Newsletter 31 - June-August 2003

1. news
2. new web links
3. washing saris...some advice
4. my experiences with saris
5. reply to previous contributions
6. a sarong drape
7. a personal note from Chantal

1. NEWS:

*** See this web site for a project on "saris for peace", somewhat related to the "Burning Man":

*** If you know or participate in an event, web site, etc. connected with draping, please let us know. This "news" feature is yours!


Thank you to all of you who suggested new web links. This quarter's crop is especially impressive. THANK YOU, and please, keep up the good work!

Middle-Eastern clothing through the ages, including draped clothes and headdresses from Roman times (be patient and scroll to the end... somewhat scholarly...):

How did Greek and Roman Goddesses drape their divine bodies? See the answer given by an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Potomac Crafstmen Guild: Women of a US crafting guild study Indian sari wrapping. Interesting...

What is a "kikoy"? Obviously a kind a cloth meant to be draped. It is from East Africa and proves that there are many great drapes in that part of the world. Have a look at the site:

This site is a source to purchase authentic Javanese Kain Panjung wrap garment cloths (commonly, although inaccurately known as sarongs). They are good quality, and reasonably priced.
The home page URL is: ""
Select the "Textiles" option, then look for the particular cloth of interest. You will see "Batik Cotton Vintage Cap sarongs", the "Batik Cotton Tulis sarongs", and the "Batik Cotton Printed sarongs". Even though they are described as "sarongs", they are in fact mostly open waist wrap cloths (some of the cap cloths are actually sarungs - see last page).
IDC member David L. Rosenthal has purchased several, and is quite satisfied with them.

This is NOT a web site, but an Adobe Acrobat document for download:
It's a guide to drape "tribal turban" for women (sort of African headdresses).

Site selling saris, also with explanations on how to wear the modern style:

This is a link to a site with kilts. Try the "It's a guy thing" button. It might interest some readers, though its not truly just a drape.

Both links are of photo albums from the same Sikh wedding ceremony (I believe in Canada). There are only a couple of shots in each of turban wrapping, but what interested our contributor more was is the visual record of a Sikh ceremony:

by Rahima Ali

I recently bought cotton saris to wear and practice draping. However it's been difficult to wash them. Difficult to squeeze water out. They drip all over. Nowhere to hang them. I washed 2 saris in washing machine, cold water, hand wash cycle. One got caught in the bottom of the pole that's in the middle of the machine. My husband had to pull it out. It tore, got ruined.
My husband suggested buying net bags designed to wash lingerie to use for washing saris. A large bag will hold 1 sari. I bought 3 bags, put a sari in each one and washed them in the machine on cold water along with other clothes.
They washed very nicely-the spin cycle got out the excess water. Of course I hung them up to dry. No dripping and they will dry quickly. Don't hang wet cotton saris in sunlight otherwise they will fade.

by Rahima Ali

I have loved saris from the very first time I noticed them almost 20 years ago. I had gone shopping on Devon Avenue [several blocks of Indian shops] in Chicago to buy ingredients for a recipe. It was summertime. As I walked along I noticed many Indian ladies wearing pleated, ankle length dresses. The colors and patterns were beautiful.

I stopped in a shop to inquire about buying one. In the changing room I put on an ankle length underskirt which the clerk tied tightly around my waist. She quickly tucked, pleated and wrapped a length of colorful cloth in and around the underskirt. The mirror reflected my beautiful sari. I was immediately fascinated by the idea that without stitching, a length of cloth could be turned into a beautiful dress.

However, I decided against buying it. I don't have much use of my left hand because of a birth defect and I doubted that I'd be able to wrap a sari properly. The process seemed quite intricate. I bought a salwar kameez instead.

Over the years I made many trips to Devon Avenue, always noticing the women in their saris. Through my observations I noticed a few women wearing saris without pleats. These women were usually elderly. Occasionally their saris would be wrapped around or between their legs. In this way I learned that there are different sari styles.

I read about Chantal Boulanger's book "Saris: An Illustrated Guide to the Art of Draping" on the IDC web site. It was such a joy to come into contact with another person who loves saris as much as I do.

I ordered the book knowing that I could take as much time as I needed to learn to wrap a sari. I had high hopes that my desire and determination to wear a sari would compensate for the physical challenge that my disability presented.

I set to work, sometimes spending 100 hours or more in order to learn one wrap. The time flies by when I work on a sari. In the 3 months since my book arrived I have learned to wrap the Eastern saris, the modern sari and the Khond "one-shoulder" sari.

