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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Narrow Salwar:

Only 1 1/3 Yards or Meters of Fabric!

By Arabella




  • 1 1/3 yards or meters (48 inches or 125 cm) of 45-inch-wide (or 115-cm-wide) fabric
  • Thread
  • Either elastic large enough to fit around hips or drawstring that is hip size plus 1/2 yard (or 1/2 meter)
  • 1/8 yard (12 cm) of heavy interfacing for bottom edge


These tools will be needed for construction:

  • Shears to cut fabric
  • Scissors to cut thread
  • Measuring tape to measure & create shapes
  • Yardstick or other straight edge to use in drawing shapes
  • Pencil, pen, or marker to draw shapes
  • Needles
  • Bodkin or safety pin for threading elastic or drawstring through hip band




Creating the Pattern & Cutting It Out

One of the diagrams below provides the measurements using metric units, while the other provides the measurements in yards and inches. Click on either diagram to see it in more detail.

Yards and Inches

Creating the Pattern



Narrow Salwar Pattern, Measurements Given in Metric Units


Measure and cut the pieces as shown above from the pants fabric.

From the interfacing, cut 2 pieces, each 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide and 12 inches (31 cm) long.


Sewing It Together

Using seams 1/2 inch (13 mm) deep, assemble the pieces as shown in the diagrams below. Click on this diagram to see it in more detail.

How to Assemble the Pieces

  1. Sew front pieces to back piece.
  2. Baste interfacing strips to the inside of the bottom edge of each pant leg.
  3. Right sides together, sew facing to bottom edge of pant legs, sewing through all 3 thicknesses (pant leg, interfacing, facing). Turn to inside. Turn raw edge under 1/4 inch (6 mm) and pin or baste into place.
  4. From right side, do decorative top stitching to anchor top edge of facing. This can be either matching thread or contrasting thread, depending on look desired.
  5. Pleat or gather top edge of pants to fit the length of the hip band. Stitch to hip band, right sides together.
  6. Sew center front of hip band and front pieces of pant legs together at crotch.
  7. Sew inside-leg seams.
  8. Turn under 1/4 inch (6 mm) of top hip band, then fold to the inside to cover the seam joining the hip band to the pants. Stitch into place, leaving 1 inch unstitched to allow insertion of elastic.



Click on the diagram to the right to see it in more detail.

  • If using elastic, cut to size of hips minus 1 inch (2.5 cm). If using drawstring, cut to size of hips plus 18 inches (46 cm).
  • Use either a bodkin or a safety pin to thread elastic or drawstring through the hip band.
  • If using elastic, sew edges together, then sew opening shut. If using drawstring, place a knot at each end and don't sew hole shut.




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About the Author

Arabella, the author of this article, has contributed many informative pieces to this web site on a variety of topics, including:

  • Analysis of technique for doing certain dance moves
  • Costume ideas
  • Essays and opinion pieces
  • Understanding Middle Eastern music
  • Helpful how-to's, such as remembering choreography

Please visit Arabella's home page on this web site for a full list of articles she has contributed.

Arabella began her dance studies with Russian Ballet classes. Frustrated by ballet's impossible ideals, and curious about more ethnic dance disciplines, she moved on to study various other dance forms. Moving further east each time, these included Spanish flamenco, Escuela Bolera, Middle Eastern, and East Indian Odissi.

Arabella, based in Toronto, Canada, is also a certified Mastercraftsman in crewel embroidery, with a special passion for metal thread and ethnic embroidery. Currently she particularly focuses on Palestinian and East Indian embroidery.

Photo of Arabella



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