Written by Gioia Zhang


A variety of techniques are used in the decoration of traditional Chinese women’s lingerie such as embroidery, inlay, appliqué, patch and more. Those techniques have distinctive processes and fine degree.

“Embroidery” is divided into four major categories, satin stitch, coil stitch, hand sewn stitch, and braid stitch.

  • Satin stitch is also called painting embroidery. The embroidery patterns are mainly in small size, and the stitches are parallel and arranged neatly. It was used more common in the Song and Yuan dynasties.


Part Dudou: Period – The Late Qing Dynasty


  • Among all kinds of coil stitches, seed stitch is the most distinctive one. Though the stitching process is simple, it produces a solid aesthetic effect.


Part Dudou: Period – The Late Qing Dynasty



  • Hand sewn stitches are hand sewn sequins and appliqués used to decorate lady lingerie.


Part Dudou: Period – The Republic of China Era


  • Braid stitch was not used very much in traditional Chinese lingerie. In general, the ancient people in China used “cross-stitch embroidery”.


Part Corset: Period – The Republic of China Era


The ancient people of China were good at decorating lingerie with golden line embroidery.


Part Dudou: Period – The Middle Qing Dynasty



Part Dudou: Period – The Republic of China Era



“Inlay” refers to the use of a decorative strip of cloth /lace /embroidery sewn on the edge of underwear to form a decoration. This brocade (a type of tightly woven fabric) shows the idea of trimming the edge with exquisite silk.


Part Corset: Period – The Middle Qing Dynasty



Part Corset: Period – The Republic of China Era ·



Part Corset: Period – The Early Qing Dynasty


“Trimming”/ “rolling off” is the process of wrapping the edges with cloth.


Part Corset: Period – The Middle Qing Dynasty


“Appliqué” is a quick stitching decoration technique, an integration of embroidery and other processes to form a flat or semi perspective effect.



Dudou: Period – The Late Qing Dynasty



Dudou: Period – The Late Qing Dynasty



Dudou: Period – The Late Qing Dynasty


Dudou: Period – The Late Qing Dynasty

This Dudou is appliquéd with pre-cut patterns and decorated with satin stitch.


The “patching” is a process of sewing different pieces of cloth together. It has the meaning of “mending the deficiency” and is the icing on the cake for the Dudou.


Paddy Field Dudou: Period – The Late Qing Dynasty


Exquisite craftsmanship is also reflected in the arrangement of layers and the refinement of the decorations. Decorating the connected parts with frog buttons make the underwear more attractive.


Dudou: Period – The Late Qing Dynasty


The garment technique of Chinese traditional underwear is in line with the concept of “harmony between man and nature” and, in particular, the “round sky and square earth” theory. The lower part of the garment is “the circle shape in the front and the square shape in the back”. Putting the pattern of the Ruyi and butterfly in front of the chest is a metaphor of “lucky arrival ”.


Part Nashao: Period – The Late Qing Dynasty


The ancient Chinese people also use batik, hand-painting and other techniques to enrich the style and effect of women lingerie.


Underwear Cloth: Period – The Republic of China era


They not only use silk, brocade and other premium quality fabric, they also use homespun cotton, cambric and fine bamboo to create lingerie.


Hollowed Out Clothes: Period – The Late Qing Dynasty


To connect each part with bead is also one of the most ingenious techniques.


Dudou: Period – Late Qing Dynasty


The spinning technique weaves and wraps fabric into different kinds of tassels. This is very imaginative.



Part Dudou: Period – The Late Qing Dynasty


Dudou: Period – The Late Qing Dynasty


The beautiful lingerie was made simply by a small piece of cloth and with different stitching methods. The lingerie had infinite possibilities of design, full of imagination and creativity. The wisdom of ancient people in China has amazed the world!


This article refers to 《Fantasy Beyond Body: The Civilization of Chinese Underwear in Ancient Times》


About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

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