The Chikan-kari dress

Or as my daughter likes to call it,”The chicken curry dress” and I have to say, it looks as delicious as the chicken curry that my husband makes. He is a good cook, I have to (grudgingly) admit, although, don’t tell him I said that.

India has many opulent fabrics thanks to its history and Chikan is one of them. I have always loved the intricate white on white embroidery on thin muslin and chiffon fabrics. It used to be handmade, but now done by machines mostly.

Chikan originated in Lucknow, as the Wikipedia entry goes and was introduced by Nur Jehan, wife of Mughal emperor Jehangir. Anyone can see why she must have gone cray-cray over this fabric.

Nur Jehan seems to have been a gutsy lady, intelligent and well educated.Given the time period that she lived in, its amazing how much control she had over the men in the Mughal empire. But apparently she loved to shoot and kill tigers. That was a put-off for me. I mean, there is no pride in killing an animal (that is minding its own business) with a gun, just for pleasure.

Anyway, back to what I made this week.


This fabric was quite expensive and I picked it up at one of the specialty fabric shops in Bangalore. The pattern is self drafted, but inspired by the Burdastyle wrap dress pattern. Buying a pattern is like pulling teeth for me, even one with such a great price point as Burda’s.

The Skirt is not the same as the pattern though. I wanted it to be twirlable, so I cut it in panels with some flare added to the sides.

I hung the skirt overnight, since the bias grain of the skirt panels tend to stretch. The hem was evened out the next day and then finished with bias tape. The bodice is lined with incredibly soft cotton cambric. The skirt is underlined/lined with the same white cotton and the raw edges overlocked on my serger.

I know I didn’t bother to change the looper thread of my serger to white, so its lime green, but you don’t have to be so nitpicky..

(My famous “from below” shots)

When cutting a basic bodice into a wrap style, we need to account for the stretch that inevitably happens at the neckline. So I slashed and overlapped the bodice in the middle of the neckline. So there is no gaping there. Overall I’m happy with the way it has turned out. The more I sew, the better I get and lesser is the chance of it becoming a UFO (UnFinished sewing Object).

Finally, thanks to Picmonkey for letting me use their software for free to edit my pictures. Obviously the intention was to blow my mind with their awesomeness and get me to take a subscription. I am blown away, but they have no idea how cheap I am..he he.

So thanks for poppin’ by and please do leave a comment… Cheers!




  1. A truly lovely dress, and your daughter seems to be thoroughly enjoying twirling in it! The fabric is very beautiful and well worth its price. If the selvedge edge is fine I have used that in the past as a stay tape along bias edges to prevent stretching. Effective and free!


    • Thank you!!:) I do use the selvedge as stabilizer sometimes. With this dress, because it was underlined, somehow it didn’t stretch as much. I do glance at it with suspicion once in a while, to see if it sneakily decides to stretch..:p

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Where did u pick up the material. Wanted to do something like this for my two girls


  3. Where did u pick up the.material


  4. This is so lovely, and it’s so nice to see someone sewing from home in India! Although I’m sure many do and just don’t blog about it. To be fair to Nur Jahan, everyone hunted in the royal court, and it spoke to her independence and spirit that she didn’t completely confine herself to the harem. Akbar was super into hunting, as was Jehangir. But I wouldn’t have wanted to hunt if I was her!


    • Hello! Thanks for the comment!:) Yes, you are right, many people do sew in India, but its primarily the older generation and the sewing is not exactly professional. Its what you might call “homemmade”. Girls in my generation do not learn sewing, its quite sad actually, because I’m a firm believer in learning a craft – to be able to make something with your hands. True productivity starts that way. What we have now is a huge population that is highly qualified on paper, but with no actual skill. Anyhoo,Thanks for stopping by..Cheers! 🙂


  5. Wow.. I love the dress and the cute little girl. This post is simply amazing and very well written. Thanks


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