Tag Archives: Inspiration

The Gutsy Dressmaker

Book Cover Image - The Dressmaker Khair Khana

The Beautiful Cover of The DressMaker

Last week I finished The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. The book is a non-fiction account of Kamila Sidiqi during the 5+ years of Afghanistan life under the Taliban.

Life Under the Taliban

The day that Kamila Sidiqi graduated from teaching college was the same day the Taliban entered Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.

Blue veil to cover the entire female form, with the only opening a small mesh for the eyes.

Screen capture of the traditional Afghanistan chadri or burqa.

Immediately the Taliban enforced a super strict version of Islamic law—with rules such as:

  • Women must not work
  • Women must stay home
  • Women must be escorted by a male family member when outside the home
  • Women must be covered with a full chadri in public

Showing too much wrist or laughing in public were taboo also. Rule breakers were beaten on the streets and could be taken to prison.

Women weren’t the only ones targeted. Her eldest brother couldn’t work for fear of being forced into fighting for the Taliban. With his background in the army, Kamila’s father was at risk too. Persecution became so bad that her brother and father fled their home. Missing her husband, Kamila’s mother went to be with him. This left Kamila as the head of the household.

Although Kamila’s family was better off than many, there were still Kamila and her 7 sisters and a younger brother to encourage and feed. To bring in money and give them something to do, Kamila started a sewing business.

Living Dangerously

After learning to sew and teaching her sisters, Kamila risked danger by traveling to a local up-scale bazaar with a sample dress for sale. She dressed as conservatively to avoid notice but then broke the rules by – gasp! – talking to the shop owner. As a result, she received her first order of dresses.

This is the start of her home business that grows into a sewing school, and eventually leads Kamila to work for a United Nations agency.

Inspiration, Ready Begin!

I enjoyed the The Dressmaker of Khair Khana immensely. The book reaches the same excitement as a spy thriller. My eyes were glued to the page. As someone who is starting a business myself, I loved hearing how Kamila made her new family business work. Her keys to success read like “Rules of Life-101”: Kamila was dedicated to delivering the best quality, on time; She partnered with people she trusted; She worked hard; When questioned by the Taliban, she treated the enemy like a brother, differentially and without showing fear. The true lesson though was that Kamila dared! She was optimistic. She expected the best and was head strong enough to make it happen. She was devout and wanted to help others.

Reading this book enabled me to see another country. The writing is so clear, it’s like watching a movie, with the camera zooming in on important details and explaining the cultural differences so I could understand the significance of what was happening.

The author, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, is also inspiring. She is a Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. To get this story, she traveled to Afghanistan many times. As a foreigner, she was a potential target of terrorist attacks and kidnapping. To protect herself, she learned to speak Dari and dressed more conservatively than the locals. She spent years interviewing everyone she could. Ms. Lemmon’s hard work also shows!

Read this book!



This IS my Grandmother’s sewing–Part 2

An antique paper measuring tape from Sears.

A paper measuring tape from Sears.

I had so much fun with the first post about my Grandmother’s sewing kit, I thought I’d share more photos.

Taking Measure

The back of the measuring tape above reads:

“It is easy to order clothing from us by mail.
The services of a tailor are not required in taking your measurements.
Any member of your family, or a friend, can take your measurements correctly
by following the simple instructions printed in our catalog.
Compare our prices with prices others ask for clothing of equally high quality.
Remember, we guarantee to send you perfect fitting clothing or return you money.
Sears, Roebuck and Co.”

 This is serious business! I can almost hear the dignified and authoritative MALE announcer reading the copy over the radio.

Contrast & Compare

Advertising was and is everywhere. These artifacts of the 1950s through the 1970’s appealed to the sewer’s rational side. Much different from the emotion-driven ads of today!

The copy was so loooong! Now it would be one phrase repeated over and over.

The biggest difference is customer service! Made to order, custom clothing by mail for the average Josephine is amazing! If you know of a store that offers this TODAY, I’d like to know about it!

More Pictures for Your Viewing Pleasure

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When Shall We Meet Again?

My next post will be a review of  The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. Look for it on Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at noon.

See you soon!

The effect of filtered light


Komoda's simple and striking bathroom.

Here’s a photo I took recently at Komoda, a shop on Chicago Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. The shop is amazing− full of beautiful and creative jewerly, books and gifts.

You can find out more about Komoda at: http://shopkomoda.com/

But had to use the “facilities”.  As I opened the bathroom door, I was immediately struck with the intense blue-green of the walls. A black and white Chinese-style parasol hung over the light. The effect was magical!

It’s easy to forget about how amazing our lives are. Recording these small beautiful events is my purpose for creating this blog. I’ll also be sharing how-to’s about crafts, green and thrifty living and other various thoughts!

I’d love for YOU to share your inspirational or magical moments of the last 24 hours.