How to Make a Ladies Indian Suit

Updated April 17, 2017

Indian suits are worn primarily in India and Pakistan. It is called a shalwar kameez in local dialect. It consists of three parts. The shalwar is the bottom part, that looks like baggy trousers. The kameez is the top part, a long tunic that reaches the knees. The dupatta is a rectangular piece of cloth used to cover the chest and hair of the women in conservative communities. An Indian suit is made out of various fabrics and often fabrics are combined to make a stylish suit. Wealthy women who wear shalwar kameez make their clothes even more stylish by embroidering designs on them and adding sequins and gemstones.

Measure the following body parts with a measuring tape: chest, breast, waist, hips, upper arm circumference, elbow circumference, wrist circumference, length of shoulders, diameter of neck in the back and front, length of sleeves, length of shirt (from the shoulders to the knees), and the length of your legs. Write down your measurements.

Cut off 2 and 1/2 yards of the cloth lengthwise. Fold it in half and lay it on a clean flat workplace.

Draw a silhouette of the shirt. Mark the measurements with the fabric marker starting with the broadness of your shoulders. Slowly descend and mark the width of the bust, waist, hips, length, and hem. Be sure to be precise about your markings for a good fit. Do not mark the sleeves, but save some cloth to make them later.

Mark the arm holes from the measurements you've taken before. It should look like a sleeveless long tunic pattern on the cloth.

Lay both layers of the cloth on one another.

Pin both sides of the cloth together with sewing pins. Make sure the pins are at a distance of one inch from the markings.

Cut out the cloth, carefully following the markings. Set it aside.

Lay out the leftover fabric from the shirt on a flat surface. Fold it so it can make two sleeves. Mark the width of the sleeves. To give your sleeves shape, mark the fabric according to the diameter of your arm, elbow, and wrist at different places on the arm.

Put sewing pins into the cloth at one inch from the marks. Make sure the length is an inch longer than you want it to look finished. Cut them out.

Sew the cloth of the shirt according to the markings you have made. It's better to use a sewing machine, but you can also use a needle and thread.

Sew the sleeves according to the markings you made. Make sure you don't sew the arm and hand holes shut.

Slide the arm hole of the sleeves into the hole in the shirt. Sew it's edge into the fabric of the hole.

Interlock all of the stitching by using a sewing machine. This is necessary and done to keep any threads from unravelling.

Lay the other 2 and 1/2 yards of fabric onto a flat surface.

Mark the area for a belt. It's length should be a few inches looser than the size of your hips and waist. The width should be about 5 inches, but adjust it according to your size. This is the top of the shalwar.

Using sewing pins, cut out the cloth you have marked and sew it into a cylindrical tube.

Lay the elastic onto the top of the belt. Hold one end down by putting sewing pins in it. Pull the other end tightly and begin to sew it into the top of the belt.

Fold down the elastic you have just sewn into the cloth. Sew the fold into the cloth so the elastic is hidden.

Lay the leftover fabric on your workplace. Fold it width wise and then lengthwise. Measure the length you want, but be sure to subtract the length of the belt. Draw a line on the left side of the fabric.

Measure the diameter of your ankles. Mark the bottom of the shalwar a few inches looser than the measurement.

Make a line from the right side of the top of the belt towards the right side. It should be sharp and around the length of your buttocks.

Join the line of the ankle with the like you have just made. Make sure it's a completely straight line.

Cut along the markings you have made. You'll have two legs now.

Sew together the layers of cloth for both of the legs.

Sew together the legs at the butt line.

Place the legs into the belt. Sew them into the belt. While sewing the front side, make equal pleats for each leg.

Hem the bottom of the shalwar and interlock every stitch.


Add sequins, embroidery or gemstones onto your kameez to make it glamorous. Use printed fabric, and mix and match fabrics for a more stylish look. To make your shirt more fitted add pleats in the front or back around the rib area.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • 5-by-1.4 yards fabric of your choice (more or less according to your body type)
  • Fabric marker
  • Scissors
  • Sewing pins
  • Sewing Machine
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About the Author

Sasha Melba is a California native who has been writing since 2002. Melba writes for magazines, newspapers and websites on various topics including fashion, makeup and cooking. She also has worked for Golden West Books as a copy editor and at "The Irvine Herald" as a writer.