Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life

Tai Chi Uniform: First thoughts on designing the pattern


I was intending to crack on with sewing more of my #makenine for this year, however a new make has jumped to the top of my schedule. I have practiced Tai Chi for some while with the Wu Tan Tai Chi school.

My teacher has long been nagging me to sort out my clothing and wear something more “Tai Chi”, but knows I do make my own clothes. So, she has lent me some jackets to try on that I can use as a basis for a sewing pattern.

Tai Chi uniform

Naturally, I decided to also purchase some more Swedish Tracing Paper, which I reviewed here. I have used it previously and really liked using it. It has the added bonus that it behaves more like a fabric than a paper so you can sew it and try it on!

My first dilemma on trying on the jackets is that to me they seem quite restrictive in the shoulder. The grown-on sleeves actually pivot downwards. This means that with any movement of the arm at shoulder height or above, tends to make the bottom of the jacket ride up and all movements quite restrictive. I suspect that my square shoulders are contributing to this problem, because on less square shoulders I’m sure that the fit of the jacket would be fine.

I decided to investigate if there were any Chinese jacket or Tai Chi uniform patterns on line. My search revealed various different arm shapes, some with sloping arms and some with completely horizontal arms.

This is a wrap design, which isn’t what I’m after and the arms are too flamboyant, but it does have the horizontal arms.
This is the Chinese Jacket #114 from Folkwear patterns. This resembles the overall design of my jacket, but does include the horizontal arms too.

My first step is to make a sewing pattern using the Swedish Tracing paper. As I already have the sloping arms, I will make this pattern with horizontal arms and see if it improves the fit for my shoulders. The jacket is made of a quite light-weight cotton. It looks like and feels like a high-thread count sheeting. I don’t know if I will be able to get something similar (and I don’t want to use poly-cotton sheeting). I suspect that I will end up purchasing something heavier weight, so any restrictions in movement will be exacerbated by this.

Author: steelyseamstress

Sewing a new wardrobe

4 thoughts on “Tai Chi Uniform: First thoughts on designing the pattern

  1. This is going to be an interesting project! A high armhole will give you more movement. Have you considered using a knit fabric? Or is that too “we don’t do that”? I notice scrubs – traditionally made in wovens – are sometimes made in knit fabrics, particularly for vets, to give more movement.

    • I’m hoping the high arm hole will sort out the problem. I would love to use a knit fabric, but I think my teacher would be upset if I stray too far from the navy blue cotton uniform. I’ve seen some fantastic Tai Chi uniforms in silk online – would love to copy one of those, but fear I need to restrain myself!

  2. I was going to suggest the folkwear patterns as they have some interesting designs but I see you’ve gone down that route! I wondered if any Burda magazines might have something you could adapt. The only ones I could see were 105 in 2/2018 and a plus size 131 in 1/2014. There is a perfect child’s one in 10/2007 wouldn’t you know! 🙂

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