Don't fear the Chupa

By Sarah

This is my second time sewing a Folkwear pattern and I have to say, I’m an official fan, for sure!  If you haven’t ever peeked through our great selection, you MUST next time you're in the shop. Many of them are of traditional garb (like this chupa) which span many cultures and are versatile enough for modern wear.  Others are of vintage garment designs such as the 'Hollywood Pants' pattern (my first encounter with Folkwear).   Their instructions are well written,  descriptive and very thorough. Another wonderful thing about these patterns is that they often have more than one variation included, so you get more bang (options) for your buck!   


The chupa, pronounced “chooba”, is a traditional Himalayan gown worn for centuries by Tibetan women.  The dress is popular in the Himalayan region of Nepal and India and is usually worn while attending special events or ceremonies.  It is unlike our modern idea of a wrap dress in that one climbs into it and then wraps it around the waist.  This means there is no opening or split in the skirt part of the dress, so for those of you who aren’t into accidental, risqué flashing of your thighs, this version of a wrap dress might be for you.  

Traditionally, chupas are made out of satin, silk and brightly colored brocade fabrics.  Being the practical and American gal that I am with no ties to Tibetan culture, I did not choose these fabrics (to each her own though).  I went with a tiny railroad stripe in cotton and I am very happy with how it looks and wears.  However, there are a multitude of fabrics that would work well for the chupa including, our ‘washer linen’ by Robert Kaufman, cotton chino or pick a double gauze from our huge selection of solids and prints for a cool and supple summer dress.   

Wearing this dress is like being hugged all day long.  That may be good or bad depending on how much you like to be hugged, I guess.  I made the short version of the the chupa dress (there is a skirt only option too) and the hem falls mid to upper calf.  I wore it with wedges but should have worn it with boots because it was freezing all day long (the sun's presence tricked me again!)  

Isn't the crisscross back pretty?!

It is rare that I follow a pattern's directions to a T and this particular pattern was no exception.  There are lengthy instructions on fastenings and ties put here and there.  All I did as far as that goes, was sew a snap to fasten the front outer flap (seen above) and sew two hook and eyes to the front under flap's edge and inner dart's excess fabric.  It suffices well. 

The above photo looks quite odd and contrived, I admit.  However, as intimidating as all these hanging and flappy pieces may seam, once you make your first one, your mind will be set for the construction and your heart will yearn for another variation in a different fabric.  So, go for it and never, ever fear the chupa!