How to Make a Salwar Kurta

Design and sew your own salwar kurta, most commonly known as a Punjabi suit or salwar kameez. Each salwar kurta is a one of a kind, designer original. Fabrics are purchased in matched sets of three pieces, one for the trousers or salwar, one for the kurta or long shirt and one for the dupatta or scarf. The fabric is usually dyed ahead of time so all three pieces are perfectly matched, or if ready selected pieces are not available, individual pieces can be matched from any fabric store collection.

Choose a design for your salwar and kurta. Use a tape measure to measure your arms, legs, waist, hips and bust size. Depending on the designs you select for the salwar and kurta you, will need between nine and 13 separate measurements.

Place the fabric on a level surface and smooth out any wrinkles. Mark the fabric with the measurements you have taken. Take care to centre any designs pre-made into the fabric when laying out the measurements. If a neckpiece is already incorporated into the suit, use the centre of the neckline as the centre of the fabric and mark the measurements at equal distances from the centre on each side for proper fit.

Mark the fabric for the salwar to make a straight piece that is as long as your waist is around and approximately 4 inches wide. This will be used to make the waist piece. Mark each leg separately, unless the fabric is folded in half, using the widest part of the hips, length of the leg and ankle measurements. Allow extra fabric if you intend to gather or pleat the salwar, or if you intend to wear bunched leggings as per your selected design.

Connect the lines in flowing consistency to resemble what the finished salwar and kurta pieces will look like. The kurta should somewhat resemble a triangle and the salwar should look like half a large pair of trousers.

Calculate the seam allowance, cutting allowance and serging allowance that the pattern calls for. Typically, the seam and allowance are 1/4 inch each and the cutting allowance is 1/8 inch. Draw another line around the outsides of the original marks that is equal to the calculation.

Cut the pieces out and pin them together, right sides facing inward. For the kurta, pin at the shoulders first, then down the sides of the garment. For the salwar, pin the leg piece sides together individually to make each leg first. Pin the waist band together at the ends and fold the sleeves in half and pin along the underarm seam. Right sides should always be facing inward.

Sew along the shoulder seams of the kurta, and then down each side seam. Stop sewing at the point where the side split should begin. Backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam for durability.

Sew the sleeve pieces together along the underarm seam. Turn the sleeve right side out. Insert the sleeve inside of the arm opening on the kurta and pin together with the underarm seams and side seam on the kurta lined up. Stitch the sleeve to the kurta.

Sew the waist band along the open side. Once completed, it will be a wide circle.

Gather or pleat the leg portions of the salwar as per the design specifications. Turn one leg right side out and place inside the other leg. The pieces will then be right sides facing inward and are ready to sew along the crotch seam. Stitch the seam and turn the leg pieces wrong side out.

Pin the legs to the waist band piece, right sides facing inward. Stitch the two pieces together.

Hem all pieces of the garment including the sleeves, side splits and bottom edge of the kurta, neckline and the waistband of the salwar. If using a drawstring in the salwar, use a wider seam and leave an opening in the front side of the trousers to insert the string. Hem the open edges of the opening.

Serge the ends of all the fabric allowances left on the inside of the garment. This strengthens the garment and provides extra durability, as well as keeping the fabric from fraying. Serge the edges of the dupatta, using a decorative serger stitch or rolling the ends to avoid fraying.

Things You'll Need

  • Sewing machine
  • Serging machine
  • Measuring tape
  • Straight pins
  • 3 prematched suit pieces
  • Coordinated thread to match suit pieces
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About the Author

Based in southern Virginia, Kristy Robinson has been writing for various websites since 2008. Her work focuses on tutorials and self-help articles. Robinson holds a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice from American InterContinental University.