Salwar kameez suits are shirt and trousers sets worn predominantly in South Asia. The suits are each custom designed for comfort, mobility and fashion using fabrics dyed to match. The suit fabrics are typically sold in sets with one piece for the trousers, one for the shirt and one for the scarf, known as a dupatta. In Western countries where the fabrics are not available for purchase as a set, you can match individual fabric pieces at any fabric store to get the same effect.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Sewing machine
- Measuring tape
- Matching thread
- Straight pins
- 3 prematched suit pieces
Take a complete set of measurements for the wearer of the salwar kameez. Depending on the specific design of the suit, there will be nine to 13 measurements to take.
Mark the fabric using the measurements you have taken. For example, place a mark on the fabric at each side of the bust measurement. The design on the kameez piece of fabric will determine the placement of the marks. Complete marking all measurements on each piece of the fabric.
Connect the measurements allowing for the flow of the garment. The flow is also determined by the desired design but will typically allow the kameez top to drape outwards in a semi-triangular shape. The trousers will be loose, allowing for pleating, and the sleeves will resemble an ice cream cone with no point on the bottom.
Draw a second line around the shape of each piece of the garment. This will serve as a cutting and seam allowance and provide space to serge the garment seams once completed. As a general standard, 1/4 inch is allowed each for seams and serging, and approximately 1/8 inch is allowed for cutting, but you can allow more if desired.
Stitch the kameez pieces together at the shoulder with the front sides of the fabric facing each other. Then stitch down the sides to the point where the split starts. Pin the sides together before stitching to ensure the pieces do not shift.
Stitch the sleeves together, front sides facing in. Hem the bottom of the sleeve by folding up 1/8 inch of fabric or more to obtain the desired length. Turn the sleeve right side out.
Place the right side of the sleeve against the right side of the fabric, lining up the seam on the sleeve with the side seam of the kameez. Pin the pieces together all the way around the opening of the arm. Repeat for the left sleeve.
Stitch design elements including neck pieces, back embellishments and sleeve embellishments, and prepare them to be placed on the kameez. Attach the elements using pins and fold over the edges of the garment. Stitch in place on the garment, facing right sides together where applicable and allowing for seams along the raw edges of the garment pieces. For example, attaching a decorative piece to the neckline would involve first pinning the piece, then tucking in and folding over remaining raw edges to finish.
Stitch the inseam of each leg piece, right sides facing together. Tack four 2-inch-wide pleats on the inside of each leg. Alternatively, gather the inner two-thirds of each leg if you do not prefer pleats. Turn one leg right side out and insert it inside of the other leg so that the right sides of each leg will be facing together. Stitch along the crotch line. Turn the entire piece right side out.
Sew the two ends of the waistband together, right sides facing.
Pin the waistband to the pant legs, right sides touching. Sew the two pieces together. Cut a slit in the front centre of the waistband and hem the edges. This will be the opening for the drawstring. Fold the top edge of the waistband over allowing for a 1-inch open space for the drawstring and 1/4 inch for the seam allowance. Tuck the edges of the hemmed opening in so that a triangular shaped opening is left once the garment is sewn together. Stitch around the top of the waistband to seal all the edges.
Hem the edges of the garments including the bottoms of the legs, the bottom of the kameez and the splits in the side of the kameez. These edges can be hemmed by hand, which is the standard in India, or using a machine.
Interlock all inner seams for extra durability and strength of the garment. This step will eliminate frayed fabric along seam lines. Interlock around the edges of the dupatta, rolling ends slightly for thin and translucent fabrics.
Tips and warnings
- For an authentic look when purchasing and matching your own fabrics, choose fabrics from the same brand and colour lines so that all pieces will blend as if they were purchased as a set.
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