In a nation with the world's largest population, thousands of years of history and dozens of ethnic groups, identifying one traditional "Chinese" dress is nearly impossible. However, most Westerners consider the cheongsam or qipao a "traditional" dress. This elegant yet simple silk or satin dress features a high neck fastened with braided rope knots. It was seen globally during the Beijing Olympics and, more often than not, it's the dress you find the staff wearing at your local Chinese restaurant.
Find a basic pattern at your local fabric shop or online. The pattern may be called qipao or cheongsam. You may also find a pattern in the Halloween costume section of pattern books.
Buy your fabric, coordinating thread and braided closures, commonly known as "frogs." The frogs will be in the notions department of your local fabric store. Check the pattern for any additional items needed, such as buttons, zippers or bias tape.
Read the pattern instructions and cut the pattern pieces from the enclosed paper. Pin the pattern pieces to the fabric.
Cut the fabric carefully along the pattern lines. Pin pieces of fabric together as instructed to begin sewing the dress.
Follow your sewing machine instructions and thread the machine and bobbin with thread matching your fabric.
Sew your fabric together following the pattern directions. Use small stitches to ensure a more lasting finish and to limit pulls in the fabric.
Place the bias tape on the fabric edges that have been pinned. Topstitch the bias tape to the edge of the dress. Bias tape is sewn on the edge of fabrics in places where straight-grain strips would warp or bend. It provides a decorative finish, and is easily applied to almost any raw edge. There are single and double-sided variations. The single will go directly on top of your edge, while the double will wrap around it. Pin and stitch a hem on the bottom of the dress.
Sew the frog closures to the dress by hand according to the pattern, using your needle and thread. Stitch all three loops, on both pieces, of each frog closure.
Jennifer Simon has been a copywriter since 2007, a copyeditor since 2004 and currently teaches English Composition at Full Sail University. Her edited articles have appeared in "The Washington Post," "The Huffington Post" and "The Network Journal." Simon has a Master of Arts degree from Duquesne University with a focus in modern English grammar, linguistics and editing.