mind though they shrink when washed!
So for this one, I am using another one which I have as a template-Makes life easier. What I did was take the chador I already had and the new material and measured it lengthwise at the top edge and then cut the proper length out of the new material-Adding an extra 2 inches for selvage.
1) cut up the material to the right length.
Lay out the new material (folded in half) and lay the original chador out (folded) over top to see where the seaming should occur.
Okay so seeing this, I knew the 2nd piece needs to be as big as the piece used on the template. Since this material was long enough, the 2nd piece will probably be long and wide enough that pieceing will be done quickly/easily with minimal effort…i.e. no “jigsaw puzzle” pieceing!
I lift up the template chador, put down the 2nd piece-folded lengthwise and pin to the first piece placed down, then I lay the template back over it to be sure its long enough. I then stitch the two pieces together- No need to serge as the selvage keeps it from fraying.
I then laid the template back down to do another check and to cut out the new chador. You’ll see there is a small triangle of material needed, this is quickly and easily remedied by stitching in a small triangle and then cutting it into a curve to match the rest of the chador.
Here it is, almost done! It just needs hemming and elastic (kesk) added if desired. Its perfectly acceptable to roll the hem and zig-zag it, you can also do a straight stitch or even serge it or serge and then stitch it down. Seriously easy huh! Took me only 1 hour. If I hadnt had taken pictures and all that along the way-maybe 30-45min max.
Now your asking, where is the finished chador? I’m actually not done with it yet, I’m turning it into a “melli” style, Ive almost completed it and en’shallah when its done early next week I will snap pictures (my first shipment of stock for my store arrived so Ive been busy with that!)
Generally prayer chadors are the longest, generally hitting the floor, some are made super long to cover everything. House chadors are made shorter-like ankle length so they dont drag on the floors or ground-like if cleaning or when guests come over you dont trip while serving tea. Outside chadors (i.e. the black, meshki kind) are made to either just graze the floor or the tops of the feet. Generally they are held up when walking anyway so personally I prefer mine to be floor grazing so more is covered, but thats my own preference.
Let me know what you think of my little tutorial!