Oriental style – Cheongsam
Oriental styles are fashionably ‘ethnic’ this season (2011). My previous post was on the Japanese kimono, rather a long post as it’s a popular shape. The second trendy oriental shape is the Chinese cheongsam (qi pao), which I’ve found less about.
The cheongsam is a western influenced version of traditional Chinese dress, a sheath dress with mandarin collar and side angled neck opening.
Many different style details in the designs here : whether the opening goes into or below the armhole, the darting, whether and where there’s a zip, and the sleeves.
Here are a couple of dress patterns. Burda 8438 (left) and New Look 6812 are both now out of print. (The Burda dress has a centre back zip, the New Look dress has no zip.)
Here’s a new (winter 2016) pattern for a vintage style cheongsam : Simplicity 8244. It has short cut-on sleeves, opening to below armhole, vertical waist darts only, and side seam zipper.
New Look 6203 is a pattern for a top (no zip) with skirt and pants. Now available only as a download pattern, here.
The Great British Sewing Bee book – From Stitch to Style includes a pattern for sleeveless qi pao inspired top, with opening to below armhole, angled darts, and side seam zip.
Not many patterns available, compared to the riches for the kimono. There is a free download sleeveless cheongsam pattern here (side seam zip). Swap the right and left front pattern pieces to get the opening towards the left side, as in the other patterns.
The cheongsam is not a wrap style. Here’s a Chinese diagram of the pattern piece shapes. Could you use that as a guide to adapting your favourite sheath dress pattern ?
Notice the Chinese diagram of the pattern pieces has the opening to below the armhole, and angled darts (‘french’ darts up from below bust level). Some of the other patterns have the opening into the armhole, and horizontal bust darts. I suspect the free pattern, with opening to below armhole and no dart that side, may be difficult to get to lay neatly against the body.
Japanese company Clover has templates so it’s relatively easy to make the traditional Asian Knot buttons from cord or bias rouleaux.
For a beautiful book, there’s Cheongsam by Pepin van Roojen, which includes a CD of dress and fabric images.
If you look good in a more fitted shape, this may be a much better oriental style for you than the straight kimono. Use a border print or a brocade. Have fun making something exotic 😀
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Originally written February 2011.
Patterns and links revised October 2016.
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