Ramadan Decorating Phase 3

And then there was light…

…and now we are ready! Lights, Camera, Action! Ramadan Mubarak!

Ramadan Lights from the U.S. (Ranoon.Com)

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Ramadan Decorating Phase 2

What kind of Ramadan decorating would I be doing without lanterns? Lanterns are central to the Ramadan spirit and they were present in almost every room of our house this year…with the addition of a bonus celestial space in our kitchen (not pictured, couldn’t get a good enough picture of it!)…I also made a suncatcher-type 2-d lantern for Noora’s window, based on this post from The Muslim Learning Garden.

I used the book, Ramadan Crafts for Kids by Dana Jadallah and Dana Amer (Aardvark Global Publishing Company, LLC, 2007) for instructions on how to make the 3-d lanterns. There’s a lot of great ideas in there, and I ended up making 9 lanterns which took the whole week. Believe me, I wanted to make more. I have like 10 more templates left that I didn’t finish out of sheer and utter exhaustion! As for how I decorated the lanterns, well–scrapbook paper, transparency sheets, cellophane paper, and sheet metal of course!…with my favorite touch of invisible beading thread…They are made very much like The Muslim Learning Garden’s suncatcher-esque lantern except for the whole 3-d thing. As for the patterns, that’s me tracing the Arabic Patterns Stained Glass Coloring Book (Dover Publications, 2006) and The Art of the Muslim World Colouring Book 2 (Ta-Ha Publishers, 1983).

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Ramadan Banner Tutorial

So, a couple of you out there have asked me to blog this tutorial on my Ramadan decorations. I’m so flattered. This post is for you. But first, I must give due respect. I was inspired by the eye-candy-licious BarakahLife Ramadan Joy Creative Companion Blog and chamomiles&smiles 🙂 blog post on Ramadan decorations in making this banner. I just added my own touch on the concept that the sisters presented there.

Materials:

  • Scrapbook paper*
  • X-acto knife or Utility knife
  • Invisible Beading String/Thread
  • 4 in. letter stencils
  • Bookbinding awl or paperclip
  • Pencil

*I used Die Cuts With a View (DCWV)’s Royal Garden with Foil and Taj Mahal Scrapbook paper which has some very ornate and Islamic-looking, Silk Road-esque prints. I also used DCWV’s Glitter Cardstock Stack. But feel free to use whatever works for you and your space. Those were the colors and designs that spoke to me and our space! If you don’t want to have to worry about cutting big ‘ole scrapbook paper down, get the matstacks of the collection. They are postcard size and perfect for 4-5 inch stencils.

1. Trace the letters for “Ramadan Mubarak” or another greeting on your precut 4.5″ x 6.5″ cardstock paper with pencil.

2. Carefully cut out the letters using your X-Acto knife or Utility knife. (I found that using a utility knife required less force–and upper arm strength–on my part and went much quicker : :). Punch out the positive space (the actual letter)–the banner is made using the negative space (yes, I’m pulling out the art teacher terms!)

3. Use the bookbinding awl or an unwound paper clip to poke two holes on the top of your letter on either side.

4. If you haven’t already, arrange your letters in the proper order.

5. String the invisible beading thread through the holes of all the letters. I prefer to string from front to back through the left hole and from back to front through the right hole so that the string is not visible over the letters. I hope this makes sense. You want the thread running behind the letters, not in front of them. Also, make sure your string is long enough for where you want to hang your banner…if you want your banner to drop some in the middle (rather than hang straight across), like mine does, leave extra string on the sides and put the letters closer together towards the middle.

6. What are you waiting for, already? Hang it up!

Nursing Slip!

I finished my nursing slip today…AND I even put tucks in it (pattern was too big under the arm). In general, the pattern was a bit challenging. It required gathering and a whole bunch of fantastic work that I wasn’t prepared for. It’s a historical nightgown pattern that we made into a nursing slip for me to use under a beautiful semi-transparent dress that a dear friend sent to me. But I’m so happy that I had the help of my mom which made it even easier! I think there were several breakdowns on my part at trying to understand the pattern…next time (God-willing) I’m totally going for the patterns that say easy! Pictures of the finished product are soon to come–I’m just trying to figure out how I’ll show you. The slip itself is semi-transparent! (I think I’ll just leave it on the hanger and take a picture that way…:) )

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My Baby Lock stitching some yellow batiste

The finished slip

Ramadan Decorating Phase 1

Me, scrapbook paper, and my handy dandy X-acto knife. See you on the other side of my extreme home makeover: Ramadan edition.

