Monday, March 7, 2011

Adventures in custom tailoring

A couple friends and I set out early Saturday morning to Beijing's largest fabric market. This fabric market is located in Beijing's Fengtai district, near the Muxiyuan long distance bus station. It is called Muxiyuan fabric market, 木樨园纺织品市场 in Chinese.
It is filled with stall after stall of fabric - every type imaginable. Not many foreigners venture out this way, so the prices are low.

I didn't go with anything in particular in mind, but I stumbled across a print that reminded me of exotic, far away places and beach destinations. I'm always drawn to exotic looking prints like ikat or batik.

I decided I didn't have anything to lose, as I paid less than 10 dollars for enough meters of fabric to make myself a beach tunic/swimsuit cover up. The colors are more vibrant in real life and sort of fade into each other. The fabric is a light linen-y type fabric, very lightweight and slightly sheer with one layer.

Now I just have to find a picture of what I want and bring it to the tailor... who is currently making me a shift dress and a pencil skirt out of some super 120s wool fabric I bought a couple months ago - for $39 USD total. Basically, for $55 USD (fabric plus tailoring) I will have a pencil skirt and a shift dress completely tailored to my body, in the fabric and design of my choosing. Pretty awesome, huh?

Anyway, back to the issue at hand - which tunic style should I have them re-create?

Should I have some unique edging added to the neckline, bottom of the sleeves, and hem of the tunic, like this Milly Cabana Tunic?

Or just have them create a simple, casual design like the one below?

Or this shape?

Any thoughts?

I'll post pictures of my tailor-made shift, pencil skirt, and tunic when I receive the finished products!

ETA: Another picture of the fabric so you can see that it is actually pretty sheer.


  1. Oooo! I would do something like the Milly tunic. That is so cute!

  2. Love the Milly! I think it looks better for this type of fabric. The other two designs seem like they may be better in a sheer linen or muslin.

    What's the name of this fabric market? Have you tried the more touristy places like Ya Xiu? If you have, would love to hear how they compare.

    PS: Recently discovered your blog and have linked you from mine. :)

  3. Bethanie - thanks for the comment!

    Lindsay - Thanks! have added you to my blogroll! The fabric market is actually named Muxiyuan fabric market. While places like Ya Xiu and silk street do sell fabric, they don't sell even 1/4 of what this fabric market offers. It's also pretty well known among locals but foreigners don't often go, so the prices are good and you can't bargain much lower than what they offer.

    I added another picture because the fabric is actually quite sheer, and I think it is a linen/muslin type fabric.

  4. ^ Thanks for the add!

    After seeing that new pic, I think the fabric would look great in the style of #3, if not better. I think it'd look great with some tribal jewelry, too. The fabric reminds me of pretty!

    Thanks for the name of the market! Will definitely have to make a trip next time especially now that there's a subway station steps to the apt I usually stay at. Woohoo!

  5. I love love love the first AND the last one. So hard to choose:)

  6. Hi!

    Sorry, can't help you with choosing but you probably already made up your mind.

    It was some while ago I last read your blog and by a coincident I will go to Muxiyuan fabric market tomorrow!

    Have never been but I'll bring som favourite clothes to see if I can make copies of them.

    Do you have your tailor there at the market or elsewhere? I'd like to get the name if you're ok with that. Thanks for a great blog and I'll pop by more often.

  7. Hi! I'm from Toronto, Canada and have been to Hong Kong and Beijing for the shopping : )

    I have contact with a Tailor in Beijing that does suits and shirts but they don't do bed linens :(

    Do you have a contact to a fabric tailor in Beijing market that does bed linens? maybe silks? Unfortunately I can't afford to go to Beijing myself anytime soon, so I hope I can order it and have it shipped.