How to Make a Chinese Girl Costume

Written by karen frisch
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In their beautiful silk dresses patterned with cherry blossoms and other floral prints, Chinese girls of any age have a grace and elegance that is unmatched. The classic Chinese dress is straight, usually knee-length, with short or cap sleeves, a Mandarin collar and a neckline that fastens across the shoulders. This dress requires advanced sewing skills to make. Whether you use silk or polyester to make your dress, you can reflect the beauty of China when you wear your new creation (see Resources).

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Silk or polyester fabric in a floral pattern
  • Dress pattern
  • Scissors
  • Snaps
  • Zipper
  • Silk fan
  • Black slipper-style shoes
  • Needle and thread

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  1. 1

    Pin the pieces of the professionally prepared pattern to the fabric as it lays flat on a table or work surface.

  2. 2

    Cut the material following the pattern. To make the two halves of the Mandarin collar come together like they're supposed to, Chinese dresses close across the shoulder to the armpit. To achieve this look, the dress will be cut in four pieces: two for the back so you can add a zipper to slide it on easily, one for the front that includes all but the shoulder of the opposite side, and the smaller shoulder piece. The smaller piece will snap to the larger front part of the dress.

  3. 3

    Cut the sleeves so they are either short or cap sleeves. The length of the bare arm in addition to the straight dress adds height and slenderises the wearer. Cut a high rounded Mandarin collar following the pattern's design. If you feel the collar will be too high and uncomfortable as its designed on the pattern, cut the collar lower.

  4. 4

    Sew the two halves of the back together according to the pattern, including the zipper into the back of the dress. Stitch the complete back half to the smaller front shoulder piece, with the material inside out. Round the bottom edges of the dress in the front and back.

  5. 5

    Sew the two main halves of the dress together up the sides, leaving the rounded hem open on each side. Sew the shoulder of the larger front piece to the back. Hem the sleeves and the bottom, then turn the dress right side out.

  6. 6

    Stitch snaps to the front cross piece from the neck, across the shoulder to the armpit to keep the dress closed.

  7. 7

    Accessorise the dress with simple black slipper-type shoes. Carry a Chinese fan in a colour that matches the dress.

Tips and warnings

  • While Chinese dresses come in all colours and a variety of patterns, popular shades are red, turquoise, pink, and deep green.
  • Try on the dress as you go along to make sure it fits comfortably.

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