How To Make a Chinese Long Jacket or Mongol Del

By Sosha Lyons O'Roarke

There are several ways in which to make this piece of clothing, but first I wish to clear up the naming of the garment. A Del, the Mongol jacket, is buttoned on the right hand side. This was seen in the areas of China which had the most contact (or conquest) with the Mongols. This was in the southern and more western areas. The Chinese long jacket is the exact same thing but buttoned on the left-hand side. This buttoning style was seen in the more northern and eastern areas that were influenced by the Japanese. Men and women would wear this cut as short as a western mini skirt or as long as ankle length, however the "usual" lengths were mid-thigh to knee on men and past the knee to mid-calf on the women.

The materials used in the construction of these jackets were limited only to what the wearer could afford and find, i.e. cotton from India for those in the southern area, brocaded silk, wool of various types, etc. Any materials that were transported through out China on the "silk roads" and readily available for those with a deep enough purse were used. If one could not afford a full jacket of Brocaded silk one could make a sturdy wool or cotton jacket edged in the silk of choice.

Now for the construction, I am only going to describe the easiest of the three methods that I know of, but I will recommend "Cut my Cote" which has great patterns and instructions for making these types of jackets. You will want to base how much material to use as if you were making a T-tunic and then add a yard if it is a non-grained fabric i.e. cotton, or a yard if a napped fabric i.e. velvet. Then decide how long you want this jacket to be. The longer it is the more material you will need. Also make sure that the material is wide enough. After purchasing your material, machine wash if it is machine washable and dry it to make the material shrink fast. (Note: I would suggest for those who are not dry-cleaning only types to purchase natural fiber materials i.e. heavy cotton or a comfortable wool cloth are excellent choices.) Silk, if it can be found at a reasonable price, is washable in cold water and woolite. Cotton or wool blends will work as well but still need to be washed since there are natural fibers within. One word of caution if you have never sewn or unsure of your ability to make this outfit do a practice run of this pattern on very cheap material i.e. muslin or $.89 bargain cotton.

Next iron all of the material. Then lay the material flat on the floor/table. Put the cut end of the material on the cutting surface and pull towards you. The cut end will be the hem edge. Next measure out where you want the hem to hit you, thigh/knee/mid-calf, then measure up to the middle of the shoulder for the length of the jacket. Leave 1 inch for seam allowance at the top and the bottom. (Note: most people only need in for seam allowance however it is easier to shorten a too long t-tunic then to add a section on.) Fold the material at the shoulder seam area. Do NOT cut anything at this point. You may have extra material past the original hemline laid out. Cut only the extra material off and put it to the side. If your materiel does not reach the original hemline you may want to consider a shorter jacket or to start over with new material.

Once all the creases have been tugged out of the folded material, then mark with chalk or a pin the exact middle at the folded top edge. Fold the material, left to right, so that the side edges meet and every thing is centered exactly. There should now be four layers of material folded length wise in front of you. Now mark out in either pins or chalk the out line of a T-tunic, making sure that sleeves are included and a 1-inch seem allowance as well. If you are unsure of your measurements take a large comfortable T-shirt fold it length wise and place on the material. (Note: I would mark a few (5-7) extra inches outward on the material if this is a form fitting T-shirt. The material you are cutting will not give as much and be to tight, so make sure you have plenty of chest room) Take a tape measure and measure from under the arm of the T-shirt to your mid-waist and make a mark with either pen or chalk. From this waist measurement you will want to mark the material at the bottom corner of the folded material. This will give the jacket a full flared edge. The bottom edge can be straight across or have a rounded edge.

This is roughly what you will end up with when folded

Now cut out the pattern.

Leave the material in its folded position. Measure around your neck. Remember where you marked the folding point? This is where the neck will be. Take the measurement and center it on the folded point of the material.

Once the material is cut place the scraps to the side. Then lay out the material so that the side that you want to be the front is facing up. Next pick which side the jacket is to be cut on. Right side for Mongol or left side for Chinese. Cut down the CENTER of the front piece.

This is the placate piece that will be sewn to either the right or left side depending upon which jacket you are making

The inner lines on the placate denote that a trim, of either cloth or ribbon, was used. If this is not the look that is wanted, trim does not have to be used. At the edges (at the shoulder and at the waist) of the sewn in placate, place buttons in sets of 3, 5, or 7. The front piece that is left unattached should have a tie placed on the finished edge about waist high and another piece of tie (ribbon) should be attached at the opposite side at the same height. This will keep what will be your inner piece in place.

Note: The images were re-created by Clarissa di Firenze based on drawings from Sosha. Any errors are Clarissa's.