How to stitch a salwar

Updated April 17, 2017

A salwar is the bottom part of a salwar kameez--a form of baggy trousers worn under a long tunic, most commonly in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. It can also be called a shalwar. This unisex garment incorporates a drawstring of the same cloth on the top to grip the hips. There are many pleats in the front of the salwar but few in the back. A typical salwar is loose on the top and tight on the bottom. Making your own salwar requires precision for all steps.

Take the measurement of the circumference of your hips with the measuring tape. A salwar is never tight, so add an inch as breathing room. Write this down.

Measure the crotch length. You can do this easily if you're wearing trousers. Sit on a chair, and measure the area from the top of the trousers to where they end. Add a few inches for extra comfort.

Determine the length of the inside leg. If you already have a salwar at home, measure the area from the end of the belt to the crotch. If you do not have a salwar already, determine the width of the belt you intend to sew. Put the measuring tape at your waist where you will wear your salwar and let it cover the entire hip area. This is usually 5 to 7 inches but it can vary from person to person. Subtract this from your crotch measurement.

Measure the length of your legs from where you're going to wear the salwar to your feet.

Measure the circumference of your ankles. Add a few inches so you can slip in your foot easily.

Fold the cloth in half lengthwise. Lay it on a flat surface.

Halve the circumference of your hips. Lay the measuring tape according to the new measurement on the top of the fabric to avoid wasting any fabric. Mark the width of your hips. Leave some cloth on both sides of the line. This will make the salwar baggier and easier to sew.

Mark the length of the belt. Add about an extra inch. You'll put the elastic in this extra cloth.

Draw the bottom line of the belt. Cut along this line only.

Fold the rest of the fabric lengthwise. Place the fabric on your workplace with the fold at the top. Align the other folds and keep them towards you. The top of the fabric is going to make the pleats.

Add three centimetres to the width of the belt. From the top folds, mark the new length on the fabric.

Subtract crotch length from the total length of the salwar. Mark this length from the top of the fold.

Halve the circumference of your ankle. From the end length of the salwar mark this width.

Draw a line from the end of the ankle to the end of the first line you marked for pleats.

Put sewing pins on the fabrics marks. Cut the salwar out according to all your markings.

Cut along the folds at the top of the salwar to separate it into two pieces.

Open the salwar so there are two separate pieces. Bring together the two open sides of the bottom area of the bands that are supposed to make the pleats. Stitch this together.

Cut two pieces of buckram according to the circumference of your ankle. Place them on the bottom of the salwar and fold the cloth over them. Sew them into place horizontally.

Sew the open ends of the belt together neatly. Turn the belt inside out.

Open the bottom part of the salwar and lay it on a large flat surface. Hold the two flaps and bring them to the front and start making pleats from both sides. Put sewing pins in the fabric to secure each pleat.

Sew along the sewing pins until all the pleats are secured.

Turn the fabric inside out. Sew the open ends of both legs and the crotch together.

Place the bottom of the salwar into the belt and sew it into place.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric, 2 1/2 yards by 1 1/4 yards
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Fabric marker
  • Scissors
  • Sewing pins
  • Measuring tape
  • Buckram
  • Elastic band
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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.