A Kimono Jacket is the perfect summer top, layered over a plain tee or camisole, it can take your casual look to another level and this floral floaty number adds a feminine touch to your outfit. That’s all the blurb I’ve been reading on fashion websites about them anyway! A Kimono hasn’t been an item on my sewing to do list but I caught a glimpse of someone wearing one on tv and I really liked how it looked. It was teamed with skinny jeans over a vest and looked smart but casual and stylish at the same time. I had a quick look on Pinterest and there was lots of inspiration and diagrams on how to make your own without a pattern, so I thought I’d give it a go. It literally is just 2 seams and depending on your fabric, the finishing of raw edges. You can refer to my diagram for the measurements I used but bear in mind I’m 5ft 4″ and a size 8 so take that into account for sizing your own Kimono! I made this from a 1m length of floral polyester purchased from my local fabric shop costing £4.50, it was a wider width of 150cm which you’ll need for the length of your Kimono. I’m not really a floral person but this really caught my eye and I love navy and white together and the coral flowers really set the print off. I also wear white jeans a lot in the summer so I thought this would look great with them. I folded the fabric in half lengthwise and the fold became the top of the Kimono with the selvedges the bottom, it didn’t seem to make any difference in working with the grain in a different direction. Here’s the Kimono template I used and I translated this onto Christmas wrapping paper working on the wrong side with gridlines (it makes great pattern paper if you can buy it cheap post Xmas!).
I fiddled with this quite a bit to get the curves right, I didn’t want it to be too boxy like some of the Kimono patterns, I also made the opening different and cut it more on an angle but you can change this to how you want yours to look. My sleeves are elbow length but that is due to the 1m length of fabric (my Kimono width), you would need to purchase say 1.5m if you wanted longer sleeves. This is my Kimono cut out ready to sew.
I decided I would use French Seams on this fabric, it frays easily and I wanted the insides to look tidy and thought the overlock stitch isn’t the prettiest seam finish to look at. Also I had pinned my fabric wrong sides together and I couldn’t be bothered to undo all the clips and turn it in the other way so French Seams it was. I sewed firstly at 1cm seam allowance and trimmed the seams really close to the stitching around the curve as I had read that French Seams weren’t really suitable for armhole curves but hoped by doing this it would be ok.
Before sewing the seam on the inside (fabric RST), I gave the curves a good press and tried to get them to lay as flat as possible. I tried to keep to a 0.5cm seam allowance but didn’t quite manage it around the curves and it has caused a bit of puckering where I ended up with a seam allowance of twice that! I just can’t seem to sew curves particularly well and of course I couldn’t clip them because it was the finished seam, a good press and it wasn’t too bad.
I wasn’t sure how to finish the raw edges, bias binding, narrow or rolled hem? I spent hours trying to get my Vintage Singer to work a rolled hem because I don’t have this presser foot on my regular sewing machine but I do for the Singer, and I thought it would be super easy. It just wasn’t happening, I couldn’t get the tension right, and had wasted so much time messing around with it I decided to use apply bias binding. After I had pinned it to the right side of the centre edges with the idea of it being turned under hidden on the wrong side, I decided I liked seeing the navy edge so had to repin it to the other side.
Bias binding on the right side, I’m glad I changed my mind and went for this finish, it just added that little extra to the design.
I had run out of bias binding after this but still had the sleeves and hem to do, I looked in my supplies and found this seam binding in navy. I inherited it from my nan over a decade ago and judging by the price she had it for years too! I wasn’t really sure how to use it but found reference to being able to use it as a hem tape so I just applied it to the RS of fabric, stitched close to the top edge and flipped it over to the wrong side and sewed again, similar to applying bias binding. I used a stitch length of 3 and sewed from the RS, it did cause a bit of puckering where the fabric was sliding around but nothing too noticeable after a good press.
It gives a lovely finish to the inside and I also used it on the sleeves
So this was a super simple make and I’m definitely going to make another one, maybe in a knit fabric? I have plans to refashion a men’s T-shirt my daughter bought recently into one and we’ve got some pom pom trim on order to go along the bottom. I’m sure there are lots of things you could do to personalise your Kimono, add a single fastening, cuffs, fringe along the bottom or a different fabric at the front/back? With just a metre of fabric it’s a really cheap make and you can afford to experiment! Tag me on Instagram @sew.ready if you make one, I’d love to see your creations.