Browsing Category

Sewing Tutorials

For all sewing tutorials, including sew alongs (from books) as well as my free patterns

Free Patterns Ladies Sewing Patterns Sewing Tutorials Sewing Videos

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. 
    pattern_qipao_makingadjustments4
  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.
    pattern_qipao_makingadjustments5
  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!

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

mademyownqipao
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.

Materials

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.

    qipaoback

    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.

    ladiesqipaoseamallowances
  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!

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.

Sew-along Sewing Tutorials Sewing Videos

April Sew Along – Pattern A1 and A2 from Feminine Wardrobe – Part 1 of 2

April 21, 2014

This month’s sew-along, as decided by your votes, is this Sleeveless Dress with Bow Sash from the book Feminine Wardrobe (translated to English).  Those of you who took part in the poll early this month will know that it was a very close fight between this and a the Button up blouse from Stylish Dress Book. But there has to be a winner, so this is what we will sew today!

aprsewalong (2)

The dress we are sewing is Pattern A1 of Feminine Wardrobe. The good news is that there are 3 variations of this pattern A.
Pattern A1 – Sleeveless dress with bow sash
Pattern A2 – Giant Bow-Tie Tunic (see pics below)
Pattern A3 – Ruffle Shoulder Dress

femininewardrobe 13

femininewardrobe 12

Patterns A1 and A2 are long and short versions of the same pattern, whereas A3 incorporates ruffles into the vertical seams. The steps for A1 and A2 are identical, and for A3 the only slight variation in steps are the insertion of the ruffles. So basically this one sewing video tutorial can help all those of you who are sewing one of these 3 patterns.

To kick off the sew-along, here are the list of materials you would need

Pattern A1
XS/S sizes – 1.1m wide x 3.5m long.
M/L sizes – 1.1m wide x 3.7m long.

I only purchased 3m, as I decided I was going to make the ribbon in another fabric, or even do without the ribbon and use a belt instead. I am only 3/4 of my way through making the dress so there are no completed photos of it yet. I will post photos when I’m done.

For Pattern A2 you will need less fabric since it is shorter –
XS/S – 1.08m x 2.6m
M/L – 1.08m x 2.7m

(The difference in fabric width is due to the type of fabric used. Pattern A2 used a silk seersucker in the book, while A1 used a printed cotton lawn)

The sew-along videos will be posted in 2 separate parts.

Today 21st April – Part 1 – Steps 1-4
Thursday 24th April – Part 2 – Steps 5-9

Here’s the video for today. Do watch out for Part 2 that will be posted this Thursday.

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.