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What Is a Kurti? How Is It Different From a Kurta?
A kurti is a shorter version of a kurta. Women in Indian cities love the kurti for its versatility—it is perfect for occasions ranging from everyday wear to parties or picnics.
Every kurti has the same basic pattern, but you can personalize it with your choice of neckline, fabric, fit, colors, embroidery, and overall/sleeve lengths.
Step 1: Select the Right Fabric
Selecting a kurti fabric depends on the climate and occasion in which you will be wearing the garment, as well as on your individual preferences.
You have two basic versions of this versatile top:
- The long, traditional, and loose-fitting dress known as a kurta
- The short, chic, and tightly-fitted top known as a kurti
Light materials like georgette, chandelier lace, and chiffon look delicate and flattering. In addition to these materials, you can also use cotton. During the summer, it's best to choose a light-colored fabric that will allow airflow. For the winter, bright colors often suit people well.
Heavily embroidered kurtis are appropriate for parties, while floral and printed kurtis are great for casual wear. Another consideration when choosing fabrics is that vertical pinstriped fabrics make you look slimmer.
When Choosing a Fabric
- Make sure the fabric is of high quality, so that it can last with wear.
- Check the quality of the fabric color as well, so the color does not fade with time.
- Select a fabric that will not shrink drastically after washing.
Step 2: Take All of Your Body Measurements
On a sheet of paper, leave spaces to write down the following measurements:
- a. Shoulder width
- b. Neckline width
- c. Neckline diagonal
- d. Armhole circumference
- e. Sleeve length
- f. Upper arm circumference
- g. Lower arm circumference
- h. Wrist circumference
- i. Bust circumference
- j. Waist circumference
- k. Hip circumference
- l. Shoulder to bust length
- m. Shoulder to waist length
- n. Shoulder to hips length
- o. Kurti length
See the following video and pictures to learn exactly how to take these measurements.
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Step 3: Create a Pattern for the Front and Back of the Kurti
Now, add an inch to measurements o and e to allow for hemming. For each of the remaining measurements, add a cutting allowance of 1/8 of an inch, a seam allowance of 1/4 of an inch, and a serving allowance of 1/4 of an inch (5/8 of an inch total). Circle or underline your final measurements to distinguish them from your original measurements.
Then use your final measurements to create a pattern, as shown below. The reason you only create a pattern for half of the kurti is because you will fold the fabric in half when you cut it out.
Step 4: Cut the Fabric for the Front and Back According to Your Pattern
To cut out your fabric according to the pattern, first fold your fabric in half, with the patterned side in. Place your pattern along the folded seam and cut around it.
After you cut and unfold your fabric, it should look like this:
Measuring and Cutting Video
Below is a video of how to cut the fabric for the front, back, and sleeves of your garment according to your measurements. Note that she doesn't use a pattern—she cuts straight into the fabric. While this can save time if you know what you're doing, I do not recommend cutting your fabric this way the first time, as it's much easier to make mistakes.
Step 5: Cut the Sleeves for Your Kurti
Now you will want to cut the sleeves for your kurti. For a visual example, you can see the video above starting at 12:00. The length of the sleeve is your preference, and you will use the upper and lower arm and wrist circumferences to make sure the width of the sleeve is correct in the appropriate places.
What takes special attention is the cut of the armhole. When you are cutting your fabric, you will fold it in half, the way you did for the front and back of the kurti. The crease will become the outside of your sleeve (the side closest to your shoulder). After you fold your fabric, all cuts you make will result in a symmetrical sleeve.
You want the cut of the armhole to make a slight "S" shape half length of your armhole circumference (this is because the fabric is folded in half). The outside edge of the sleeve (which will be on the crease of the fabric) should be about 4'' longer than the inside edge of the sleeve.
- To make the "S" shape, draw a 3'' line perpendicular to the creased side of the sleeve.
- Then, 4'' closer to wrist of the sleeve, draw a 2'' line perpendicular to the open side of the sleeve.
- Lastly, draw a curved line connecting the two lines you've already drawn, and measure it to be sure the "S" is half the length of your armhole circumference.
Step 6: Make the Front Neckline
Next, we will make the front neckline. For this, you will need some iron-on interfacing. Follow these steps, explained in the videos below:
- Draw the shape of your desired neckline onto the interfacing. A boat neck is used in the example below, but you can customize your neckline however you like.
- Then draw another line an inch and a half to the outside of the first.
- Cut this shape out and iron it onto the back of a new piece of fabric.
- Place the fabric with the interfacing (interfacing-side up) on top of the front of the kurti (right side up). Center it where you would like the neckline to lie.
- Sew the neckline to the kurti along the inner edge of your interfacing. Start sewing from the middle of the neckline, so that you can be sure it remains centered.
- Make a few snips in the edge of the neckline fabric (if you have a neckline with corners, do so in the corners; if you have a curved neckline, do so a few times along the curve). Make the snips as close as possible to the stitching you just sewed.
- Flip the interfaced fabric over the neckline so that it now lies on the inside of your kurti. Sew it in place.
Videos: Preparing, Attaching, and Trimming the Front Neckline
Step 7: Sew Together the Shoulders of the Kurti and Create a Back Neckline
Next, you will begin sewing the various pieces of the kurti together:
- Line up the front and back pieces of the kurti with the right-side in.
- First, sew together the top of both shoulders, leaving a 1/4'' seam.
- Then take a strip of fabric the length of the back neckline about an inch-and-a-half thick. Fold it in half right-side out, and orient it so that the crease faces away from the neckline.
- If you are sewing the shoulder from left to right, trim the left end of your folded strip of fabric at a 30-degree angle (i.e. bias) slanting from bottom left to top right (like a backslash: "/").
- Line up the edge of the bias with the shoulder of the kurti right before the neckline starts, and sew it down. Then, rotate the folded strip of fabric so that it continues to line up with the neckline and sew it on. When you reach the end of the neckline, rotate the strip of fabric 30-degrees again and sew the new bias along the far shoulder.
- Trim the excess of strip.
- Flip the strip over so that it is now on the inside of the kurti and sew it down.
Step 8: Stitch Together the Rest of the Kurti
Now sew together the rest of the pieces. Remember, whenever you are sewing, you always want the right sides to face inward. Also, you should double stitch each seam for durability.
To attach the sleeves, start sewing from the crease in the middle of the sleeve, which should line up with the shoulder. When you are finished sewing around, sew the edges of the sleeve together. Watch the video above starting at 5:35 to see an example of how to do this.
Next, sew down the sides until the point where the side split begins. In the video below, you will see that the seamstress marks off the bust, waist, and hip measurements once more, just to make sure.
After that, finish the edges by hemming the neckline, sleeves, side splits and bottom of the kurti.