Free Patterns Sewing Tutorials

Free Qipao / Cheongsam / Ladies Chinese Dress Pattern

November 9, 2016

Ever 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 been thinking about making the same pattern for adults for a long time, but was hesitant to do so because the adult’s version is a much more challenging dress. It is a fitting dress that hugs your curve (Note: not the same as tight!) It would be hard to create a standard set of patterns that will achieve the same effect. This is the same reason why most people choose to tailor make their Qipaos, because you simply need it to be made to your size.

So there is this local sewing community group of Facebook that I am a member of, and recently the same topic came up, as all the sewing enthusiasts are getting ready to start sewing for the New Year. I decided to try drafting it for my size and despite my disbelief that I would actually be able to fit into the dress while drafting it, I was pleasantly surprised that it really was not that difficult, and yes I did fit into it. I was also surprised that it actually made me look rather slim, and this debunks the theory that you need to look like a model to look good in a qipao. You just need one that fits you well. Read Part 2 – How to make adjustments to the free patterns here

Some photos from my own testing. Note that this is still an unfinished piece, as I ran out of bias while sewing and I have no red buttons to complete the dress! Hence the front piece is not quite fixed in place. So, emboldened by my personal “success”, I present to you, a set of free Qipao sewing patterns for your personal use. I can only test my own size, and as I’m between a M and L these will be available for download. I used standard measurements from the Winifred Aldrich “metric pattern cutting for women’s wear” as well as a Qipao sloper diagram to draft these patterns, but as I mentioned earlier, that in order to achieve perfect fit, you will need to make some adjustments for your own shape and size. I will be writing up another post about adjusting the standard patterns for your own measurements later on. So watch out for it.

Note that these patterns are free for testing, please leave me your comments below if you find anything missing in the patterns. For fit issues, please refer to the section below on Adjustments for Fit. I will now give you the materials and instructions on making the toile. This post will focus on getting the right size and right fit. Very important! Make a muslin/toile first! This is very important. Especially if you are intending to use a special fabric. Do not cut into it until you are sure your qipao fits you well! I used a cheap $1.40/m cotton for my muslin. Long stitches without backstitching the ends so that I can quickly undo it and make adjustments.

The following describes the Materials and instructions for making a toile.
Once you have perfected the fit, use the toile to work on your nice fabric to make your own Qipao.


At least 1.5 m of muslin/cotton/anything you can cut into without crying if you make a mistake. Preferably a plain light colored fabric that you can easily make markings on.

An invisible zipper that is long enough to extend from your underarm (side of bust) down to the hips.

Bias tape – if you want to practice attaching the bias on the curved edge of the qipao and collar. For beginners you might find it a little challenging to get a smooth flat finish especially when the front bodice curves up to the collar, so it might be good to test it out on the muslin, but for fit purposes it is not neccesary to finish the edge with bias.

How to make

  1. Take proper measurements of your bust, waist and height. Make sure the tape measure is parallel to the ground and around the widest part of your curves. Do not tighten the tape measure when measuring, it must be just resting on your skin. Be truthful to yourself. Nobody will be able to tell the exact measurements, but if you hold your tape measure too tightly around your tummy for example, then the qipao will look tight at the tummy when finished, which makes it look ill-fitting.
  2. Using these measurements, refer to the size chart and select your size.
    Size Bust Waist Hips
    M 88 72 96
    L 96 80 104
  3. Please visit my PDF pattern store – Porcupine Patterns to download the patterns.
  4. If you have downloaded the PDF pattern, you will realize that I have separated the skirt piece from the bodice pieces. The reason for doing this was to use less paper, which not only means saving the environment, but also easier piecing.patternpiecing
    My pattern only uses 16 pieces in a 4×4 grid. Use recycled paper whenever you can since you are going to cut it up anyway. You will need to use the skirt piece for both the front and back pieces. Here’s how. Let’s start with the back pieces.


    The front pattern piece is traced in 3 steps, as follows. Note that the front piece is traced on the right side of the fabric. Note the orientation of the front piece. The curve should be running down the right side of the chest towards the right arm.
    qipaofront1Flip the skirt piece to match the other side seam. qipaofront2

  5. Seam allowances are NOT included in the pattern. This is to cater for possible pattern adjustments. Do all the pattern adjustments before adding on seam allowances. Follow the diagram below to add on your seam allowances.

  6. Transfer markings to your muslin and cut. Now you are ready to sew!
  7. The first thing you have to do is to sew up the bust darts and the waist darts. Use a long stitch so that you can undo the darts for fine adjustments if needed.
  8. Other than that, the process of sewing up the rest of the Qipao is pretty much the same as the kids version. So you can follow the sew-along / video tutorial series.

