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Hacking the Ladies Qipao to a 2 piece set

January 3, 2023

For this year, in the spirit of reducing my cluttered wardrobe with pieces that can only be worn once, I’ve decided make a more versatile and multitasking outfit, by using the same pattern, but hacked into a 2pc set. I’ll wear them both together as a two piece set on the first day of the lunar new year, and I can easily mix and match the top with jeans and the skirt with a plain tee for another day.

Changes at a glance.

Top : I reduced the collars height by 1cm for a more casual look. Made the front piece by cutting on fold from centre front. I wanted it cropped, so I only added 2cm to the waistline mark. Sewed the bust darts but omitted the waist darts for a more boxy look. Created a neck facing piece and inserted a long slit opening on the back, closed with a loop and button. More details down below!

Skirt : I had only 2m of this Mind the maker fabric bought from Sew Good Knits , so the most effective skirt I could make was a gathered skirt with a flat waistband + elastic back for easy feasting. I actually wanted to make culottes but there wasn’t enough fabric. You could follow any skirt pattern you want. I actually used the Simple Skirt from the nani IRO sewing book as a base but I made some changes to the height of the waistband.


Now for the detailed changes to the pattern pieces you will need to recreate the crop top. The pattern pieces are based off the Multisize Ladies Qipao and I will note down where each piece is taken from.

Note that some of the illustrations below were borrowed from my other patterns such as the Qipao Jumpsuit so please read the text carefully before cutting into your fabric!


    Adjustments to collar piece (taken off sheet G  – Lined version)

Cut out 2 mirrored pairs of collars, one set outer collar (main fabric) and one set of inner collars (could be main fabric or contrast/coordinating fabric, the choice is yours)

Now sew the collars together, right sides facing. Clip curves and trim seam allowance.

Turn collars right side out and give it a good press. Understitch the inner collars, or you can also do a decorative top stitch from the right side if you want. All up to you.


Adjustments to sleeveless tight front bodice on sheet B (only need pattern up to waist line)

Armhole finishing is optional. Original pattern has no seam allowance because we used decorative bias binding. But in the hacked top I made, I used a clean finish binding (see last pic below for what I mean by that)

Next, we need a front facing piece.


Adjustments to sleeveless tight back bodice (up to waist line only) on sheet C

Back facing piece – this is a little trickier because I will be using a slit opening with a loop and button closure. This is to allow my head to get in and out of the neckline area.

After making the facing pattern pieces, cut one on fold for each (front and back) on main fabric and interfacing. Apply interfacing, overlock shoulder seams (I think I left this out on the diagram for the front facing) and all around the curves. Mark sewing line on back bodice as shown.

The following diagram shows you how I make a long piece (borrowed from instructions of Qipao jumpsuit which needed multiple button loops) For this hack you only need one 5cm piece. Cut a strip 2cm x 8cm long. After making the loop trim off the excess to a final length of 5cm. Trust me you will need it.

6. Baste button loop to right side of back bodice (ignore the red dash line for now)

7. Sew front and back bodices together, right sides facing.

8. Baste collars to bodice (starting from front centre)

9. Sew front and back facings together, right sides facing.

10. Align facing pieces around neckline of bodice pieces, pin and sew all around the neckline, make sure all the shoulder seams are open. Clip curves.

11. Sew along red dashed line (essentially 0.5cm from back centre line) around the end of the opening, and up the other side. Cut along the centre back line, stopping at the end of the slit opening, then carefully clip around the curved base.

12. Flip the facings around and give it a good press. Understitch the facing to the collars, top stitch 0.3cm around the slit opening, sew a button on the opposite side corresponding to the button loop.

13. Finish armholes with a clean finish. The measurements below are based on the Qipao jumpsuit pattern, but for the hack I used a 0.7cm seam allowance and a 2.5cm piece of bias of around 55cm for each armhole (you have to measure the armholes front and back to estimate how long a piece you will need)  You can also search up clean finish binding on Youtube if you are unfamiliar with the method. This was covered in the sewing tutorial for the jumpsuit pattern as well.

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The Short Sleeve Work Dress from Nani IRO Sewing Studio

August 30, 2019

I have been quiet… quietly obsessing with this fabric from nani IRO’s beau yin yang collection from 2 years ago. It is one of my favorite collections since the whole collection is in my favorite monochromatic palette.

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New Pattern Release – Ladies Qipao (New and improved!)

