Posted on October 15 2019
One of my life long hobbies is dance. I learned ballroom and Latin and loved them but more recently I decided to explore something I have always wanted to do and that is Belly Dancing. This has led to Bollywood dancing and of course I need to research and make outfits to dance in, which is immense fun
I need a Bollywood outfit for an event next month and this led me to thinking about Asian fashion.
The Shalwar Kameez is a two part outfit consisting of a tunic top and pants and it is what we are going to make in this post.
Traditionally worn by Punjabi women the Salwar (trousers) and Kameez (tunic) have been westernised somewhat in this pattern, and there are lots of variations on style and fabrics.
The fabric I used is from my own stash. The rose pink is a satin backed dupion, which is stunning and I have overlaid the front and made the sleeves in a black lace with black and silver embroidery. Both are luxury fabrics which are perfect for this project. Having said that if you want to make yours in cotton or linen that would be perfect too.
Sarees can be bought very cheaply and they are perfect sources of 5 or 6 yards of beautiful fabric, with matching trim thrown in. So if ever you come across one pick it up and buy it instantly.
This is a perfect example of what can be made with a saree. This cost me £3:99.
Don't let an Indian style of dress put you off, this is an extremely smart outfit which can take you anywhere.
I did do a lot of research into this outfit and I noticed that although it can be purchased ready made quite inexpensively, the cheaper versions are not finished to a high standard, if finished at all -because some are left with the seams unsewn for you to do yourself. The high end ones, as in anything else, are beautiful but very expensive.
I hope that my Indian friends will read this post and realise how simple it is to make your own
How do I make my Salwar Kameez?
The Salwar ( trousers) traditionally are extremely wide at the top with a drawstring waist , narrowing down to a very slim ankle. In this pattern by BURDA Burda Bollywood costume the waist is slimmed down and the drawstring replaced with elastic.
There are two different finishes to satin backed Dupion as you might have guessed, and the first task is to decide which side you are going to use as the outside. It is usual to use both sides in a garment if you can to take advantage of the different textures.
I liked the effect of lace on top of satin and so I used the satin on the outside for the tunic , contrasting it with the Matt side for the trousers. I wanted the sleeves entirely made from lace and when I was cutting them out I first of all ensured that they would be the correct length for me and then I positioned the sleeve bottom edge along the scalloped edging to my lace.
I did the same for my tunic front , having the scalloped edge of the lace running along the hemline.
Your most important tool for working with these fabrics is a Pressing Cloth both of these fabrics will not take kindly to a hot iron being placed directly onto the fabric. Wash your fabric first and hang it up to dry carefully to minimise creasing, and once it is dry do not fold it again. Let your iron hover over your pressing Cloth covered fabric and use plenty of steam. The lace will only need a light press but please do use your pressing Cloth. These fabrics can burn or melt very easily so do take extra care.
You will also need a new sharp needle as a blunt one could easily damage these delicate fabrics Machine needles
I also recommend fine pins, again we don't want to damage the delicate fabrics. Bridal Wear and Lace pins
The neck facing needs interfacing. Choose the best quality interfacing there is for garment sewing for this fabric a light to medium weight iron on interfacing is best .Interfacing
Press it on with a DRY iron,again using your pressing Cloth.
Then layer the seams and snip all along the inside right up to the stitching line. This makes it easier to turn the facing the right way out.
Press the facing and garment open and understitch IE sew the seam allowance to the facing as in the photo. This stops the facing from rolling out during wear.
By the way,
The satin backed Dupion frays so you need to finish the seams. I used a narrow rolled hem on my overlocker ,you could use a zigzag or a French seam. Remember that if you are having sheer sleeves the seam needs to be very neat as it will be visible from the outside.
The neckline looks very neat if you follow my instructions.
Make sure that the fabric for the lace sleeves is the right way round . Mine has a definate right and wrong side.
The pattern suggests an 8" zip but I used a 14" to enable me to shape the sides in slightly .
Sew the back seam up to the bottom of the zip and neaten the seam.
Tack the rest of the opening closed and press the seam open. Then tack the zip right side down.
You have a choice of zipper feet. If you are using an invisible zip then you need an Invisible zip foot shown top of the picture
If you are using a normal zip as I am, you need a zipper foot. The one which comes with your machine is fine but I prefer to use a Narrow zipper foot - shown in the centre of the photo, as it allows for closer stitching to the zipper teeth and therefore gives a neater finish.
Once the zip is sewn in place remove all tacking stitches and then stitch the facing down to the zipper tape.
Neaten the hem I did mine so that the lace edge would be slightly longer than the main fabric, but you could choose to have yours shorter or equal to the hem.
That's my top completed ,
It's very easy to sew the pants together, just follow the pattern instructions.
Make a casing for the elastic by folding along the pattern markings and stitching very close to the edge,I also like to stitch very close to the top edge but this is optional. Leave an opening to thread the elastic through.
Cut a piece of elastic a couple of inches larger than your waist and thread it through the casing
You need 1" wide elastic Elastic
Once the elastic is threaded through pin it together and try the pants on. Adjust as necessary and securely sew the ends of the elastic together before closing the gap.
Adjust the gathers so that they are even and then machine stitch down each seam to stop the elastic from folding over during wear.
Hem the pants, and if you want to you can stitch a trim along the edge. I stitched mine on by hand as it is not machine washable, and it can now easily be removed.
Adding a trim along the bottom of the pants legs is well worth the effort I think
You will need a scarf. Either make one yourself out of something floaty which coordinates, or get down to the charity shop where you will find them very cheaply. The ethnic and bridal sections of charity shops are great for scarves, trimmings and all things sparkly.
This was a very simple outfit to make and I think you will agree that it is extremely wearable. It is very comfortable too and I am definitely going to make it again in linen for the summer. In fact I have the perfect fabrics in my stash already .
Don't be afraid to try something different, there are a lot of different styles of dressing and it's good to break out of our comfort zone once in a while.
To purchase all your supplies and machines go straight to Jaycotts web site Jaycotts there are so many special offers on at the moment and I would hate you to miss them! They even have lots of special offers on sewing machines , take a look Special offers
Old course they are not only an online store, they have a fabulous store in Chester where you can actually try the machines before you buy.
They also run sewing courses and workshops led by the lovely Christie , so do try to get to some of them, they really are fabulous Sewing courses and workshops
Finally , why not order some patterns from Costumes range and make something totally different for yourself. (And your family)