The Khond "one-shoulder" sari was my first project. It proved to be a real challenge. When I pulled the cloth from under my left arm to the top of my left shoulder in front I could barely get the upper corner of the pallav coming from the back to the top of my left shoulder in order to tie a knot. And when after a long struggle I managed to tie a knot, the sari fit so tightly I could barely walk. I worked on the Khond "one-shoulder sari for months wondering what I could be doing wrong. Finally, last night I figured it out. I was cutting my sari that got ruined in the wash machine to make a Khond "one-shoulder" sari. I am bigger across the chest than many women so I made this Khond sari 3 and 1\2 yards long instead of the usual 3 yards. I put it on with no problems. It fits comfortably-looks quite elegant.

Now that it's summertime, I wanted a style that I can wear without an underskirt. So I chose the modern sari. I found it very easy to wrap. When I make the pleats I sit down and rest my left hand in my lap. I make the pleats and guide the cloth with my right hand, using my left hand to hold the completed pleats.

Learning to drape the Eastern saris came easily to me. However, I spent many hours wrapping and unwinding both the Bengali and the Oraon saris. I thought I was doing something wrong because the pallavs didn't hang down my back like they do in the modern sari. I wrote to Chantal and she explained to me that the pallavs of these 2 saris are not very long.

From my experiences of learning different drapes I have learned to let go of my preconceived ideas of how a sari is supposed to look. Each style has its own unique look, feel and movement. Now that I've realized this, I may have an easier time learning new wraps.

I would like to feel comfortable wearing the sari styles that I have learned. I'd like to be able to get up in the morning, put on my sari without thinking much about it and go about my daily routine. This will take some time. I don't want to give myself the option of wearing stitched garments and I don't work outside the home so I have devised a game. When I awake in the morning I tell myself "All you have to wear today is this length of cloth". Then I put on my sari.

Right now I am working with the modern sari. I can dress in 5 minutes. The pleats look good. When wearing this style of sari becomes a comfortable, natural part of my daily routine I will begin wearing another style that I have learned, using this same approach. In this way I will learn and enjoy wearing different styles of saris.

18 May 2003 by Rahima Ali

By Leonore

Hello to all and to Beth:
Read with interest your wax resist article. I am familiar with tinting wax application, never did wax block application.

For removal of wax may I suggest this:
Buy in thrift store or advertise to find an old (GE or Maytag) "mangle". These are roller "ironers" made for households in the 50s. They have two speeds and process about 30 inch wide cloth, rolling it a low to hi temps. I paid $ 25,oo fifteen yrs ago in CA, then $125 for a machine in CT five yrs ago. In the Midwest of the USA you find still some of this heavy old and indestructible ironing machines that could help you remove wax in no time!! Let me know how you make out. You can reach me also on

By Patricia C. Vener

I have a drape to describe. I think I made it up but I'm not sure. So here goes. I use one of those long Indonesian sarongs, not the rayon ones, the more traditional cotton ones. There's about 2 yards of cloth to them. Anyway, I wrap it around my waist and tie one corner to wherever along the fabric it meets. Next I pleat the end (let's call it a pallav just for clarity's sake). I smooth the pleats then tuck them under the skirt flap, between my legs, up and out of the top border so it lies like a pinkosu. This gives me a skirt on one side and over the front, and a trouser on the other side. My mother thinks it's very becoming and it is her favorite of my pareo drapes.
Is there a "real" drape like this anywhere?


Thank you very much to all of you who have made this newsletter so full and interesting. Please keep on writing and if you have something to say about draped clothes, don't hesitate! WRITE!
Otherwise things have been quiet except that you may have noticed that "Bollywood India" is becoming very popular these days. Let's hope that the interest will grow to include saris.
Thanks to the web site mentioned in §2, I have also learned about "kikoys", and I hope that more studies will be done on African drapes...

Best wishes!

Please do not hesitate to send any question, suggestion, criticism.
If you have some links to suggest, please let us know!
If you wish to write something for the newsletter, please do so and Email it to <>.

Newsletter publication dates and deadlines for contributions:
- 1st of June (June-August): deadline for contributions: 15th of May
- 1st of September (September-November): deadline for contributions: 15th of August
- 1st of December (December-February): deadline for contributions: 15th of November
- 1st of March (March-May): deadline for contributions: 15th of February

Institute of Draped Clothes


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