Back when I was still dancing, I used a fantastic choli pattern made for stretch panne velvet that was made by an Australian dancer by name of Annabella. She has graciously given me permission to post her choli pattern with instructions here.
In the photo above, this was one of my cholis that I had made using this same pattern. The only difference is that I used a stretch cotton for this choli in the picture. (I also realize it's being slightly hidden by the decorative bra)
Her pattern will also be posted up on http://www.
I will be putting the pattern pieces at the bottom of this post so the instructions don't get squished.
I have added annotations for what I did to tweak for a better fit or adjustments, and each of my annotations will be easily spotted. I have also added suggestions for needles, fabric suggestions, and other suggestions on how you might want to sew it for a better fit. However, I have added a minor watermark overlay to the pattern pieces (with Annabella's permission), but I have not changed the pattern itself. I also typed out the core instructions as they were written originally, with the exception of the annotations I added.
Please note that all choli pattern pieces, original pattern, and images on this post belong to Annabella, and original owner of Turbans Tassels and Tattoos and Aussiebellydance, This pattern is not for commercial use, and is not to be sold. This is for personal use only. Instructions, patterns, and images on this blog post are being used with her permission.
Thank you Annabella for allowing me to host your pattern on my blog!
Before I get into the directions, a few things I wanted to mention:
Each square on the pattern is 1 inch. So, you either need a lot of photocopies to blow it up to that size, or use a photo-editing tool to increase the size so each square is an inch for the sizes listed.
Secondly You don't have to go full sleeve if you don't want to. I made some with half sleeves that turned out just fine.
Thirdly: For any stretch fabric you decide to use, be certain to pick up a BALL NEEDLE for your machines. Any needles labeled "sharps, leather, denim" will put holes in your stretch fabrics and make little runs like panty hose that has a hole in it. Ball needles works itself into the weave without causing runs. I cannot stress this enough. You don't want your choli to last only one gig before having to make another one.
Fabric! It doesn't really specify how much to use per se on the pattern, but if you use the pattern layout guide in the photos provided, and double the amount (because you need 2 of each piece), this should help Fabric recommendations on the pattern are for stretch panne velvet, but you could use anything that has a decent stretch, such as knitted cotton, or certain types of baithing suit material might even do well here. Be careful with the see-thru-ness of your fabric. If you are using bathing suit material, you are going to want to pick up a matching non-stretch cotton for the lower band because bathing suit material has often a 2 way stretch. The reason for this is so that the bottom band of the choli doesn't stretch out, keeping it firm and tight under your bust so you don't have a wardrobe malfunction in the middle of a performance.
Bias tape: I think I used 1 inch width for this pattern, but there is one choli that I used some quilting cotton and my (i think) half inch bias tape maker to make the bias edging on this pattern.
Matching thread to your fabric
Paper: to either trace out, draft, or copy out this pattern. I use artist rolls that you can get in the kids section at Ikea for their art stand. there's lots of paper on it and its fairly inexpensive.
Basic sewing with a sewing machine is a must for this pattern.
And now, the directions:(retyped from the original instructions. Most of my annotations are in brackets. )
Sewing instructions for all sizes:
-Please note that 1/4" (6mm) seam allowances are already included on all your pattern pieces
-When I make my cholis, I use both regular sewing machine and a 4 thread overlocker (serger). In these instructions I will refer to both machines, but you can of course just use a regular sewing machine.
(Kiera-oona's suggestions: I tend to use a zig zag stitch on the sections where it recommends an overlocker to be used. This will help prevent your stretch panne velvet from unraveling and make it a bit nicer to wear rather than having a bunch of seams rubbing in the wrong places)
-Panne velvet can be a bit floppy and curly to sew with. Handle it gently and be careful not to stretch any of these seams as you sew.
-Band, Band ties, and neck ties: These strips MUST be cut as shown on the cutting layout (if using stretch velvet) - That is running from top to bottom of the fabric. That will make them non-stretch. If you were to cut them across the width of the fabric, they will be far too stretchy and would not make for secure bands. The last thing you need is a baggy choli coming loose at the wrong moment.
(Kiera-oona's suggestions: For the neck ties and the bottom band of the choli, what works really nicely is a printed or solid color matching non-stretch tight woven cotton or quilting cotton. That way it won't stretch and you can add a bit of personality to your choli. I have done this in the past and it works really well)
Fabric layout for the pattern:
(this is the layout you should use if you are using stretch panne velvet)
(you can click on each picture to see it full sized)
1) Make darts in front. Stitch the darts with the sewing machine and trim away spare fabric to reduce bulk. Finish them neatly with the overlocker.
2) Sew back to front at shoulders. Sew using your machine or overlocker..
3) Sew in sleeves. Pin sleeve to choli, matching the centre dot to the shoulder seam. Sew using machine or overlocker, easing the fullness at the top.
4) Edge finish the sleeve using your overlocker or Zig Zag stitch on your machine. Don't actually make the hem yet. just neaten the edge of the fabric. *Note: I stretch this edge when sewing, so the end of the sleeve stays stretchy
5) sew underarm and side seam in one long continuous seam using machine or overlocker
6) Finish sleeve hem using your machine straight stitch. I stretch the hem when sewing, so that the end of the sleeve stays stretchy. Keeping the stitch means you can easily push the sleeve up when you are wearing your choli without it becoming too tight.
