How to Cut & Sew a Salwar Kameez - Punjabi Tunic Suit
The Salwar Kameez or Punjabi Suit can be made of cotton or silk.
The Punjabi Suit, also known as the “salwar kameez,” is popular especially in the north of India and is
showing up more and more in Western couture. Usually made of cotton or silk, it is a comfortable alternative
to the more formal sari or an attractive substitute for uninspired business casual. The suit consists of
“salwars,” pants with elastic or drawstring waistband, and the “kameez,” a hip or knee-length tunic. The
salwars can have baggy legs, slim and straight legs or legs that are loose in the thigh to knee area tapering to
the ankle. The kameez can be hip, thigh or knee length and can have sleeves of any length. It is open at the
sides from the waist to the hem to facilitate movement. Both pieces can be simple and tailored, or dressed up
with embroidered trim and soft, flowing lines.
Things You'll Need
· Heavy tissue paper
· Cotton or silk fabric
· Thread to match
· Pinking shears
· Colored chalk
· Straight pins
· Decorative embroidered tape
· Fabric can be forty-five, fifty-four or sixty inches wide. The sixty inch width is often the most
· Wash and dry the fabric before cutting and sewing to ensure that it is preshrunk.
· If the fabric has a decorative print with a definite top and bottom, add extra inches to your
measurement to accommodate the pattern of the print.
· If you plan to make more of the garments later, make the paper patterns from sturdy paper, such as
large exam table tissue paper available at medical supply outlets.
· Commercial sewing patterns for workout pants or scrubs can be used for the salwar pants and patterns
for tunics or scrub tops can be used for the kameez top.
· Cut and sew a mock-up of your garment out of inexpensive light-colored plain fabric before cutting
into more expensive material. Baste the mock-up using a contrasting color of thread and a long stitch
that can be removed easily. Try it on and mark the necessary adjustments with chalk. Create a new
pattern with the adjustments, if necessary.
Make the salwars pants
· Measure the waist and stomach while sitting and relaxed, and the hips and thighs at their largest
· Measure the rise which is the total depth from the seat of a chair to the waist while sitting.
· Measure the crotch length from the front of the waist through the crotch to the back of the waist. Many
women find that the front crotch section is shorter than the back, but individual bodies differ.
· Measure the inseam from the ankle to the crotch, and the outseam from the waist to the ankle along the
outside of the leg.
Draw a pattern for each piece on a large sheet of paper or a newspaper.
· Draw a horizontal line that is as long as half of the total waist or hip measurement, whichever is larger,
plus four inches for seam allowances which are usually 5/8 of an inch for each seam. If the front
crotch measurement is different than the back crotch, slant your waistband line down slightly for either
front or back, whichever is shorter.
· Draw a vertical line from the midpoint of the waistband line to the ankle as long as your outseam
measurement plus 2 inches.
· Draw another horizontal line at the bottom of the leg line.
· Mark the crotch seam by measuring down the center from the bottom waistband line the length of the
rise measurement plus one inch.
· Draw the bottom of the crotch seam by drawing a straight line down the pattern perpendicular to the
horizontal line as long as the widest part of the thigh plus three inches.
· Draw a curve from the outside of the thigh measurement line to the waistband line at the top of the
drawstring casing. The crotch curve should be slightly fuller at the front or back, depending on which
measurement is longer.
· Draw the vertical inseam lines from the ends of the crotch seams to the line at the bottom of each leg.
· Taper the legs as desired from the crotch to the ankle, taking care to leave room in the thigh and knee
area for freedom of movement.
Determine how much fabric is needed:
· Measure from the waist to the floor and adding eight extra inches for the drawstring casing at the waist
and the hems at the bottom. If the pants will have an elastic waist, add two extra inches.
· Select fabric that is at least twice as wide as the largest torso (waist or hip) measurement plus at least
four extra inches from selvage to selvage (the finished edges of the fabric.)
· Buy enough fabric to accommodate the total distance from the waist to the ankle (either front or back,
whichever is longer) plus an extra eight inches.
Lay out the pattern on the fabric:
· Fold the fabric in half lengthwise with the right sides together. Pin the folded fabric together at the top
and bottom corners.
· Pin the pattern to the fabric parallel to the edges of the pattern.
· Cut the fabric with pinking shears (scissors with zigzag notched blades, to prevent raveling or fraying
of the fabric edges.)
Pin the parts for sewing:
· Pin the left and right front crotch seam edges together with the right side of the fabric together.
· Insert the pins two or three inches apart at right angles to the edges of the fabric with the heads of the
pins slightly outside the edge for quick pin removal while stitching.