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I sewed once upon a time…and I’m about to sew once again

I have sewed a pillow, a backpack, half of pants, and a duster in my 26 years of life. The first three items were sewn when I was an overgrown teenager in a kid’s sewing class at G Street Fabrics. The duster was made during my college years at my best friend’s house who is a whiz on the machine. Now I’ve just received a beautiful dress from UAE and I decided that I’m going to hem it and make a slip for it…and make Noora a sundress too. But the sundress may have to wait til next year…Right now, my focus is finishing this slip and the hem of this dress before Ramadan comes in, so I can wear it for iftar (the breaking fast meal).

It’s gonna be a weekend extravaganza–stay tuned for my progress!

Holiday Decorating Frenzy

Perfuming and airing out the prayer rugs…

I started working on a blanket for Noora’s Eid gift, but then I saw the most beautiful post on a centerpiece for Eid…and decided that the house must be decorated ASAP in time for Ramadan. It shouldn’t be too much of a challenge with only a week left, right? After all, I was charged with decorating an entire school only a little over 2 years ago…

You know, I was bound to decorate the house. After spending last Ramadan in Palestine accompanied by the most beautiful lanterns and lights, some of which I brought back, you know I had to try to recapture the feeling. I’ve also always itched to decorate for Ramadan. Coming from a Christian family tradition where we always decorated the house, it is important to me for holidays to be festive. Christmas time is still very nostalgic for me precisely because of those reasons. And being in the alleys of Jerusalem that were decorated like the Christian holidays I celebrated in years past brought me back home.

Of course, the focus of Ramadan should not be on decoration, but sometimes that’s how we get in the spirit. Lights, carols, good clean home-y movies…don’t you notice how everyone is pretty cheerful around Christmas time here? I mean, I’m singing “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” and can’t help but to partake in the gingerbread…But if I’m honest with myself, Ramadan in the past couple of years has been pretty boring. I’ve wished so much that the Muslims here in the U.S. would do something big for our holiday. Even putting one something that lights up on their doors just so that neighbors know that we celebrate something–something wonderful. But the streets are dark. And in exchange, I see Muslim children practically begging their parents to celebrate Halloween and Christmas sometimes because of the festive atmosphere that those days bring…when they should be begging their parents to just actually celebrate Ramadan.

The dining room…ready for iftars…with a handmade lantern-chandelier!

I know that we Muslims in America are in the process of creating our own unique Ramadan traditions. I just wish we’d hurry up, before we lose our children to other (less-noteworthy) traditions in our culture.They are visual, and they do like lights and festive atmospheres. Who doesn’t? Just look at children’s toys…they are bright and decorative for a reason…

And if anyone wants to take up the position that decorating for Ramadan is imitating other traditions, well there is a hadith you should read:
Abdullah ibn Umar (ra) narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (saws) said, Indeed, Heaven is decorated for Ramadan-ul-Mubarak from the beginning of the year to the end. (Shu’abul Imaan, V::3 P::312 Hadith::3633)
If heaven is decorated, shouldn’t the earth be decorated, too? And more importantly, shouldn’t our hearts? Actions are by intentions…we will be the losers if we deny our children the right to celebrate Ramadan by not making the effort to make the occasion special for them. If we don’t do it, who will? Certainly, people of other faiths won’t be decorating for Ramadan. We must ask ourselves how we can make Ramadan special for those little ones who do not fast or pray like we do. And don’t think I have it easy just because I’m an art teacher. Anyone can grab scrapbook paper and scissors and make something out of it…which reminds me of one of my favorite children’s books, which happens to be Jewish folktale by the way…Phoebe Gilman’s Something from Nothing. But alas, I must not digress from the main point. In closing, I’ll share this very touching quote that I found on Yahoo!Answers–a response to someone who asked how one should decorate the home for Ramadan:
“If u want to decorate Ur house, you may decorate it with all good deeds in this holly month, un seen decoration which no body can see it except Allah. Decorate it with good quality of Salah (prayer) good quantity of Zeker (remembrance of Allah) decorate it with lots of recitation of holly Quraan and lots of Nawafils extra prayers like Tahajjud Tarawih Qeyam …”
Subhanallah. In efforts to brighten up this dunya with our joy over this blessed month, we must not forget to decorate our real homes…our hearts. For what good is beautifying the exterior if we do not beautify the interior?!?

The living room…decorated…

Back in Business

With my handy-dandy Creative Comfort Wrist Support Wrap, I’m finally back in business…the business of making Noora a blanket. She has turned into a blanket-hoarder and has fits when she doesn’t have a blanket in her crib or when she’s laying down. Even in this hot 100-degree summer, she’s trying to snuggle up under my Snuggie, so I’m gonna make her a blanket for Eid out of openwork motifs from Jan Eaton’s book, 200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws, and Afghans. And this my first motif from the book…check my ravelry project page for updates until I’m done!

Gothic Square (Motif #94) from Jan Eaton's 200 Crochet Blocks

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