7) bias edging. This gives a lovely smooth and neat finish to the neck of your choli
-Take the right half of your choil, Beginning at the bottom back edge, place your choli on the sewing machine with the right side up.
-Open up one side of the bias tape, so that the inside is facing you. Line up the outer opened edge of the bias tape with the edge of your choli. Using a regular machine stitch (not a stretch stitch), begin to sew along the crease of the bias fold. Be careful not to stretch either the fabric or the tape. Be sure to keep them both nice and smooth.
-Sew up the back, over the shoulder, and down to the center front. Stitch to center front dot. Cut off the bias binding, leaving a 1/2" (1.25 cm) tail.
-Now, take the left half of your choli. This time you begin to sew at the center front. Leaving a 1/2" (1.25 cm) tail of bias binding when you begin. Sew the crease of the binding as before, up the front, over the shoulder, and down the back to the bottom edge.
-Take the left half of your choli again, beginning at the lower back edge, turn the sewn on bias tape out and over the wrong side of your choli, enclosing the seam. Smooth it flat and pin in place.Place your choli on the machine with the wrong side up, and stitch close to the other edge of the bias tape. Stitch up the back, over the shoulder, and down to the center front again.
-Repeat wiht the other side, beginning at the lower back edge, and sewing down to the center front.
8) Sew centre front seam using the sewing machine (not the overlocker just yet). Take the time to match the darts, the bottom edge, and the "V" perfectly (or it will annoy you forever!!!). I use the sewing machine first to make SURE those darts are perfectly aligned. Then I edge finish with the overlocker.
9) Stabilize the bottom edge of the choli
Cut the length of bias tape that matches your choli size:
Your size: Cut to this length
32-34" A-B-C 20" (51 cm)
34-36 B-C-D 21" (53 cm)
36-38" C-D-DD 22" (56 cm)
38-40" D-DD-E 23" (58 cm)
40-42" D-DD-E 24" (61 cm)
Lay the choli, right side up on the machine
-Open up one side of the bias tape so the inside is facing you. Lining up the outer opened edge of the bias tape with the bottom edge of the choli, pin the center of the bias tape to the center seam of the choli.
-Pin the ends of the bias tape to the edges of the choli, leaving a 1/2" (1.25cm) tail of binding at the beginning and end.
-Using a regular machine stitch (not stretch stitch), sew along the crease of the bias fold. Be careful not to stretch the fabric or the tape.
-Now turn the sewn on bias tape out and over to the wrong side of your choli, enclosing the seam. Place your choli on the sewing machine with the wrong side up, and stitch close to the other edge of the bias tape.
10) the lower band
-Sew the two strips together, end on end, making one long strip. Press the seam open
-now, fold the long strip in half lengthwise, right sides together, and sew down the long edge using an overlocker or machine. Keep both ends open. Turn right side out. At each end, tuck 1" (2.5cm) inside to finish the end. Roll the seam between your fingers to ease it flat.
-Pin the band to the right side of the choli, matching the center front seam of the choli with center front seam of the band, with the folded edge of the band lined up with the bottom edge of the choli. The band ties will hang at each side.
- Place choli on the machine right side up. The band will be on the top of the choli, with the bottom edge of the band sitting right on top of the edge of the choli. Starting at the very end of the left tie, stitch close to the bottom edge of the tie, sewing towards the choli. Continue sewing all the way across the bottom of the choli and down the end of the right tie.
-When you are stitching this band, because of the way it was cut, you will find the nap will make stitching in one direction a bit difficult (because you are stitching against the nap of the fabric). Just pull it a bit to help the machine along. By the way, the effect of the nap gripping itself makes for really secure ties when you are wearing the choli!
-Now, stitch close to the top edge of the tie you just finished on. Sew towards the choli again. When you get to the choli itself, you want the band to lie flat and smooth on the choli with the center seams matching. Continue sewing across the choli right to the end of the other tie.
- Go to the part where the band meets the edge of the choli. We want to reinforce this section. See the stitching line that holds the bias tape in place along the choli back? Using your sewing machine, continue that stitching line down across the band to the bottom edge. Then sew backwards and forwards at least twice more to reinforce that section.
11) the neck ties
-Fold each strip in half lengthwise, right sides together, and sew a 3.16" (5mm) seam using the overlocker or machine. Sew one end closed. Turn right side out (A knitting needle, a dowel, a chopstick, or that little tool to turn tubes of fabric inside out can be used for this).
-Pin the open end of the tie to the inside of the back of your choli - About 1" down from the shoulder seam. Position it so the open end is towards the edge of the choli, and the tie is hanging inside. Sew the tie back and forth along the inner stitching line of the bias binding.
-Now flip the tie out towards the outside, folding and pinning the tie flat over where you just stitched. Stitch through all the layers over the tie along the outer stitching line of the bias binding. This makes a neat and secure attachment.
12) Now to Try on your choli!
I hope that it fits you well! You may need to adjust the shoulder ties to get a better fit. The tightness of tying the shoulder ties really does make a difference to show how your choli fits. Play with it and adjust it till it sits nicely.
Once you've got the neck ties just right....DON'T undo them!! Just slip the choli over your head. (Its much easier to put on when the neck ties are done up anyways!)
Now its done!!
Pattern piecesClick on each image to see the full size
Enjoy and Happy Dancing!