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Making adjustments to your Ladies Qipao / Cheongsam / Chinese Dress Free Pattern

November 10, 2016

This is part 2 of the series on Making a Ladies Qipao / Cheongsam / Chinese Dress. In the first part, I have included free pattern downloads in standard sizes S,M and L. But as I mentioned yesterday, it is hard to achieve a perfect fit unless you are lucky enough to fall within the standard size dimensions. This article should help those of you who are slightly off the standard sizes, or straddling between sizes and don’t know which to choose. This may not work so well if you have very drastically different measurements for bust/waist and hip. (for example Barbie ;P) In which case you will need a custom pattern which will accommodate a fuller bust.

Two scenarios.

No alteration of patterns
If you are only 1-2cm off for each measurement, it is still good enough as you can make adjustments to the darts to achieve perfect fit without having to alter the pattern. Pick the size which is best for your bust area and make adjustments to the waist darts. If the hips are too loose after making your toile, use a larger seam allowance till it fits you the way you want it too. That is why making a toile is important.

Altering the standard size patterns
However, if you are straddling between sizes (like me), here is a quick and dirty way of making adjustments to the pattern. I will suggest first of all, choosing the pattern based on the bust size that fits you best. This is because the upper bodice includes waist and bust darts, both of which are already positioned to shape the bust properly. It will not be as easy to modify the darts on the bodice as this requires a lot more shifting of points and it will also affect the neckline which in turn affects the collar. As I mentioned earlier in the first paragraph, this method will not work if you are say like Barbie. Super skinny (therefore small neck and shoulders) but big bustline, because the necklines and bust for larger sizes increase proportionately. So if you choose a XL bust but your neck is small, then the collar will not wrap your neck nicely.

So to repeat myself, this method works if your measurements are not more than 1 or 2 sizes apart. For example, my personal measurements fall within M and L, so I will use the M bodice size and make waist and hip adjustments accordingly. This is how I do it. We will make adjustments to the skirt pattern piece (original pattern without seam allowances) first. Lines in pink indicate new measurements and new lines. Use the original patterns on a larger piece of drafting paper to trace out the new pattern pieces.

You will need the following measurements – your waist (w) and hip circumference (h).  All measurements in my diagrams and calculations are in cm.

I am using Size S pattern as an example, where the original waist size is 64cm. I will change this to 67cm.
The hip size will be changed from 88cm to 92cm.

Now do your math
New waist line -> w/4 + 2.5  = 67/4 + 2.5 = 19.25cm
New hip line -> h/4 = 92/4 = 23cm

  1. Working on pattern piece E for the skirt only. Place your original pattern piece on a larger piece of drafting paper. From the centre line, draw a perpendicular line along the waist line, to the length of 19.25cm and mark this new point on your drafting paper.
  2. Do the same for the new hip line – mark at 23cm. pattern_qipao_makingadjustments1
  3. From the hip line, extend a perpendicular line to the hem. You can make adjustments to the length. Just measure the desired dress length from your hips to wherever you want it to end.
  4. From the centre line, extend a perpendicular line towards the line you drew in step 3.
  5. Where lines 3 and 4 meet, draw a 1cm square inside the intersection.
  6. pattern_qipao_makingadjustments2 pattern_qipao_makingadjustments3Draw a curve down joining the new waist line to the new hip line
  7. Draw a slight curve joining the new hip line to the top left corner of the square you drew in step 5.
  8. Draw a slight curve for the hem from the centre line to the top left corner of the square.
    Make sure that the curves you draw for 6 and 7 flow from one point to another in a gentle curve, otherwise you will get an odd shape along the side seam. 
  9. Now cut out the new skirt pattern and join it to the back bodice pattern. Draw a line down the armhole to the new waist line. You can draw a slight curve too that joins to the waist line.
  10. Now use the new skirt piece and attach it to the front bodice. Draw a new line down the armhole below the bust dart to the new waist line.
  11. Repeat for the other side.

Note that for the upper bodice pieces, there is only a slight amendment which is to widen the waist line. You don’t have to retrace the entire bodice on drafting paper. You can just make the adjustment on fabric if you wish.

And that’s it! Quite simple actually, let me know how it works out! Show me some pictures by hashtagging #MadeMyOwnQipao on Facebook/Instagram!

Next part of the series, I will talk about some variations and embellishment ideas for the Qipao. This will probably be up only next week as I need to get sewing too!

Japanese Sewing Books Ladies Sewing Patterns

Book Review – Couturier Sewing Class 2

October 12, 2016

These photos have been sitting in my phone for at least a month, waiting to be uploaded. Now that the exams are over, I finally have time to write up my book review!


