How to Make a Simple Qipao

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Qipao dresses can be made in a variety of fabrics and look good with or without patterns.
Qipao dresses can be made in a variety of fabrics and look good with or without patterns. (Image: Sky View/Photodisc/Getty Images)

The qipao is an elegant Chinese dress, characterized by its high neck, slitted sides and figure-flattering fit. This is the traditional dress of Chinese women, though it shows up in Western popular culture time and time again. The qipao is not only exotic, but it is versatile. The dress can be long or short and embellished to fit into various settings, from casual to formal. It is also one of the easiest dresses to create at home on your sewing machine.

Things You'll Need

  • Qipao dress pattern
  • Silk, brocade or satin fabric
  • Chalk
  • Scissors
  • Fusible interfacing
  • Iron
  • Ironing Board
  • Press Cloth
  • Pins
  • Zipper
  • 3 Braided Frog Closures

Choose a Qipao dress pattern from your local fabric store, sewing shop, or online. There are several locations online where you can download Qipao patterns for free. The pattern you select should have two pieces to create the stand-up collar, two pieces for the front and two pieces for the back.

Pick a fabric for your dress. Silk is the best option for the most authentic dress but brocade fabric, which is a silk woven fabric, will give you a similar look. Satin is the best choice if you're going for the glossy, geisha-girl look. The pattern you choose will tell you exactly how much fabric to purchase.

The use of silk dates back to between 4000 and 3000 B.C.
The use of silk dates back to between 4000 and 3000 B.C. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Lay the pattern out on your fabric and trace the pieces with chalk. Cut the pattern out of the fabric.

Chalk allows you to easily wipe away the trace lines after you cut out the pattern.
Chalk allows you to easily wipe away the trace lines after you cut out the pattern. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Apply the fusible interfacing to the two stand-up collar pieces. To apply fusible interfacing, set your iron to low and lay your fabric on the ironing board, wrong-side up. Press the adhesive side of the interfacing to the center of the fabric, and then place a damp press cloth on top of that. Iron the interfacing onto the fabric by applying firm and even heat for 10 to 15 seconds or until the press cloth is dry for each section. Allow the fabric to cool completely before removing it from the ironing board.

Allow the iron to heat up for about five minutes before you begin applying the interfacing.
Allow the iron to heat up for about five minutes before you begin applying the interfacing. (Image: Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Lay the two front pieces out on the table, wrong side up. Line them up at the point where you want the collar to close and pin them together at the seems. The pattern should direct you to the best position for this, based upon your body type. Use your sewing machine to sew them together starting at the close of the collar, straight down the front of the dress until you reach the hem.

Pin the two pieces together to ensure you sew straight lines.
Pin the two pieces together to ensure you sew straight lines. (Image: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Connect the top half of the two back pieces by sewing them onto a zipper. Pin the bottom half of the back two pieces together. Then sew it down to the hem.

Sewing a zipper can be a difficult process, so take your time to ensure there are no gaps.
Sewing a zipper can be a difficult process, so take your time to ensure there are no gaps. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Set the sewing machine to “Serge,” and sew an over-lock stitch starting above the arm hole, and down to the hem along each side of the front of the dress, and repeat with the back of the dress.

The sewing machine is your best friend when it comes to "serging."
The sewing machine is your best friend when it comes to "serging." (Image: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Pin the shoulders together and then use your sewing machine to sew the shoulder seems. working on the wrong side of the dress. Continue to use the over-lock stitch and the “serge” function.

Turn in fabric just under the arm allowances on one side of the dress, and sew the seam about halfway down the dress in a top-stitch, still working on the wrong side of the dress. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure you stop sewing the seam at the same point. This will ensure the slits you sew in the next step are the same height.

You can take your dress slit up as far as you like.
You can take your dress slit up as far as you like. (Image: Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Hem the bottom of the dress, starting where each slit begins, working in the over-lock stitch, and using the “serge” function.

Sew the two pieces of the stand-up collar together, again working on the wrong side. Then sew the collar into the neckline. Hem the remaining three outer edges of the collar using the edge-stitch.

Lay the dress out on the ironing board and press all seams.

Turn the dress to the right side and sew the three frog closures onto the breast plate of the dress, as should be indicated in your pattern. These closures are decorative, and not intended to allow you to be able to open the front panel.

Wear your homemade qipao dress with pride.

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