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For all sew alongs, tutorials, including those from books as well as my own patterns

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Throwback Thursday – Free Chinese Dress / Qipao pattern for girls

January 19, 2017

Every year just before Chinese New Year, I see a renewed flurry of activity in our local sewing community -The Sewing Network, from mothers/aunts/crafters sewing and making Qipaos /Cheongsams for their little ones. This year I’ve decided to compile some of them to show you all the amazing things that they have done with my simple template as a base.  From adding sleeves, to tulle sleeves, going collarless for comfort, adding gathered skirts, romper style, matching doll sets. All you need to give your little girl a wide smile for Chinese New Year is a simple and free pattern, plus lots of love and creativity. 🙂

compilation3_9x9_600

This pattern had its roots 9 years ago, when I first made attempted to make a mash up dress+chinese collar for my then 3 year old daughter. Being inexperienced, I created a front flap opening, but sewed up the gathered skirt at the waist line. Needless to say, it was a struggle getting in and out of it, haha… That idea was revisited a few years later, you can imagine how traumatized I was at my failure, but I was determined to get it right, by copying the side opening from a store bought Qipao my husband bought for us from his business trip to China. I finally understood how it worked and so created a free pattern (click here for the free pattern) and launched it in January 2014, plus sewing video tutorials (click here to watch the videos on youtube) to make it easier to understand.

Anyway, this year, Chinese New Year falls on 28th Jan which is rather early. It seems like Christmas just came and went and I just got settled in the new school routine. But it’s based on the lunar calendar so it’s not up to us to decide ;P  I am still struggling to spring-clean, and am still sewing our new outfits for CNY2017. I have lowered my personal expectations for this year and I’m probably only going to make one outfit per person instead of 2. I just hope I can make it in time!

In the meantime, have a look through and get inspired by these creative ladies from our local sewing group – The Sewing Network. Click on the arrows to see the next slide. The copyright of photos belong to the owners as stated in each picture. If you wish to be included in the gallery, just message me on Facebook or email me with your photos.  Enjoy and be inspired!
abigailchee

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Boys Sewing Patterns Sew-along Sewing Videos

Sew-Along for Boy’s Stand-Up Collar Shirt Day 2

January 8, 2017

Well, somehow I did it! I always wanted to get back to making sewing videos because it is just so much easier to explain using videos instead of words or even still pictures. I managed to clear out some table space and used a clamp instead of tripods to take the videos. However, you will notice I did not film some of the simpler sewing steps. This is because I would have needed a second clamp and make multiple adjustments to the settings everytime I moved the camera. So for the easy sewing bits like shoulder seams, side seams or serging, I did not show every single step, but I hope everything else is quite self-explanatory.

So in the last post – we traced the pattern pieces and got the fabric and interfacing cut out. Today we start sewing! So without further ado, here is the video for steps 1-3. Steps 4-8 will be covered in the next video which I am still filming and editing. I am following the steps and descriptions in the book as much as I can so that it will not be confusing for you.

Happy sewing! Let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment below.

For those of you who want to sew along, here is a link to purchase the book on amazon (affiliate link)

Updated : The final video with steps 4-8 has been posted. Click here to view the next post.

Japanese Sewing Books in English Sew-along Sewing Videos

Sew Along for Boys Stand-UP Collar Shirt – Day 1

January 6, 2017

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a good break over the Christmas and holiday period. I know I haven’t posted much since last December but I was kind of burned out after the holiday. Somehow things move along a lot slower too when the kids are around during the school holidays. It’s like nothing gets done but so much needs to be done. After the mad rush of getting everything ready for them to go back to school, it’s finally time to sit down and think about what to do next!

I originally planned to write up a New resolutions post about how I am going to schedule my blog posts properly, and yes even bring back the translations requests section but then I suddenly realize that I have to start sewing for Chinese New Year which is 23 days away! Gulp…. I have to sew (at least) 2 cheongsams for my daughters, including drafting new patterns since they have grown so much since last year. And I have to sew for my little boy too! So due to the tight timeline, I have to jump right in and the first one I will tackle will be from this book.

sewchickidscover

I have posted the full book review some time ago, so you can look at the rest of the projects here if you have not purchased the book yet. This book is translated into English so no worries about following along!

boysstandupcollarshirt

I will be making the above Boy’s Stand-up Collar Shirt in Size 2. I will be taking pictures as I go along, I’m not sure if I have space/time to setup my video equipment, since having a 2 year old around means no tripods stay upright for long. What am I talking about, he doesn’t even let me out of his sight. It is 6+ in the morning here which is why I can even type this out. Anyway, I’ll probably be taking pictures, so if you can, sew-along with me! I will be splitting up this project into a few separate posts, and the length of each post will literally depend on how much I get done each day.

So the first thing you have to do, as you can see on the bottom of the right hand page below, is to flip to pg 57. See below.

instructions

You will notice the instructions are rather scant. And you may wonder where the rest of the diagrams are? Why does it jump straight to number 6? The actual steps to follow are in the order given in the top right hand diagram. but notice the little footnote near number 7? It says to follow the steps in project “t” which is on pages 62-63, which is a normal collared shirt, with the exception of step 6 which is the making of the stand up collar.

