Sew Guide » How to sew Salwar Kameez – Kurta top- {FREE PATTERN}

How to sew Salwar Kameez – Kurta top- {FREE PATTERN}

Step by step instructions to sew Salwar kameez -Kurta top

A Salwar Kameez dates back to the Romans. You donot believe me –  check this article on
cutting and stitching salwar kameezwikipedia 
.

A fitting Kameez is a very flattering garment. You can wear it as a tunic with your jeans, make it very short and wear it with your skirt, or even wear it with shorts for a modern take. A sleeveless Kurta with Dhothi pants is my favorite lounge wear. 

The word fitting is very important in sewing your salwar kameez or kurta because I have seen Kameezes worn with utter disregard for fitting and looking absolutely atrocious.

If you have decided to sew your own Kameez, make it to your size. I have given the pattern to make it here. Sew it in a muslin first. Adjust your measurements. Then stitch it with a beautiful fabric you adore and wear it with the panache of the ladies shown below. 

 

Make your own pattern to stitch a Salwar kameez top (Punjabi suit)

Measure yourself first. The main measurements you need are bust round, waist round, hip round, neck depth needed, slit opening ( Where you want it) Length from shoulder to bust, waist and hip, Sleeve length. Checkout the post How to measure body for more details. 

If you are marking directly on to the cloth Fold your cloth half way through width wise first ( along a-b of diagram) you can cut along a-b if you want now, then fold it lengthwise ( along c-d)

 kameez fold

You can alternatively make the pattern in a paper (you can use brown paper rolls for this or join newspapers together for an easy recycled pattern paper ) and keep it for making it again.

The front and back patterns are marked similar except for difference in neck opening and armhole – so when cutting the pattern you mark the back pattern fully on the 1/4 portion of cloth ( as in the diagram).Cut everything out except the neck opening.( Look at this article to see which neck line suits you

Then remove the back bodice, ( the one without any markings ) and keep it aside. this is the back pattern.

On the top piece you have now, with all the markings you have made, you should continue to make the front pattern – if you find my instructions confusing do whatever you want to do. 🙂 

A-B = Full length needed + 2″

Mark A-D which is the armhole depth as per the table below

Bust measurement inchesArmhole depth
2661/4

286 3/4
306 3/4
327
347 1/4
367 1/4
387 1/4
407 1/2
427 1/2

Mark A-C Neck width as per the table below. This is a very conservative meaurement ie it is tight . If you want a loose neck you may increase this measurement as per your preference. (C-S which is front neck depth can be taken as per table or as per your preference . I usually like a 6.5 ” depth. Again this is preference of the wearer.

Do not forget to checkout ‘Draft the neckline of your choice‘. Here I have given a conservative V neckline but you can choose to make patterns for a number of necklines following instructions there. 

The neckline width in this table gives a tight neck. You can adjust the neck width as per your choice based on a favourite tunic or kurta. 

Bust Measurement Neck width ( inches)Neck depth (inches)
2024
2224
242 1/44
262 1/44 1/2
282 1/25
302 1/25 1/2
322 1/26
342 3/46 1/2
362 3/47
3837
4037
4237

A-E = Length to waist
A-N = Length to hip
A-P = Length to slit

D-G = 1/4 of chest round+ 2 “
E-F = 1/4 of waist round+ 1″
N-O = 1/4 of hip round+ 1.5″

B-L = 1/4 of hip round + 2 “

A-H = Half of shoulder + 1/4″
H-I =1/4″ or 1/2″ down
Mark straight down to J
J-K =3/4″

A-R = 2″ ( or as needed for back neck)
M-L = 1″ Draw a curved line joining B-L

Draw the armholes for front pattern and back pattern as per the diagram below

How to stitch a salwar top pattern

 

Back Armhole

  • From I Draw straight line down to line G-D to point J
  • Calculate half of J-G
  • Mark this from J-T diagonally
  • Join I- G touching T in a curved line

Front Armhole

  • From J mark 3/4″ to K
  • Mark 1″ from J to T diagonally
  • Join I-G touching U in a curved line

