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Next June my friends David & Kavi (of D.S. & Durga) are getting married! I am not only excited about this fated commitment because we’ll be in beautiful upstate New York amongst rolling green hills and the Hudson river, but that Kavi, being of Indian descent, has invited her girlfriends to wear hand-made Indian saris on the night before the wedding. The Mendhi party is very colorful and festive. Greens, oranges, pinks, blues, purples, yellows, reds. For the blouse, you have a choice of sleeveless, cap sleeves or a sleeve that reaches the bicep. If you have any other restrictions (not too low in the back or front, not too short, etc) let me know. I will get them cut to a few inches below the bust, which is standard. Even if the blouse exposes your stomach, the sari can be tied so it hides your tummy if you wish.

I need your help: has anyone ever made or worn a sari? Kavi has sent me a YouTube video on How to measure yourself for a sari but I am just looking for some tips. Would love to hear from you:)

16 Comments

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    Jan 5, 2010, 12.31 AMby gedwoods

    Just a note on Indian clothes and patterns – I have added a section to my fabric wiki (“http://fabricsinternational.wetpaint.com”) for some 20-30 Indian garments with pointers to on-line sites that provide free patterns. For the sari, this isn’t terribly useful as sewing is not a real issue for this, but there are several online sites that provide patterns for cholis and for other Indian garments, such as kameez, the salwar, etc. Good luck with your efforts, Alison!

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    Jan 4, 2010, 01.18 PMby sewcenlisa

    I echo the suggestion to ask the staff in the shop help you drape your sari. When I bought my first one, I was in a shop in Durban, South Africa. The staff draped each one I was looking at for me, then walked me through draping it about six times before they would “allow” me to buy them! They also showed me where to pin to keep it from sliding around so much, and laughed at the notion that it was cheating. 23 years later, I am still addicted to buying lovely sarees, but I don’t wear them often. I’m a blond, blue eyed Anglo, and I am so afraid that ladies for whom it is their primary dress will think I am being disrespectful. Any input from sari wearers?

    1 Reply
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      Jul 18, 2013, 10.50 PMby megamiaki364

      If you get any feedback on how people feel about a blonde blue-eyed anglo wearing a sari, let me know. I think they are gorgeous, but don’t want to offend by wearing one in public.

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    Jan 3, 2010, 09.07 AMby thesqueedler

    I would advise you ask the ladies at the sari shop to show you how to wrap it. I got a free lesson from the ladies at the shop where I bought mine in Chennai (Madras), and I came back to check again a couple of days later. There’s really no “making” a sari – it’s about 12 yards of cloth of a particular width and you use the whole width, selvage and all. Just go to a sari shop and they’ll fit you properly with a matching choli and underskirt too.

    The underskirt is what you tuck the front pleats into. Everyone uses a safety or diaper pin to hold the shoulder pleats. The South Indian (and more modest, tummy covering) style is to pull the right corner of the part that hangs over your shoulder around to the front, and tuck it into the waist just behind the front pleats. Once you get the hang of it, it’s like riding a bicycle.

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    Jan 3, 2010, 07.03 AMby christinasbookshelf

    I wore a sari to my nephew’s baptism (he is half-Indian). My sister-in-law wrapped me in it and it took her less than 15 minutes to fold and arrange. She did pin the drape at the shoulder. I would really suggest pinning it where you want it there, because otherwise it might slide down or get in the way if you are doing something practical. You must tie the drawstring on your underskirt very tight (it is like a plain cotton slip). It works best if it is tied at the natural waist (the narrowest part of your abdomen), because if you try to wear it on the hips, it will try to ride up and shift around.

    Don’t worry about wearing a sari if you aren’t happy with your weight. Everyone looks great in a sari because all the beautiful fabric folds cover up lumps and bumps, and you can arrange the shoulder drape to cover up pretty much everything. And silk always feels so luxurious.

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    Dec 31, 2009, 04.42 PMby kgallagher3

    I don’t have any advice, just have to say that I have been begging my friend to get married already so I can wear a sari!

