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Conversational Threads

Fabrics from India

Barbaran8 | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

Hubby just came back from a business trip to India. With 6 different “sets” of fabric for me. (I think he’s definitely a ‘Keeper’!) In fabulous colors, some are silk and some are cotton. Three of the sets consist of three fabrics, a shawl, a piece that is obviously intended to be the skirt with gold thread woven in at top and bottom and end seams, and a plain piece that must be for the blouse. Three of the sets consist of the shawl and another piece that has a gorgeous shaped neckline embroidered on it in bullion work, and the far end of the fabric has two edges of bullion work that are obviously intended to be cuffs. (I suspect pants cuffs, but perhaps arms cuffs, not sure) I am in a serious dither over what to do with these incredible fabrics, as I am fat, fair, and forty, and the midriff baring style these fabrics were intended for is *not* going to be a good look on my figure!!! Also, the climate in Seattle is a bit cooler than Hyderabad, and I think that these are going to require some lining… So I’m looking to all of you for suggestions – What would you do???


  1. kswolff | | #1

    Hi Barb,

    I made costumes for professional Belly Dancers for years and am familiar with the 'sets' you are talking about. Depending on how much of each fabric you have, there is a great deal of fun to be had working with them. If you are full-figured and don't want to expose yourself to the world (and the NW weather - my home as well, growing up) you can use those cuff pieces as a stand-up collar or even pocket flaps if they are not too long. The shorter piecees with the border are great for palazzo or even capri pants. You can also cut the front of an overshirt or duster style garment on the border so it becomes the front band or of course the more traditional style around the bottom.

    If you are more of a casual pants girl, the borders could be really nice used as a top or bottom (or any) edge of pockets on some cargo pants.

    The shawls can be cut and resewn as a sort of poncho since those are making a comeback, are very pretty and feminine, and add another light weight layer when it's chilly.

    You can be really creative with these fabrics and even a simple design turns out amazing if you start to play with placement of those borders and don't limit yourself to the more traditional ideas.

    Now, if you want to make a Belly Dance costume.................... :)


    1. Barbaran8 | | #4

      Excellent suggestions all!

      I will pick up the folkwear pattern Monday night, and then I will dust off this month's issue and go through the article on how to change the sizing on a pattern (no Carol, I am *not* going to enter it into the "inspired by Threads" challenge... Well, at least not unless it comes out *really* nice! ) The websites are great for giving me ideas, thank you!

      (and I did used to take bellydance, back in the day...)

  2. User avater
    ehBeth | | #2

    Barb, sounds like one group of the fabrics you've been given are for making Punjabi suits, which are very well suited for our figure type. (known in one of my circles as PXL).  The Punjabi suit has wonderful pants, that billow down to the ankle, where that lovely embellishment comes in tight - then a past-hip length tunic (beautifully slimming over the pants - and the scarf to make you look even more divine.  I've picked up a few from the Little India near me, here in Toronto.  They really are marvellously flattering.  (and I'm always thrilled to find Punjabi pants and scarves in my local thrift shop - the pants are comfy, and the scarves I don't wear, I drape over the 4-poster)

    I am NOT good at posting photos here, but I can post links ... http://www.masindian.com/gstrade/punjabi_suit.htm   (this has some interesting modern interpretations of the traditional Punjabi suit)

    http://www.bobbyscreations.com/  look to the left and click on Salwar Kameez suits as well as trouser suits at this site

    http://www.punjab2000.co.uk/acatalog/Punjab2000_Home_Punjabi_Suit_Collections_1.html there are some very nice pant suits at the bottom of this page.

    Good luck and enjoy. I can't rave enough about this way of dressing. I particularly love it on a hot summer day.

  3. User avater
    ehBeth | | #3


    click on Jewels of India - the window that comes up shows you how the pieces are put together. (I think I'm actually going to order this pattern - if the S.O. and I ever make it to a wedding, I want to do it in one of these suits)

    1. JeanetteR | | #5


      what a lovely web site, thanks for posting this!  Jeanette

  4. SewNancy | | #6

    When I was in India I saw many of these sets.  Some are for Punjabi suits and some for a longer tunic over pants (can't remember the name).  Indian women don't wear skirts, except for saris.  All the women that I saw in India wore either saris or these beautifully coordinated sets.  Most women had a tailor make them into clothes to fit them.  They are flattering and comfortable to wear. 


    1. DianaU | | #7

      They are called Salwar kameez. I have several and wear them for dressy occasions.

    2. User avater
      angelajosef | | #9

      Yes you were right. In India women prefer to wear Punjabi Suits or salwar kameez. Or they loved to stitch the dress materials as per there choices.

  5. DennisM | | #8

    In my town, there's a small store that sells used sarongs & saris from India for $50 each. These are made from silk and gold thread. Might later acquire one and make a man's shirt out of it. Perhaps make the others at work jealous.

  6. Ritika Sharma | | #10

    The primary thing that counts in any fabric is its comfortabiltiy, and then the outer look later on. If both these factors met, then it will enter your good list.

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