147: Braids

In Morocco, traditional women’s clothing for outer wear is called a d’jellabah (gel-A-bah). This is a long, robe-like garment, usually with long sleeves (but not always) with a hood. They are comfortable, concealing, and come in a gorgeous assortment of textiles, trimmed with delightful, intricate flat braid that

Less than half the available colors in the braid shop

is custom-made for each garment in EXACTLY matching colors. There are various shops that make these braids for the people who are ordering a new d’jellabah. Each shop has a variety of patterns and designs, and about a million available colors to choose from, for an infinite number of trim possibilities.

The trims are usually displayed in the shop so that customers can see the patterns, but you can order any pattern in any color combinations that you choose. Each shop makes the trims using a machine that is hand-programmed to weave the braids. You can also get tassels (to trim the tip of the hood) and buttons, all color-coordinated in your exact shades.

I have been having so much fun! A standard length of the trim is eight meters for wide braids, and twenty meters for skinny trim (like soutache trim). Remember that these are custom-made to your order, too – and an eight meter length of this braid will set you back from 50 to 80 dirham -from about six to less than ten dollars US. For custom work.

I have ordered lengths of the trim, and mailed it to my mom in the US, who is a crafter and sewer. She likes them, too, and the ladies in her crafting groups who have seen them want them, as well.  These lovely braids are great for clothing, of course, but they are also wonderful trim on curtains, drapes, pillows, bed linens, and for probably a thousand other uses, too. My mom has been using the University colored ones I sent her to make headbands for ladies who are attending their college football games: GO DAWGS (University of Georgia, my alma mater: red, silver and black).

It is great supporting a local craftsman who owns a local shop, and the braids they make are really quite lovely, and inexpensive to boot.


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