As a single rectangle of fabric, a sari is among the most simple of garments, yet it can be elaborately draped, wrapped and tucked in hundreds of ways. A sari is also an ideal piece of fabric from which to create a wrap skirt. The style is easier to wear than a traditional sari while still showcasing the exotic fabrics and feminine aesthetic of Southeast Asia. Easy to create, a sari wrap skirt requires only very basic sewing and construction techniques. The sari is flattering to most body types and can be made in any length from ankle to mini.
A traditional sari is a flat cloth, usually silk or a silk-cotton blend and generally 42 to 45 inches wide and 6 to 9 yards in length. A single sari offers more than enough fabric for a single-layer wrap skirt of any length; purchase two complementary saris to create a double-layer wrap skirt. Many fabrics sold by the bolt offer the look of a sari -- consider ikat and batik prints in silks or lightweight drapery cottons. Rayon can offer the shine and smoothness of silk without the high price tag. Sheer or semi-sheer fabrics are also suitable for wrap skirts made with more than one layer or those intended to be worn over a slip or leggings. Sarongs are also a good alternative to saris for this project.
Things You'll Need
- Sari and sari fabric
- Tape measure
- Fabric marker or chalk
- Sari or sari fabric
- Fabric scissors
- Ironing board
- Sewing machine
A wrap skirt constructed from four, six or more trapezoid-shaped panels of fabric has a flattering form that’s fitted at the waist or hips -- depending on where you choose to wrap it -- and flares out toward its hemline.
Make a Paper Pattern
Measure your waist or hip circumference -- or take an average of the two and double that figure.
Divide the result of the sum by the number of panels you want to use for your skirt. Label this figure X.
Create a paper trapezoid pattern for your skirt panels using newspaper, a pencil and ruler. Tape multiple sheets of newspaper together if necessary. Make the top edge of the trapezoid equal to X, the bottom edge equal to X multiplied by two and the two vertical sides equal to the length you desire for your finished skirt.
Add seam and hem allowances along the edges of the pattern, and then cut the pattern piece out.
Construct the Panels
Place your pattern piece on the right side of the fabric and trace around its edges with chalk or a fabric marker. Repeat this to trace as many panels as your skirt requires.
Cut the panels out with fabric scissors.
Sew the panels together along their side edges using French seams.
A sari wrap skirt with darts sewn at the waist offers a similar fit and style to a wrap skirt made from panels. It starts with a single panel of fabric, which might make this method preferable if you wish to preserve the pattern of your fabric or sari. It also minimizes fraying as it requires few cuts.
Construct the Skirt
Measure your hip or waist width, or take an average of the two. Multiply this measurement by 1 1/2.
Cut your sari or fabric to the width determined in the previous section on darts and the length you desire for the finished skirt, plus seam and hem allowances.
Divide the panel of fabric into three equal sections along its width. Mark the sections with chalk or a fabric marker, or by placing pins along the upper edge.
Mark triangles to represent darts along the two vertical lines that divide the panel into thirds, as well as two more darts equally spaced along the width of each section. Make the darts approximately 1 to 2 inches wide at the top edge of the skirt. The length of the darts should be approximately equal to your waist-to-hip measurement.
Sew the darts and press them to one side.
A perfect fit isn’t critical with this style, but if you are wary of cutting into your sari or special fabric, make a muslin skirt with cheaper fabric or an old sheet. Experiment with the darts or the number of panels until you get the finished look you desire.
Hem the Skirt
Whether you use the panel method or darts method, a sari wrap skirt needs to be hemmed along its two side edges and its lower edge. For fine or delicate fabrics, a rolled hem is best. You can use a serger machine or a regular sewing machine fitted with a rolled hem foot. You can also apply a hand-rolled hem: Roll the edge of the fabric tightly between your fingers and slip stitch the roll by hand as you work along the edge.
Add the Waistband and Ties
A single, long strip of fabric or binding serves as both the waistband and ties for the sari wrap skirt. Cut a band of sari fabric from the excess, use a band of any complementary fabric of your choice or purchase double-fold binding.
If you cut your own fabric, you can make the waistband and ties any width you desire. Cut the band double the desired finished width, plus 2 inches. The length of the band should be at least 12 inches longer than the waist of the skirt -- just long enough to knot together at the side -- or longer if you wish to tie the ends into a bow.
You can taper the ends of the ties or leave them straight.
Sew the Waistband and Ties
Press the edges of the band of fabric to the wrong side by 1 inch along both long edges.
Fold the band in half along its length with the wrong sides facing. Press the fold.
Place the upper raw edge of the skirt inside the folded band, aligning it with the inside of the pressed band at its center point. Center the skirt so that the length of excess waistband fabric is equal at each side. The band beyond the skirt forms the ties.
Secure the skirt to the waistband by pinning through the top layers of the band, the skirt and the lower layers of the band. Also pin the open edges of the ties shut.
Top stitch the edges of the ties and the lower edge of the waistband, sewing the skirt securely inside the band, removing the pins as you sew.
To make a two-layer sari skirt, create two skirt pieces from complementary saris or fabric. Make the second layer at least few inches shorter than the first. Sandwich the two layers together in the middle of the waistband with the shorter layer on the top. The bottom edge of the lower layer of fabric will show, creating a pretty, flowing hemline. You can also make the inner layer wider than the outer one to reveal a vertical panel of the contrasting fabric at the cross-over part of the skirt.
- When sewing with saris and other fine or delicate fabrics, use a brand new needle in your machine. A needle size of 8, 9 or 11 is best. Use extra fine thread.
- Iron the fabric using a press cloth to protect the fabric and low temperature setting.
- Test a scrap of fabric with your sewing machine. If it gets caught in the feed dogs as you sew, slip a piece of tissue paper between the fabric and feed dogs for the first few inches of every seam and hem. Carefully tear the paper away when you are done.