Method to make sleeves for your salwar kameez top

Cut the two sleeve pieces 17 inches wide and your desired sleeve length plus 1 1/2  inches long

sleeve12

Keep the sleeve pieces Right sides together. Fold them and start the marking. Use chalk to mark the pattern

The line A –C is along the folded line of the cloth. The measurement from A to C is  Sleeve length + 1 ½ inch

C-D  Arm round where you want the sleeve to end

E – B & A – B  Mark as per  table given below ( this is based on your bust measurement )

Bust measurement inchesLine A- BLine B -E
262 3/4 inches

6 3/4

283 inches7 1/4
303 inches
7 1/4
323 1/4 inches
7 1/2
343 1/4 inches
7 3/4
363 1/2 inches
7 3/4
383 1/2 inches7 3/4
403 1/2 inches8
423 1/2 inches8

Join D- E  in a straight line and add 1/2 inch as seam allowance

Mark F as mid point of B-E

plain sleev1slide

Make a straight line from F to G ; Join this line to line A-C  in a right angle

Divide the line G- F line into 3 equal parts. Mark the points 1 & 2

plain sleev3lide

Front Sleeve line

Join from A – E so that the line passes through point 1 -This is the front sleeve line

front sleeve line

Back sleeve line

From A mark ½-1 inches to point 3 . From point 3 join the line to E through the point 2

back sleeve line

Remember that both the sleeves (front sleeve pattern and back sleeve pattern), are marked on the folded sleeve  piece on the top.  First cut through all the layers of cloth the back sleeve line from I – A. Open the full sleeve and now cut through one half portion through the front sleeve line.

You can draft variations of the simple sleeve by checking out the instructions in the post on drafting different types of sleeves

If you want a different neckline draft it according to the instructions in the post on Drafting different types of necklines . Decide on the best neckline which suits you by checking out this post on 23 necklines – select the best one for you

You can also add yokes to this pattern following the tutorial to draft yokes and sew it up by following the directions given in the post on sewing a nighty. The yoke can be of an interesting patterned / printed fabric or an embroidered fabric

Stitching the salwar kameez top ( step by step)

Step 1. Once you have made the pattern markings on the paper, cut out the bodice portion and the sleeves. Do not cut the neck openings now.

cutting and stitching of punjabi suit

Step 2.Cut out neck facing fabric pieces – in two sizes  a. 2 1/2 inch * 10 ” for back neck ( this can be cut on bias for stretch. ) b. front neck facing 10″ * 9″. If you want you can iron on an interfacing ( a lightweight iron on interfacing is preferable)  to this neck facing pieces . I do. It looks good. Check out this detailed explanation of this step in How to sew facings 

Checkout the post on Tips on sewing with Transparent and sheer fabrics if you are planning to sew it with a fine delicate fabric.

Step 3. Mark the neck markings on the facing wrong side. Make center notches on the bodice pieces and the facings. 

Finish the edges of the facing pieces with a zigzag stitch or fold the edges and stitch. Alternatively you can hand stitch the facing edges with a whip stitch.

Step 4. Align the front bodice and facing piece with the center notch.( both right sides together.)  Pin in place

 step by step instructions to sew a salwar kameez top

Step 5. Sew over the marking of neck you have made on the neck facing on the wrong side.how to sew a kurta

Step 6. Cut out the neck opening with a 1/4″ seam allowance from the stitching you have made.

Make small slits all over the seam allowance in the neck opening, so that when  turning over it looks smooth.

(For more details checkout the post on sewing facings )

Step 7. Bring the facing to the other side. Understitch the neck facings so that they donot roll to the front. 

Step 8. Shape the edges of the front facing in the shape of the neck. Complete sewing the back facing in a similar way.

Here I have finished the facings of both front and back patterns 

sewing tutorial for salwar kameez kurta

Step 9. Join the shoulders

To join the shoulders keep the back and front bodice right sides together. Open the facings and align them also. 

salwar kameez top

Turn both the facings to the front side and pin in place. Stitch everything together along the shoulder line.

how to sew salwar kameez

how to sew a simple salwar top

Finish the edges of the shoulder.

how to sew facing

Step 10. Join the sleeves to the armholes 

Step 11.Join the sides till the slit marking. 