Today I will be reviewing the second book from Couturier Sewing Class – titled Good Clothes for Adults (translated literally 😛 ) Those of you who have read my previous review of the first book will know that I’m a big fan of this book, for the easy, quick sewing and very wearable pieces. Great for busy mums like me. I made 3 tops out of the previous book, and I’ve already made 1 from this one!


A quick glance at the contents page, showing you all the projects available in this book. There are tops, bottoms, dresses, even a bag pattern.


Here are some of my favourites


A two-tone pullover, matched with a gathered yoke pants


A raglan sleeve dress, I love the use of the eyelets on the puff sleeve.


All-in-one. That was the title given to this outfit, but it’s more like a jumpsuit? Made in knit material.


A classic but probably very useful pattern to have – a simple slip.


This was the one I made. V-neck pullover. Love the simple styling and it was a very quick sew.


A longer variation of the same pattern – A V-neck dress.


A simple pullover (again, this was the name given to this top in the book) I prefer to call it a boat-neck top? One of my favourite necklines and I think I will make this next.


A couple of simple tote bags with frill details all around. Simple but cute!


Bottle-Neck Coat. I can’t find this particular style using English search terms, but in Japanese, it turns up a lot of results for bottle neck coats on sale. It seems to describe a coat style which is collarless, with the top flaps overlapping and buttoned down, well, like the one above.


One Tuck Skirt. While it looks like a wrap skirt, it really is just a tuck in the front. Oh, and one more at the back as well. So does that make it a two-tuck skirt instead? ;P


This is a top variation of the raglan sleeve dress you saw earlier. And here you can see the gathered shoulders and how puffy the sleeves really are.


There are two sewing lessons with step by step photographs. One is for the gathered yoke pants,


The other is for the two-tone pullover/dress variation.


Sizes for this book range from S-LL, please refer to the size chart above. These are actual body measurements and not finished garment sizes. The words in the table on the left column are : Height, Bust, Waist and Hip. It may also help to know that the model in the book is 170cm tall, useful if you need to make amendments to the length.


The standard how-to-make section,


Followed by the actual size pattern pieces.


and I end this book review with a book flip-through video, so that you can see the rest of the book. Follow me on instagram as that is where I post all my book flip-through videos first!

Title : Couturier Sewing Class – Good Clothes for Adults
Japanese title : Couturier Sewing Class 大人にいい服
ISBN No. : 9784529055666
Sizes : S,M,L,LL
28 projects

Otona ni Iifuku / Yukari Nakano
Buy now from CDJapan (affiliate link)

Japanese Sewing Books Ladies Sewing Patterns

Book Review – May Me Style Home Sewing Basics

March 12, 2016

Moving down the list of books waiting to be reviewed, here is another book I bought during my last holiday in Japan. It was released November 2015 and it is by quite a familiar name in the Japanese Sewing Books category. The author is Michiyo Ito, designer of May Me Style. The last May Me Style book I reviewed was this one in Chinese.


If you are familiar with May Me Style books, they usually feature simple but sweet designs, using cotton and linen fabrics for a natural look. This book is not just a sewing pattern book though, it is in fact, a textbook and sewing pattern book combined. The title is Home Sewing Basics Book, and I think it’s great for all home sewing enthusiasts, whether you are a beginner or an advanced sewer . It is a rather thick book, 111 pages and is full of useful patterns and essential sewing techniques.


The index page is all in Japanese, no pictures, so it might throw some of you off,  but to summarize the contents, the book starts off with some basic steps of sewing, followed by 16 projects of varying difficulties and techniques.


Before we begin, here is the size chart for the patterns included with this book.


As mentioned earlier, the book starts off with the basics. From tools you need,


to selection of materials…


to threading of your machine….


tracing and laying out your patterns,


to cutting out your fabric. Everything is detailed in step by step photographs. The descriptions are in Japanese though, but I think the photographs are quite self-explanatory.

The second section of book introduces 16 different projects that you can make. For each project, you will get to learn a different technique (see the red dotted box below the description). The projects will progress to more difficult techniques and by the time you finish the book, you should be quite an accomplished sewist!

Please forgive the slightly crooked pictures as I took these pictures while the baby was sleeping on me in the sling. 😛


Item 1 – A-Line Dress.
Techniques to be learned – Darts, Attaching Bias tape

Notice that for each item, there is also a table below with some sizing info. This is the completed garment dimensions. So it gives you an idea of the fit and allows you to select the correct size to make.


As mentioned above, this book is like a sewing textbook of sorts. For every single project, there is a sewing lesson with detailed photos of the techniques. A sample of the step by step photos for item 1 is shown above.


