Thursday, June 02, 2016

Pattern Layout for Sewing with Saris #DomesticGoddess

When I lived in Houston I discovered sari shops and fell in love.
I bought so many beautiful saris! Some I used for dance costumes 
and some I cut up and made something else. Now I buy them on eBay. 
This is a tutorial I wrote on laying out a shirt pattern to take advantage
 of the beautiful designs one finds on so many saris.

I've gotten emails from sewists who have been following my posts about sewing with silk saris and they have been complimentary on how I used the designs on the fabrics. Consequently I decided to do a mini-tutorial here on how I layout a sewing pattern to best take advantage of the patterns in the fabric. So far all the saris I have worked with have the same basic layout: a narrow border along the long top edge of the sari, a wider border along the long lower edge, and an elaborate design on the pallu, the narrow edge that is thrown over the shoulder.

Because the fiber is woven it doesn't matter whether the pieces are placed lengthwise or width-wise so I varied them to make the best use of the borders. As you can see, there is a lot of fabric leftover:
You can either use the leftover fabric for other projects like the bags I showed in a previous post or you can trim the borders off and use them for additional embellishments.

In order to take advantage of the elaborate design of the pallu I placed the front pttern pieces lengthwise:

And then pinned the remaining pieces width-wise to make best use of the borders, except for the two facings which are also lengthwise in order to have the pretty border continue down the inside of the button overlap area. Sometimes the pallu is longer than you need for the shirt front. If so you my want to layout the back pieces as shown below to use more of the pattern:

However you choose to do it, make sure the designs within the pattern match in the front. You can also "fussy cut" particularly attractive motifs to go on the pockets or cuffs if you decide to add them.

I am eagerly waiting the arrival of three more saris which are on their way from India. All pure silk. In the meantime I got the pieces of linen I bought on eBay so am going to make some beach pants with big pockets and drawstring waist to go with the silk shirts.  So that's my project for the weekend.

Thanks for reading. 


  1. That's a great idea. Of course you'd want to make the best use of the pattern.

  2. It really is quite a lot of fun and makes beautiful shirts and dresses.

  3. Thank you for this post! I have one sari that I had made for me in India. I've only worn it a couple of times just because of practicality but OH how I love it and I LOVE the fabric!! And your idea for turning the sari fabric into beach pants is a wonderful one.

    1. Have you heard of Punjammies, Jen? I LOVE their designs and they look like they use saris!

  4. That is amazingly creative. Excellent idea!


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