How to Make a Chinese Costume

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Things You'll Need

  • Paper and pencil

  • 6 yards of fabric

  • Sewing equipment and supplies

The most recognizable form of Chinese costume is called "hanfu," a traditional form of dress worn by the Han Chinese in China's ancient history. Hanfu is usually a single silk robe or set of robes, though there are many different styles from different historical periods. Today, hanfu is worn only for festivals and other cultural exercises, but it has also been made popular as a costume in other parts of the world through its use in Chinese films. To learn how to make your simple own hanfu, complete the following instructions.


Step 1

Create a pattern for your hanfu for the robe, collar, overlap, cuffs and belt. Draw a rectangle that is 40 inches long and 9 inches wide to use for the collar, belt, cuffs and the overlap, which is a type of lapel piece that is attached to the front edges of the robe. Draw another rectangle that is 40 inches long and 18 inches wide for the sleeves, and a third rectangle that is 80 inches long and 18 inches wide for the body pieces. If you are making a feminine version of the costume, widen the sleeves, lengthen the overlap piece and extend the straight front edge of the right body piece into a long triangle.

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Step 2

Pin your pattern pieces to your fabric and cut 6 of the first rectangle, 2 of the second rectangle and 2 of the third rectangle. Take the second and third rectangle pieces to use as the body pieces and sleeve pieces. Fold them in half lengthwise and mark the fold line on the wrong side of the fabric, then unfold them. Pin the body pieces, right sides together, 38 inches in from one short end. Stitch these pieces together, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Press the seam allowance open.


Step 3

Line the midline of the sleeve pieces up with the midline of the body pieces and pin them to each side, then stitch them together. Press the seam allowances open. Fold the overlap pieces in half along the width. Pin each of the overlap pieces to the open inside edges of the body, and stitch them in place.


Step 4

Measure the distance between your shoulder and your hip. Make a mark this distance down from the midline of the body pieces on the open side, and transfer it to the left overlap piece. Cut a 90 degree triangular section out of the front of the robe by extending the marking above the midline 2 inches to the right, drawing straight down 3 to 4 inches, and connecting it diagonally to the left overlap marking. Add 1/2 inch to each side and cut this section of fabric out of the robe.


Step 5

Fold the collar piece to the desired width and stitch it in place, leaving one 1/2 inch wide raw edge hanging free. Press the collar flat and pin the raw edge to the cutout section of the body, matching up the center point with the center of the body and pinning down the diagonal edge. Stitch the collar to the body. Fold the edges of the collar under and slip the raw edges of the overlap inside the collar, then stitch the edges down flat.


Step 6

Fold the cuff pieces in half along the width. Stitch the cuff pieces to the ends of the sleeves. Fold the robe down and stitch the side seams, from cuff to hem. Turn the hem under 1/2 inch and press, then another 5/8 inch and stitch in place. If necessary, take the hem up even shorter.

Step 7

Fold the belt piece in half along the width, right sides together, and stitch along the long side. Turn the belt right side out and fold the raw edges to the inside, then stitch them down. Press the belt flat.


If you are using contrasting fabric for the cuffs, collar and overlap, you can also make a long contrasting strip to attach to the bottom hem of the robe.


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