Fabric Shopping in Doha

Hello and welcome to my first slice of the interwebs!

For my first blog post, I thought I would talk about my most recent trip to Doha, Qatar. If you ever get the chance to visit the United Arab Emirates, I would definitely recommend that you check out Qatar. It’s one of the most beautiful, luxurious countries that I have ever been to and I am already planning on visiting again in the near future.

Oh, and the fabric shopping is pretty good too!

Halfway through my trip, I visited the Souk Waqif. I have to say, it is one of most amazing places that I have ever been to, and I would love to return again for more fabric shopping.

For a bit of background information, Souk Waqif is Arabic for “the standing market”. It’s one of the most famous and most recognised markets in Qatar, and it hosts an abundance of stalls selling various items which range from traditional Qatari garments, to spices, shoes and souvenirs.

The Souk Waqif  also has dozens of restaurants and street food stalls to whet your appetite. Sadly, I didn’t buy any food from the Souk, but it is on my bucket list to sample some of the local cuisine when I return.

I was most excited about going fabric shopping. Since I am still fairly new to dressmaking, I wasn’t sure what I was looking for exactly, but I did know that I wanted to make a jumpsuit and an evening skirt to begin with, and since some of the most luxurious fabrics are sold in the Middle East, I thought Qatar was the perfect place to start. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I first visited the Souk, but I certainly wasn’t expecting there to be a full street full of fabric shops. I think there must have been about 15-20 fabric shops all on one little cobbled street!

The first thing that I can comment on is that the people who own the shops are the most friendliest people that I have ever met. The shops are mainly owned by men, but if they do not speak very good English, then the Qatari women will speak to you (I have been told that the Qatari women will only speak to women, I believe this is a cultural/religious reason, which I totally respect). When I entered the first shop, I was welcomed by a man who asked me what I was looking for and he helped me pick out the most gorgeous, silvery blue fabric. The shop assistant told me that it was a Chinese fabric and that it was a mixture of cotton and silk.

The only downfall here is that I didn’t have any dressmaking patterns with me, so I wasn’t sure exactly how much I needed. I did ask the shop assistant for a measuring tape and I measured the width of the fabric (which was 150cm) and worked out that for a jumpsuit or evening skirt, I would probably get away with 3 metres of fabric, if I was lucky, I might have some left over for some lining for another project.
For 3 metres, it worked out at around £30.00, which is what you would probably pay here for fabric. Stupidly enough, I jumped at the first price that was offered, when I should have bartered a bit more for a better price. Silly touristy me!

That evening, I decided to only buy one piece of fabric, as I wanted to go back to the apartment to order a few paper patterns and to do a bit of research on the types of fabric that are available. I worked out that for an evening skirt, I would need roughly about 3 metres again, so on the last night of our visit, I decided to go back to the Souk for another wander around.

And that’s when I spotted the most stunning fabric I have ever seen. Just look at it!

I decided that this fabric would be perfect for an evening skirt and I chose the lining pictured to go underneath it. This time, I asked my dad to barter with the shop assistant (as he is a local expat) and he managed to knock the price down from 180 Qatari Rials to 120, which is around £25, which I thought was really good, considering I had 3 metres of the main fabric, and 3 metres of the lining.
I was so pleased with my purchases and as I carefully packed them away in my hand luggage, (I was not having my toiletries in my main luggage exploding over these!) I was so excited to get home to see what I could create with them.

I decided to make the jumpsuit with the silky floral fabric. I took a trip to Remnant Kings and ordered the Vogue Very Easy Pattern 9075. Surprisingly, this pattern has been pretty easy so far to construct, even for a rookie dressmaker. With the help of some sewing blogs and some Youtube videos, I’ve managed to construct a pretty decent bodice with lining. I’m not too worried about pattern matching at this stage, so the bodice doesn’t look too professional, but I’m sure mastering pattern matching is a skill that I’ll perfect in the future.
Overall, I will say that the Souk Waqif is an experience that I will never forget. I’ll definitely be returning soon with some dressmaking patterns in hand, and hopefully, a better knowledge of fabrics and dressmaking in general. I’m aiming to go back to Qatar to visit my dad again in October, so fingers crossed I manage to get a good deal on a flight.

Stay tuned for my upcoming posts, as I’ll be blogging about my makes with these two beautiful fabrics.

Keep sewing!