How to sew a burqa

Updated March 24, 2017

A burka is a loose, head-to-toe garment worn by women because of their culture or faith. It ensures modesty and prevents them from being seen by men who are not family members. The burka is particularly popular in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, but also is worn in North Africa and the Middle East. The burka, which is worn over ordinary clothes, is generally made from black or light blue fabric. There are two standard sizes for a burka. The smaller size is 28 inches wide by 69 inches long; the larger size is 28 inches wide by 78 inches long.

Pick your material. If it is summer, choose light blue cotton for a cooler garment. If the winter winds are blowing, go for black wool. Some women, however, prefer polyester because it lasts longer than natural fabrics.

Design or download a burka pattern from the Internet. Another choice is to use a burka you already have as a pattern; with this option you know it fits.

Pin your pattern carefully to the fabric. Every three or four inches, pin again so that you don't go too long without a reinforcement; otherwise, your seam may gap.

Cut your fabric carefully. Be sure to leave a half-inch seam allowance.

Sew the front and back of the burka together. Leave the materials turned inside out and stitch in the sleeves. Be sure the sleeves are long enough to cover the tips of the fingers.

Use an existing burka to measure the distance from the seam on the top of the head to the space for the eyes. For some patterns the material is doubled over and pinned across the lower face; in others, it is attached.

Mark the eye slit area with dressmaker chalk. suggests that after you cut the eye slits, make a ruffled top by sewing a seam and forming a sleeve. Then use an ice cream stick in the middle seam of the ruffle to hold the burka straight.

Snip tiny holes across the eye area if you don't want to have a full opening for the eyes. Pull back the fabric and hand-stitch the material for an embroidered look.

Hand stitch the hem of the burka and make it a rounded edge. Turn your burka inside out and press.

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About the Author

Jody Hanson began writing professionally in 1992 to help finance her second around-the-world trip. In addition to her academic books, she has written for "International Living," the "Sydney Courier" and the "Australian Woman's Forum." Hanson holds a Ph.D. in adult education from Greenwich University.