Thursday, January 19, 2012

The End (and Chinese New Year) Is in Sight!

This was before I cut down the collar and added bias tape binding.

I'm getting more and more excited as this qipao starts looking more like a real garment! This is the most methodical and careful I've been about dressmaking in a long time. Or more like, ever. I've been really good about basting first to check for fit, instead of just sewing it up and then getting frustrated when I have to unpick the seam. I've been finishing my seams with seam binding, and getting better at it as I practice. Unfortunately, the insides still don't look that great, as the underlining is all marked up with washaway blue marker, and I didn't use white thread in the bobbin so the purple stitches are very, very visible. But at least it will hold up well in the wash! I've also been really thorough about fixing fit issues with extra/modified darts where necessary. 2011 me would have shrugged and left the tiny bulges and gapes, reasoning that it was good enough, but 2012 me is insisting on perfect fit! Let's hope it's not overly fitted...I've been waving my arms and such to make sure the fittedness doesn't prevent normal movement.

2011 me would have left that bagginess in the mid-back. 2012 me went back and modified the darts to take in some of the excess fabric.

Trying to figure out how the side came together was tricky. There's the upper front piece that's attached at the shoulder, but then the entire other side comes over it and buttons at the top. But how do the three pieces (back, upper front, and front) attach at the side? I was about to call my mom and ask her to find my qipao from when I was 17 and attempt to describe it to me over the phone, but then I came across this very helpful Etsy listing that shows the side snaps/zipper combo. 

I decided to bind the edges in purple bias tape, which I realize is not the same color as the deep indigo of the fabric. Reasoning behind this decision being that I have lots of unused purple bias tape leftover from this dress, and this is supposed to be stash-busting, and I don't foresee any future need for purple bias tape, and it doesn't look so bad, so I might as well. Also I couldn't think of another color that would go better.

Too blingy.
The only problem with this decision was that I couldn't find frog button closures in the same shade of purple. I went to several fabric stores, and after trying to explain to some of the more clueless employees that I meant Chinese knot, and not that-animal-you-dissect-in-bio-class buttons, failed to locate any that weren't shiny black, white, red, or gold. I toyed with the idea of gold, but decided it didn't fit with the whole made-of-cotton-everyday-wear look of my qipao. The annoying thing is that I know that the fabric store near my old place in San Diego had frogs of all different colors since it was in an Asian neighborhood. I'm pretty sure I remember seeing purple ones there. After briefly toying with the idea of making a trip to SD just to get the buttons, I decided that I should just suck it up and make my own. I mean, the whole point of this Sew Weekly challenge is to learn a new skill, right? These probably aren't quite the buttonholes that Mena meant, but oh well.

I sewed my bias tape into a tube, then proceeded to start looping it around to make the frog. I tried following these directions from the very informative blog Bridges on the Body, but the resulting loop was huge and way too overwhelming on the dress. It probably would've been better if I used thin cord instead of bias tape, but I couldn't find any cord that wasn't super shiny. I ended up just looping bits around and holding them down until they looked right, then stitching the center to make it stay. I did use BotB's directions for making the actual knot, then I continued with my loop-and-hold method to make the rest of the frog. I would like to try making real ones with cording sometime, since BotB makes it look so easy! But then again, I don't know if I would make another qipao that would require more frog buttons.

Pinned to the dress for now.

All I have left to do are bind the armholes, insert the side zipper, and hem. Barring some huge disaster, I don't see why I shouldn't have this finished in time for Monday. Although to be honest, I've been holding my breath waiting for a huge disaster, since one seems to inevitably strike in almost every garment I make.


  1. I think it's looking lovely and I quite like the choice of cotton fabric. Nice work on the frog button!

  2. oh it's looking so good! I like your purple accent

  3. Ooo, it's looking good! (jinx, Molly!) So exciting. Mmm, I want one. Makes me wish I was going to a Chinese New Year celebration just so I'd have an excuse... /sigh.

  4. WOW! This is looking SO GREAT! I just love the handmade frogs and the bias binding!! Hope you have a lovely New Year celebration!!

  5. Looks great but all your creations do. Keep up the good work. love yuur blog.

  6. You're doing a great job! Looks fantastic! love the fabric <3

  7. This qipao is coming together so beautifully - what an amazing job you're doing on it. And the print couldn't be more perfect!

    I just sent you an email regarding the giveaway - I had tried before but I guess it bounced...

    Happy New Year for Monday!!

    1. Hmm, that's weird...You sent it to

    2. Yes! So strange, I've sent 2 emails now... Do you want to email me at and I'll reply with my details? Sorry!! x

    3. Okay, I figured out that my email was having forwarding issues! Some emails arbitrarily made it to my inbox and some didn't...apparently yours lost the lottery there? Anyway, I have your mailing info now, thanks!


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