I guess this is a good way of saving paper, since there is really no point printing repeated instructions. But I do wish that was written right under the materials list, and in a larger font. ;P
howtomake1

Anyway, gripes aside, and it wasn’t too hard to figure that out anyway, let’s move along and look at the pattern pieces and materials.

For materials, the length you will need is based on standard 110cm wide fabric. The lengths are listed in order of sizes. So for Size 2, I will need 35 1/2″ or 0.9m of fabric.

For pattern pieces, you will need to look for the pieces labelled “q” and you will need 5 pattern pieces (yoke and facing are the same pattern piece)

patternsheets

The pattern pieces are spread out over 3 different pattern sheets. I can only show you two since the are printed on double side, so I am just showing you how I located the pieces on sheet 1 and 3.

Pattern sheet 1 – Q – yoke and yoke facing (shown above)
Pattern sheet 2 – Q – sleeve  (on reverse side of sheet 1)
Pattern sheet 3 – Q – back, collar (shown above)
Pattern sheet 4 – Q –  front  (on reverse side of sheet 3)

Now trace your patterns out, remember that there are no seam allowances, so you have to add them on after tracing.

To know how much seam allowance to add, refer to the Layout diagram.

howtomake1

For example, the pattern labelled SLEEVE has a double line around it, and at the bottom edge of the sleeve it says 1 1/2 (4)

This means, that there is a 3/8″ or 1cm seam allowance all around, except for the bottom edge where you should add on 1 1/2″ or 4cm of seam allowance.

For other pieces where there are no numbers and just a double line, it just means add on 3/8″ or 1cm seam allowance by default. Here are examples of two of the pieces with added seam allowances.

collarandyoke

With the pattern pieces cut out, you can now cut them out of fabric. You can mix and match coordinating fabrics for the yoke / yoke facing, inner and outer collars, etc. Go ahead and be creative!

patternpieces

Here are my pattern pieces laid out on my fabric. I am using Sarah Jane’s Painted Gingham in blue. Note that I will have to cut two of the collar and two of the yoke pieces. Also, my layout is a little different from the one in the book. That is because the collar and yoke pieces have to be cut on fold, and furthermore the design in the book was using a striped fabric. So to mix things up a little the collar and yoke for the shirt in the book was running perpendicular to the rest of the shirt. So bear that in mind when you place your pattern pieces, it really depends on the print on your fabric and how you want it to appear on the shirt.

interfacing

Next, you have to cut out the pieces for the Interfacing as well. Under the LAYOUT diagram, there is one more cutting diagram for FUSIBLE INTERFACING. The instructions for the FRONT FACING section are not very clear, and you may be confused over the “shape” of the front facing. Basically there are 2 x 4cm wide strips, meant to go onto the extended seam allowance of both Front pieces, which folds back to create the button placket. This interfacing will help to stabilize your button holes and buttons.

So now you should have all your pieces ready and let’s start sewing tomorrow! I will start with some prep work and then probably steps 1-3. Crossing my fingers I can stay on schedule 🙂 If you have any questions, ask them in the comments section below.

Updated : Post for Day 2 of sew-along, with a sewing video for steps 1-3 is now available.

Finished Projects Sew-along Sewing Tutorials Sewing Videos

Chinese New Year Sewing 2016

January 31, 2016

I have not been blogging for the past few weeks, but I have a number of reasons to be very very busy. Chinese New Year is in a week’s time and I’ve been busy spring cleaning and sewing. It is customary for everyone to be dressed in new clothes for the New Year, and since we usually go visiting grandparents and relatives on the first two days, I will have to prepare 2 new outfits (per child) and that means this year I have 6 outfits to sew! At this time last year I was heavily pregnant and due to pop anytime, so I too tired to sew and I just made do with store bought clothes. This year I made sure I started early, but I’m still cutting it close. I’m only done with 4 out of 6 and I still have to make two matching bags, all before this Sunday. So this post will be short, and it will be just to share with you what I have been busy making for the past few weeks.

For this year, I decided to make them all with a little modern twist, and instead of a straight/fitting shape, I made them more fit and flare. I couldn’t decide on a particular design so I made 3 variations.

Dress #1

swans

The first dress was inspired by the fabric. The fabric is a gorgeous November Books fabric featuring the story of the Ugly Duckling. I fell in love with the colors of the fabric and I just had to buy it. The panel print along the border meant that I could not actually cut a flare skirt pattern from it, so I had to settle for box pleats instead.

swanbuttons

The dress opening is actually at the back, which makes it easier to sew, since the front is sewn shut. Don’t you love the diagonal bias tape? I had these lying around since I took part in the Mailbox Surprise Series in 2014, and when I placed it over the fabric, it just looked so perfect.

swanssleeves

I added some cap sleeves this time for a variation. See the bias facing in the lower armhole? I learnt this technique from a Japanese sewing book, it makes the armhole look really neat, since cap sleeves end halfway around the armholes.

