How to make an Arabian Nights costume

One of the nice things about making an Arabian Nights costume is the immense variation. From harem pants and a crop top to a pyjama style suit for men or, for the more ambitious, a jewel-encrusted outfit in billowing material. There is a choice to suit every pocket and skill level. Before you start look at relevant images and decide on the overall style you want. Then think about the time and effort you want to put in and choose an option to suit.


Choose a light material for the harem trousers. Buy a dressmaking pattern and cut out the fabric using the pattern template and sew as directed. If using a pattern, then the crop top will often need lining but instructions are usually easy to follow. As harem pants are baggy and gathered at the ankle they use quite a lot of material, so bear this in mind when making your choice. An alternative for women is a long skirt with a split up one side. Gather material into a waistband, or tie at the hip.

Decorate the top with sequins or jewels. The top can be a bra or vest style top but make sure the midriff is bare. If you do not want to show a lot of skin then go for a longer cropped top look. As long as it is decorative and shows a bit of skin it will look authentic. Add sequins around the waistband or on the hem of a skirt depending on how extravagant you want the outfit to look.

Assemble the outfit from clothes you already have as an alternative method. Choose harem pants or use cropped leggings and tie a decorated scarf around the hips. Use an old vest top and cut it to create a crop top, add some sequins and jewellery and a long sheer wrap. Drape over the shoulder or use as a head dress. For people not comfortable showing much skin, drape over the shoulders to draw attention away from the bare midriff area.

Choose head decoration to complete the look, such as a decorated veil or jewelled slides or combs. Use a necklace around the forehead and a selection of bracelets for a sense of opulence.


Decide on trouser style. Harem trousers can work but straight pyjama trousers or linen trouses can also work well. Sew these from scratch following a pattern -- use some silky, colourful material. Choose the pattern, select material and then follow the steps on the pattern.

Choose or make a waistcoat. For an authentic look wear the waistcoat without a top underneath. If using an existing waistcoat, select a patterned or colourful garment. Other options for tops include a tunic style top or a vest top. Add a wide band of material around the waist to complete the outfit.

Select a form of head dress. This really does add to the look and there is plenty of choice. Try a fez or wrap material around the head for a turban effect. Alternatively, try fabric draped over the head with a cord or headband to hold it in place.

Things You'll Need

  • Material
  • Sewing equipment
  • Decorative trim, sequins or jewelled ribbon
  • Harem pants and vest top
  • Pyjama style trousers with tunic or waistcoat
  • Decorative trim
  • Light scarf, head dress or hat
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Sheila Mulvenney has a career in health and education and has contributed to local and national publications, A qualified nurse, health visitor and teacher with an honors degree from the Open University, she has most recently qualified as an energy meridian therapist. Mulvenney enjoys hosting and teaching English language students from all over the world.