Item 2 – Browsing Dress
Technique – Making a fabric drawstring and casing


Item 3 – Off Shoulder Tunic
Technique – Finishing necklines with facing.


Item 4 is a variation of item 3. You see the words “Arrange” above the title? In Japanese sewing books this usually means a different “arrangement” of the same pattern, or what we call a pattern variation. In this variation, you learn to make a Slash opening to the front of the tunic.


Item 5 is a Peplum blouse, where you learn the technique of making Gathers


Item 6 is a variation of Item 5 – Tuck Peplum Blouse. Instead of making gathers, you learn to make Tucks.


Item 7 is a Pin Tuck Dress where obviously, you will learn to make pin-tucks.


Item 8 is a Pullover.
Techniques to be learnt – Back slit opening, Making button loops.
The description in the box actually says Piping for the second technique, but I think it is an error because I looked through the instructions and could not find any piping used. The neckline and sleeve openings are finished using bias tape as well.


Item 9 is a variation of item 8 – a Back opening pullover.
In this project, you will learn a different method of making a back opening using a row of buttons. you will also learn how to make button holes.


Item 10 – Knit Cut and Sew.
Techniques – Sewing with knits, Matching prints on fabrics (how to cut fabrics so that the prints on the side are joined properly)
I have come across this term “Cut and Sew” many times while shopping at Uniqlo, and never really knew what it means. I wondered if it was a real sewing term and apparently it is! It is well explained in this article here.


Item 11 – Collar band blouse
Techniques – Attaching a collar, making a sleeve placket, attaching buttons


Item 12- Gathered Skirt
Technique – Attaching hidden side pockets to a skirt


Item – 13 Flared Skirt
Techniques – Attaching a concealed (invisible) fastener (zipper), finishing the hems of a flared shape.


Item 14 – Wide Pants
Technique – Attaching pants pockets


Item 15 – Slim Pants
Technique – attaching side pockets


Item 16 – Leggings
Techniques – Making simple adjustments to pattern, sewing with knits


2 large actual size pattern sheets, double sided printing, which makes a total of 4 pattern sheets.


A picture of the author, and links to her website where you can find more of her works and books.

This book is definitely a keeper for me, as there are so many techniques in here that I have yet to try, for example the sleeve placket and the different types of side pockets. The clear picture references are really useful as it means I don’t have to keep checking the terms or whip out a dictionary to understand the steps completely. On top of that, there are also useful tips and notes for certain projects. For example, there are pictorial comparisons of how your choice of fabric makes a difference in the draping and fullness when making a flare skirt, or how the degree of gathers makes a difference to the look of a peplum top. I will certainly recommend this book if you are a beginner as well, as it starts off with the very basics.  The thickness of the book also makes the book really worth it for the price! 🙂

Nuinagara Oboerareru Home Sewing No Kiso BOOK May Me Style / Ito Michiyo / Cho

Buy now from cdjapan (affiliate link)

Title : May Me Style – Home Sewing Basics Book
Author : Michiyo Ito
ISBN No: 978-4-529-05500-0


Japanese Sewing Books Ladies Sewing Patterns

Book Review – Couturier Sewing Class

February 16, 2016

It’s been a while but now I’m ready to get back to regular programming… i.e. book reviews!

Today’s book review is a book that I bought in October last year. That’s before I got caught up in the whirlwind of holiday sewing. It is a good thing that there are not that many new sewing books released during the winter months, as the publishers turn their focus to knitting and crochet books. But I better get started on reviewing the rest of the books on my list or I won’t be allowed to buy any more new ones!


The title of the book is Couturier Sewing Class – Ladies’ Daily Wear. Patterns for S, M, L, LL are available. The author is Nakano Yukari, the founder of Couturier Sewing Class. She first opened a sewing class for sewing children’s wear in 2002 and in 2011, started sewing class for adults as well.


A quick glance at the contents pages. There are 27 projects to sew altogether. Do note that the 27 projects include length variations, or similar patterns with minor design/fabric variations.


Let’s have a closer look at some of the projects included.


Wide pants. A comfortable pair for a casual day out. The ribbon tie is not sewn on, so it’s optional.


Raglan sleeve dress made with wool. Quite a simple design and cut, but I think the choice of fabric makes the dress really stand out. The draping of wool is much more structured than just using plain cotton, so if you want to achieve the same look, do take note of the type of fabric used.


Soft tuck skirt in linen.


Tapered Pants. I love how this pair looks but I always find tapered pants a little tricky for my big hips.  The pants are paired with a simple french sleeve pullover shirt, with a simple loop and button enclosure at the back.


