Kimonos are all the rage right now. I don’t know if it’s the instant effortless style it brings to an outfit or simply the comfort and warmth of a pretty layering piece but everyone wants to have one in their closet.
Two weeks ago (wow, has it been that long already!), I decided to join the Kimono addicts but in true handmade style: if I wanted one, I would make one myself.
So I started to gather inspiration and informations on this piece of clothing: What looks, length, style would be flattering? How is it typically constructed? Can I wing it with rectangular panels of fabric or do I have to make a pattern for it? And to make it official, I’ve even sketched my goal! 🙂
These were a few of the questions I was asking myself before starting. Even though this can sometimes lead to feeling a little overwhelmed, it’s good to know exactly what you are getting yourself into. You see, I’ve been sewing for some time now and I think I have reached the point where I want to learn how to be able to take a drawing, an idea I have, and create it myself for real. There’s a huge sense of freedom when doing this, you can virtually create anything, make it fit your exact needs. But the alternative is that it comes with a bucket full of questions and doubts that can be frightening to confront.
So let’s start small and easy with the Kimono. As I mentioned earlier, the preliminary researched was done and some easy tutorials were even found to help me in my quest to the perfect summer layer.
I decided to try the “big rectangules sewn together” method to see if I could achieve this simple look without a specific pattern.
The fabric had been waiting in the stash for quite some time. I’m totally in love with the blue flower pattern and I’m sure this will coordinate well with a lot of my current wardrobe. That’s how the experiment started…
Tracing, cutting, everything went smoothly. And because it’s really simple pieces, the process was very quick and gratifying. There was only the small adjustment of the neck to make (that’s what happens when you forget your head has a neck supporting it and have to recut the piece smaller… at least it’s always better than having to start over because it’s too small!)
Then when your happy with it and just need to check the fit before hemming, that’s when you discover that the fabric, even if it’s the most perfect pattern for your idea, isn’t drapy enough to make it Kimono worthy… 🙁
The result was too boxy for my taste. The body itself isn’t that bad, but the sleeves do feel and look a little puffy, and as a result, it made me feel like a bodybuilder. Not good at all in my book… That’s when the phase of “I give up, I’m not doing this any longer” came in and lasted a couple days.
Then, stubborn as I am, I finally came back to it and tried to tweaked it a bit to see if it could be upgraded and make at least a wearable muslin. I decided to pinch the back on each sides to reduce ease and make a feature out of it by adding buttons to fix it in place.
The button and pleat trick worked and the front felt a little less aggressive when the bottom edge wasn’t horizontal anymore. It turned out to be an okay save! It even looks like it was intentional (for the record that’s my “official” story… 😉 )
However I thought that this was it, the end of the Kimono adventure. Could I’ve been defeated that easily?
A few days later when cleaning out my drawer, I found a beautiful and flowy scarf that haven’t been worn in ages. The fabric was a bit psychedelic and certainly not the flowery type I had envisioned, but at least it would be a good opportunity to test and see if using the same method I could have a better result with a more drapier fabric.
This brings us to version 2. Which turned out way better than the first!
Same method using big rectangular panels and simply sewing them together. But see how another fabric made a huge difference! This one is a winner! 🙂
So the lesson’s learned: choose your fabric carefully and make sure the weight of the fabric suits the style you’re going for. And certainly don’t get sided tracked by the pretty prints, they’ll be your downfall! 😉
Now, after all this experiment, I feel I have conquered a part of the Kimono world and plan to find a nicer fabric to make a more elegant version.
I bet that having read about the fabulous adventure of the Kimono jacket, you’re itching to join me and make one of your own! Well, watch out for a special How-To on how I’ve constructed mine coming this week!
Stay tuned and let me know what you thought about these first two attempts!