How to Make a Choli Pattern

Written by elle di jensen
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How to Make a Choli Pattern
Cholis are worn by belly dancers as part of their costumes. (Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

A choli is an article of clothing traditionally worn by women from India, Nepal and Pakistan. It is similar to a blouse, but is cropped short, exposing the midriff. It is attractive and fashionable to simply wear with slacks or a full, voluminous skirt, but cholis are also worn by belly dancers as part of their costumes. Patterns for cholis can be purchased at fabric stores and online. It is a simple enough pattern, though, and if you have a blouse pattern with short or long sleeves, you can easily modify it to make a choli pattern.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Blouse pattern, short or long-sleeved
  • Tissue paper
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure

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  1. 1

    Measure your front torso from your shoulder down to your midriff using the tape measure. Measure down as low or as high as you want the choli to be. Make note of the measurement.

  2. 2

    Remove the pattern from the package and locate the sleeve, front panel and back pieces.

  3. 3

    Lay the sleeve piece over the tissue paper and trace around it with the pencil. Cut out the new sleeve pattern piece along the traced pencil marks.

  4. 4

    Lay the front panel piece over the tissue paper and measure from the point of the shoulder seam down to your torso measurement. Make a mark on the pattern piece so that the new piece you create can be shortened accordingly.

  5. 5

    Fold the original front panel pattern piece up along the mark you made to shorten it. It will need to be shortened the same amount along the entire bottom edge, so you should use the measuring tape every few inches along the bottom to assure that it will look right and be uniform all along the edge when you finish sewing your choli.

  6. 6

    Trace around the modified front panel pattern piece with the pencil. Cut out the new front panel pattern piece along the traced pencil marks.

  7. 7

    Lay the new front panel piece over the back panel piece from the existing pattern, lining up the shoulder seams. This will give you a guideline to correctly shorten the back panel. Fold the back panel pattern piece up so it is shortened the same amount as the front.

  8. 8

    Lay the back pattern piece over the tissue paper, being careful to maintain the fold along the bottom. Trace around it with the pencil and then cut the new back panel pattern piece along the traced pencil marks.

Tips and warnings

  • Cholis can button up the front, tie in the front or tie in the back. Use your imagination and creativity to make several different versions once you have created a pattern you like.
  • Cholis can be made from just about any material, from cotton to stretchable fabric, like Lycra. You can also sew embellishments on as decorations, like beads or faux coins.
  • If you don't have a blouse pattern that you can use as a template, you can draft the basic pieces of the sleeve, front panel, side panel and back panel on tissue paper to create your own pattern. This requires a bit more than basic sewing skill, though, and you'll need to place the tissue paper over graph paper to assure that the angles you draw are straight and even on both sides of the pieces.

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