Spare Time Activities/An Arab abaiah

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Spare Time Activities: Foreword 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25

An Arab abaiah

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YES, the name looks rather like a minor prophet or one of the Kings of Israel, doesn’t it? But there’s really no connection beyond the fact that he probably wore one, for the abaiah is the garment which has been worn for centuries by the nomads of the East. You can still see them being worn by the Arabs, who make them out of material woven from goat hair, which is quite waterproof, and wears very nearly for ever. Well, now, the abaiah is absolutely the ideal camp-fire garment for us – you will see in the sketch how effective it is in appearance, and the surprisingly graceful effect of the folds. It is a good thing to get out of the horrible garb which civilisation decrees we shall wear, and put on something more picturesque than trousers when we get the chance, and a troop sitting round the jolly old camp fire clad in abaiahs made out of brightly coloured blankets is a sight which can give the “pictures” points. An abaiah is a very easy thing to make – all you need is a piece of blanket material, about 6 to 7 ft. long, by 4 ft. or 4 ft. 6 in. wide. This you fold down each side, as you see in diagram 2, so that the ends nearly meet in the middle; they should be about 3 in. apart. Now join along the top from AB and CD, using wool and sewing with what is known as the blanket stitch. (Examine a blanket, or ask mother to show you this.)

First get your blanket and fold it to the centre, leaving the ends about three inches apart as in diagram 2. Blanket stitch at the top and slit from A to E and D to F. This gives you the arm-holes. Sew a button and make a loop at X and your abaiah is ready for use. Next you grapple with the armholes. Cut slits at the top of each fold 9 in. long (at AE and DF) and buttonhole stitch them round to prevent fraying. This large armhole gives you plenty of room for your arms and allows the garment to hang properly. You will find now if you try it on that it folds over of its own accord – but it is quite a good plan to put a button and loop at X just to keep it in place, or you can have a couple of strings or a loop and toggle or any kind of fastening which appeals to your fancy. Some kind of girdle can quite well be worn with the abaiah if you like, though it rather destroys its characteristic loose appearance. Well, having made it, you have a garment which is not only ideal for the camp fire, but also makes a splendid dressing-gown for home use. When packing for camp you will find that it will fold up quite flat, with no sleeves to take up the room, and in camp its usefulness as a blanket is in no way impaired, as you can still sleep in it comfortably.