Saturday, March 1, 2014

Sew and Tell with the Little Chi Pao Dress

Hi fellow sewing-lovers!  New month, new review!  This March, it's all about the Asian- inspired Little Chi Pao Dress from The Measuring Tape.  I've been smitten with this little number since I first laid eyes on it a few years ago.  With so many gorgeous Asian prints out there, you can have a hay-day designing your own jaw-dropping version of this dress!  It would be perfect for special occasions and photo shoots. 

Here's what you need to know about this pattern...

*  The Little Chi Pao Dress is an A-line, half-wrap style dress with a mandarin collar. 
*  The size range is from 12m- 6 Girls. 
*  The entire PDF is 38 pages long.  19 of those pages are the pattern pieces. 
*  The pattern pieces are digitized, color-coded, and nested together. 
*  Seam allowances are NOT included, but recommended seam allowances are provided along with suggestions for how to add them. 
*  Several helpful charts are included such as:  Pattern Markings & Symbols Key, Materials Required (including fabric requirements), Recommended Fabrics, Size Guide, and Finished Measurements.  Page 18 is a wealth of information!!
*  Some of the recommended fabrics include: light to medium weight cottons, medium weight satins, Chinese silk, raw silk, dupioni silk, Thai silk, and Taffeta. 
*  Detailed printing directions are given, as well as a recommended pattern layout to help with laying out your pattern pieces on the fabric before cutting. 
*  Great tips are included to help you adjust the fit of the pattern if needed.
*  Clean, easy to understand line drawings are provided to illustrate the directions. 
Long story short... The Measuring Tape might not be a well-known pattern company, but designer Daljeet Kaur of Malaysia knows her stuff!  I'm extremely impressed with how well thought-out the tutorial is and how easy to read the lay-out is.  Plus, how many patterns for dresses like this have you seen?  It's definitely unique, and your little one will stand out from the crowd!

 Be sure to head over to the website and get your copy of this adorable little pattern for 25% off during the month of March!
Let's take a look at the review sent in to us by Alyssa C. 

Hello everyone!  I’m Alyssa, and my helper and model is my 5 year old daughter, Inara.   We are super excited to be here to review the Little Chi Pao from The Measuring Tape.
I’ve been sewing since I was a kid, but for a chunk of my adult life I was in the Army, and the most sewing I did was shortening my uniform pants or replacing worn out hook and loop tape.  Since I had my daughter and left the Army, though, I’ve done a lot more sewing.  I would consider myself an intermediate seamstress.  I have a small business where I sew custom dresses, baby items, etc.  I’ve even taken on a quilt or two, though in that arena I am definitely still a beginner!
As soon as we saw this dress, my daughter squealed.   It is very much her style, as she loves all things Asian-inspired.  The straight lines and lack of ruffles were a huge draw for us, as little miss wears dresses pretty much daily, and sometimes a bunch of ruffles do not mix well with the playground!  The mandarin collar and A-line shape give it a sophisticated look without having a super fitted shape that would make it difficult to play in. 
The dress took about 2 ½ hours to complete, from cutting out the fabric to sewing on the last button.  *Disclaimer* I sew with two small children underfoot, so sometimes it takes me a little longer to do things than most people!  If you’re in a time crunch this is perfect.  However, I would recommend store bought bias tape if you are in a hurry, as it will be less time than making your own bias tape.
I wanted a satin bias trim on both dresses we made, and if you do as well, I highly recommend NOT buying plain costume satin – the fray makes it harder to work with when making the bias tape.   I used the flannel-backed satin from Jo-ann’s and found that the lack of fray made it much nicer to work with.
I really wanted our fabric choices to enhance the Asian style of the pattern.  For the first dress, I used a gorgeous blue and pink silk brocade, also from Joann’s.  The rich colors drew Inara in instantly, and amazingly, we had fabric picked out in under 10 minutes!  The second dress also has a flannel-backed satin bias trim, and I used this gorgeous Moda print that has been gracing my stash for months: Coquette by Chez Moi.

First, when she says, “Read the whole pattern before starting,” you really should.  I was used to the instructions for piecing the paper pieces to be at the beginning.  The directions are there, it’s just at the end after the pattern pieces.  And it went together well.  You don’t need to cut off any edges when piecing the paper, and I found it was much easier to tape them together up against our big window, so I could see all the marks to line up.
I very rarely choose patterns where I have to add a seam allowance, but there is a nice chart where the designer recommends how to add the allowance, and all I did was tape two pens together and trace along the line for the size 5, and it added a line 3/8” out.   Be careful here to only add seam allowances where they are needed!!
There is one note I need to make here.  A piece of information is missing that will result in your bodice buttoning across the opposite direction than in the pictures.  You need to place your pattern pieces on the WRONG side of the fabric to ensure that your bodice crosses over to the left side.  If you cut your pieces on the RIGHT side of the fabric, the bodice will cross to the right.  
On our first dress we added a double needle hem, and instead of sewing the bias tape on by hand I did an 1/8” seam on the front of it.  On our second dress, I took off a some of the A-line shape by placing the pieces wrong sides together going in 2 1/2" at the bottom of each side and lining my 12” ruler up with the outside edge of the dress and slicing the extra off.  This gave the dress a slightly more fitted look, but kept it loose enough to not be constricting on her.  If you are going for a straighter fit, this worked great for us.  I also did a stitch in the ditch on the bias so it wouldn’t have a seam on the front.
All in all, we love the pattern.  The fit was perfect without any adjustments, and the instructions are clear and easy to understand.   The pattern goes together fast and professionally and looks amazing when it’s done.  My one recommendation – if you are going for a really Asian style dress, I would definitely search out some pretty frog clasps instead of the loops and buttons.  We live in a tiny town and we couldn’t find any around here.   I think I may repurpose some off an old dress of mine to make her another!
Isn't Alyssa a rock star?  She sewed up not 1, but 2 of these sweet little dresses for us to admire!  And she's got a great point about the frog clasps, I think they are a good idea.  It would definitely make the dress feel more authentic!  I did a quick online search and found several tutorials on how to make your own.  Definitely worth checking out if you're interested in making this dress! 

Pair it Up!

 Add a little Asian flair to your kid's closet with these other featured patterns.


The mandarin collar on this peplum top from Lily Bird Studio is the icing on the cake!  Amy's Peplum Top fits sizes 12m- Girls 10.  You can really play up the Asian look with the right fabrics.  This top would look great with a variety of shorts, pants, and skirts.

These sweet little crib shoes from Lena's Patterns are just stunning!  The Baby Kimono Shoes fit sizes NB-24 months.  There is also a Ladies Kimono Shoes Pattern that fits sizes 3.5- 9.5.  You can make these shoes in a coordinating fabric to complement any outfit.  They sew up quick, and you can probably finish them in an hour or two.

Alright ladies, don't forget that you can get the Little Chi Pao Dress for 25% off through March 2014.  We'd love to see any photos of this dress that you've already made or that you will make.  You can feel free to post them in our FB Group. (Just request to join if you haven't already.  We'd love to have you!)   And please let us know if you feel extra creative and decide to make your own frog clasps.  I'd love to see some handmade versions of those, too! 

Go sew something magical!!!

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  1. What a cute little pattern! Thanks for linking up to the Do Tell Tuesday party. Hope to see you again tonight!

  2. thank youi ... i have taken this design ... when i do use it .. i will credit it to you .. thanks again ... liked viewing you blog :)

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