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Girls Qi Pao / Chinese Dress sew-along Pattern variation

January 31, 2014

I have been seeing lots of YOUR creations on my Facebook page and I can tell you it’s been wonderful seeing them.  Now it’s my turn to show you mine. First of all, I said I was going to sew on Chinese brocade, and I did. I made one dress but I was not happy with it. Firstly, it was hard to sew with, even though I made sure I used the correct needle. The fabric is polyester and frays like crazy, and the binding didn’t catch properly at certain points. Which is probably the reason why they use such thick binding/piping in the mass produced ones. The fabric also puckered along straight seams and I just didn’t have time or patience to try it out on dress number two. So I fell back on my favourite fabric, the same that I made the first dress from. But this time I made a variation to the pattern. I chopped off the pattern at the waistline, and added a flare skirt.


Instead of a front opening, I decided to sew the front panels fixed in place, and used a concealed/invisible zip on the back.


I stitched in the ditch at the edge of the bias and the fabric, to secure the front panel in place.


This is what it looks like from the inside, the inner flap doesn’t have to be so wide/deep now that it is going to be stitched in place, but I was too lazy to cut it off after sewing.



To make this variation, following the following steps.

  1. For the back pattern piece, instead of cutting on fold, I added a one cm seam allowance to the centre back line. This gave me the extra allowance to fit a zip in. I then measured the waist position on my daughter using the back neck point as a reference, and marked it on the back bodice piece. Remember to add one cm seal allowance to the waist line for attaching the skirt.
  2. For the front bodice, just match the waistline mark with the back piece, making sure the pattern is aligned at the underarm seams.
  3. Cut out the pieces and sew the top bodice as usual.
  4. Combine the two front pieces by laying flat and sewing the top outer flap onto the inner flap, following the curved edge of the bias. Stitch in the ditch.
  5. Measure the width of the front bodice where you cut off at the waist, mine was forty cm. Multiply that figure by two, and cut out a piece of fabric in that width. For the length of the skirt, it is up to you. Mine was eighty cm wide by fifty cm long.
  6. Do the same for the back bodice to determine the width of the back skirt panels.
  7. Sew the side seams of the skirt, make gathers and attach to top bodice.
  8. Attach the concealed/zipper starting from the back neck point down past the waist line, stopping approximately ten cm below the waistline. The actual end point is up to you since it depends on what size you are making.
  9. Finish up the back seam and hem, sew on decorative buttons. And you are done.

P.S. Note how I had to spell out all the dimensions? The entire row of numbers on my mac keyboard is not working. :/

Anyway, here are some pictures of my brocade version if you are interested. It still looks pretty good in pictures… lol…





Off to go visiting today. Happy Chinese New Year to those of you who are celebrating it. Have a good weekend 😀


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  • Reply Marisa January 31, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    They’re both lovely, but I understand your frustration with the brocade! I’m pretty sure I won’t be using it again!! Your flared skirt variation looks great – will have to give it a try one day. I’m all for the zippered back opening too 🙂

  • Reply Sheila I March 19, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Hi, I just happen to find this in a web search I was doing. We are American but live in NE China. I love the cotton dress. Very pretty. Here they would do the zipper on the side. I have both fitted and flared dresses with it that way.
    Your brocade looks just like we would get there. They are almost never perfect. I only get the cheap ones, like that, for DD to wear to school. Her fancy CNY one, this year, Was just amazing though. Little puffed sleeves. and more of an a-line cute.
    I have some sweet cotton ones for summer. I like them with more of a sweetheart neckline where the collar stands away from the back and sides then lays flat in the front.
    I need to learn to make pipping so I can make some for us from wonderful quilting fabric.
    Thanks for showing your dresses!

  • Reply Free Qipao / Cheongsam / Ladies Chinese Dress Pattern | Japanese Sewing, Pattern, Craft Books and Fabrics November 9, 2016 at 9:19 am

    […] since my first post on making the Girls’ version of the Chinese Qipao in January 2014, I have received lots of feedback and seen lots of pictures on social media of the dress. I have […]

  • Reply Vanessa Tham October 2, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Hi Yi Farn, My name is Vanessa Tham and I am from Malaysia. I would like to say thank you to you. Your quick email reply with the free pattern helped me a lot. Last week, my girl was invited to participate in a Cheongsam competition. It was a last minuet calling competition. We only have two days to prepare for the competition. My daughter did not have any Cheongsam and we have no time to shop for the suitable Cheongsam too. So what I can do is DIY the Cheongsam at night time for my girl. I was a sewing beginner, and I just have my own sewing machine by last 2 months. This Cheongsam is my second sewing project. I am so lucky because when I google search the pattern, I found your website and you quickly e-mail the pattern over. So that I can spend two days to complete my daughter’s Cheongsam. In the competition my daughter’s Cheongsam won a special prize. For this we are very happy. Really thank you.

    • Reply Japanese Sewing Books October 7, 2017 at 7:30 am

      Wow! That’s wonderful! Glad it was easy enough to follow 🙂

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