The starting point of me really getting passionate about making clothes was my sister in law’s wedding. Prior to her absolutely stunning wedding celebration, they got married on an ice rink with skates and several ice dancing shows, we talked about her dresses for the ceremony and what our family would wear for the event. Since my husband’s side of the family has in part a Taiwanese background, I thought it would be fabulous to wear a Qipao/Cheongsam dress. It also reminded me of my time in Shanghai, where I would wear quite a few traditional Qipao dresses. For the wedding I did not want to wear a traditional one though, it is really hard to move in a pencil dress at times, but I envisioned a very flowing skirt. Since I did not know where I could find this kind of dress and since I wanted to have my little girl wear a matching one, I decided to tackle the task of designing and sewing my own version.
Up to that point, I had made a few vests and some harem pants for my son, but that was about it when it came to my sewing experience. I have to admit that it was a bit of a scary project at times and I was not sure in the beginning, whether it would be a success but in the end I think it came out quite nicely.
I started off by going through sewing patterns to find a Qipao dress of which I could sew the top part and I decided to have it flow into a circle skirt. It was not easy at all to find a Qipao pattern but in the end I went with New Look 6203. I cut the top a little shorter than suggested and added a black belt right around the waist which I attached to the skirt. I am quite a big fan of piping, so I added a black trim piping all around the edges and of course, three Chinese buttons on the shoulder. Credit for the really beautiful Chinese brocade fabric goes to my husband, who chose it and brought it from China.
For my little girl’s dress, I started off with a simple sleeveless top but I altered the front to create the look of an overlap. I then went ahead in the same manner as I did with my dress: I added the black belt and the circle skirt and finished it off with black piping and one Chinese button on the shoulder. The back of her dress is a little different from mine. My dress has a zipper on the side but I wanted to make it easier for her to get dressed, so I put a cut in the back that can be closed with two additional Chinese buttons. Since the wedding was held outside, I also made her a black jacket with a magenta lining and a matching little hat. The pattern from the jacket was an old t-shirt pattern but I made it with long sleeves and I altered the front flaps to have round edges instead. It is closed with another Chinese button. The pattern for the hat came from the German book ‘Kinderleicht, Naehen mit Jersey fuer Babys und Kids’ by Pauline Dohmen. (I am in love with that book also and I will write a review about it in the near future.)
Currently I am working on the second version of the Baby Girl ‘Qipao Dress’ which will feature a very short Chinese collar also. I will keep you posted on its progress.
I hope you like the dresses as much as I do!
Thank you for reading.
If you are interested in seeing more of my handmade dresses, please have a look at my Etsy shop TheJewelKnitter.
Please also have a look at my design jewellery blog LisaJuenProonK and my ProonK Design Jewellery and Lisa Juen Art Jewellery websites.