Dolman Blouse (in wool). Oh how I love this piece! This piece is shown in two different fabrics in the book. The picture above is in a knit wool version, whilst the one shown on the cover is the same blouse but in cotton lawn. And since it is a dolman sleeve, it means no separate cutting of sleeves. Less patterns to trace, cut and sew. What’s not to love about that. It looks so simple and stylish too. This is going on my to-do list.


French Sleeve Dress. I’m not a big fan of the front ruffles, and this dress shape again, favors the straight body shape.


Gown Coat. A relaxed dressing gown type of coat for going out.


Gather Pullover in  Cotton Lace. You can tell that I’m in love with a top when I just got distracted and left this window, to open another one just to search for this fabric. It’s not really a lace fabric, but a cotton eyelet fabric. I even found one that looks similar on but I caught myself just in time before checking out. I decided that I will look for something in my own “fabric store” before buying something new :P, and boy did I find the right fabric – I’m trying to choose now between a maroon or blue nani IRO Fuccra fabric. The only problem is, I am finding it hard to convince myself to cut into it. Anyway, in between writing this post, I’ve already traced the patterns and done a quick muslin, and I love it! It’s just what I needed to wear over my nursing tops. And the fact that it’s a pullover, means no buttons/zips. Quick and easy sew. Will share on the blog as soon as I am done.


This raglan sleeve pullover top, is actually a shorter version of the raglan dress in wool you saw earlier. This is made in a jacquard fabric, which has even more structure.


Round collar with 3/4 sleeves blouse, shown here with the wide pants (with the optional ribbon tie).


Hooded Poncho


Simple Coat


Working apron.


Low waist dress (in polyester). The shape is cute, and even though I’m not a fan of polyester, you can’t deny it’s easy-care qualities. I do compromise when buying store bought clothes, but when it comes to sewing I do prefer cotton, or blends. I do find the fabric interesting though. Why, you might ask, isn’t it just a simple polka dotted fabric? Well, if you look closely, do you notice how the spaces between the horizontal dots are smaller than the spaces between the rows? Most polka dotted fabric also come in staggered repeats with equal spacing vertically and horizontally. It is quite unusual isn’t it? At least I have not come across similar fabrics.


There are some basic sewing tips, but descriptions are in Japanese, so it may or may not be useful for you.


There is one lesson included for the V-neck pullover top.


Sizes for this book range from S to LL. This size chart is based on your body measurements (and not garment measurements).
The column on the left reads : Height / Bust / Waist / Hip


The rest of the sewing instructions are laid out in the standard format, with individual diagrams for each step.


There are 2 double sided printed pattern sheets.


Title : 大人の日常服 (Heart Warming Life Series)
Couturier Sewing Class – Ladies’ Daily Wear
Author : Nakano Yukari
ISBN No. : 978-4-529-05489-8

I am in love with this book, in fact, I have plans to sew two of the tops already, which says alot about a book. I like how the designs are simple, and easy to make, with minimal enclosures like zips and buttons. In particular, the designer’s choice of fabrics has inspired me to buy more solid colored, but interesting textured fabrics. I think I have way too many prints in my stash, bought because they were cute, or pretty, but not quite wearable on a daily basis. Well, now I can’t wait to get back to my sewing, hopefully I will have time to finish it by tomorrow.

Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Books in English Ladies Sewing Patterns

Book Review – Stylish Party Dresses (Now in English)

August 27, 2015

It is always exciting to see newly translated Japanese Sewing Books, hot off the press, in my mailbox! A big thank you to Tuttle who not only sent me these two books for review – Stylish Party Dresses: 26 Easy and Inexpensive Sew-It-Yourself Dresses for that Special Occasion & Stylish Remakes: Upcycle Your Old T’s, Sweats and Flannels into Trendy Street Fashion Pieces, but is also sponsoring a book giveaway for this book that I am about to review right now. Yes you heard me right! GIVEAWAY!

Before we all keel over in excitement, let’s take a look at this lovely book shall we? After all if you are not lucky enough to win it, you will want to buy one for yourself. This book is named Stylish Party Dresses by our favorite Japanese Sewing Book authors – Yoshiko Tsukiori. If you are not familiar with her, she’s the author of many many sewing books. Quite a number have been translated into English as well. Just click here to see all her books that I have reviewed.


I did not recognize the book initially as a different dress was used for the original book cover, and the title was also changed from Formal & Little Black Dress to Stylish Party Dresses (see below).


There are 26 projects you can make in this book, but not all are for dresses. Included are 3 bolero patterns that you can use with the dresses as cover-ups.


