Easy Kids Cheongsam Qipao Dress DIY

I am a beginner when it comes to making the Chinese qipao or cheongsam dress. Let me be clear and upfront that by writing this piece I am in no way claiming otherwise. My aim however is to show that with a little time and patience even those with basic sewing knowledge (yes thats me) can make a kids Chinese cheongsam qipao dress.

For those of you who want clarification on my “beginner status” in clothes making, here is a brief recount of my history on the subject and the thought process and inspiration that got me started. Iv’e always fancied the idea of designing and making or sewing clothes but always been a bit put off with expectations of complexity, ability to execute, fit and suitability of the finished garment. So much so, that I didn’t get around to trying. When my dd came along, the thought of being able to dress her in mummy’s lovingly handmade unique pieces compelled me to finally give it a go.

qipao
qipao makes a sweet summer dress and can be worn year long, not just for the Luna New Year.

 

Only having had a few Home Economics classes at the age of 13 under my belt where I made an oven glove (it did not fit), I had zero previous experience in sewing garments when I started this about a year ago. Using the internet as a guide and my daughters existing clothes as patterns, I’ve made a couple of sleeping bags (she loves these and won’t sleep without them) and two simple shift dresses (one of which was too short and I ended up making her wear it as a top). Then with the wind in my sails and Chinese New Year around the corner I decided to try my hand at making a qipao or cheongsam. That was last year and I haven’t made another one since till now. So no, I’m not beginner in the sense of brand new but I certainly am so far as I have very little experience (I don’t sew regularly, just now and then) and what I know is really self taught. So; as they say “without further ado” here it is, my easy kids Chinese qipao or cheongsam dress instructions with pictures.

 

You will need

Sewing machine

Needle and thread

Print out of Kids qipao pattern

80 cm length of cotton fabric

2 m of 12.5mm bias tape

35 cm invisible dress zip

1-3 pairs Chinese frog/knot buttons (depending on your preference)

 

Cheongsam qipao
Isn’t this happy face worth the effort?

 

Method

1. Iron your fabric flat and pin the paper pattern on to your chosen fabric. Cut the pattern out on to your fabric.

Tip: If your fabric has a pattern and you would like the design to match up on the finished qipao you will need to take account for the seam allowance of the zipper and line up the design.

Qipao cheonsam pattern
Step 1: Note how the design on the two back pieces does not match up (above).

 

Tip: Take care when placing the paper pattern to allow the design on the fabric to match up.
(Above) The fabric allowance has been folded behind, you can see how the design now matches up perfectly.

 

2. Where indicated in the image below use the sewing machine to zig zag stitch along the edges.

Qipao Step 2
Step 2: Sew a zig zag stitch along the edges marked with red line, this prevents fraying.

 

3. Match up the two back pieces, right ways facing and hand sew on the seam allowance to temporarily hold in place. Open out.

Qipao Step 3
Step 3: After sewing open out the two pieces.

 

4. Position the main front and back pieces of the quipao together right ways facing, pin in place and sew the shoulders together using straight stitch.

Qipao Step 4
Qipao Step 4: Remember to pin this down right ways facing. Apologies that it is not very clear in my photos as the pattern is quite visible from both sides. I should have used a different fabric for this write up but I didn’t have the time to go and buy an alternative.

 

5. Open out the shoulder seams and iron flat.

Qipao Step 5
Qipao Step 5. Ironing your work as you go along is good practice.

 

6. Matching two pieces of the collar right ways facing, sew a line using straight stitch along the shortest edge. Repeat for the other side of the collar.

Qipao Step 6
Qipao Step 6: Make sure they are right ways facing.

 

Qipao Step 6b: the other side stitched in place.
Qipao Step 6:

 

7. Turn the collar upside down and sandwich the neckline in between. Pin in place and use a straight stitch to sew along the pinned edge with a 1cm allowance. Turn the two collars up so that the wrong sides are facing.

Qipao Step 7
Qipao Step 7: One side of the collar pinned in place.

 

Qipao step 7
Qipao Step 7: Once you have sewn the collar in place, fold it up. In this image the collar on the left has been folded up, the right is still down.

 

8. Iron the collar flat. Sew the open sides together using straight stitch with a 5mm allowance. Trim off and neaten up any edges.

Qipao step 8
Qipao step 8: The complete structure of the collar.

 

9. Open out the back seam of the qipao and position the zipper facedown so that when fastened the top of the pull ends just shy of the top of edge of the collar. Pin and hand sew it to the dress to temporarily hold it in place. Trim off the excess ends.

Qipao step 9
Qipao step 9: Correct positioning of zipper.

 

Qipao DIY
Qipao step 9b: Temporarily hand stitch the zipper in place.

 

10. Then using the sewing machine, sew the zip into place using the zipper foot. Hand stitch the top of the zipper to the inside of the collar so that none of your stitches are visible from the outer side.

Qipao DIY
Qipao step 10

 

11. Sew straight stitch to attach the remaining back of the dress together. Remove the temporary stitches.

12. Starting with the wrong side of the dress, pin the bias tape onto one of the armholes. Using straight stitch, sew a line as close to the (edge) as possible in matching thread.

Qipao step 12: Pinned bias tape.
Qipao step 12: Pinned bias tape.

 

Qipao instructions
Qipao step 12: Machine sew bias tape onto the armhole

 

13. Turn the dress the right way facing then fold over the bias tape (tucking in the edges or sides) and pin in place. Again using straight stitch, carefully sew in place. The back stitches should be invisible from the front and the front stitches should hold the back and front folds of the bias tape in place.

Qipao bias tape
Qipao step 13: Fold over and machine sew.

 

Qipao
Qipao 13b: Tuck in the ends.

 

14. Repeat steps 11 and 12 for the other arm hole, neck line and hem.

Qipao
Qipao step 14: Completed bias tape edging.

 

15. Turn the dress right ways facing and pin in place. Sew the sides together.

QiPao
QiPao step 15: Right ways facing.

 

QiPao
Qipao step 15b: Machine sew together.

 

16. Turn the dress the right way around and position it flat. Pin the front opening in place and hand stitch it using small hidden stitches. Check the work as you go along to make sure it is still sitting flat.

Qipao
Qipao step 16: Right ways facing pin in place.

 

An opening at the front is more traditional as it is usually accompanied by a side zip which allows the wearer to put the dress on, but as I’ve moved the zip to the back, the opening doesn’t really serve much practical usage and I find stitching it down makes dressing easier, especially for little ones.

 

17. Finally, add frog or Chinese knot buttons to the front of your dress, one at the base of the neck and as you like along the faux front opening.

Qipao
Qipao step 17: Place the buttons and hand stitch in place.

 

Take your time working through each step and allow yourself a few days to finish this project especially if you are a beginner.

Cheongsam
I chose to put two sets of buttons on this but you can opt for more or less depending on the look you prefer.

 

Cheongsam
Front view of finished work. Time for a well earned cup of tea and New Year cookie.

 

Chinese New Year cheongsam qipao
Happy Chinese New Year, gong xi fa cai!

 

Notes:

The measurements given are for the dress I made which fits a 3-4 year old.
You may need more or less depending on the size you are making.
If you the fabric that you are using has a pattern that you wish to match up at the back, you will need more fabric to be able to line up the pattern (the amount depends on the pattern. As a rule of thumb, a big pattern will require more fabric)

Unless otherwise stated, the seam allowance on the dress is 10 mm.

 

Image credit: Anna Hui

 

 

 

 

 

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