Sew the parts together:
· Stitch each crotch-to-waist seam 5/8 inch inside the edge, using a standard machine stitch of ten to
twelve stitches per inch.
· Pin and stitch each outseam from waist to bottom of the leg. Leave a small opening at the top of the
front seam to run the drawstring or elastic through its casing or leave the drawstring opening in one
outseam to minimize bulkiness at the abdomen.
· Pin and stitch the front inseam to the back inseam starting from one leg bottom up through the crotch.
Carefully feed the fabric through the sewing machine to avoid bunching. Continue sewing down the
inseam from the crotch to the bottom of the other leg. Remove all pins.
Try the salwar pant on and make adjustments:
· Try on the salwars inside out.
· Mark and pin the leg hems and the elastic or drawstring casing at the waist.
· Mark and pin any adjustments.
· Remove the garment and finish stitching the hems, waistband casing and adjustment seams.
· Turn under the top of the waistband and fold the casing down on the inside and pin it in place.
· Thread the draw string or elastic through the waistband casing from the front or side seam opening,
Make the kameez
· Measure the length from the top of the shoulder to the desired length plus three inches for seam
allowance and hem.
· Measure around the bust line or chest and add two inches for fullness and seam allowances.
· Measure the waist and hip widths plus two inches.
· Measure the shoulder-to-shoulder width across the back.
· Measure the desired sleeve width plus one and a half inches for seam allowance.
· Measure the sleeve length from the top of the shoulder to the desire bottom of the sleeve plus two
inches for the sleeve hem.
Make a pattern for a t-tunic kameez with the pattern paper.
· Measure vertically down the top left corner of the paper to the shoulder-to-bottom length, and label it
· Draw a horizontal line from “A” that is one quarter as long as the hip or waist measurement
(whichever is greater) plus seam and fullness allowances and label it “Line 1.”
· Measure horizontally across the top of the paper from the top left corner to a length half as long as the
combination of the sleeve length plus hem and the shoulder width, and label it “B.”
· Draw a vertical line from “B” that is as long as the sleeve width plus seam allowance and label it
· Draw a horizontal line from the end of line B straight to the left edge of the page and label it “Line 3.”
· Draw a vertical line straight up to the top of the page and label it “Line 4.”
· Label the intersection of the two lines “Underarm.”
Finish the pattern
· Erase the lines from the Underarm intersection to the top and from the Underarm to the left edge.
· A slight inward curve of line 4 at the waistline area will give a more fitted look and will flatter
feminine waists. Be sure the curvature doesn’t make the waist too tight.
· A side flare can also give a flattering and flowing effect.
· A curve at the intersection of Lines 3 and 4 instead of the angular intersection will give the Underarm
area a looser fit.
· Measure the wearer’s head circumference and draw a curve or a “V” at the top left corner for the neck
opening that will accommodate the wearer’s head.
· Cut out the pattern along the lines.
· Purchase sixty inch wide fabric in a color or print that matches or coordinates with the fabric for the
· Purchase enough fabric to fit the measurement of the length of the tunic plus the seam and fullness
Lay out and cut the fabric:
· Fold the fabric in half. Pin the pattern to the fabric. Be sure that any border print of the fabric is in the
· Cut out the fabric, forming the front of the garment.
· Pin the pattern to the fold again being careful to line up any border prints to match the front panel.
· Cut out the pattern except for the neck opening. Cut a shallow curve at the neck. This forms the back
of the garment.
Pin and sew the kameez:
· Pin the shoulder seams of the front and back together, with the outside of the fabric in. Stitch the
· Pin and stitch the side seams together starting at the sleeve ends and stitching through the Underarm
down to several inches above the bottom hem.
· Hem the sleeves and the bottom edge.
· Turn the neck opening under and hem it.
· Finish the neck, sleeve ends and bottom with a strip of embroidered tape or other decorative trim, if
Complete the ensemble:
· Add a dupatta, a long shawl and head scarf in a matching or coordinating fabric. It should be almost
twice as long as the wearer is tall. Wear the dupatta around the shoulders for everyday wear
· Wear over the head for religious observances.
· Sewing clothing
· Regional garments
· Indian traditional attire
· Clothing: the t-tunic [http://www.wastekeep.org/office/chatelaine/tunic.htm]
· Women's athletic wear: make your own workout drawstring pants
· ModernTraditional.com News: How do I sew salwar kameez?
· Fashiondex: How to shop the fabric market [http://www.fashiondex.com/howtos/htstfm4.php]
· Pardesi: How to wear a dupatta
· Meenu's Indian Fashions: Salwars and churidas