The contents page is a lot more descriptive and detailed compared to the original one (below), which was rather minimalistic.


Now let’s have a look at some of my favorite pieces from this book. There are just far too many pieces to cover in one blog post!


The book starts off with the dress on the cover. A simple dress with a midi tulle skirt. The dress itself is made of satin backed shantung fabric which gives it a touch of class and elegance despite its simple lines.

dress b

This black lace dress is made using black lace fabric overlaid on a grey polyester crepe de chine. A quick search for crepe de chine gave me this definition “Crepe de Chine, also spelled Crêpe De Chine, (French: “crepe of China”), light and fine plainwoven dress fabric produced either with all-silk warp and weft or else with a silk warp and hard-spun worsted weft.” – 

dress_c and bolero_d

Beneath the Cape Sleeved Bolero is a simple sleeveless dress. The bolero is made of a georgette fabric which is lightweight and drapes really well. Perfect for the soft flowy look.


This was the dress featured on the Japanese version of the same book. I always felt it was a little plain for a book named Stylish Party Dresses, but check out the back of the dress…


So apparently the details are in the back of the dress. A large ribbon tie! This dress is made from silk striped chiffon and is lined.


I am not usually a fan of these big shapeless dresses, but I do love how the choice of the fabric – CD Shantung, has on the overall effect. First the sheen, as well as the structure of the dress. In the dress description, it is noted that the fabric has a little more body and visible fibres than regular Shantung, and different levels of “shine” on different sides, so you can choose which is the “right side” of the fabric when making the dress depending on the level of shine you want. But what is CD Shantung? I have no idea, and it doesn’t seem to be a regular term. I am guessing it is a slubbed version of shantung? I do think that tafetta can achieve the same effect too if you can’t find the exact same type of fabric.


Another bolero, this time in black lace, used over the same shantung dress above.


A Wrap-Look Dress in Liberty Jersey.

dress_h in black

The black jersey version of the same dress. For a moment I thought it was a velour fabric as it does have a velvety sheen to it.


Another one of those look so simple dresses but the beauty lies in the design of the draping of the fabric. The sleeves are cut extra wide at the end, same goes for the main bodice and back. The skirt is just a simple skirt made in the same fabric of silk jacquard. But wait till you see the back view of this top.


Love this ribbon tie detail on the back! In this picture, the same top is matched with a long chiffon skirt in print. A totally different look, from the full two-piece set, but nevertheless very elegant and pretty.


A very cute and youthful dress made with satin backed shantung. The detachable collar is made using organdy and attached on using snap fasteners. Just to clarify, the dress itself has a regular collar in the same fabric, the organdy collar sits on top of it and snaps on the inner neckline (so the snaps can’t be seen if you are not using the detachable collar.


This dress is called the Dress with Pin Tucks, but you might be wondering, where are the pin tucks? It’s a little hard to see as they are obscured by the Liberty print fabric. There is a black version in the book which shows off the pin tucks really nicely, unfortunately the photos I took can’t quite display the pin tucks well so I’ve left it out.


A Two-piece set in Georgette fabric.  The blouse and skirt are actually separate pieces, and you can wear the blouse tucked or untucked. The skirt has two interesting horizontal tucks across a section of the front and back panels that gives it an irregular hem.


This must be my favorite party dress of all the dresses in this book. A Tafetta two piece dress. The blouse has a ribbon detail while the skirt is embellished with diagonal ruffles. Love the color of the pretty tafetta fabric on this.

dress_x with bolero

One more bolero pattern – A bolero with frilled front edge in georgette. The frills drape nicely along the front giving it a more three dimensional look. The bolero is seen here with a long chiffon dress.

sample how to make

An example of the pattern instructions. Units are provided primarily in inches, with the metric equivalents in brackets. Most of the instructions are simple enough to understand. The steps that require more explanation are usually accompanied by diagrams.

sample diagrams

A close up of the diagrams included in the book.


A handy pocket is attached for storing your pattern sheets. There should be 2 double sided pattern sheets enclosed.


More sewing books in English from Tuttle Publishing. To see my reviews of  Japanese sewing books in English, click here.


available on Amazon for pre-order now

Title : Stylish Party Dresses
Author : Yoshiko Tsukiori
ISBN No. : 978-4-8053-1366-4


This book will only be released on Amazon on the 15th of September, but here is your chance to win a copy of the book before it is released!

Tuttle Publishing will be kindly sponsoring TWO copies of this book. So there will be two lucky winners! Just enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter app below with either your Facebook account or your email address. You can get additional entries from liking Tuttle Publishing on Facebook, Japanese Sewing Books on Facebook, or tweeting about the giveaway. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway