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Brocade Kinley for Lunar New Year

Hi Everyone! I’m Hwee Ke and I would like to wish everyone Happy Lunar New Year! Lunar New Year, (or “Chinese New Year” as I call it) starts on 12th February this year and is a very important festive season for us Chinese (Other countries/races celebrate this too! Koreans, Vietnamese etc etc). Chinese New Year indicates the start of Spring and the festivities go on for 15 days!!

Here in Singapore, where I come from, the Chinese celebrate Chinese New Year by wearing brand new outfits in festive colours and visiting each other’s homes to feast and party. The kids get red packets with money from the adults and everyone exchange mandarin oranges (which represents wealth and prosperity).

For my children, Chinese New Year means new mummy made outfits. And this year, I wanted to try making a “cheongsam inspired” dress for my little girl without the restricting mandarin collar that is typical of cheongsams. After much “research” and thought, I’ve decided to hack Kinley’s Cascading Flounce Dress into a brocade princess dress with frog buttons and I would love to share my hack with everyone!

This dress is chosen because there was originally no closure and is therefore a loose-fitting dress that can be cinched in with a belt included in the pattern. I wanted it because brocade is thick and can be hot to wear especially in Singapore where the temperature is always so hot – a loose fit dress will definitely be more comfortable. The shape of the flounce also gave me the inspiration to make a brocade dress with a royal look fit for a princess! 

Want to know how I did it?

This is the pattern piece for the front bodice, I first drew a curve on the front imitating what cheongsams would have, then I added seam allowance to the top half portion so that I can add buttons to that later and these 2 pieces form my front bodice with frog button closures.

I bias binded the entire top of the bodice with a royal purple bias tape after sewing the shoulder seams together. Then, I sew the 2 pieces together with a basting stitch so that the bodice is ‘complete’.

The skirt pieces are also bias binded and everything is then put together as per the wonderfully written tutorial included with your Kinsley pattern.

Now that everything is put together, time for some hand sewing! To make the dress look Cheongsam inspired, frog buttons are the way to go. These buttons are also called “pan-kou” or “die-kou” and you can DIY them if you can’t find them online. Unfortunately, for us, we can’t attach frog buttons with a sewing machine so hand sewing is a must. Thankfully, I already basted the 2 portions of the front bodice together so it is easier. Just position the frog buttons till you are satisfied with the overall look then sew them on with a couple of slip stitches. Some people prefer a single frog button on top, but I like the effect of 2 frog buttons. After installing the frog buttons, I remove the basting stitches so the front opening become the closure for this dress. 

Frog buttons are usually not good enough to keep your cheongsam closed, so I also handsewn metal snap closures along the curve to ensure that the dress doesn’t pop open when she wears it.

And that’s it! A beautiful Chinese new year brocade dress for my little princess! That happy face is all I need to start the new year =)

Thank you for reading! May the new year bring you and your family much joy, happiness and wealth! Gong Xi Fa Cai!

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