Folkwear 131 Tibetan Chupa Pattern Cover

by Cynthia Anderson

This is Day 1 of the sew along.  
Click here for Day 2.
Click here for Day 3.  

The Folkwear 131 Tibetan Chupa is a wrapped jumper that has a centuries-long history in Tibet. Along with its deep traditional roots, the Tibetan Chupa makes a beautiful contemporary garment that is perfect for any season. The Folkwear team thought we would introduce you to the Folkwear 131 Tibetan Chupa & Skirt pattern in a Sew Along to inspire your summer sewing.

In this Sew Along, you will learn to make pattern that is not only simple to make, but flattering to wear. The pattern makes the dress shown, but also includes a versatile Chupa-Inspired Wrap Skirt that will make an exciting and fun addition to any skirt collection.

The Chupa was traditionally worn with added layers of aprons, woolen sashes, and a panel coat (like our 118 Tibetan Panel Coat). It can be worn alone or with a blouse (like our 111 Nepali Blouse). The Chupa design features an asymmetrical bodice wrap front, front and back shaping darts, wide neckband, simple faced armholes, and unique side extensions that wrap around the back to tie in front. The resulting silhouette is slim, yet the wrapped extensions provide enough leg room to make walking easy. Both the Chupa and Chupa-Inspired Wrap Skirt can be made in the traditional ankle length or below-knee length. Of course, you can alter the length any way that best suits you.


Front & Back Views of the Chupa and Skirt

Front & Back Illustrations of the Folkwear 131 tibetan Chupa and Skirt


To get started consult the Sizing and Yardage Requirement chart (on the back of the pattern sleeve) to choose your size and fabric yardage needed for your project.


Folkwear 131 Tibetan Chupa & Skirt Pattern Size and Yardage Chart

Also, have a close look at the Finished Length Measurements provided (bottom left hand column on back of pattern) for the Chupa & Skirt to help in determining the best size for you.

Folkwear 131 tibetan Chupa & Skirt Pattern Finished Length Chart

Be sure to read the bonus material included in the Folkwear 131 Tibetan Chupa & Wrap Skirt Pattern for more history and  information to inspire your sewing.

Here's the Sew Along Schedule:

  • Day One (today): Introduction to the 131 Tibetan Chupa & Skirt and preparing to sew; selecting your size, and fabric.
  • Day Two: Laying out the pattern pieces on the fabric and beginning construction; making the darts, shoulder seams, stay-stitching neckline, and making ties.
  • Day Three: Sewing the side seams, neckbands, armholes and finishing.


Photo of Matterials for making the Folkwear 131 Tibetan Chupa


Materials Needed:

  • Fabric yardage that corresponds to your size and the length of your project.
  • Sewing thread (depending on your design)
  • One 3/8-inch (1cm) Ball Button or alternative choice
  • Four Pairs of Hooks & Eyes
  • Interfacing (sew-in or fusible)

Choosing Summer Fabrics
Any natural fiber fabric would be ideal for making the Chupa or skirt for everyday summer wearing. Look for light to medium weight cottons and linens. Fabrics that breathe and whisk away moisture are a joy when the temperatures rise. When picking a fabric remember to consider the drape. This pattern is made even more lovely when made with a fabric that has flowy-ness. For this reason rayon and tencel would be nice. Pick a solid, patterned, striped, or eyelet fabric and rest assured this pattern makes up beautifully in just about any fabric you choose. Do keep in mind that the fabric you choose will be doubled with the wrap extensions and the ties should withstand being tied a multitude of times. Woven fabrics tend work better than knit fabrics for this pattern.

Use more than one fabric design and have some fun. The ties, neck facing, and armhole facings could be made in a different fabric from the main body fabric of the Chupa. I do suggest making a muslin before using a combination of different fabrics so you will understand the construction and how you might creatively use different fabric combinations. Once you understand the construction of this design, your creativity can take off!

Even though this Sew Along focuses on summer Chupa sewing, I must say after having just made this dress for the demonstration purpose of this blog, I am already planning a version for Fall... just so you know. If you are already experiencing winter somewhere in the world or like to plan ahead, I have you in mind too.

Choosing Fall/Winter Fabrics
When you consider the cold winter climate of Tibet, it is not hard to understand how the Chupa was developed to be both versatile and practical. Of course, what was good enough ages ago can still be relevant in modern wardrobes too.
The wrapping of the design at the waist helps lend a warm comfort like a cozy blanket. In the winter the Chupa was traditionally worn fur-lined or padded for extra protection from the cold. Maybe a faux fur-lined version would be prudent just in case the power goes out?

Any cozy fabric that is not too stiff would be a great choice. Look for light to medium-weight wool, such as flannel, gaberdine, and tweeds. Medium-weight cottons such as denim, corduroy, velveteen, and poplin are good choices. For a dressy or casual look consider silk fabrics like haboti, charmeuse, and noil. Once again look for light to medium-weight silk fabrics, with a bit of drape.

Getting Started: Prepare Your Fabric
Once you have your fabric, it is a good idea to test for washability and shrinkage. Cut a small swatch 3"x4" (8cm x 10cm) of fabric from the corner of your yardage. Place the swatch on a piece of paper and trace around it. Keep the tracing for a reference. Wash and dry your swatch the way you intend on laundering your finished garment. Now, lay the swatch back down on the tracing and compare. Did the swatch shrink? Did the fabric change in an unacceptable way?  If your yardage shrank in a substantial way, you may need more yardage or a different fabric. This little test helps to eliminate any unfortunate surprises resulting in disappointment.

If you are fine with your swatch test, go ahead and prepare to wash and dry your yardage according to how you intend to launder the final garment, or according to any care instructions that the fabric requires.

Before you wash, you can serge the raw edges, or sew a straight stitch or long basting stitch, to the raw edges of your fabric yardage. This will prevent your fabric from unraveling and getting tangled, when being put through the rigors of washing and drying.

After you launder your fabric, determine the right side of the fabric.  If it is not apparent, you can choose which will be the right side. Thread a needle with a bit of contrasting thread and catch a few threads of the right side of the fabric, in the selvage.  Tie the marking thread off with a few tiny knots to secure. This step can save a lot of time second guessing yourself on which is the right side.

Give your fabric a good pressing, not only to smooth it out so the pattern will lay down well, but to force yourself to give the fabric one last inspection before you lay out your pattern.

Trace off your pattern
In order to preserve your pattern and keep it intact, consider tracing off the pattern size you require and make any adjustments needed on the traced pattern and not on the original. News print or a roll of paper will work, however, Swedish tracing paper is really fabulous for this. Swedish tracing paper behaves like a cross between paper and fabric. It is durable (will take endless pinning and folding) and it is transparent enough to make tracing your pattern easy. It takes both pencil and ink well. It irons well too.

Trace and cut your pattern out accurately. Be sure to add all notches, dots, and instructional markings too.

For now gather your materials, trace and cut out your paper pattern in your size, and prepare your fabric. Join me next week for Day Two of the Sew Along and learn some tips when laying out your pattern on your fabric and the beginning construction of the Folkwear 131 Tibetan Chupa. The pattern is on sale though the month and a pdf version is available too.