November 3, 2018

New pattern release in my Porcupine patterns store! Ok at first glance it doesn’t seem like a new release since I’ve had a free pattern for quite a while, but let me take the opportunity, since this is a blog post, to explain the differences between this and the free pattern.

The first ladies Qipao pattern I did, was simply made because I wanted to make one for myself after making so many for the kids. Those of you who do pattern drafting should know, that drafting for ladies is much more complicated than drafting for kids because of the curves involved. I looked everywhere for a pattern but found a drafting diagram from a textbook instead, and it gave very general instructions (no mention of sizing) for the construction of the Qipao. The strange thing was also that it used absolute numbers for the construction of the sloper, such as the shoulder drop, positioning of the darts etc. The rest of the measurements were based on personal measurements but mainly the bust waist and hip. At that time I just wanted to test it out, and I think by some stroke of luck and because I was quite average in size and height, it kind of worked out, although now that I look at the pictures, I can’t believe how ill-fitting it was. Lol…

So last year, when I learnt how to make a proper sloper using personal measurements, and that’s when I started offering the custom Qipao pattern at the beginning of this year.

However, the tedious process of individually exporting each set of patterns meant that it was really constrained by my “working hours” which have reduced quite a bit this year. Which is why I had to pull it off the store because I had no time to keep it as a permanent offering.

But I noticed that lots of people were still downloading the free patterns, so I thought I should use the Qipao template that I had already constructed, but fit in standard sizing data to make it work.

Then came the other problem. The sloper was constructed using more than 20 personal measurement points, many of which are not even found within one single system of measurement. So it’s Math to the rescue! I used a combination of formulae and standard data to derive all the points needed. And here is the result.

One thing you have to bear in mind – is that this is based on standard sizes, much like the ones you can find being sold in Ready-To-Wear, but with one difference. In my instructions, I will show you how to adjust the measurements to fit your size.

There are constraints though, because this is after all a fitted dress pattern so it cannot cater to every single shape and size. So, this pattern is suitable for you, if you are within this size range 0-12, and relatively proportional in size,  but upon close measurements, you find that you are always between sizes and find it hard to choose which to make.  As long as your dimensions do not span more than 2 or 3 sizes, (for example a size 6 bust and size 10 waist), then this is the pattern for you. I will show you how to grade the pattern to fit the rest of the body.

In addition to the original unlined version of the Qipao which is finished with bias, I also created a new set of instructions for a fully lined version. This was also the other challenge that I set for myself. I made a few lined versions last year, and I must say it really adds to the luxe quality of the Qipao and it really opens up  your fabric choices for the Qipao since there will be no problems with structure/ transparency. However, the method of making it was completely different and more complicated than the unlined one, so I created a sewing video to show you how it’s done. The original footage was more than 2hours long! After editing the video and speeding up the boring bits, it was still about 1hour 😛 and almost put me to sleep while watching. But having said that, the end result was exactly what I wanted. A seamless Qipao, no stitching lines visible from the outside at all, which to me was a more elegant, toned-down version of the unlined version with bias. This will be a great base pattern for an evening dress for a party of function!

Other than choosing between the Unlined and Lined version, you can choose to make this in a tight skirt style which is the standard look, or a more casual modern style which is an A-line dress. This A-line silhouette is different from the A-line style on the kids version, it is more of a fitted bodice which flares out slightly into an A-line skirt. For sleeves, you can choose from sleeveless, short or cap sleeve.

Ok enough of me rambling on, let me show you some of the pictures of the Qipaos made by me and my pattern testers!













I hope you will like this new pattern and yes I have been asked about sizes larger than 12. Look out for tester calls by joining my group Porcupine Patterns on Facebook!

To celebrate the launch, I have some launch discount codes for you!
For Ladies Qipao only. 
Use code : QIPAO20OFF
get 20% off from now till 8th November 2018.

Need to buy more than 1 pattern?

For any 2 items from the CNY range –
Ladies Qipao / Girls Qipao / Boys Mandarin Collar Shirt
Buy 2 and get 25% off each pattern.
No code needed, discount will be applied automatically at checkout.

For all 3 items – Add Ladies Qipao and the Girls and Boys bundle (…/girls-qipao-and-boys-mandar…) to cart, and use the code QIPAOBUNDLE3 to get 25% off each pattern.