However, do note that my way of attaching the collar is not the traditional way of sewing on a collar. It was my one step short-cut way of preventing the dreaded collar-not-matching-neckline nightmare, and also a quick and easy way to hide the raw edges without having the baste the inner collar. So if you are not used to my method, please feel free to use my free patterns and attach the collars in your favourite way. If you are in between sizes, read part 2 here about making adjustments for your own measurements. I will also do another write up about variations of the classic design, adding sleeves, and discuss decorative ways of embellishing the Qipao when I have more time to do so.

Oh and one more thing. If you do make a Qipao using this pattern or the kids version, do post it on Facebook/Instagram with the hashtag #MadeMyOwnQipao to be eligible for a very special giveaway at the end of the year!

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  • Reply Wenyin November 9, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    Thanks so much for putting up this post and pattern. While I am from sunny Singapore, I am currently overseas and having to spend Chinese New Year abroad. This comes at a perfect time! Hopefully wearing a qipao then will bring some festive cheer.

  • Reply Making adjustments to your Ladies Qipao / Cheongsam / Chinese Dress Free Pattern | Japanese Sewing, Pattern, Craft Books and Fabrics November 10, 2016 at 9:20 am

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  • Reply Corinne Bouyssie November 19, 2016 at 1:31 am

    Bonjour, je ne vois pas ou est la deuxième partie pour finir la robe, merci pour ta reponse

  • Reply sue yeung January 6, 2017 at 11:26 am

    Thank you for the pattern!

  • Reply Sheila Wan January 9, 2017 at 11:25 am

    Thank you for the patterns. Do I print them in A4 or A3 paper?

    • Reply Japanese Sewing Books January 11, 2017 at 10:53 pm

      Print them on A4 paper. 🙂

      • Reply Janelle February 20, 2017 at 9:09 am

        Should it be printed scale to fit or not?

        • Reply Japanese Sewing Books April 7, 2017 at 9:21 pm

          No, always print at 100% size for all patterns.

      • Reply Bonnie Ward June 10, 2017 at 8:36 am

        Hi … do you have this pattern but with a short sleeve ?

        • Reply Japanese Sewing Books June 13, 2017 at 4:52 pm

          Sleeves are in the works! 🙂 Planning for more options the next round…

  • Reply Starting yet another Chun Li costume – Costumes and Cosplay January 21, 2017 at 8:35 am

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  • Reply Chinese New Year Sewing 2017 | Japanese Sewing, Pattern, Craft Books and Fabrics January 26, 2017 at 10:46 pm

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  • Reply Genevieve February 5, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    Hi, I am making adjustement to the xl pattern. the hip line that you state in your table is 112cm. So if I do the calculation as your instruction for the adjustement. H/4 should give 28cm. But on the actual xl pattern it is 25. On the print out it said XL. Am I wrong?Thanks By the way thank you so much for the pattern!

  • Reply Frankie February 13, 2017 at 7:06 am

    Hello 🙂 First of all thank you so much for this pattern! My question is, do we print “fit to page” or not? Hope to hear from you soon 🙂

  • Reply Wadoowindi February 28, 2017 at 6:28 am

    Hello Yi Farn-

    Does the pdf pattern have a “Test Square” so I can make sure it is printing the correct size? I used A4 paper but my printer auto shrinks the image to 91% to get it to fit on the page. At 100% the pattern lines and arrows do not fit on the page. This is for the sz L ladies qipao pdf pattern. Thank you.

    • Reply Japanese Sewing Books April 7, 2017 at 9:20 pm

      No, but I know I should add it in 🙁 I will next time! Are you using A4 paper? I find that if the setting is at letter size it will shrink to 91% automatically. So change it to A4 and do not scale the image and the lines should fit.

  • Reply Ia Soloviova June 11, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    Thank’s a lot. It was my dream. Thank you, thank you. It’ s only for me.

  • Reply Nile Remsing August 6, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    thank you, I have finally lost enough weight to look good in one of these beautiful dresses.

  • Reply GinaGaladriel August 14, 2017 at 8:44 am

    I’ve always wanted to have a new qipao mine no longer fits since I was super skinny when my grandpa and grandma gave me mine, I was so skinny they had to take it in, but now I’m an XXXL, if you will, but is 135, Do you have any plans on making the pattern bigger than XL? Thank you 🙂

  • Reply magdalcecilia October 20, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Hi, how should i increase the measurements on the drawing for plus size?

  • Reply Su Mitchell October 27, 2017 at 11:54 am

    Nearly finished a qipao using a java print bought in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (fabric is not from Zim though). Your post was really useful. I made my own pattern from my own close fitting dress block. Like you I used Winifred Aldrich’s book. Very pleased. Thank you.

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  • Reply Cortney November 15, 2017 at 5:05 am

    I do have a question. Do you use centimeters or inches for measurement? I’m mostly asking because I am a very small woman.

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