Trach Xa Village, Hoa Lam Commune, Ung Hoa District, Hanoi, has long been known for traditional Ao Dai making. The skillful hands of Trach Xa craftspeople have made traditional Ao Dai for both men and women that are very beautiful and enhance the physique of those who wear them.

Ao Dai dressmaking in Trach Xa tailoring village has been a hereditary tradition, passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years. Mr. Do Minh Thuong's family in Dong Hamlet, Trach Xa Village, Hoa Lam Commune, Ung Hoa District has been tailoring Ao Dai for many generations. There have been ups and downs of social history that have disrupted the village's trade. However, his family still preserves, promotes and passes the trade down from generation to generation. Mr. Thuong (aka Tam) said that at the age of 12 he began to follow his father to different provinces - such as Bac Ninh, Ha Nam and Bac Giang to make Ao Dai.


A girl (9 years old), practicing Ao Dai sewing skills at Mr. Tam's family business

 Mr. Tam said that the traditional Ao Dai of Trach Xa Village has a famous saying - “The inner is like a sheet of glued paper; the outer looks like spider eggs”. When sewing an Ao Dai with silk fabric, the most difficult part of the process is sewing the lines of the shirt because it must be hand-stitched so that - “The inner stitching is like a sheet of glued paper; the outer stitching looks like spider eggs”  - that is, the sewing lines of the shirt needs a total of 7 stitches but the inside must be like a sheet of glued paper (smooth and flat so no threads are visible). In contrast, the stiches on the outside should in a single line and be as tiny as a spider's eggs.

An Ao Dai dress consists of two parts, the front and back sections, extending from the neck down to near the ankles. Along the sides, there is a slit from the waist down to the end of each section. The sleeves are long without shoulder bridges and sewn from the shoulders down to the wrists. The dress consists of 5 buttons, usually fabric buttons, pulled diagonally from the neck down to shoulder level and continues vertically down to the waist. The collar is most commonly shaped in a bateau, sabrina or mandarin style. When worn, the dress discreetly covers the neck. An Ao Dai is usually worn with long pants of the same color or plain white.

Mr. Tam explaining the structure and stitching of the five-flap long dress.

Trach Xa trade village is also famous because the majority of tailors are men which is traditionally a woman’s role in other villages throughout Vietnam. Children in the village, from 6 to 7 years of age, are taught by their parents how to hold sewing needles and assist with small tasks. Men in the village become extremely talented at designing and sewing dresses. Mr. Tam explained - in the past, the highly skilled tailors of the village had to go to other regions to work for months or even years before returning. Due to the difficult and dangerous conditions, and staying at the host's house, men were more suitable than women. Currently, due to the development of society, the villagers receive orders and produce goods at home.

Mr. Tam has eight siblings - his entire family specializes in producing “five-flap” and “four-flap” long dresses. Other families specialize in more modern and innovative Ao Dai designs or other related items. Mr. Tam said that “He specializes in making traditional Ao Dai in accordance with what his ancestors passed down, it is taboo to create any style other than the five-flap and the four-flap Ao Dai dress styles. He, and his family, continue to produce traditional Ao Dai to preserve the soul of the nation”.

         Every tailor, from apprentice to skilled craftsman, has a “crushed” index finger. This is unique to the tailors of Trach Xa Village due to the style in which they use the sewing needles. Trach Xa Tailors keep the needle fixed in place and move the cloth over the needle - elsewhere the needle is moved through the fabric. Mr Tam explained the differences between an Ao Dai made by an industrial sewing machine and a hand-tailored Ao Dai includes:


Hand-stitched Ao Dai

Machine-stitched Ao Dai


Using hand-made thread from the same fabric that the Ao Dai is made from

Using industrial “machine-made” thread





Soft, relaxed

Rough, lack of softness




Completion time

20 hours

3 hours

Mr. Tam said that every stage of the process is important when producing an Ao Dai - from measuring the size of the material required / drawing and cutting the fabric / choosing the correct threads and needles / the stitching processes and operations – all must be precise as a mistake at any stage will create a defective product.

Mr. Tam’s wife - sewing a woman's five-flap long dress

It can be said that Hanoi is home to many of the most famous traditional trade villages in the country, this includes Trach Xa tailoring village, which has the characteristics of the Doai region. Generations of Trach Xa village people, with virtuous hard work and enthusiasm throughout times of suffering, have successfully continued to create many useful and beautiful products for society for hundreds of years. As the country grows and develops, Trach Xa trade village will expand its opportunities and continue to flourish and prosper for many generations into the future.


Nguyễn Bá Ánh