The Thobe Project is truly the culmination of a long-held tatreez dream of mine. And it started about 7 years ago for very personal reasons and evolved along the way.
The Back Story
At the time of my engagement, I was living in Amman, Jordan and I began what was a much more complex search than I would have imagined for my celebratory thobe. In my lengthy searches, it became hard to find the perfect thobe that both matched my resources (as a teacher) and my style (as a proud Ramallah girl whose fascination lies with the historic dresses of the 1920s and 30s). So, I decided I would create my own.
Little did I know how difficult it would be to gather all of the ancestral knowledge and learn the techniques needed to take on such a feat. I knew I wouldn’t be wearing my me-made dream thobe to my own wedding, but that I would be wearing it to someone’s wedding eventually. (Watch out future sister-in-law... Just kidding! If you’re Arab or Palestinian, hopefully you know I’d never do such a thing!)
The knowledge and techniques that I needed to add to my textile skill set were more than I had imagined at the time, but I was willing and ready to invest in the learning. Needless to say, I do not take for granted that my immense privilege as a Palestinian-American is largely the reason I have been able to study and learn so many of these skills. As educators, my husband and I spend our summers (pre-COVID) in the Arab World and it is (mostly) easy for us to do so - a privilege denied to many Palestinians. As a result of the ease with which I am able to travel, I have visited many Palestinians in exile as a way to relearn many of the skills that became lost in my own family as a result of the Nakba. Over the years, I have been able to fill both skill and knowledge gaps for myself not covered in books, and I am proudly able to share this knowledge with Palestinian practitioners and allies.
You can learn more specifically about the objectives of this course and what is covered, here.
The Thobe Project is not about a revival of an ancestral practice. Palestinian embroidery has long been kept alive, but has also not been untouched by unjust circumstances as is true for many ancestral practices across the globe. Rather, this project is about relearning and reclaiming many of the aspects of Palestinian embroidery and textile practices that are now more difficult to learn simply because of how removed many of us have become from the daily practice of these traditions due to circumstances beyond our control. This experience is designed to empower practitioners with the skills and confidence to fully cut, embroider, and assemble their own thobe utilizing historical techniques. With this aim, more Palestinian families in the diaspora and exile will begin reclaiming these traditions so they can be newly passed on to future generations and carried back with us to a liberated Palestine.
Curious what practitioners from the first and second cohort think? You can check out some of their thoughts and reviews at the bottom of this page. Or, check out what our latest practitioners are saying from the second cohort here:
“This thobe making journey has been a dream of mine for quite awhile. I’ve learned all about the history behind tatreez and thobe making, the fabrics, motifs/designs, and threads. I am so happy to have come across Tales of Tatreez. Samia is very knowledgeable in the field, providing step-by-step guidance even for those less experienced. I’ve also made some new friends on this journey who share the same passion as mine for thobe making :). Through this experience, I hope to teach my daughter what I’ve gained to help keep this precious Palestinian art and culture alive for many generations to come.”
“I had little to no experience on garment construction prior to this course. I also am used to using Aida cloth and found the waste canvas to be a bit more difficult. Regardless, it certainly hasn’t held me back. I appreciated all the recorded videos with step by step instructions on how to measure and cut the fabric and attach the waste canvas. I’m a visual person.”
“I love this class a lot! I am really enjoying the class so far. I feel so supported by Samia and feel that the class is very well paced. She is very good at explaining each step of the process when we tackle it.”