Making a Khaleegy Thobe arabic.

Home made thobes. These are the beautiful big dresses used for a woman's social dance in the Arabic Gulf. They are very loose and have embroidered front panels. Often the seams are also decorated. The backs are plainer.

A realistic thobe can be made from a sari. With careful cutting the decorated portion can be used for the front panel.

For more picture of student thobes click here

In laying out the pieces the two sleeves take 2m of 1.1m fabric. If using a single strip for the front and back another 3.5m is required. The bottom side panels can be fitted on the same piece to get the whole thobe out of 5.5m of fabric. Alternatively you can cut just the back out of the main fabric reducing the requirements to 3.8m plus the front panel. In this case the front and back panels are seamed together.

Layout of thobe.

The length of the front (or back) is approximately the height of the wearer. As the neck hole is 15-20cm into the front panel, the seam crosses the shoulder blades and the back trails on the ground.

The span of the sleeves should mean the wrists, and possibly part of the hands, are covered.

S - sleeve 2 @ 2m x ..48
F - Front panel 1.75 x .4
B - Back panel 1.75 x .4
or combined into 3.5 x 4
P - side panels 2 @ .7 x .75
(all measurements are approximate)

Sleeve (2m) Front and Back (3.5m)
Sleeve (2m) side Panel (.75m) side Panel (.75m)
Sleeve (2m) Back (1.75m)
Sleeve (2m) side Panel (.75m) side Panel (.75m)
plus front panel

To make up the thobe:

Cut out:

1x front panel (F) 40cm x 175cm
1x back panel (B) 40cm x 175cm
(or 1x combined centre panel 40cm x 350cm and one fancy front panel)
2 x sleeves (S) 200cm x 50cm
2 x side panel (A) 75cm x 70cm
2 x gusset (G) - optional but traditional


Sew the front to the back at the top. (Alternatively sew the "fancy" panel in this position over the extra long centre panel)

Cut out the neck hole from the front panel this is a small circle and a 15cm slit. The top of the neck hole should be about 15cm down from the top. Face as required.

Fold the sleeves in half. Align the fold with the top seam of the front and back panels.

Sew the sleeves to the front & back panels.

Fold the side panels in half.

Sew the side panels to the sleeve above and front/back panel. (Add gussets if desired)

You should have a large rectangular garment with two large armholes of about a metre, open at the bottom and when you put your head through the hole in the front the front should be shorter than the back.

Hem edges.


First place for decoration is down the front panel. Decoration is also traditional around the neck opening, the sleeve openings, the hem and seams. It is believed this has a protective function where the fabric's integrity has been breached.

You can use sequins, beading, couching, braid etc.


Wear over a full length dress or skirt - or bedleh - ideally in a colour that goes well with the thobe (you see most of the underdress through the arm holes and while dancing the front of the thobe can be lifted quite high.
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