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Book Review – Handmade Dresses I want to Brag About

August 20, 2018

Today’s book review was the second most popular book chosen by you from my IG and FB poll a few weeks ago.
I can totally understand why because I actually bought this book blind…. all for that dress on the cover! It looks like a Double gauze/linen dress, and not only do I have too much double gauze in my stash, but I also needed a dress pattern like that.

The title of the book is Handmade Dresses that I want to Brag about from the Ladies Boutique series by publisher Boutique-sha. There are about 20 pcs to make from this book. 1 full size pattern sheet is included, for sizes S-LL. I wasn’t sure what to expect about the rest of the book so let’s have a look together!


The dress on the cover that made me buy the book! It’s a simple dress with a tie-string gathered waistline and the side seams are longer than the centre hems. I thought it was a linen fabric but as listed in the book, it says the fabric is a rustic cloth??? I googled it and actually found a listing of it on a fabric manufacturer‘s site. It is a french linen series but is actually Flax Yarn Dyed Poplin but the material content is 100% Flax. Honestly I think it’s just a lightweight linen 😛 I can imagine one of the nani IRO linens will be perfect for this dress!


The first dress had a really cute collar. This collar is more often seen on kids patterns but not so much for adults. I like that the front of the collar is more subtle and not so “Sailor moon” 😛


This shouted Marimekko to me because of the irregular circle dots. I’m not sure if this is a Marimekko print but I think this was really cute for this dress. It does distract a little from the dress pattern which has a slit on the neckline and gathered skirt. I prefer some kind of segmentation of the dress at the waistline which can help to prevent the maternity look.


A camisole-top with a drop waist skirt, coupled with a cute ribbon tie detail on the back. I recognized this fabric instantly. It’s the camino linen from 2018 nani IRO collection!


This dress caught my attention because of the color, but on closer look I do like the french sleeves a lot! There are two side slits which makes it look more interesting. Somehow despite it’s super loose cut, it doesn’t scream maternity as much.


These ribbon ties on sleeves and cuffs are in a lot of Korean/Japanese/Chinese dramas lately. So it must be a thing! I’m not sure about using this gingham because my kindergarten uniform was made with the same fabric. 😛

But I do like the sleeve details and yes, the belt makes it so much better!


My favorite dress in the book. Looks so simple but it’s a perfect match with the striped fabric! I like the gathered waist tie too. Will definitely be doing this next but maybe in a shorter length.


2 way casual dress – this is actually a loose wrap dress, which doubles up as a coat. I think the design is meant to be loose and layered over a top instead of being worn on its own because the position of the side ties prevent you from tightening the waist portion any further.


Another coat dress. Button up and add a belt for a casual dress. or layer it on as a coat on cooler days.

There are lots of other dresses to be made in this book so have a look at the book flip-through review below!

This book covers S-LL sizes but in actual fact they are grouped into 2 sizes as shown above. I guess it’s not much of a problem since the dresses are all meant to be loose and not fitted.


A close up of the instructions included in the book.


Only 1 sheet of patterns and it’s bound to the book which means you have to cut it out along the lines.patternsheet

There are quite a few pieces I like in there and will actually wear but I still find that most of them belong to the baggy style that I usually try to avoid. But there are some interesting collar and sleeve details that I like from some of the baggy dresses that I think can be adapted into tops instead! So I still think this was a good buy. If you like it too, here’s the link to buy it from cdJapan! (aff link)

Jiman Shitaku Naru Tezukuri One-piece / Boutique-sha

Title : 自慢したくなる手作りワンピース (レディブティックシリーズno.4616)
ISBN : 978-4834746167

button_buy-now-from-cdjapan (1)

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Book Review and Flip through video – Easy sewing by Couturier Sewing Class

July 25, 2017

Thanks for voting! I held a poll on my FB and Instagram pages, to help me decide which books to review next, since I have quite a few lined up and I just couldn’t decide. Turns out that this came out tops! No wonder, as it is the latest book by Yukari Nakano –  the author of Sewing Couturier Class books (read the previous two book reviews here – Daily wear for Ladies and Good Clothes for Ladies) This book was actually released last October but I only bought it a few months ago. She has a new book coming out in August and I will be sure to get that as soon as I can!

The title is loosely translated to – Japanese Easy Fashionable Ladies Wear to make. You can see the words “Easy Sewing” on the top. The patterns included are all easy to make, with few pattern pieces and easy finishes. No zips/buttons!


There are 6 basic patterns, from which 27 different variations can be made. Sizes included – S,M,L. There are 4 pattern sheets included.