Dress #2

bluedress

Moving on to Dress #2. The photos can’t do justice to the beauty of this dress. I had some problems with the white balance and as I also had to take photos on different days, so the color looks different in the different photos but I don’t have time to adjust it further. The design of this dress was inspired by a modern cheongsam for ladies that I saw some time ago on the internet. I think it was my cousin who showed it to me, when she asked if I could make a similar dress for her wedding. Back then I had yet to venture into making these dresses for my kids, so I did not have the confidence to take on the project, but the design stuck in my head. I loved how it looks so simple on the outside, but when the dress is in motion, you can catch glimpses of the cute matryoshka dolls hidden within the box pleats.

bluedress1

I could cut the skirt into a flare shape this time as the fabric was plain in color, so it will not mess up the flow of the prints. You can see how the skirt spreads out because of the flare pattern, which is different from the first dress where the skirts are made from rectangular pieces of fabric.

buttonsandcollars

The fabric is a lovely light blue sateen that was leftover from my tiffany blue dress and the matryoshka doll fabric was from Japan.

matryoushkadolls
A close up of the fabric covered buttons. Isn’t it cute! 🙂 I love how it adds a pop of color to the simple looking dress.

Dress #3

And finally, this must be my favourite dress of all.

 
ombredress1

The designs of the first two dresses were quite quickly finalized, and I was going to make two similar dresses from the November books fabric, so that accounted for 3 out of 4 dresses that I had to make. However, I did not have enough fabric leftover to make a second dress #2, and needed to go fabric shopping for the last dress. I brought my eldest along to Chinatown, in search of the perfect fabric, and we found it! It is a Japanese fabric produced by Junko Matsuda for Daiwabo-tex, and it has the most beautiful gradient effect I have ever seen. The fabric itself is also silky to the touch, has a sheen on the right side, and drapes wonderfully. The color? Spot on. There is another color in a beautful bluish purple, which I am leaving for another day. I can’t bear to use up all of it at once!

ombredress

The gradation of the colors meant that cutting the pieces for the dress had to be done really precisely and carefully. This dress really brought out the perfectionist in me. I actually made a mistake when cutting out the top pieces, and the color did not match at the waistline. I could not stop thinking about it, whether to go ahead and sew or to waste the pieces and cut all over again. I cut them out all over again, which explains why it took so long for me to sew three dresses.

ombrebuttons

I used the simplest Chinese knot buttons. Going with the mantra – Less is more.

ombreskirt

See the beautiful drape of the skirt? The draping called for a flare skirt pattern definitely. It took me a while to cut this piece out as I was afraid that since the gradation of colors is running horizontal, cutting a flare pattern instead of using a horizontal rectangular shape will destroy the flow of the color blending. Thankfully it is not that obvious and the fabric still looks heavenly. 🙂

Just one more picture to share. This is a little boy’s shirt that I made for my soon-to-be one year old. Oh how time flies! I basically made it using a standard shirt pattern, but lowered the necklines so that the standup collars won’t actually be too bothersome or hot. You know how fussy one year olds are with their clothing. ;P I added some yellow trim and bias just to make it look more festive.

boysshirt

For those of you interested in making your own cheongsams/qipao, you can follow my free tutorial here -> http://www.japanesesewingbooks.com/2014/01/13/free-girls-qi-pao-chinese-dress-pattern-and-sew-along/ There are free patterns and also a link to a video tutorial on youtube.

Are you sewing/have you sewn your Cheongsam for the new year? If you have sewn a dress using my free pattern, do post it on my Facebook page. I would love to see it and share it with everyone!

 

Sew-along Sewing Tutorials Sewing Videos

April Sew Along – Pattern A1 and A2 from Feminine Wardrobe – Part 2 of 2

April 24, 2014

And here is Part 2 of this month’s sew-along. Click here for Part 1  if you need to refer to it.

Just a quick note about the finishing of the hem (Step 7). Before you finish the hem, try on the dress first and see if you like the length. I found it too long (below the knee for me because I’m short), so I chopped a couple of inches off so that it was slightly above the knee. The book also called for blind stitching for the hem of the dress (A1), and a double fold hem for the tunic (A2). In any case, I would have used the machine for both patterns because I did not really like the idea of hand stitching all the way around. Anyway, my fabric was black so it was hardly noticeable.

I only finished the dress today so I couldn’t get a chance to take any proper pics before it got too dark. My 9 year old took these for me! Tip : if you have short legs like me, get a child to take your photos, her photos were taken from a lower perspective which made my legs look much longer ;P

I will try to take more photos tomorrow morning when there is more light, using other belts (which was my original intention) and also to see what it would look like in the giant bow-tie tunic (Pattern A2) style.

Alinesleevelessdress

For those of you who don’t have this book but would like to get the pattern and sew along later on, here’s the link to buy the book from Amazon.

Happy Sewing! And let me know if you have any questions by leaving your comments below.