How to sew a salwar kameez

Updated February 21, 2017

A salwar kameez is a traditional Indian garment consisting of a long tunic top and trousers. Sewing your own salwar kameez can allow for a custom fit and a comfortable and flattering garment that can be worn quite casually or much more formally. The kameez is open at the sides from the waist down to allow for freedom of movement, while the trousers or salwar fit quite loosely through the inseam to allow for comfort. More fitted trousers or churidar are also an option to wear with the kameez.

Draft your patterns. Start with a basic bodice pattern or sloper to draft a kameez, allowing plenty of wearing ease. Extend the centre line down marking a perpendicular line at the hip point, approximately one inch wider than the necessary measurement. Continue the line downward to the desired length. Curve the hemline upward gently and join all points. Repeat for the back sloper. Add sleeves as desired. Use your hip and length measurements to create simple, loose salwar trousers. The outer leg seam should be straight, while the inseam should be diagonal. The crotch should sit quite low and a wide band can form a drawstring yoke at the top of the trousers.

Cut your salwar kameez from lightweight fabrics with a nice drape. Be sure to allow for seam allowances. Use the kameez pattern to make facings for the front and back necklines.

Sew the shoulder seams of your kameez. Stitch the facings into place, press and topstitch. Sew sleeves into place flat, then stitch the side seams. Hem the slits along each side and the bottom edge.

Assemble each leg of your salwar trousers. Sew the outer and inner seam of each leg. Place the legs right sides together and sew the crotch seam. Seam the short ends of the waistband together and press the waistband along it's length. Gather or pleat the fabric as desired and sew the waistband into place. Thread a drawstring through the waistband. You may hem the bottom edge of the salwar trousers or apply a quilted facing or drawstring casings as you prefer.

Embellish your salwar kameez with trims, sequins, or applique. You can apply trims along the neckline or hemline of the kameez. You can also purchase uncut salwar kameez panels. These are printed quite elaborately and can make very pretty salwar kameez.

Things You'll Need

  • Lightweight cotton, silk or polyester fabrics
  • Sewing machine
  • Coordinating thread
  • Tape measure
  • Basic bodice pattern or sloper
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.