How to Sew a Kurti

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Make a simple kurti shirt.
Make a simple kurti shirt. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

A kurta is the top/tunic piece of the traditional two-piece Indian outfit generally called a salwar kameez. The woman's top is known as a kurti. The tunic is simple in structure and designed for ease of movement in a culture where people often sit and move about on the floor. The beauty of the garment is primarily in the fabric pattern and texture. Because the construction is quite basic, a professional sewing pattern is not necessary and with a few directions, you can easily make a lovely, well-fitted garment.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 to 5 yards, 60-inch wide, light cotton fabric
  • Matching thread
  • Tissue paper or brown paper
  • Worn-out bed sheet
  • Tape measure
  • Sewing pins
  • Chalk or washable marker
  • Scissors
  • Trim, sequins, braid
  • Sewing machine

Measurements

Measure from your shoulders as far down as mid-thigh or lower. Add an extra 1 1/4 inch to this measurement to allow for a 5/8-inch seam allowance at the shoulders and hem. If you desire a garment that reaches to mid-calf, you will need to purchase 5 yards of fabric.

Measure for ease of movement.
Measure for ease of movement. (Image: Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Measure your chest circumference directly under your armpits. Wear your usual undergarments. Add 6 inches to this measurement.

Measure around your hips at their widest point and add 8 inches to this measurement.

Measure from wrist to wrist, moving up and across your neck, and add 1 1/2 inch to this measurement.

Measure from the outer tip of your shoulder around to the armpit seam. Allow a generous amount of space for movement. Add 1 1/4 inch for a seam allowance.

Pattern Layout and Cutting

Work with the old sheet and tissue paper until you feel confident. Make any adjustments and alterations on the sheet garment and then use your fabric. Take one straight edge of the tissue paper and use it as the exact middle of the garment. Divide your wrist-to-wrist measurement in half and mark that point out from the edge.

Draw in the sleeve and then the body of the garment using the measurements for your chest and hips. Remember your pattern is only 1/4 of the garment so divide the waist and hip measurements by 4. Allow room for your shoulders and upper arms.

Lay your fabric on a covered table, folded in half lengthwise, with the right sides together. Pin the pattern to the fabric. At the top, mark a point approximately 2 3/4 inch in from the middle edge. This is the neck edge. Cut a scoop 1 1/2-inch deep to form the back neckline. This is your tunic back. Check the length against your body before you make a final cut for the length. Your kurti will need side slits for ease of movement. Decide where you will want the slits to begin and mark with chalk.

Pin the same pattern to the rest of the folded fabric. Cut exactly as you did the back, except for the neckline.Find a shirt or tunic in your wardrobe that has a neckline you like and take measurements. Cut the scoop to match. Cut a slit exactly down the middle about 3-inches long. Cut around the pattern to make the front.

Your kurti will need a neckline facing. Trace the neckline edge and transfer it to a piece of tissue paper. Add an additional 2 inches all around the neckline and cut the facing from the same fabric or something that will complement the kurti.

Sewing Your Kurti

Pin the front and back together, right sides in, matching the edges exactly. Sew the sleeve and shoulder seams. Sew the underarm side seam as far as your chalk mark. Sew the seam again just a small amount into the seam allowance. Clip the underarm seams almost to the seam so the underarm seam will have lots of give. Press the seam flat and then sew across the seam allowance at the chalk mark twice to reinforce the side split.

Ensure that your workspace has good natural lighting.
Ensure that your workspace has good natural lighting. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Iron the shoulder seams flat. Hem the neck facing by folding the outside edge under 3/8 inch and sewing. Pin the neck facing to the tunic neck with the right sides together. Sew around the neck and front slit. Sew again a small distance into the seam allowance. Clip the curves so the facing will lie flat.Turn the facing to the inside and hand sew to the shoulder seams. Iron the facing flat.

Check the sleeve length and hem the sleeves. Fold the fabric over 1/2 inch and stitch. Fold over again 1/2 inch and stitch again.

Hem the bottom and side slits. The side slits will have a 5/8-inch hem, but you can adjust the tunic hem as you wish. A deeper hem helps the hemline stay down. Fold the fabric 1/2 inch and stitch. Fold again 3/4 inch and stitch using a longer stitch.

Add sequins or braid along the bottom and around the neckline.

References

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