Sunday, January 4, 2015

DIY Chinese Button Knot and Chinese New Year Outfit for Baby

For my son's first Chinese New Year, I decided to make him a traditional Chinese New Year outfit to wear when we visited families during the Chinese New Year holidays. I don't have a pattern/tutorial to work with so I had to learn everything on my own. I could go to Pacific Mall and buy an outfit, but if I did, then I wouldn't have learned how to make and sew bias strips, taught myself the traditional art of Chinese knotting, and sew baby booties!

Here are the steps I took to create the Chinese outfit for my son:

Part 1 — Create the Patterns

To begin, I picked an old hat, top, and pair of pants to sacrifice, because they will be taken apart and will be used as a guide to create the pattern. The top I picked had a collar similar to the Chinese outfit style. The pants I picked are corduroys, because the fabric I'm using (Chinese Brocade) doesn't stretch. After dressing him up, I took notes that the sleeves should be shorter, as well has his pants.

Next I took a seam ripper, and took the outfit apart, piece by piece.  The changes I made are: shorter sleeves and pants, and the front is cut into two pieces (because I want buttons) and the corners are rounded. As I'm taking apart the clothes, I'm also taking notes of the seam allowance, and how they're sewn together.

Then I took the pieces and traced them onto Kraft paper to create my pattern.

Part 2 — Make double fold bias strips.

There are many online tutorials on how to make and sew bias strips, so I'll skip my tutorial on this subject.

For the finish hat, and cuffs: I cut strips of fabric 4 inches wide to create a 1 inch strip.

For the collar and front: I cut strips of fabric 2 inches wide to create a half inch strip.

Part 3 — Putting the outfits together.


The pants were the first piece I made. I've never sewn pants before, but here are the following steps I took:

Step 1a and 1b: Pin fabric right sides together and sew the sides of each leg.
Step 2a and 2b: Sew the bias strips
Step 3: Pin right sides together and sew. Repeat for the back.
Step 4: Pin right sides together and sew.
Step 5: Fold over, sew, and add elastics.


Here are the steps I took to sew the top:

Step 1: Sew the bias strip. Repeat for the other arm.
Step 2: Pin right sides together, sew the shoulder. Repeat for the other side.
Step 3: Pin right sides together, and sew the arm piece to the front and back. Repeat for the other side.
Step 4: Pin right sides together, and sew the sides. Repeat for the other side.
Step 5: Sew on the collar.
Step 6: Sew the bias strip along the edge. 

Part 4 — Make the Chinese button knots.

This is the stage where it stressed me out the most. It's a bit confusing to learn, partly because I was looking at black and white illustrations. So I hope my colourful photographs will make it easier for you to follow.


1. Cut a long strip of fabric about 1 inch in width, and by approximately 30 inch long.
2. Fold in half, wrong sides together, and press (you end up with half inch by 30 inch fabric)
3. Open and fold BOTH the long edges towards the center, and press.
4. Fold in half and stitch close to the folded edge.


Working over a foam surface (such as a sofa cushion), follow the steps in the following illustrations. The colour pins represents each steps.
Start by putting a red pin in the middle of the string. Then  blue...

Then yellow...

Then pink...

Then white...

Remove all and pins and pull where the red pins are...

You will have something like this...

Get rid of the top loop by...

moving the string through the knot.
A Chinese button knot

Cut off excess fabric, leaving about 1.5 inch of string.

Burn the ends so it doesn't fray (I tapped it over a burner).

Hand sew the buttons onto the outfit.

Part 5 — Make the hat.

The hat was a copied from one of his many sleeper hats. However, I added a one inch bias strip around the edge, and a button on top to finish it off.

Part 5 — Make the booties.

With left over fabrics, I found an online pattern to create these cute little booties to complete his Chinese New Year outfit.


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