We (Meegan and Anysia) experimented with a Kwik Sew pattern for a dancers top. With some slight alterations we came up with this free choli pattern. One of the other students had tried to make a FCBD one, saw ours as we were all getting ready for class, and asked to borrow our choli pattern from us and copied it. Then others students had us make one for them. They still use this base pattern for their cholis.

Nonstretch fabric pattern and instructions. Plush Leopard choli!!

I sat down and looked at the scanned picture of the choli and realised that it is smaller than the picture on the grid that I had for drafting the pattern. So I had to do some arithmetic (smoke pouring out of ears) to find the measurements for small, medium and large. If you print out the picture as it appears on the screen, then change the measurements to small medium or large it should work out.

When you are changing the sleeve, take a measurement across the top width of the sleeve and the cuff, join the marks you have made and cut along those. Adjust the length when fitting the "dummy run". For the front, measure from the centre shoulder to the base of the front, take that measurement and reduce or enlarge. Then measure from the point under the arm straight across the front and enlarge or reduce at that line. If you are really busty you may want to add darts or an extra triangle to fit. For the back, measure the length of the centre back and shorten or lengthen and measure from under the arm point to the centre back and widen or narrow there. Adjust the curve of the sleeve to fit the shortened or lengthened shoulder line.

The formula is:

Print out the pattern picture below ((To print from browser: Firefox: click on picture to see full sized. IE click on scale icon.File, Print Preview, 100%.). For a small size multiply the printed pattern by 5, for a medium 6 and for a large 7. It would be a good idea to do a "dummy run" with some cheap fabric first and fit it to yourself. Remember, you will have to do some individual adjustments (ie shortening the shoulder measurments, measuring from shoulder halfway to the neck for shoulder seams, lengthening the torso etc) to make it a perfect fit just for you.

When you draft your pattern, be sure to use graph paper to keep the angles correct.

Tribal Belly Dance Choli Pattern

Black Swan Tribe CHOLI PATTERN


For small and medium size you will need 1 metre of velour, penne velvet or other stretchy fabric. We have found that velour and penne velvet are cheap and cope well with wash and wear. For large size you will need 1.2 - 1.5 metres. If the fabric is laid out just right, you can make two cholis from each metre or 1.5 meters of fabric

Matching thread.
Cotton tapes. We used to use leftover strips of the choil fabric, but found they tend to either loosen, or they would irritate the skin. So we use cotton tape now. One narrow (half inch/1 cm)piece 1 metre long and one thick (1.5 inches/3cm)piece about 1.5 metres long. You can use decorative tapes too, but they should be fairly sturdy or make tapes from the fabric, again we find cotton tapes last the best and can be tightened and tied up securely.

First lay out the pattern with the arrows going in the direction of the most stretch on the fabric. Pin the pieces to the fabric and cut out.

Sew the backs and fronts together at the shoulder seams.

choli pattern step 1

Then hem the two pieces, starting at the backs and working to the front centre lines.
When both pieces are hemmed, sew on the sleeves. To fit sleeves, pin the centre dot first, then pin to the edges and sew.
choli pattern step 2

I find it easier if you sew the sleeves on and then do the under arm seam and the sleeve seam all in one.
choli pattern step 3
Then sew the two front and back pieces, with sleeves attached, together at the front centre line.
choli pattern step 4
You may want to play around with this line a bit depending on how low you want the front to plunge. Lastly sew on the tapes. I sew the narrow top tapes at the shoulder seam, but those of you with a large bust may prefer to set the shoulder tapes further back on the choli for a bit more support (again, play around with that until you are satisfied with the fit). To put the thick lower tape on, find the centre of the tape and place it on the centre front of the choli, matching the lower side of the tape with the raw edge of the choli and sew from the centre to the edges of the back of the choli in a square so you end up with two lines of stitching on the tape.
choli pattern step 5

Gather or dart the fabric at the center seam for a snug fit. Voila, one choli ready to wear!
The beauty of this pattern is the ease of resizing and altering. Most others, once they are finished, your options on resizing it yourself is next to nil unless you are very experience and can unpick secure seams to cut panels down. This one is versatile.

I hope the instructions are clear enough, I have assumed some sewing knowledge. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. You can email us by clicking on the CONTACT button if you get stuck.
Meegan J

New Finished Choli pictures added March 18th.

  1. Choli, Medium (12 to 14 B/C cup), front view
  2. Choli, Medium, back view
  3. Choli, Large, (16 to 20 C/D cup) front view
  4. Choli, Large, back view

Feel Free to print this pattern out. We only ask you not to sell it as it is freely given.
If you wish, you may link to it here, or post it on your own website, if credit is given to The Black Swan Tribe.

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