How to cut & sew a patiala salwar

The Patiala salwar is a distinctive pantsuit from Patiala, a city in northwest India. The Patiala salwar gets its unusual shape from the especially voluminous trousers, which are softly pleated to reduce bulk and give shape to the garment. A tunic and shawl complete the set, just as for the shalwar kameez. However, while the tunic and trousers of a shalwar kameez are sometimes made of matching fabric, the Patiala shalwar features trousers in a solid colour, and a tunic made in a coordinating patterned fabric.

Measure from your shoulder to your desired tunic hemline, and from your shoulder to your hipbone. Also, measure your chest at its fullest point, your ankle at the desired hemline and your natural waist.

Multiply the measurement from the shoulder to tunic hemline by two. Add 4 inches for ease. This is the minimum length of tunic fabric you will need. Similarly, multiply your chest measurement by two to get the minimum width of tunic fabric needed.

Measure from your waistline to where you want your trousers hemline to fall. Add 6 inches.This is the minimum width of trousers fabric. If your waist measurement is 36 inches or less, get 3 yards of fabric for the trousers. If your waist measurement is greater than 36 inches, multiply your waist measurement by 3. Get at least this much fabric and drawstring for your trousers.

Get 2 yards of coordinating fabric for the shawl. Wash, dry and iron your fabric according to manufacturer's directions.

Trim 4 inches from the width of the fabric. Fold the pant's fabric in half lengthwise and width-wise. Place the four folded corners to your left. Fold the trousers in half lengthwise. You will use this as a partial template. Pin the trousers to the fabric. The inseam of the trouser should meet the folds of the fabric. Mark the pant's hemline and half of the ankle width. Trace the trousers at the groin and waistline. Extend the waistline to the end of the fabric. Draw a diagonal line from the end of the waistline to where the hemline and ankle width meet.

Press the pant's pieces. Stitch the legs, wrong side facing out. Start at the hemline, and stitch towards the groin. Stitch the legs together at the groin up to the waist. Hem at the bottom. Mark the trousers at the waistline for the pleats. Mark the trousers at the points where you will fold the fabric to make the pleat, and the points where the folded fabric will be placed. Measure to make sure that the pleats are even. Fold the fabric into the pleats. Pin the pleats in place. Measure around the pleated waistline to make sure that it will fit you with the pleats in place.

Stitch the pleats in place. Slip the waistband over the raw edge of the waistline. Pin the waistband in place and stitch the waistband over the waistline, close to the edge of the waistband. Trim any excess off the edge of the waistband and finish the raw edges.

Start your waistband by folding the 4 inches of fabric that you trimmed off earlier in half width-wise. Press the fold. Open and fold the raw fabric edges to the initial fold line. Fold along the middle again and pin. Press the folds.

Trim the waistband to fit the pleated waistline and cut an opening in the back side of the waistband for the drawstring. Enclose the waistline with the waistband. Pin the waistband in place, and use a straight top stitch to bind the waistline with the waistband. Thread the drawstring through the waistband.

Fold the tunic fabric in half, wrong side out, perpendicular to the selvedge. Fold the fabric in half again, so that the selvedge edges meet.Tuck the collar and sleeves of your shirt into the body of the shirt. Fold the shirt in half lengthwise. Pin the shirt to the fabric. The middle of the garment should be flush with the folds of the fabric, and the top of the shirt should be near the folded corners of the tunic fabric.

Trace the shirt, leaving the hemline untraced. Draw your desired tunic hemline onto the fabric. Mark the fabric where your hipbone will be. Cut the fabric.

Remove the shirt . Pull out the sleeve and pin one sleeve onto the remaining fabric. Trace the sleeve, then move to a new spot on the fabric and trace again. Cut out the sleeve pieces. Iron the tunic torso and sleeve pieces.

Stitch the shoulder seams for the tunic torso. Sew the sleeves to the body and sew up the body from under the arms to the hip bone. Turn up, press and stitch the edges of the sleeves and the edges of the side slits. Hem the tunic at the bottom.

Cut the shawl fabric to the desired length. Finish any raw edges.


If you can't find fabric wide enough for your tunic, get two extra yards of width. When in doubt, get more fabric. This is especially true if your pattern goes in a single direction.


Do not press the pleats in the trousers.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Matching thread
  • Long-sleeved shirt or blouse
  • Trousers
  • Straight pins
  • Scissors or rotary cutter
  • Sewing machine
  • Yardstick or ruled cutting mat
  • Fabric marker or chalk
  • Drawstring
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About the Author

Nakia Jackson has written for online publications since 2006, including columns for Sadie Magazine, Naseeb and Muslim Wake Up!. She has written on religion and beauty, crafts and music. Jackson's expertise stems from personal experience and her years at Berklee College of Music, pursuing a Bachelor of Music.