Thursday, January 2, 2014

Dummy Guide to Saree Tying, Part 1 : Basic Saree

In December I attended the Satya Paul's Saree Appreciation Workshop in their DLF Saket, store and I am so glad that I did! I meant to post this before but somehow never got around it. Ofcourse like an idiot I mixed up DLF Saket and Select City.

So there is me all happy about going to the workshop stuck in traffic as the clock ticks, I don't like being late, not even the 'delhi fashionable late' I am usually the guest who will show up at exactly 5 if the invite says 5, chances are that I would have already reached 15min before and would be waiting in my car for the clock to strike. So when I parked my car 5 min before the event was about to start I was already late in my mind. The invite said ground floor so when I couldn't find it anywhere I asked the concierge and he says "yes we do have a store its on the first floor, but its a mens store..." I am confused why would they keep a Saree Appreciation Workshop in a men's store?! Ah well, to each its own. So I reach the obviously empty Tie Bar by Satya Paul and wonder if I had the date wrong, I go ahead and asked, finally found out I was in the wrong mall! Stupid me. So after much confusion I reached the store half and hour late but thankfully the drapes were just about to begin. 

Who was the teacher?
Kalpana Shah, the master of saree draping. Her dearest wish is for the Indian woman to embrace her inheritance, her natural identity. And rather than struggle with it awkwardly, she would have every Indian woman wear with pride what she believes is a symbol of all that is graceful and beauteous - the eternally elegant Sari. 

She has draped the crème de la crème of the glamour industry. She is THE stylist.


1. Tie Petticoat on your right side, if you are wearing a normal saree with pallu on your left shoulder.
2. Tie Petticoat on your left side, if you are wearing a Gujarati style saree.
3. If you are wearing a net saree then tie the petticoat in the center.

Basic Saree

Kalpanaji couldn't stress enough how important it is to learn the basic drape before you start experimenting, and I totally agree!

1. Tie your petticoat on your right side.
2. Open up your Saree and start tucking it in 2" right of your belly button.
 Tiny Tip : Does your saree sometime entangle your feet?? avoid that by tucking up this first tuck 1/2" from floor just at the starting, then tie your rest of the saree at the normal height.

3. Make one round, tucking as you go.
Taken from the Satya Paul facebook page

4. Next, take an arms length and tuck it/leave it for later.

5. Take a second round for the palla, we will make the shoulder pleat before the tummy pleats.

6. Hold the Palla end of the Saree and start pleating your shoulder pleats.
Tiny Tip: Start pleating from outer end to inner end, and make the first pleat 1/2" bigger then the rest of the pleats. err...confused?! Let me draw it for you

Now a MAJOR tip for you!
Does it happen with you that you make the shoulder pleats perfectly and then end up messing them up because they keep opening?!
Well to make your life simpler use  clips that you use to dry clothes (!)

Clip them before you put them on the shoulder.

How long the palla should be depends on you, it can be any height you want. Ideally its kept a little below the knee. 

Tiny Tip: If the saree is heavy then pin the pleats together first and then pin them to the blouse, if not then pin the pleats directly to the blouse. The pin should be little behind the shoulder.

7. Now pull the saree border to your left and pin it to your petticoat.

8. Start making the tummy pleats. Make sure they are equal!

Tiny Tip: Ever had difficulty with trying to pleat your saree and it refuses to fall the way you want? Iron it! So many times I have tried to wear a new saree without pressing it thinking it looks great since its new but have ended up struggling with pleats because of the fold lines. Freshly ironed Saree drapes better.

9. Tuck the Saree pleats neatly. Kalpanaji says don't dumb your saree inside! Make sure it goes in smoothly.

Adjust the first pleat to cover the rest, make it a little bigger than the rest. If you want to pin the pleats then pin them after leaving 1-2 pleats so the pin doesn't show.

Adjust the pleats to fall perfectly, 

Adjust the pleats till your perfectly happy with them!

10. Adjust your palla.

Run your hand and push the excess fabric towards your shoulder, not to your waist. Push towards the shoulder and pin the excess neatly and secretly.

If you want your body pleats to stay in place then pin the pleat closest to your blouse from inside to the blouse.

Also if you have help, then the shoulder pleats should fall like this :

1st pleat (outer most) from shoulder to below the knee
2nd pleat from shoulder to knee
3rd pleat from shoulder to waist

and voila you are ready!

Kalpana Shah has also written a detailed coffee table book on Saree tying. Its actually the perfect wedding gift! Have a look at her website to know more :
Check out their facebook page at

I never did really understand the beauty of Satya Paul saree's till I visited this workshop, did you know they have a Hexivaram saree which takes inspiration from the ornate Kanjivarams of South India, they are recreated through high-quality digital prints on light fabrics. So basically the beauty of a kanjivaram minus the heavy fabric.
Check out Satya Paul's Facebook Page :

Coming soon: How to drape Open Palla, Gujarati style, Saree worn as a lehenga (!), Bengali Saree, Cocktail/Mumtaz Syle, 2 in one saree, Dhoti Style, Saree with Jacket.

Let me know which one do you want me to do first.

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