Ta-Da!!! Qipao Finished (except for final, final fitting)

July 28, 2012 at 11:36 am (All Things Wedding, Sewing Projects)

Most of you know that I’ve been working on Amanda’s Qipao since February.  Originally, I hoped to get it finished in time for her wedding on March 24th, but the fabric was delivered five days before the wedding, which totally put the kibosh on that idea…

March 24, 2012 (my favorite picture of Amanda and Hengyi)

Me, Amanda, darling DannyO and Brent

Okay, so Amanda and Hengyi are heading to China on August 16th for a wedding celebration/honeymoon.  That’s easy!!  I will just finish the Qipao by the end of July.  Oh, the best- laid plans…   I had a whole bunch of physical problems, (sorry for not thinking of a better word than “bunch” but I need a nap) — a trigeminal neuralgia setback, cellulitis at my copaxone injection sites, an MS exacerbation – many, many issues that just slammed my body.  I worked on this garment in little increments, through pain, eye issues and fatigue, through three muslins and other fit issues.  Amanda lives in NoVA so each time she’d come home, we’d fit the muslin 🙂  As I was sewing, I made the choice to make a “skin” instead of lining the garment so it can be altered throughout Amanda’s life.  Because of that decision, I had to actually “bind” all of the seams.

The seams — all bound and finished.

I changed the bodice, added a back zipper.

I added a back zipper.

I taught myself how to weave the “frogs,” designed the “frogs” and then actually made them.

The “frogs.” This is about my fourth version… trial and error was the only way I could figure this out!

I made and discarded three muslins, finally fitted a muslin,  sewed, ripped, hand-sewed, basted, pinned, ironed, tweeked, ripped, basted…  you get the picture.  All for a simple garment that will serve as a cultural bridge from my heart to Amanda’s new Chinese family — the Hu’s.  I cannot even count the hours I spent patiently working this beautiful, very expensive silk.

A picture of the pattern — the picture doesn’t do the actual fabric justice. There is an iridescence to the beautiful flower pattern that I cannot describe.

Finally, yesterday, I finished!  I didn’t take many “in progress” pictures because I didn’t have my blog in mind while I was sewing this beautiful dress. The Qipao is finished, except for the few inches of side seam directly under the sleeve.  Amanda has to try it on for that seam to be completely fitted.  She is coming the weekend of the 12th — nothing like cutting things close!!  Here are a few pictures.

The finished dress. (Amanda’s high school picture is in the left corner — a happy accident!!)

The bodice

Another shot of the bodice.

The side view

A close-up of the side slit

One final fitting, a few final seams and the final press (whew!  That’s a lot of “finals!!”).  I can’t even count the hours I have in this dress, not only sewing but those hours spent “thinking through” the next step, and the next…  It is my gift to my precious daughter, who I love more than life itself <3.  I will post pictures of Amanda and Hengyi when she wears this in China as they celebrate their wedding with Hengyi’s family.

I think I need a vacation 🙂





  2. Estella said,

    Mel, That is beautiful!! I bet you are glad it is finished. Everyone is going to love it. I know I do.!! Esttella

  3. Janice deetscreek said,

    Wow! This is beautiful. It will always remind Amanda of your love for her. I hope she has a wonderful trip.

  4. Libby said,

    Stunning. You are truly gifted.

  5. Sandi Brown said,

    It is absolutley beautiful Mel! What a gift you have and I am sure Amanda will love it and look beautiful in it…..

  6. Danielle said,

    Wow, it is so beautiful!

  7. domesticnews said,

    This is stunningly beautiful! Congratulations all around! Could you post pix of her in the dress? I have made a similar style for my daughter (a folkwear pattern) and fitting was tricky. The base of this arm opening looks longer & I bet it is more graceful. Very nice!

  8. Leila said,

    The Qipao is absolutely beautiful. I’m speechless.

  9. TNA The Facial Pain Association said,

    What an amazing accomplishment despite your pain! Thanks for sharing this for other people suffering with facial pain conditions like trigeminal neuralgia.

  10. Mary Crabtree said,

    Super pretty and lovely work!

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