Now wear it and see if it fits. If it is loose fitting either make darts or stitch the side margin accordingly. After the slit edges are stitched it will be difficult to adjust the fitting. A half an inch to one inch taken in at the side seams around the waist line will be all that is needed. 

Step 12. Stitch the edges of the slit and the bottom hem edge

To finish the edges of the slit, turn twice the side edges of one side and pin as in the picture below. 

 side slit

Stitch as in the diagram. The red lines are the stitching lines.

side slit of salwar kameez kurta

side seam of salwar kameez kurta

You can finish the side slits by adding a different colored fabric strip to the back. This will look interesting as is shown on the picture below, though it is not visible from the outside.

side slit of tunics

Another option is to add ( stitch to the back of the slit) a piece of golden or silver ribbon to the back of the slit with a little projection so that it looks like piping . You can always do piping but this cheat piping looks good as well.

LINING – If you are planning to add lining to your kurta, it is usually cut as a replica of the kameez pattern. It is stitched as one with the main fabric. If you want, make some basting stitches along neckline and sleeves so that the fabric donot shift when you sew. The only difference is that it will be cut a little shorter than the kurta ( 1 inch – 2 inch) so that it doesnot hang longer. Turn under and stitch  the hem of the lining before sewing it up in the slit. ( Checkout the different ways of hemming with a sewing machine and also hem by hand

kurta lining

If you want to add a zipper to the back of your Kurta you can refer the article on 3 ways to sew zipper to the back of your dress. You can use the method to insert the zipper on dresses without a center seam. You can add plackets to the front of the kameez following the placket sewing tutorial here and maybe add some buttons or even make some pretty cloth buttons

Do you want to add a side seam pocket ( hidden ) for your kurta – checkout the tutorial on how to sew a side seam pocket. Sew this before you sew the side seams, ofcourse.

Embellish your Salwar Kameez with any of the fabric trims available or use beautiful embroidery designs detailed in this post ‘Indian Hand embroidery designs‘ as well as with any of the embroidery border designs and embroidered flowers

Another alternative to a Salwar Kameez is a Kaftan or a simple tunic. Checkout the tutorial to make a Kaftan dress and the post on how to make a tunic pattern.Checkout the fit and flare panel dress pattern for another option

Perhaps you would like to make a pretty bolero jacket /shrug  to go with the Kurta – checkout the free pattern and sewing instruction to make a bolero jacket. 

bolero shrug pattern

Once you have sewn your salwar kameez it is time for you to make pants for them by following the instructions in the salwar kameez pants tutorial – Dhothi pants, salwar pants, chudhidhar pants, patiala salwars and parellel pants are popularly worn under the salwar kameez.You can also make a leggings to wear with the Kurta with this diy pattern for leggings

hippie pants  how to sew salwar pants  leggings pattern

If you like this pattern donot forget to share it with your friends and also sign up for further updates on sewing tips and patterns. Check out more patterns and tutorials sewguide.com

You may also want to look at Free Sewing Patterns 

how to stitch sari blouse kaftan dress  learn how to sew

Learn how to sew – A sewing guide for beginners

4 ways to sew facings 

easy to make sewing projects  exposed zipper  how to sew sari petticoats


14 comments

  1. Subhashree.S

    Hello,
    Thanks for the detailed take on drafting and sewing.
    Question: Does the drafting include the seams, if so how much is it for the sides.
    Thanks in anticipation.

    1. Subhashree.S

      Thank you Sarina. At the cost of repetition I appreciate your detail oriented instructions on drafting.

      i have followed several different websites. I am attempting one exactly as per your instructions. Shall keep you posted on the outcome.

      Thanks once again for your quick response.

  2. Meraj fatima

    Hello i liked the way you explain i need your help plz can you help me, i want to know how to stitch neck with paper alin and how to cut arm hole could you plzz help me

  3. Meraj fatima

    Hello i like the way you explain thanks i need your help plzz i did not under stand how to cut arm hole and stitching neck can you personal explain me

    1. Sarina

      Hi Rashida
      Those are measurements you should take on your body – measure from the shoulder to bust, waist and hip with a tape measure.Checkout this one -http://sewguide.com/how-to-measure-body/

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