I have been embroidering on wearables – tunics, blouses for quite some time. On hand embroidery lovers group on Facebook, there was a request to provide the details about this work. I am starting this short series hoping it would benefit the people who are searching for instructions to embroider on wearables.

When I started embroidering on wearables, I started with stitched blouses for sarees. But on this series, I‘ll start with simple embroidery on tunics, sleeves with some samples.

We’ll start with borders worked on separate fabric, which can be attached to the tunic sleeves later.


Tunic fabric

Another suitable fabric for embroidery

Border patterns for embroidery

Inch tape

Pencil, scale, white, yellow carbon.

Start with the measurements. Take a tunic which fits you perfectly and measure around the sleeves, it can be half sleeves, three fourth sleeves, or cap sleeves. Note it down. Give an allowance of 1.5 inches on both sides extra. Same way choose the length required for the front of the tunic. This is individual preference, it can be long, short or medium or just a single motif. The same way, the length of the side slits can also be measured. Sometimes a border attached at the end of the tunic gives an elegant look. This kind of borders are fairly long. Ideal thing would be to use woven borders from sarees or dupattas.  These borders can also be embellished with embroidery. For all these embroidered borders, leave a seam allowance of ¾ inch on all sides. When using an embroidery hoop we need more fabric around the pattern to fit the hoop. These extra fabric can be cut after the work.

Fabric for embroidery-

This is an interesting task. With the tunic fabric in hand choose the matching fabric to work the embroidery on. This can be the base colour or contrast or small speck of colour from the tunic design itself. This is a very wild field.

For choosing the pattern for embroidery, it is required to have some embroidery patterns. I generally use the available pattern as an inspiration and create my own designs.

Here are some samples which can be used as guidelines for choosing the fabric for embroidery and the embroidery patterns



In this sample, the tunic is plain chiffon, the fabric used for embroidery is of the same colour in silk cotton. The pattern is single flower motif which is repeated for the length required. The width of the border is doubled for the tunic front. The length is medium. And the embroidery is done in contrasting colours.



The tunic fabric is silk chiffon, and the embroidery was done in white cotton fabric. The pattern –a design of flower with leaves is continued for the length of the border.  The border is short in front of the tunic.The embroidery is used to bring in some colour on white background.



The tunic fabric is silk. The fabric used for embroidery is cotton of the same colour. A simple circular pattern is repeated here. The threads used are chosen from the leaf colours on the tunic, and worked with dark brown seed beads. The embroidery does not extend to sleeves.



The tunic fabric is block printed cotton. The embroidery is done on contrasting half white colour fabric. The motif is repeated along with some mirrors on this border.  Colours for embroidery was chosen from Gujarathi embroidery  and the colour of the tunic which inspired this pattern.

We will continue with some more samples on borders. These samples are given here to get an idea about working embroidery on tunics. more details on patterns will come later in the series.Feel free to ask questions on comments, it would help me to improve this series.

After completing the randje per week 2014 challenge, I thought of concentrating more on embroidery on tunics. Satin stitches with cotton skeins were started on the central panel of blue/green crepe tunic.



While working on this my tailor came back from his visit. A pink crepe silk fabric was given to him for marking the centre and sleeves for a tunic, which he marked. I had thought of a simple creeper design for the centre for this tunic [some idea malfunction]. This design required a full front and not just the central panel alone. Now the front panel and sleeves were sitting there. A new pattern was drawn for those. I have a green leggings which does not match any tunic. Matching it with this tunic seems a nice idea now. It is floral pattern. Started the leaf stitches on leaves [what else?] with cotton skein and silk thread. It is hard to use the hoop on this fabric, may be it needs some fusing in back. Where to look for this? Spending time on searching and learning is not practical now. The work started on sleeve-



Have drawn some dots on white paper to try some ideas of chicken scratch on dotted fabric.

wipw38-chicken scratch

wipw38-chicken scratch

The tunic fabrics are block printed cottons. The violet fabric for the sleeves was pin-tucked.



The embroidery was based on two elements, a tunic I saw on the net, which had heavily printed borders in the front and sleeves and Balushi embroidery from Pakistan. The Balushi embroidery patterns with mirror work are very different from this pattern. I just mix and matched along the fabrics the two ideas. The pattern for the front, the same border was used for the sleeves.



The embroidery work before working the mirrors in violet thread.



Diamond mirrors are worked into the spaces between the embroidery.



The tunic

violet aqua green mirror work tunic

violet aqua green mirror work tunic

I feel the contrasts- fabrics, prints are quite intimidating, and the tunic fits the label of –gypsy costume!

The details of the embroidery done on yellow fabric for the yoke . the border is the same as sleeves except for paisleys.

The border with orange kutch motifs and green paisleys.


The paisleys and diamond shapes outlined with red thread in back stitch. The rest of the kutch motifs worked with brown thread.


Chain stitch borders in cream thread, and green sequins attached with gold beads.


The paisleys are further embellished with antique gold sequins


The completed yokes and tunic on my next.

The sleeves of this tunic had borders in two fabrics. One was the brown fabric, which we have seen so far, another one is yellow fabric.
The outlining of the mirrors was done in cream on this brown fabric. the border with sequins and mirrors stitched with green and orange threads alternatively.


The details of the border in yellow fabric- pattern with kutch work motifs done in brown thread.


The same border after working the kutch work motifs in orange thread.


With green outline in back stitch


With squares done in red, with green sequins and gold beads.


The yellow border on yoke on my next post.

Further details of this multi coloured yoke. For this yoke, three fabrics are used. The centre is brown, then a printed fabric in orange , on which embroidery is not done. Then a yellow fabric, where a border pattern is done with sequins.
Continuing with the details on the brown fabric- two lines in chain stitch with yellow thread was done previously along with the kutch work motifs. Two more line are worked in chain stitch with variegated thread.
The mirrors were to be outlined with cream thread, the work is in progress on this picture-


The next step was to attach the sequins, which is completed in this picture , the mirrors will be stitched later.


Brown fabric for sleeves-
The same brown fabric is used for sleeves too. The border before attaching the mirrors.


some more details on my next post.

This time around, I wanted to do something new with the tunic yoke. The patterns and embroidery were usual, but I used three fabrics for this embroidery on yoke and sleeves.
The tunic material was woven ikat cotton.

green ikat tunic

For this tunic, the yoke combination was brown, printed orange and yellow. The embroidery was predominantly mirror work and kutch work with some sequins.
First I’ll start with the central yoke, which was done in brown colour fabric. this yoke had kutch work motif , sequins and mirrors. The kutchwork in yellow thread-


The kutch work motif in green-


the third motif was  done in orange, the three motifs-


More  details on my next post.