How to Make Your Own Buddhist Robe

Updated March 23, 2017

The Vinaya Pitaka is a text that provides a framework for living a monastic life. According to the Vinaya, Buddhist monks are supposed to wear a three-part costume: single undergarment, or antaravasaka; double waist cloth, or samghati; and single upper robe, or uttarasamga. The uttarasagma is the primary Buddhist robe; modern monks sometimes substitute the undergarments for laymen equivalents. All three pieces should be made of faded or undyed rags patched together to resemble a rice field. When rags are not available or new cloth has been given as a gift, it must be cut and washed vigorously to distort the fabric and remove any decorative colouring. These strict rules reinforce the use of clothes for warmth and modesty.

Wash material thoroughly to remove dirt and as much dye as possible. Dry in the sun. Iron if necessary.

Cut large rectangles out of the cloth that are at least 12 inches by 6 inches.

Spread out the rectangles in a single layer on a flat surface. Overlap the edges of each piece of fabric to form a single rectangle that is about 9 feet long and 6 feet wide.

Sew a straight seam along the overlapping boundary of each piece to form a single sheet of cloth.

Hem the edges of the sheet for strength. Fold the raw edge over once 1 inch and sew it in place. Use a whipstitch or blanket stitch to secure the raw edge.

Fold the robe over five times in alternating mountain and valley folds, like a fan, accordion-style. The folded robe will be 6 feet long and 2 feet wide.

Fold the robe in half to form a rectangle 3 feet long and 2 feet wide.

Drape the folded robe over your right hand so that the loose end of the material is against the top of your hand, which points to your left.

Pinch this loose end with your left hand and pull to undo two of the five folds. The bulk of the folded robe will remain in your right hand, the material in your left hand will be one layer thick.

Transfer the folded material from your right hand to your left shoulder, keeping the end pinched in your left hand.

Hold your left hand behind your back and transfer the loose end to your right hand.

Pull the material around without dislodging the bundle from your left shoulder. Tuck the end underneath your right underarm. Use a gentle shake to help loosen the folds so that you are able to pull the material around this far.

Remove the material from your underarm with your left hand and pull it across the front of your body to your left shoulder. Lift the bundle on your left shoulder and tuck the end of the material underneath this pile. Use both hands to arrange the material so that it falls smoothly down the front of your body.

Hold a wide sash against your abdomen. Wrap the ends around your back and tie them in the front.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric
  • Bucket
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Iron
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Sash
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About the Author

Sylvia Cini has written informative articles for parents and educators since 2009. Her articles appear on various websites. Cini has worked as a mentor, grief counselor, tutor, recreational leader and school volunteer coordinator. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Clark University of Worcester, Massachusetts.