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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 😀


Free Patterns Girls Sewing Patterns Sew-along Sewing Tutorials Sewing Videos

Girls Qi Pao (Chinese Dress) Sew Along Day 3

January 16, 2014

Today we are going to tackle the side zipper opening of the dress. This took me a few experiments to figure it out. I am not even sure if this is the correct way to do it but it works! 🙂 So here goes….

What we did yesterday…
1. Cut out fabric.
2. Preparation work – iron on interfacing for collar lining, serge edges
3. Sew shoulder seams, open seam allowances flat (sewing video)
4. Attaching the collar pieces (sewing video)
5. Finish raw edges of bodice+ collar, armholes, hemlines with bias (sewing video)

How to make (continued)
6.Attaching the zip to the side opening.
7. Sew the inner flap to the back bodice, and the side seam below the zip opening.
8. Sew up the other side seam of the dress.
9. Hand stitch to tuck in top of zip and neaten up side seams.
10. Add decorative frog/chinese knot buttons across the collar and to keep the front bodice attached to the front inner flap in place.

and here’s part 2 of the sewing video. If your connection permits, I highly recommend watching the video in 720HD – the explanatory text is a lot clearer.

For those of you who prefer pictures, I have extracted some screenshots of the key steps for today’s sew-along  so you can refer to these if it is easier to view pictures compared to video.


Align side seams where zip is going to be, with fabrics’ right sides together, sew a long basting stitch to temporary hold the back and front bodice together.


Open up the seam flat, and place the concealed zip (right sides down) onto the opened seam. Align the top of the zip to the bias binding.
Hand baste the zip down on both sides of the seam allowances.


Once the zip is basted, you can remove the first long basting stitch that was holding the front and back pieces together.


Sew the two sides of the zip to the front and back bodice respectively.


Now to sew the inner flap. First, align the inner flap from the armholes, right side facing back bodice. Mark on the wrong side of the inner flap, the position of the zip stop.


Sew with a 1cm allowance, from the top edge down to the point marked blue. Make sure your stitch line lies to the left of the zip teeth so that it hides the top of the zip behind the seam.


To secure the bottom half of the flap, change to a regular zipper foot, and sew as close to the zip teeth as possible. This time, you have to sew to the right of the zip teeth so the zip is not obstructed.



For the other side, just align from armhole to hem, pin in place and sew with a 1cm seam allowance.


Time to put some finishing touches. first, tuck in the top of the zip by folding it over the bias and then folding back . Hand stitch to keep it in place.


To prevent the side seams from sticking out, open them up and sew them down to the other side of the bias.


Sew on the decorative buttons, sew on the metal snap fasteners in the gaps  between the decorative buttons, and you’re done!

If you made this dress, do post it on my facebook page for all of us to see! I will be sewing two of these in Chinese brocade fabric over the weekend. Will post the pictures up when they are done. Hope you liked my sew-along and keep those suggestions coming for the next one!

Free Patterns Girls Sewing Patterns Sew-along Sewing Tutorials Sewing Videos

Girls Qi Pao (Chinese Dress) Sew Along Day 2

January 16, 2014

Now, let’s get started! This is what we are going to be doing today. The sewing was mainly documented in video form and I did not have enough time to take screenshots so most of the sewing process will be in the form of a video tutorial.

How to make
1. Cut out fabric.
2. Preparation work – iron on interfacing for collar lining, serge edges
3. Sew shoulder seams, open seam allowances flat (sewing video)
4. Attaching the collar pieces (sewing video)
5. Finish raw edges of bodice+ collar, armholes, hemlines with bias (sewing video)

1. Cut out pieces on fabric
As mentioned yesterday, it will be a good idea to make the first piece in a cheap fabric, just to test for fit and make any adjustments.

Following the directions on each pattern piece, layout the patterns on your fabric, and transfer the outlines using chalk/fabric markers.

These are the pieces you should have after cutting out the fabric. I have used different color fabrics for all the pieces in this tutorial, so that while I am taking close up pictures, you can still identify the individual parts of the dress without getting confused.



Do take note for the orientation of the two front pieces. If you cut the front piece by placing the pattern piece on the wrong side of the fabric, the curved edge will be on the left side of the dress. (from front centre down to left side seam). If you do that, make sure you do the same for the front inner flap, i.e. to trace and cut out on the wrong side of the fabric, and you will get two pieces that match each other.

If you wish the curve to be on the right side of the dress (running from centre front to right side seam), then mark on the right side of the fabric. Do the same for the front inner flap.  This was how I cut my fabric. I placed my pattern pieces on the right side of the fabric and this is the orientation of my pieces (right side up)


You are seeing it on the monitor and hence it is a mirror image. Imagine if you turn the dress around and put it on, and you will see that the front curve runs from the centre front down to the right side seam.

