There are few historical records pertaining to the sari, also known as saree, dhoti or lungi. According to Puja website, one of the earliest depictions of a drape covering the entire body dates back to 100 B.C. A sari consists of a rectangle of fabric, usually cotton, silk or chiffon, which is approximately 6 yards in length and 1 yard wide. They often have a simple plain end and an ornately decorative one. The plain end is wrapped around the lower body to form a skirt-like drape, and the decorative end is thrown across the front of the torso and over the shoulder or the head.

Things You'll Need

Design the decorative element of your sari on a piece of rectangular paper. Remember that your design should not be so complex that you cannot achieve its replication with embroidery or painting techniques.

Incorporate traditional colors into your design if you want to emulate Indian culture. White signifies purity and is also used for mourning. Red represents fertility and is often used in bridal saris, although Muslim brides often wear green. Yellow saris are worn by new mothers for the first seven days following the birth of a child, and blue saris were traditionally only worn by the lower castes. Black is considered a bad omen and is not generally used.

Emulate Indian culture by incorporating symbols into your design. Paisley designs represent fertility. Elephants represent water and royalty, and parrots represent courtship and passion. Ancient warriors used conch shells to summon their followers, and conch and shell designs symbolize valor and victory.

Select the fabric you will use for your sari. Determine which type of fabric will be most appropriate for the type of decoration you will use. Cotton will be least expensive, but if you want to use the sari for a special occasion and are accomplished in embroidery, you may prefer silk. Purchase at least 6 yards of fabric, which will be a minimum of 1-yard wide.

Test your design on scrap fabric first. Particularly if painting or dying your sari, you will want to test the colors and their color-fastness before starting on your length of sari fabric.

Transfer your design to your fabric, using a fabric marker that will wash out. Embroider or paint over your patterns and embellish with gold thread, seed pearls, crystals, sequins and other ornate notions.

References and Resources

Puja: History of Sari


Sari Jewels