How to Make a Sewing Pattern for a Chinese Dress

Written by f.r.r. mallory
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How to Make a Sewing Pattern for a Chinese Dress
A Chinese dress can be reconstructed from the existing garment. (Sky View/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Creating a sewing pattern usually means you are working backward from a finished dress. This often requires you to take the dress apart so each piece can be carefully examined, measured and drawn in order to make more dresses of the same type. It is a good idea to photograph the dress before starting and as each piece is detached so you have good documentation of how each piece was sewn and attached to each other piece.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Camera
  • Tape measure
  • Seam Ripper
  • Fine scissors
  • Notebook
  • Pattern paper

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  1. 1

    Take a photograph of the dress being worn. Mark down the size of the dress. If the dress isn't marked, measure the dress on the person it fits well. Measure over the dress around the fullest part of the chest. Measure below the arms and with the arms at rest. Measure the waist, hips and from the crotch to the nape of the neck. Measure from the backbone around the bent arm to the wrist bone.

  2. 2

    Use a fine seam ripper and carefully cut through the seams around the sleeves of the dress. Take photographs of any detail or sewing trick that was used when creating the garment. Take notes of anything you notice about how the garment was sewn. Take the sleeve completely apart including buttons, decorative items, elastic, interfacing, lining, trims etc. When you can smooth out the sleeve completely flat, iron the sleeve with a cotton scrap over the fabric.

  3. 3

    Trace the exact outline of the flattened sleeve onto pattern paper. Pull the sleeve to the side. Measure the width of the seams. Mark the seams at the correct width in their location on the pattern. Describe any darts, gathers, openings or other features on the pattern. Repeat this for any other pieces to the sleeve. Mark seams on the pattern that are sewn together using an identifying label such as A101 attaches to A101 on the lining piece J12. Each piece should be labelled and written into a list.

  4. 4

    Repeat this process for every section of the garment. Make sure every section is marked, labelled and listed. Check that every seam is labelled and cross-referenced. Take photographs and notes describing how individual pieces were sewn and in what order you believe they were sewn based on what you discover. Cut around the perimeter of the patterns and fold the patterns to fit into a large envelope. Print out your list and photos and staple them together as an instruction booklet for the garment.

Tips and warnings

  • Consider sewing your dress back together using the photographs and notes. For heirloom garments, this process is more difficult because you may not be able to separate the pieces. This will require you to make model pieces of muslin attempting to create the correct shape. Use the same photograph and note-taking process as you solve design and pattern problems so you can include these with the pattern.

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