Newsletter 17 - May 2001

1. news
2. drapes from Sudan
3. IDC campaign news
4. a recommendation of shop selling saris
5. a personal note from Chantal

1. News:

*** We have new members from three new countries: Russia, Latvia and Norway.

*** For those of us living in England, the British Costume Association has its Annual Show at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern Worcs. , on Saturday and Sunday the 19th and 20th of May 2001.

*** If you know or participate in an event, web site, etc. connected with draping, please let us know. This “news” feature is yours!

2. Drapes from Sudan (“tobe”)
By: Halima Abdul-Ghani

I can explain to you how a tobe is draped on/put on. There are two different ways. You need about 5 yards of fabric that is at least 50 inches wide either way. If your fabric is not wide enough, it is sometimes sewn or crocheted together.

One way is to take the tip of the top end of your fabric with the excess fabric to your right, tuck over the left side of your chest and and then under the left arm. The excess fabric should fall over behind you, like the back of a toga. Proceed to wrap the fabric around the lower part of body and then a second time around the upper body over the head. Any excess will fall over the left shoulder or secured around the neck.

The other way is how I put it on. It seems more simple and more reliable to stay on. Make a "skirt" around your waist with the excess fabric coming from the right and the end on the left. Tie the tip of the end with a corner of the fabric in front of you where it is comfortable along the waist line. You should have a "skirt" with excess fabric going toward the left. Take the excess fabric around the back of your body and then over your head simultaneously almost cocooning your body in the fabric. The edge is to hang over the left shoulder or if you are very modest wrapped over the head and then tucked or pinned in. Some ladies do pin the "skirt" together, but I prefer to knot it.

The way I can tell "a tobe is a tobe" whether on me or anyone else, is that the back always has what I call an inverted "tulip" in that the fabric drapes up and over the head. It looks like you have a skirt on and an extremely large head covering over it. It "covers the body well" which is why it has managed to remain throughout colonialism and other modern fashion patterns. Many women wear it over their designer or western clothing; many women on tight budgets wear it over a slip or chemise. Cotton like fabric is usually worn. Silks and polysilks slide too much and don't really have the give and comfort that cotton does. They are usually prints and/or border prints. If I am correct,white is worn for serious occasions and/or by religious women or women from religious families. I have seen them in rose red, teal blue and golden yellow. However, they have never been "loud" or obvious.

I appreciate your efforts and web site and will try to get a picture step-by-step to you with the directions. Everywhere I have worn a tobe, I have gotten wonderful responses. It is like wearing perfume, in that I always feel lovely when I wear one. Most people are totally unaware that this type of wrap is very common throughout the Horn of Africa, The Sudan and parts of Kenya. It is very similar to the wrap worn by Morrocan women. Its beauty is the ease that you can adorn/dress yourself with one piece of fabric.

3. IDC campaign: free books for educational institutions

We started this new campaign two months ago, which is still not going very far, unfortunately! Please take a moment to consider it.

We have a number of copies of the book “Saris: An Illustrated Guide to the Indian Art of Draping” to give free to educational institutions such as art schools, textile and costumes schools, universities, etc.
The problem is to get them to those institutions. There are several ways to do this: somehow get the books from London and give them yourself to the institution in question, or pay (or get the institution to pay for) shipping costs (for the USA: $10).
ANY SUGGESTION WELCOME, but please remember that postage is not free and we do not have any money at this point.
For your offers and suggestions, please get in touch with:

4. Recommendation of shop selling saris
by Liyana - Denver, Colorado USA

I just wanted to recommend a seller of saris, cholis, sarongs, and all accessories. I have as yet only a small collection of four saris, but I have bought every one from a lady by the name of Krishna, who runs a small home business of importing saris from her native India to USA (she is in the state of Georgia). Her family back in India find the styles and or colors her customers specifically ask for and have them shipped to USA and I believe she can ship internationally as well. In all but one of the saris I have bought from her, she took my request for specific colors and emailed me again within days to let me know she had found one, and sent pictures via email.
Her taste and ability to grasp exactly what you want from verbal description is amazing. I have told her about IDC and let her know I would like to recommend her to everyone. If you should choose to contact her, please let her know you are an IDC member, and you might tell her Liyana sent you, as we are becoming friends over our mutual interest in saris. :)

Her email address is

5. A personal note from Chantal:

As our membership is slowly but surely expanding, the main problem remains the same: institutions which ought to be interested (and teach) draped clothes techniques are unaware and not interested. We need the help of everybody to raise awareness. Another way in which you can help is by wearing draped clothes, especially when you go out. Every time I wear a sari to a function or an event, I get lots of compliments. So don’t feel shy and show that draped clothes are beautiful and easy to wear on such occasions!

Thank you for your help and support.

Best wishes!

Please do not hesitate to send any question, suggestion, criticism.
If you have some links to suggest, please let us know!
If you wish to write something for the newsletter, please do so and Email it to <>.

Institute of Draped Clothes


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