Refashioning a Sari

I started yesterday on a project to refashion a sari I bought in India in April into a dress – New Look 6498.

I soaked the sari in plain water in the washing machine, with a couple of those dye magnet sheets for company. Saris are manufactured with some starch on the fabric, so you need to soak the sari to remove the starch. I set the washing machine for no spin cycle, because the linen fabric isaris very delicate. Then, I laid the sari out in the sun in the backyard to dry. It’s pretty wrinkled in the picture, but when it dried it was perfectly unwrinkled. It only took about an hour, and now the fabric is softer and I’m assured that the bright dyes won’t run. The dye magnet sheets were a funky color, so I think they worked.

As a Me-Made May bonus, you can see me in the background in my Me-Made Brooklyn skirt from Colette Patterns “Seamwork” magazine. The skirt is made of Italian broderie anglaise (a.k.a. fancy eyelet) and underlined with Bemberg rayon so there’s no peep show.

The sari has a traditional structure of a plain side at one end – the big green border at the bottom of the photo. You’re meant to use this part of the sari to make the matching blouse to wear underneath.

At the other end is the fancy pillau, the part that drapes over the shoulder. It’s usually the most decorative part of a sari.


The outside border is all decorated with peacocks of the same kind as on the pillau. The other border continues the floral motif. The entire body of the sari – the ivory section in the center – is decorated with gold paisleys. Also, the entire piece of fabric is woven in a lacy design, similar to how burnout lace looks. Some parts are very sheer and other parts are rather opaque, but the whole piece of fabric is remarkably airy and lightweight, which makes sense given the hot climate in India and the way the sari is pleated, wrapped and draped around the body. Altogether this is 7 yards of fabric!

The dress I chose for this project is New Look 6498, view B – the red dress in the upper right corner. I may or may not do the ruffle on the sleeve – it depends on how the layout works with the fabric. I want to use it efficiently.

New Look 6498



Author: shoes15

I live in Connecticut, USA with my husband and my dog, in an old house outfitted with a sewing room, a garden, an orchard, and a big liquor cabinet.

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