Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Folkwear 107 Afghan Nomad Dress

And so the year 2020 finally came to an end. We are now almost a week into 2021, which so far is different from 2020 in exactly zero ways but it at least feels new and clean and fresh and hopeful, which counts for something. 

As last year wound down I found myself falling into a very dark mental place. I don't know why because nothing outwardly changed but I felt increasing levels of anxiety and despair and after Christmas was an emotional wreck for at least a week. Maybe it's the build-up to Christmas, the incredible sheer amount of WORK that goes into making it a fun holiday with lots of food for the kids, maybe it's just letting myself breathe and letting all the pent up emotions of 2020 hit me at once. I don't know. I'm coming out of it now, a little, but it's hard. I'm just so exhausted in every single possible way. Winter is also a very hard season for me and it seems to get worse every year. 

On social media everyone has been posting their makes for 2020. I fitted in a few things in December that I have not blogged about. I made each child a new Christmas stocking, made Anne a Star Trek Voyager jacket and trousers to go with the tricorder and communicator she got for Christmas and for myself I made a special dress from Folkwear 107, the Afghan Nomad Dress

The Afghan Nomad Dress was pretty much a whim thing. I pulled out some fabrics one night and got inspired to make it and over the course of the next week I did just that! 

The dress is really simply cut, with a rectangle for the bodice, slightly shaped rectangular sleeves, underarm gussets that form part of the sleeve and part of the waistband, and rectangular panels sewn together for a skirt - a narrower skirt for the westernized version and a very, very full, heavy skirt for the authentic version. For my version I made the full skirt but deviated from the authentic design by putting the neckline slit in the front instead of in the back and cutting my sleeves as one piece with trim sewed on top instead of piecing the sleeves. 

While all the fabrics work fantastically together each one does have a lot of meaning. This dress feels like a wearable memory album. The purple velvet I used for the bodice came from my grandma after she passed away and was given to me along with some of her sewing notions. The purple velvet bodice is trimmed with gold metallic braid leftover from 1860's frock coat projects over the years and bands of fabric left over from my 1860's red wrapper, which I made in honor of my grandmother.(still gotta blog about that!) The yellow sleeves are left over fabric from the dress I made to wear to my sisters wedding, and all 3 fabrics used in the skirt (front skirt, back skirt and hem band) came from Windy's World, one of my favorite little shops ever that I have loved ever since moving to Ohio. I have so many happy memories of going there and browsing and buying fabric and antiques over the past almost-6 years! The trim on the sleeves is from one of my grandfather's shirts and one of my sons shirts that he long since outgrew. 

There are no fastenings on this dress. It slips on over the head and the bodice is very fitted across the bust so it stays in place pretty well with no waist ties. However, the weight of the skirt in the back tends to drag the dress towards the back - which makes me glad that I put the neck slit in the front, or else I'd feel like I am choking when I wear this dress. 

Despite the simplicity of cut there was a LOT of hand sewing in this dress. For one thing, velvet is hard to sew and I had to put that part together by hand, including sewing on the trim by hand. The binding around the neck was done by hand. The seams on the sleeves were felled by hand and the skirt was gathered and whipped to the bodice by hand. 

I love the finished dress and wore it the day of Winter Solstice. I have not worn it since but someday soon I will wear it again. It's a bit much to wear around the house (the skirt is absolutely enormous!) but I made it with drum circles in mind and soon it will be warm enough and hopefully safe enough to gather with friends for such activities. 

In a shorter length with a narrower skirt and maybe shorter sleeves I think this dress WOULD make a great everyday dress too. I will make it again sometime. I have a few pink fabrics that would combine into a pretty spring dress and SPRING WILL COME. Already the days are noticeably getting a bit longer. I choose to look forward with hope. Here are a few construction pictures. I didn't do a great job at documenting the sewing process but I have at least a few photos. 

Bodice put together. The velvet is flatlined with plain cotton.

Sleeves attached!

Detail of waistband and cartridge pleats on the skirt. 

Back bodice and back skirt. 

Much love,



  1. Sarah, this has been a hard year and you survived it! Well done!

    If winter is always hard and getting harder, you might have SAD ( seasonal affective disorder). If you can, get your vitamin D levels checked, you may be low. Also getting full spectrum lights will help.
    Your writing is so well done, you have a real voice, your sewing is always so purposeful, please take care of yourself.

    1. Thank you so much for your encouragement. My mom has SAD and I am pretty sure I do too - I've always known winter is hard for me and I feel so much happier and energetic on sunnier days.

      2020 was hard for all of us, I think! But I am glad we came through it together. In some ways, weathering this storm (and continuing to weather it) has brought us closer together as people even though we all are in different parts of the world. Hoping that 2021 is a year of grace for us all. <3

  2. I think this is possibly my favourite thing that you have sewn. It perfectly encapsulates how I think of you. This last year has been so very hard even on those fortunate not to have been too affected by covid. Sending you thoughts of warmth and sunshine from New Zealand.

    1. I think it's one of my favorites too! New Zealand sun and warmth sounds absolutely excellent right now!


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!