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About Salwar-Kameez

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Salwar-Kameez Salwar are loose fitting pants.  They are often sewn with a gusset between the legs to allow for a full range of motion.

Kameez are knee length or longer shirt-dresses.  They are usually either bodiced or cut for the feminine shape, and have splits at the sides up to the hips.

Salwar-kameez are a popular and classic style throughout south Asia and the middle east.  They are especially popular in India and Pakistan.  However, among Muslims, they are often worn under an abaya or some other overgarment.

A salwar-kameez set usually comes with a dupatta, which is a long scarf that can be draped over the arms or shoulders as a shawl, or worn as a head scarf for hijab.

Click here for MTC's info page on Indian clothing.  Click here for our page on Sri Lankan clothing.  Click here for information on how to wear Islamic head scarves.

How to Sew Salwar Kameez

To sew a fairly authentic salwar kameez, it should be made to fit a specific person's measurements.  One can use a pattern, but I've been told by some experts that best is to know what one is doing, and work to the shape of the individual.  So try it first with a pattern, and once you get used to this, start making attempts at more personal work.

Nowadays, you can usually find sewing patterns for salwar kameez and kurta in your local fabric store.  Alternatively, you can adjust almost any bodiced dress to be a kameez, by leaving the side seams open, and creating a facing for them, or hemming them well.

I understand that this, like most articles on the subject, is not extremely informative.  This is because you either know how to sew or you don't.  There's no big secret on how to sew salwar kameez in particular.  It just takes an eye for the style, and the knowledge of tailoring to make a fitted garment.  To sew salwar kameez well, you just have to be a good tailor.

Now, taking that into account, there are things you can do to make your efforts more successful.  First of all, remember that the idea is to craft a garment that someone will be able to move in, without too much straining on the fabric.  You want to make sure that you have allowed enough room under the arms, around the chest, and at the waist that it isn't sagging off their body too much, but isn't rolling up or looking too tight as soon as they sit down. In areas where there is bound to be some straining no matter what you do, after sewing the seams, go back across them using a zig-zag stitch.  This will provide reinforcement.

Another important trick of the trade is to cut the garment allowing for an extra 2 centimeters in the bust-to-waist bodice seams, and at the sides and the arms.  This way, you can do some temporary stitching, put the garment on the person, and then pin and mark where things really need to be in order to allow for movement.

It's important to sew the garment so that it falls well over the body, but you should be as generous as possible with fabric, so that it moves with the person wearing it.  Here's an example of a cutting plan that allows for the maximum fabric.

Note that unlike the average western pant, the outer sides are straight, while the inseam is the diagonal part.  The priority for roominess is given to the movement of the legs rather than the size of the hips.  The fact that there is enough space for the hips will create the sort of "bloomer" look between the legs, rather than floppiness outside.  This is what makes salwar special.

I hope that this was helpful, even though it isn't an actual "free pattern".  The question of how to sew a salwar kameez is a bit general to answer.  If however, you have a specific question, feel free to ask.  Those I can definitely handle, and if you explore the FAQ topics, you might find what you're looking for.

On this page at wikiHow, someone gives illustrated instructions and a video on how to sew a Churidar style salwar-kameez.

An Easy Way to Sew a Kameez

In this video, a very sweet YouTube poster shows how to copy the pattern of an existing kameez to make a new one.  If you are slim or prefer a modest cut with no bodice stitching, this is a good way to make a kameez.

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