It’s been more than four years now since I moved to Saudi Arabia. I must admit, I’ve never been a big fan of the abaya. My internal body thermostat always runs way too hot to start with, so wearing a black cloak in this brutal heat is like torture to me. In the summertime, there are days when I have taken up to 4 showers!
|BEFORE: Woven Abaya|
When I first arrived, I had a hand-me-down abaya, which quickly started deteriorating after I washed it a few times. A new one that I had bought also wore out, so the past couple of years, I have worn a very thin lightweight woven fabric loose-fitting abaya.
Abayas made out of woven fabric are very hard to find. The most common ones that I have seen in Jeddah are some type of polyester blend, and they range from very thin fabric to quite heavy. There are also abayas made of silk, crepe, stretchy polyester, and many other fabrics. The styles, details, and trims are endless, what with crystals, beads, hand-painting, ribbons, and on and on. And I’m happy to report that colorful abayas, including prints, are becoming more and more common here in Jeddah.
|AFTER: Woven Abaya|
When I returned to Jeddah in January, I decided that I wanted to have abayas that I actually liked, instead of feeling like such a slob in mine.
I refashioned the woven abaya by again replacing the sleeves with new fabric, a thin satiny print.
I also made three large tucks at the shoulders, so that the armpits were no longer at my elbows.
I changed out the pockets with the new satiny fabric too and also added on to the length at the bottom with the same.
I feel like I have a new abaya, and I really like it now.
|AFTER: Woven Abaya - Tucks at shoulder, new sleeves, and new pockets|
|Recycled Abaya - New Sleeves and Gold Trim|
I cut off the lower sleeves and added a turquoise blue Indian print ruffled sleeve.
This fabric came from an old skirt that I never wore but I loved the fabric.
I also added a shiny gold braid trim that looks like it has jewels in it.
I haven’t worn this one yet because it’s a little heavier, but I like it so much better than the way it was.
So this one too was recycled at a cost of just the gold trim, which was very inexpensive.
|Recycled Abaya - Close-up of trim and sleeve fabric|
|Stretchy Purple and Pink Print Abaya|
I ended up purchasing two.
This first one is a stretchy knit fabric with a pink and purple print over a black background.
It’s a simple style, but I love the colors and the print.
I have worn this one a lot already!
I paid 170 SR for this one, which is about $45 US.
|Close-up of new stretchy Purple and Pink Print Abaya|
|New Abaya with velvet detail|
It has this in the front where the abaya comes together, around the neck, and a wide panel of it all the way down the back.
This abaya has a checked trim added to it for extra pizzazz. I love it!
It’s very comfortable, looks nice, and makes me feel great when I wear it.
I am saving it for more special occasions, even though it’s not really glitzy.
This one cost 275 SR, which is about $73 US.
|Close-up of detail on new abaya with sheer velvet fabric and trim|
The last abaya I now own was given to me by a friend who was leaving the country. It is a heavier fabric but it is a beautiful shade of periwinkle. Since it was plain, I added a glittery trim down the front and down the sleeves. I haven’t worn it yet, but I just love the color.
|Periwinkle Abaya with new trim|
So now I suddenly have five abayas! And I like them all. It has helped tremendously with my attitude about the abaya. So even though I still feel hot all the time, at least I feel better about myself wearing them - and like Martha Stewart says, "It's a good thing!"