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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Altered Dress Qi Pao

I had two traditional Chinese dresses (Qi Paos) made for me while I was in Dalian 10 years ago. Either the tailor didn't understand my Chinese or decided what I asked for was odd and shouldn't be done my way, but my white silk dress turned out looking like a wedding dress. A wedding dress that made me look like a cow.

I decided that ten years in the closet was silly no matter the sentimentality, so I decided I was going to alter it into a shirt so it might see the light of day. I chose a day when hubby wasn't home since I knew he wouldn't be too happy because he liked the thing. I put it on over the slacks I thought I would wear with it and rolled it up to the length I liked and pinned each side to tell me where the length I liked was.

I then placed it on my dress dummy, the first time I used my present from my mom. (If you want to make your own dress dummy, if your mom doesn't surprise you with your own, see this post.) I used a measuring tape to make sure the pins I stuck in where the same length from the arm pits and then used the tape again around it like a belt which I used as a guide to put pins all the way around the dress where I was to cut it off. My two year old was begging to get the "pretty princess dress" off the dummy so she could wear it, unfortunately with the next step that I am about describe she burst into tears and was no longer happy with Momma's sewing project.

So, I cut off the fabric with scissors about an inch below the pin line. I hesitated for a bit knowing how not-so-great a sewer I am, but decided to be brave. The kiddo was not thrilled with my bravery.

Then while still on the dummy, I flipped the hem under and pinned it to visually see that it was nice and even.

Then I ironed the flipped edge flat. Did the first sewn hem around it, this time going slowly and carefully in the machine instead of the maniacally fast sewing I generally do. Then I cut off all the excess fabric and rolled the hem up and rehemmed again so that the fabric didn't unravel. I have to say I was pretty proud of my first real hemming job, it looks good on the outside AND the inside.

And there you have it:

Still maybe not the most flattering, but I think I will actually wear it out now!


Kirephene said...

And the bonus is that you can make something else with the remainder!

Good work!

Jennifer Taylor said...

Wow! I wish I was that creative.

Anna said...

Looks nice! I need to get brave and attempt to fix hubby's winter coat. a few weeks after we bought it for him the zipper broke. Guess I better get busy and try before it gets cold again. It's not like I can make it any worse!

Kirsten said...

My mom altered one of her prom dresses to fit me as a little girl. I was also very upset to see her cutting it. But the result was fabulous!

ajf1125 said...

This looks really good! You did a great job. I have several shirts that are too long (I'm short-waisted) and don't get much use, maybe I can try your tip, cut, hem and actually wear them. Thanks!

Cindy Loven said...

very neat...did you run an elastic around the left over for a princess skirt for your daughter??

Chobe said...

Hi, i'm trying to custom tailor one for the upcoming holloween. do you know where i can get my hands on the very same white fabric in the picture or anything similar to it? thank you so much in advance and it looks really nice.

Melissa Jagears said...

Sorry Ben, I bought the fabric in a fabric warehouse in Dalian China. But you can find this kind of material at fabric stores here, just for a lot more money (everything in China is "cheap" when you consider 1 Chinese dollar equaled 12.5 cents 10 years ago.) I think I saw similar stuff at Hancock Fabrics awhile back, but with color. Might try them. If I were trying to make do, for Halloween for a kid, I might try to find a tablecloth or curtain that would be similar in appearance if you were just going for white upon white pattern.