Overhead “head” types and putting elastic in one…

asalaamu alaikum,

Ive had some sisters  INRL ask about how I keep my overhead on so effortlessly/easily…I had one sister at the masjid today ask me just this, she thought I had it pinned to my scarf, until she saw my adjusting the…elastic…and then she realized…nope, no pins. I also know some sisters who wear overheads as well and who find their incessant slipping and sliding annoying.

So here goes…oh, ages ago, like last winter I did show this in THIS POST, but I still had questions.

First off, I do NOT recommend pinning an overhead-any overhead-except for maybe an Egyptian Isdaal…because only the Isdaal is designed to be worn very very far back on the head and pinned in place. Otherwise you stand a good chance of ripping your scarf or something because generally as you move, the overhead moves too, so putting pins in them, will overtime cause rips/holes to develop. The nice thing about the elastic is it keeps the overhead stable on the head but will pop off if you say, step on the hem by accident so no risk of ripping it unlike with pins…also it will move easier and definitely feel much better on the head.

There are generally two styles of head area in an overhead abaya…the moder modern style, popular in Saudi which is very narrow.

Like this;

See how narrow the head area is? The seaming begins right around the temple area.This is a more updated version and what is normally available in Saudi. Personally I’m not a huge fan of  this style of head opening as it keeps the overhead from “molding” to the head as well as the older styles do.

Traditionally in Saudi and still in most Gulf countries like Iraq, Bahrain, Kuwait (areas where the overhead is still very common) the head area is quite wide and would curve around the head easier with the seaming beginning around the ear area or maybe a wee bit above it..

Do you see the difference? Generally Ive found the overheads with the wide head area to sit better on the head and stay better-even without elastic in them and the weird tends to be balanced better. I believe one reason why the modern Saudi overheads have such a narrow head area is because it would mean less of the head and potentially neck/shoulder area is shown should it be gusty…I’m not sure though. If anyone really know, please let me know, as I’m curious why they went and changed it. LOL…Anyway, I digress.

Putting elastic into an overhead.

I highly recommend using narrow elastic, Ive found the thicker elastic can feel a bit too snug. Although both can cause headaches if put in too tightly. Just an fyi there.

Anyway, for both styles, you put the elastic in right where the seam hits the head portion. I try to normally stitch the elastic in so when its on, it fits smoothly against the head, nothing rolled or anything.

Saudi overhead

On an overhead with a wider head area…the placement is the same.

Lebanese overhead

The biggest difference when you wear them is with the Saudi style overhead, with elastic in it, the elastic is up a bit higher on the head, while with the wider head area ones, the elastic runs over the ears. Both should stay snug to the head when worn.

Now to show the head area size difference between the Lebanese and Saudi one…

Really there isn’t much to it…but if any sisters have questions…do ask via comments.


12 thoughts on “Overhead “head” types and putting elastic in one…

  1. Salamualaikum!
    Ahhh love this idea! Now how exactly do you slip it on?
    Also, i feel that most overhead Abayas are WAYYY too much material. I understand they should be loose, but i’ve seen sisters with over heads that fit them perfectly, not tight at all but also not an extra yard of fabric when they open their arms! i know the solution is probably tailoring them, but i live in the states so i don’t really know how to go about that, how would u recommended ordering them online? Jazakaallauhu khair in advanced!

    • salaams, well the elastic sits behind the head, under the abaya, like under your ponytail/bun…if you look at the top of the post there is a link to a post I made last January and I show a picture of this.

      about tailored overheads…in Saudi I never saw overheads-even sleeved ones that fit close to the body without the extra material…its just they are cut to be baggy and the way the sleeved overheads are made, i dont think they can get them too close fitting. Ive only seen…I guess modern sleeved chadors with a good fit-like A-line without excess material everywhere, but those are difficult to get outside of Iran, I donno what else would work. Additionally maybe a good quality Egyptian isdaal may work…I really am not sure.

      As far as overheads available in the west…frankly I know of only 1-2 places and both use subpar materials and cheap tailoring in general. But then again, even in the Gulf the better quality, more expensive ones fit better…but still they are quite baggy.


  2. Asselam alaikum sis. Thank you so much for your tips on how to put elastic in the overheads. I used this nifty trick on two of my overheads and alhamdulilah, they now fit snug on my head. I’m wearing one with elastic right now 🙂 No more pins, yay! Jazzakillahu khayran sister. Keep those tips coming.

  3. Assalamo Alaykoum sister. You have a really nice blog mashAllah with a lot of information, i really like it!
    I wanted to know if you think the elastic trick can also work for topee/prayer cap for men? And if yes how to put it? My husband cap keep on falling down when praying, i want to find something to avoid it but i do not have so much idea….
    Jazzakillahu khayran sister.
    Khuda Hafiz.

  4. Thanks! I love reading little tips like this. I have a couple of overheads for when in Saudi that I will alter. They stay on pretty well but for my piece of mind I’d like to have some insurance, lol,

  5. As salaamu alaikum,
    I’ve tried overheads a few times… Iraqi style.. nuh uh, didn’t work for me… felt like my head was constantly being yanked back and sitting? forget it. The two I have now are from Egypt and while nice and easier to wear (there’s a chin tie) maa shaa Allaah, my issue is the sleeves… how when I left my arm(s) even slightly, let’s say for example, to pick up my child… the side lifts well above my ankle, exposing some calf. I don’t sew but am trying to think of a way to alter the sleeves to make them more normal and functional. Any suggestions before I end up gifting them away??

    • salaams, well sis for all overheads when you sit and move you dont just plop down or move like you would when wearing a shoulder garment. For wearing any overhead garment you need to LEARN how to move while wearing one. This is the BIGGEST problem western sisters have when wearing an overhead, they think they can just plop down, or stand up, whatever like any old time in any old thing, nah-uh, you can’t do that! Obv unless you live in Dearborn your probably not surrounded by sisters who grew up in overheads so its very hard learning how to wear one unless your surrounded by others who wear them and you learn how they carry them, wear them, sit down in one, stand up in one. I suggest you need to really learn how to wear one because when you sit down your head shoudletn be yanked back. LOL…when you are going to sit you need to gather the abaya up around you and then sit-gracefully, you dont just plop on down and hope for the best, cuz it aint gonna happen. When you stand, its the same thing. There Is an “art” to wearing an overhead garment gracefully…

      About the isdaal…I donno…isdaals are shaped quite differently from Gulf overheads…I know they tend to be the same length all the way around, and yes they do tend to go up a lot, when you raise the arms, I think thats just how they are made.

      I guess I need to do a little “how to manage” an overhead tutorial huh.

      stay tuned!

  6. Hey sis, MOP suggested we do a trade, niqabs and suri ect, for a modern Saudi style overhead if you have any????

    • Nope sorry! I have some yes but they are just the ones I like a lot and dont wanna part with…sorry…also i need to nix the niqabs and suri anyway cuz im trying to get back into school right now…en’shallah in the Spring…OK.


      • Don’t worry!

        I am still having difficulty negotiating a fair suri price for you. They want 25 rials and I bought one from the bedu for 15 and 15 is handwork, not machine.

        But let me know, when you can start again, because MOP is starting to fund me a little for my business:) Alhamdulilah.

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