Amanda’s Qipao – Part Three

February 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm (All Things Wedding, Sewing Projects)

I always go into a project assuming it will go very smoothly.  Stupid me.  The pattern for the Qipao is made for a beautiful Asian woman who is straight up and down.  Amanda has curves.  She tried on the muslin.  It was a bit tight (which I had accounted for with 1 ½ inch seams).  The darts needed taken in a bit more because she has a small back.  I knew that too.  However, the shoulder area just did not fit.  I cut slits and inserted diamond-shaped pieces.  It still didn’t solve the problem.  One issue is that the pattern’s sleeves are too long.  They are supposed to be cap sleeves, but there was no shape to them, alas, they stuck straight out.

Diamond-shaped inserts

Another issue I was facing was that it was Sunday evening at 6:00.  Amanda needed to go back to Virginia early Monday morning.  Second alteration – FAIL!  Now what?  I was tired, but I knew the muslin needed to be fitted before I went to bed.  So, I scrapped the first mock-up – threw it in the garbage.

I had another stellar idea – what if I cut the pattern in half, deal with the top of the dress and then add the bottom part.  I am so brilliant sometimes I can’t even stand it.  Quickly I cut the pattern right below the darts, cut the muslin, not taking time to sew seam lines, etc… it was crunch time.  I cut about 4 inches off of the sleeves so they would just cap her upper arm.  I already knew that the darts needed to be deep so I sewed them.  I also just sewed the side seams, not leaving a gap for the zipper because it would be easier to adjust with a complete seam.  Deep breath… Amanda pulled it over her head… not too shabby.

Now we got to the nitty gritty.  Amanda is short-waisted (sorry darling, but I must give these details for my sewing friends) 🙂 .  I pinned two inches for her short waist so she wouldn’t have the fabric bunch at her belly (again, sorry darling!).

Top part of muslin with waist adjustments

So far so good.  With the muslin still pinned to her, Amanda perused through my yoga books while I quickly cut the bottom part of the one-piece dress.  By this time it was 7:45.  I quickly sewed up the side seams.  She stepped into the lower half of the dress and I pinned it to fit.  It looked and fit beautifully!!  I didn’t take any pictures because… well, I was sort of busy.

Beautifully adjusted

We congratulated each other on another problem solved.

Houston, we have a problem… the dress was completely pinned to Amanda with no egress!  Think, Mel, think!  Tick tick tick… the clock now read 8:30.  My head hurt and my fingers hurt and my right eye was crossing at random times!  Think, think!!  Once again I had another brilliant idea!  If I cut exactly down the center of the back I could cut and sew another muslin with all of the pinned alterations accounted for.  I am going down to Virginia for Amanda’s family wedding shower on March 2nd.  I can take it down with me for a final fit before I cut into the beautiful silk.

“Oh darling DannyO!!  I have a problem.  How can I make an absolutely straight cut into the back of a dress that Amanda is wearing?”  Of course, Dan had the perfect solution – a plumb bob!  He used a piece of fishing line and a weighted bottle opener.  Amanda stood against the wall and Dan held the plumb line against the center of the back, where the collar met the back.  I steadied the plumb bob and used a pencil to mark up to her waist line.  Dan took the pencil and marked up to the top of the garment.  I took a picture of this process with my phone camera, but didn’t finalize the action so we have no record of this process. 🙂

I then carefully took my very sharp shears and cut slowly from bottom to top.  She stepped away from the dress.  Whew!  It was 9:00 p.m.  The whole process took four hours.

Carefully cut down the center back

I am taking a few days off and then I will re-cut another muslin for her Qipao.  The adventure continues!



  1. victlady said,

    Loved your blog, enjoyed it immensely. The perils of a seamstress and they think sewing is boring. Great way plumb a straight line down a dress. Thanks. I do think that should become a standard tool for the seamstress! Christine Galanis

  2. Ta-Da!!! Qipao Finished (except for final, final fitting) « Melodyejoy's Weblog said,

    […] made and discarded three muslins, finally fitted a muslin,  sewed, ripped, hand-sewed, basted, pinned, ironed, tweeked, ripped, basted…  you get the […]

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