Friday, January 20, 2012

Qipao Pattern Modifications

When you work with free patterns, or self-drafted patterns, but you don't actually have a lot of sewing or fitting experience, you're bound to end up making lots of changes as you put the garment together. These changes may or may not actually end up making it back to the pattern pieces, especially if you're me. Usually, if a garment requires that many on the fly changes, I'm totally sick of it by the end and swear that I will never make anything similar again. So those changes go unrecorded, and then when sufficient time has passed, I forget how horrible the experience was and try it again, only to end up with a headache because I know that the pattern wasn't quite right, but I don't remember what changes were required.

So to forestall all of that (because I think I actually might, in the future, make another, fancier one), and in case anyone approximately my shape is interested in the changes required for a more fitted qipao, here's a diagram showing my changes.

My notes are in red, obviously. Also, I just realized that I didn't note the armscye change in the upper front piece.

Thankfully, the busyness of the print disguises all the extra darting.
I added darts to both front pieces to help reduce bagginess/boxiness up top. Not sure if other people had issues with this, as there aren't exactly pattern reviews out there for this drawing, but I ended up putting in a tiny dart on the front flap to get it to curve over my bust area properly, and then another very long dart to take in extra fabric that kept poofing out on the top piece. As I mentioned previously, the back darts were too short, so I extended them to take in excess fabric. I omitted the sleeves, both because I didn't feel like dealing with setting them in, and because I want to be able to wear a cardigan over this without the awkward sleeve-bunching-up-underneath business. And, as I discovered later, it was good that I decided against them, as I needed the extra fabric to re-cut my upper front piece. I also ended up cutting off the bottom of the upper front piece, as it ended up being superfluous. It actually confused me for the longest time, because I thought it must have some import in the side closure. Lastly, I changed armscyes a bit to get a slight cap-sleeve look.

My modified dart. You can see the original blue washable
fabric marker lines...I should really take care of that.

If you decide to use this diagram to draft your own qipao pattern, it helps to have a form-fitting sheath dress pattern you can use as your starting point. I used my trusty McCall's 5845, but modified the four front darts to be only two. After that, it was just a matter of matching up my new darts on the bodice and skirt, then sketching a new curve connecting them.

I've finished binding the armholes and doing the side zipper, so it's just snaps and a hem, and then figuring out how I'm going to attach the frog. So close! I'll be (hopefully) debuting it at our dumpling-making party, and probably end up taking pictures covered in flour. Until then, 新年快樂, 恭喜發財, and may you or your children (or your cats) receive many red envelopes!

Our original family cat, Fenxi, makes a rare appearance on the blog. This is not his typical CNY haul, though.


  1. I love Fenxi's facial expression in this pic! Can't wait to see the finished qipao

  2. Oooh! I want to try this out, myself. Thanks!

  3. Thanx for this description! I've tried another japaneese dress once, but at the end my sister needed to help. Now I'm gonna try myself. Thanx!

  4. Thanks a lot for the pattern and its modifications, I've just got my first qipao (and my first design also). I am impressed with all your designs and the final results, I am looking forward to do something new.

  5. I'm yearssss too late to comment but i had exactly that baggy problem! I totally didn't understand what was happening and had no idea how to fix it. Darts are a great idea, thanks. Just hope i didn't trash it.


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