The 6 basic patterns are namely,
A – Gathered Skirt
B – Tight Skirt
C –  Gaucho Pants
D – Bottle neck Dress
E – Drop Shoulder Dress
F – Margaret (it’s like a kind of wrap/stole/cardigan thingy?)


The first project is a Gathered Skirt, and the basic version is as simple as can be. No pattern tracing required even! Just two rectangles and an elastic waistband. A fully detailed sewing lesson, complete with step by step photographs is available for this project. It is a great project for beginners and a real confidence booster as well.

simpleskirt biasskirt

Once you have mastered the basic gathered skirt, you can move on to make more interesting ones like this one above which has the fabric cut on the bias.


Or this reversible skirt with lace and cotton lawn.


The next basic design B – is a tight skirt. It is quite similar to the gathered skirt in the construction, 2 pieces of fabrics and an elastic waistband. The variations include side pockets, back pockets and back slits. However, do note that in order to achieve a tight skirt without a zip/opening, the skirts are all made of knit/jersey material. The designer used different types of knit – acrylic knit, wool knit, polyester stretch, for the different skirts to make it simple to sew but fitting to the body.

HOWEVER, just a warning if you are a beginner. I was looking for notes on how to sew on knit material, since it is quite different from sewing wovens/non-stretch fabrics), but there was none! Sewing with knits is slightly different from sewing with wovens. It is not as scary as some make it out to be, but it does require different needles, knowing the right stitches to use, and also some practice before you can make it look as good as it does in the book.

If you already know how to sew with knits with either a serger or a sewing machine, then I think these patterns are quite nice and simple to use and also perfectly wearable. But like I said, if you are just starting out, you may find it frustrating if you try to sew it the same way as wovens. You may find your stitches popping out after a while because they are not meant to stretch.


The next pattern is for Gaucho pants. Now I’m not a big fan of this look, hence I’ve only got one picture here. You can see the rest of the variations from the book flip-through below. But basically the variations are in materials and pockets/sash belt details. There are no length variations. 3 out of the 4 variations call for stretch fabric, but I have a feeling this can be done in wovens as well, it does look rather spacious and loose-fitting (unless it’s only because the model is so skinny?)


Pattern D is a Bottleneck Dress. I think from the picture above it is quite easy to tell what is meant by bottleneck dress. As you can see the neck hole is very small, and guess what, there are no zips/buttons too, which makes it a easy sew. However, the only way for the head to get in and out of the dress is if…. the dress was made of knit fabric so that it will stretch. So the same problem applies to this set of patterns as the tight skirt. You need to learn/know how to sew with knits and the book doesn’t tell you how.

I did, however, find a small picture in one of the how-to-make sections for this particular dress (above), recommending some stretch thread and stretch needles that will go best with the wool knit. But it’s just a small picture and easily missed.


This is the bottleneck top as shown on the cover of the book, it is just a shorter variation of the bottleneck dress but with a belt sash.


Pattern E is for a dropped shoulder dress. This is an easy sew with no zips/buttons too, and the neck hole is large enough to pull it over, so you can use wovens for this. This is probably the most interesting piece as there are length variations – long (Dress), short (top), with sleeve length variations as well.


I like this one which uses cotton lace/eyelet for the sleeves and plain white fabric.


The last pattern is a margaret. I don’t know if this is the official English name for it but this is how it is spelled in the book. It is like a long rectangular piece of fabric with parts of the short ends sewn up, leaving holes for the arms to go through. It’s like a coverup/cardigan. The variations in the book are mainly combinations of different fabric. Wool knits are used here as well, but as the garment is loose and does not really require stretching of the fabric to get in and out of, I think it is possible to use normal stitches here.


Some ideas for styling using the pieces made in the book.


There are two sewing lessons in the book. The first is the gathered skirt, and the second is the drop shoulder dress.




A close up of the instructions.


Most of the patterns’ how-to-make are in the above format. It is rather simple compared to a lot of other books I have used. But as mentioned before, this book is all about simple patterns with very simple techniques. Most of which are covered within the 2 detailed sewing lessons. Also, as many of the patterns are variations, there will be references to the main pattern or other similar patterns, like the top above, steps 1-5 is based on the main pattern’s instructions on pg 37-39.


and here’s the book flip-through video!

Title : 日本一簡単に おしゃれな大人服が作れる本
Translated : Easy to make Fashionable Ladies Wear
Author :中野ユカリ Yukari Nakano
ISBN No. : 978-4800249371