2. Preparation work

– apply fusible interfacing on collar lining piece.


– serge shoulder seam and side seams (see diagram below for edges to serge



For steps 3-5, please watch the video below. As mentioned earlier, I did not have time to extract the screenshots for a step by step photographs tutorial. So I hope it’s not a problem viewing on youtube for most of you. I do find video tutorials more useful and less words are needed for explaining the process, so I hope you will enjoy them too.

Tomorrow we will finish up with the side zip opening, side seams, and the decorative buttons down the main bodice curved opening. Before we move on to that, it will be a good idea to test the fit on your little girl (if it’s not meant to be a surprise :P). You can make some adjustments to the armholes/waist/length if you prefer the dress to be more fitting. I will leave it to your discretion.

See you back here tomorrow for Day 3 of the sew along!

Free Patterns Girls Sewing Patterns Sew-along Sewing Tutorials Sewing Videos

Girls Qi Pao (Chinese Dress) Free Pattern and Sew Along

January 13, 2014

Welcome to the first sew-along of the new year! The first sew-along will not be from my Japanese sewing books collection, but a long overdue project that I’ve been meaning to do for my other blog Cotton Candy. The Girls’ Qi Pao (pronounced ch’i-p’ao), also known as the Cheongsam or the Chinese Dress.

I made this particular dress last year as part of racial harmony day celebrations in school, and posted it on my Cotton Candy blog. It was requested by a number of readers who wanted to make this for their girls. I got the patterns drafted but never had time to get around to actually making it again. Then someone reminded recently that Chinese New Year was approaching so I better hurry up! I’ve just finished putting the patterns together, and now I just need to sew, take photographs (and take a video if I can) of the steps, which I will do so over the next few days as part of the sew-along.

Terms of use : All of the patterns I created are free for personal use only, that means, you can’t use it or modify it to make products for sale. If you want to share the source of the pattern, please credit and link it directly to my website. Thank you for respecting my work!

Read this first!!!

I have to emphasize that I have never actually learned how to make the Qi pao in the traditional tailor’s way. So what I’ve done here may not be the most “correct” way of sewing it. My attachment of the collar is definitely not textbook, but I like to do it this way because I don’t get extra stitch lines at the base of the collar lining, nor is there a need to hand stitch (you will know what I mean when we get to sewing the collar.)

– The patterns I have drafted are based on the sizes in (Metric Pattern Cutting for Children’s Wear and Babywear). I will attach the size chart in the post tomorrow for your reference. The sizing is based on height and average proportions as provided in the book. The ages for the corresponding heights given in the book are approximated based on average data, so when deciding which size to make, it will be better to take measurements of your child rather than following the height dimension alone.

– Also know that this is a midi dress dress (ends middle of calves) and also quite fitting. It is not tight-fitting like the original ladies version, as I have added some ease for the comfort of children but neither is it meant to be baggy or shapeless. As for the length, you can adjust it as you see fit.

– Because the textbook proportions may not be perfect for everyone, I suggest you make a muslin / test piece out of cheap fabric first to test for fit and make adjustments, especially if you are going to use expensive fabric.

– The younger children may not like the fitting collar, so you can want to modify the collar a little or move the decorative buttons lower down (lying on the bodice instead of the collar as shown in my photo) so that it is not too restrictive.

– I will be making the dress in Chinese brocade but you can also make it in silk/cotton, or any other fabric you fancy. Get creative and have fun!

Sew-Along Schedule

Day 1 ( 14 Jan, Tuesday)- Download PDF patterns, assembly of PDF patterns and Preparation of Materials.
Day 2 ( 15 Jan, Wednesday) –   Sewing Part 1
Day 3 ( 16 Jan, Thursday) – Sewing Part 2

Please join me in the sew-along! Or bookmark this page for future sewing reference if you don’t have time to join in now. I will be adding links to the above scheduled posts as we go along, so you can always access all the necessary pages from this main page. That’s all for today. See you tomorrow for the sew-along!

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Free Japanese Sewing Patterns Link – Christmas Gift and Ornaments

November 26, 2013

It’s exactly one month to Christmas! If you have not started decorating or preparing gifts yet, here are some free Japanese patterns & tutorials that I have found online that may inspire you. Most of these include step by step photographs and tutorials. Just click on the links are below each set of images.

1. Fabric christmas tree 

2. Fabric Christmas Wreath

3. Red Toadstool Hobby Circle Bag

4. Heartshape Christmas Ornaments

5. Patchwork Stockings

6. Yoyo quilt Christmas Tree

 7. Papercraft – Christmas Tree Ornaments

8. Christmas Wreath Ornament made using Finger knitting 

9. Free Printable Advent Calendar

 Happy sewing/crafting!