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    Dec 30, 2009, 04.43 PMby alden

    so when i was in india I got a sari, a gorgeous peacock one (you know the ones that shift from blue to green) and usually the only party they have to make is the bodice peice (which you can totally make youreself, i know you) but in my case, since im so tall, they had to sew and extra 7 inches of fabric on to the top so that i could pleat it properly and not have it fall out. It was a little rediculous, my head was hitting the roof at the store :)

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    Dec 30, 2009, 03.03 PMby ekmillerlaw

    to clarify a couple of the points made here; the choli, or the underblouse, is the only point you really measure for, as it is a specific size to fit your own bust and torso, but the sari must work for skirt length. I am tall (huge compared to most natives of the Indian continent, at 5’9") and the measurement from my waist to the ground is about 47" Most sari lengths are about 6 and a half yards by 40-44" wide, with the last half yard in a pattern that is thrown over the shoulder. If you go to a sari palace, the two important points are that you have a full length sari length (some times yardage is sold separately) and that you have a width (from the selvage to selvage) that is appropriate for the distance from your waist to the ground! After that, the advice on google instuctions and practice are all very good. The other very good advice is the stable underskirt waistband and pinning the folds to it. I have Indian friends who first taught me to wear a sari and ALL of them pin it and emphasized both the underskirt and pin technique to keep from having to fool with it all night long!

  • Missing

    Dec 30, 2009, 01.10 PMby binkydoll

    errr, a minor point….you don’t really measure yourself for the sari itself. The sari is a 7 – 9 m length of cloth. What you need to measure for is the under blouse, or choli. When I lived in India, I had my cholis measured for by the person who was going to construct them, as they all worked on similar, yet different patterns. The blouse itself is constructed from a lot of shaped pieces, so proper measurements are important.

    I recommend choosing a blouse style that you feel comfortable with – I always hated the traditional down to the bicep look, and fought my tailors for cap sleeves and sleeve less. Also, a low scooped back on the choli can be stunning.

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    Dec 30, 2009, 12.32 PMby marmota-b

    I haven’t. But both my sisters have and it seems one of the tips for success is also the type of fabric – it must be very thin, flowy, drapey… The cotton ones are starched for packing, and you might need to wash and iron it several times before it is ready for wearing.

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    Dec 30, 2009, 10.57 AMby luxihere

    I am a South-Indian and sari is essential part of our lives. Sari is such a beautiful garment and can be worn in different ways, one can never get bored with them. According to me saree is the sexiest garment in the world, as you can wear it the way you want to. 51/2 metres of pure indulgence.

    Mix n Match with a contrast choli. If your saree is plain (mostly decorated at pallu- the portion you let fall at your shoulders) then go for heavy work brocade choli.

    Use underskirt with drawstring (elastic won’t last for weight of saree pleat drape). Pin the saree pleats at front and also at shoulder.

    These days you can also order ready to wear custom made sarees, which have elasticized waist and pre-stiched pleats, voila you can just zip and you are ready to go!

    Have a look at these links below to let you know various types of draping the saree. Have fun. Enjoy!

    traditional way http://www.utsavsarees.com/saree/wearsari.htm

    modern ways to drape a sari http://hubpages.com/hub/Modern-ways-to-drape-a-saree

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    Dec 30, 2009, 06.57 AMby fosteretalk

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    Dec 30, 2009, 12.24 AMby sewithought

    I lived in India for a few months and saris can be fickle garments…. different areas of India have different techniques for wrapping but I would definitely recommend pinning your front pleats! Its the best way to save time and to ensure a pretty finished product!

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    Dec 29, 2009, 11.26 PMby coffeegoddess

    I wore one for my sister’s wedding but I didn’t actually get to practice it until that. Practice, practice practice to get the pleats right!

    I have several tutorials I got from youtube and stores that you might want to look at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxyyplADV5o http://www.utsavsarees.com/saree/wearsari.htm

    Good luck and make sure you have plenty of large safety pins and diaper pins!

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    Dec 29, 2009, 11.26 PMby sarahsews

    I second the underskirt comment. I must have a very tight drawstring, especially if you are thin. The underskirt is what will keep your sari skirt on your body without moving all over the place. Sari’s are great fun to wear, make sure you practice before the party!

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    Dec 29, 2009, 07.55 PMby crazydavises

    Wearing a sari is easy — I had my bridesmaids wear them for my wedding too! Wrapping a sari, though, takes practice. You can find good instructions by googling “how to wrap a sari” and the like. Here’s my tips.

    Wear an underskirt that has a really secure waist. (I use ones with a drawstring waist that doesn’t stretch).

    Get someone else to wrap you if possible.

    Cheat if you want to — no one will see if you use a safety pin to secure the front fan-like layers, or if you pin the “throw” to your shoulder.

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