The “making” process involved several phases, including selecting the kind of fabrics I wanted to use, drafting measurements from the original garment, creating a mockup of the product, sewing everything together, and finally decorating the garment with reflective materials.

I went to Mood Fabrics store in New York City’s famous garment district to find fabric. I also visited Material Connexion and P&S Fabrics in SoHo, but Mood was the best place for what I needed. I spent 4 hours wandering down aisles at Mood, and finally decided on a corn blue color jersey rayon material for the main bulk that would breathe and cool the body much better than the existing rayon. I got a silver pleated polyester for the cape inserts, which is very light-weight.

mood fabric

I draped both of these materials in the store and discovered that they hang and flow nicely with a person’s gait. I also found a beautiful polyester silk blended silver and blue fabric that is embroidered with diamond shapes, which matches the retroreflective designs well.

mood draping

Next, I met with Melody to cut the fabric from our pattern that we had just made. It was fun to have a production partner.

cutting fabric

She sewed the pieces separately in stages, beginning with the back blue panels and silver triangle inserts, and then the crown and headband, and finally the front piece and face mesh. Fortunately, the jersey rayon fabric isn’t too stretchy or flimsy, so it was relatively easy to sew. The silver pleated fabric was much thinner and slippery.

sewing in progress

We met several times to create mockups of the pieces in order to see what they would all look like together. ITP has a dressform on the floor, which I used to visualize the various elements of the design by pinning everything on the dressform.

mockup 1

This way, I could see how the different elements complemented each other and fit together.

dress form mock up

We took a photograph with flash to visualize how the retroreflective strips and face mesh would look as part of the overall garment. Not bad!!

retroreflective photo

I like how the silver inserts turned out in the back cape. We draped the garment on the dressform to see the outline of the cape and how the silver inserts hang.

mock up

The trickiest part of the production was making the head band and crown piece. The original burqa’s head piece is too small, and I wanted to make a garment that *most* people could try on and wear, so it was necessary to design a better sized head piece. Melody used muslin material for mocking and it worked great because we could mark on it.

head piece

Based on our original estimations, we first attempted a 22″ head band with 8.5″ top, but it was too small and not quite deep enough. Then, Melody tried making slightly larger sized crowns of 23.75″ and 24.5″ with 8.75″ pleated top, but those didn’t sit down far enough and eventually slipped due to the slippery jersey fabric. She also tried sewing a 24.5″ band with a 9″ pleated top which sat well, but also slipped.

dome

To prevent slipping, Melody sewed a light-weight lining between the blue material and the head. Finally, we decided to try a 23.5″ band with 2.2″ band height, and a 9.25″ dome. I tested this model on several women at school and confirmed that this was the perfect size for the average woman.

gabby burqa

As part of this user testing, I also took measurements of people’s faces to calculate where we should place the face mesh panel on the front of the garment.

mouth measurement

As suspected, the range was roughly 5″ x 5″. Here are the measurements:

34.00mm / 1.35″ width of each eye
120mm / 4.7″ width from far edges of eyes (just inside the temples)
70mm / 2.77″ height from nose tip to chin (nose & mouth breathing area)
44mm / 1.75″ height from band seam to top of eyes (forehead area)
115mm / 4.7″ height from low brow to bottom edge of chin
47mm / 1.8″ width of mouth

Next steps:
1. Seal the face mesh piece, and attach it to the front.
2. Sew the retroreflective strip designs.

Read about the background and inspiration for this project in previous blog posts:

1. Research & Concept Development
2. Materials and Testing
3. Why Blue Color?
4. Sewing Pattern
5. Face Mesh Weaving


7 Responses to “Fashion Hacking the Afghan Burqa”  

  1. 1 ehsan jk

    please say me how can i buy afghan burqa from you.

  2. 2 suzkita

    We are exploring what is the best way to manufacture a small quantity of these for people who would like to buy one. I will keep you informed. Thanks very much for your interest.

  3. 3 Na'ilah

    hello did you make this burqa using the pattern posted in your previous post? i am interested in making one for myself and am finding a hard time locating a pattern

  4. 4 suzkita

    Hello, yes I created my own pattern because I could not find any suitable burqa pattern online. I hired a seamstress who helped me test various measurements and sizes until we found a pattern that worked. I’ve written about my pattern making in two posts: http://itp.suzkirkpatrick.com/?p=999 and http://itp.suzkirkpatrick.com/?p=1016.

  5. 5 Burqa

    Hi,I have big burqa problem.I don’t live in America,but I want burqa so much (Afghan style) .I have aunt in Netherlands who can buy it for me but she say burqa is banned in Netherlands,I found some burqas on Netherlands eBay but they are to expensive for me.I think you have great idea to make it but I can’t do that,so,you trading your burqas somewhere?Afghan burqa is way if my life,I want it so much!!!

  6. 6 suzkita

    Hello, perhaps these two posts about pattern making may help you in sewing your own burqa. I created my own pattern because I could not find any suitable burqa pattern online: http://itp.suzkirkpatrick.com/?p=999 and http://itp.suzkirkpatrick.com/?p=1016.

  7. 7 Burqa

    One thing I mistake…I am not adult yet,I am in teen years.Others interesting for fashionable garments and for me burqa is so interesting.I think maybe I say my mother she buy.me blue material,and I will then do what I can…but I will more want burqa who are really good,Afghan burqa who really looks like that who women’s there wore.I say you,there is people who interesting but I found just too expensibe burqas.Your burqa on good price – fantastic :-)

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