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Aug 28, 2013

Back to the Kimono



There are two kinds of sewing projects, readers: the ones you think will be hard but end up easy, and the ones you think will be easy but end up hard.  My kimono is the latter kind.

A robe like this should be easy: it's just two fronts (right and left), a back, and two sleeves.  But I'm frankenpatterning here without instructions and I've added long kimono sleeves that attach to the torso along half their length, and hang open along the rest.  I decided to close the torso sides, which isn't classic kimono but seemed easier and more robe-like.



There are a lot of seams to finish and I probably didn't finish them in the best/easiest way.  I used French seams on the shoulders.  I flat-felled the armscye and side seams -- not easy with a delicate cotton lawn fabric.  To finish the open end of the sleeve (not the cuff, but the end beneath the armscye) I rolled 1/4" twice and stitched.  At the point where the sides and armhole meet, I had to clip 5/8" into my fabric (since the top of the side piece attaches to the sleeve and the bottom attaches to the back, creating a very fragile area.



To strengthen the area on both the torso side and the sleeve, I cut four triangular gusset-like pieces of fabric and stitched them along what's essentially the underarm.  It wasn't difficult but it was painstaking. 







The result is nearly invisible.



Maybe there's a better way to have addressed this issue but I couldn't come up with one.

Meanwhile, I attached my cotton sateen trim to the sleeves, the neckline and fronts, and the hem.



I used the trim pattern piece from my vintage Eighties Butterick kimono pattern.  The trim is cut parallel to the grainline even where you're attaching it to a slightly curved front.  In an ideal world this trim would be stitched right sides together, folded over and then slip-stitched closed on the wrong side.  I didn't want to hand stitch, however, so I carefully, carefully stitched this with my machine.  I even used a little double-sided fusible web to hold things in place.  Also in that ideal world, the trim would be silk.  My cotton sateen looks great, but it's a little heavy, frankly.

Enough about kimonos.  Here are some gratuitous chihuahua shots from this morning.









I'm fried and eager to move on.

In closing, have you ever made a kimono robe?  Was it easy or hard?

Have a great day, everybody!

21 comments:

  1. I made a kimono style robe last fall and it was meant to be an easy project. It wasn't. Like you, I ended up sewing seams a bunch of different ways because of the tricky fabric and the difficult joins at the armscye. However, I loved the end results and wear the robe almost every day. So, I hope it's as worth it in the end for you.

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  2. I've worked a lot with vintage Japanese kimonos, though mostly taking them apart to use the fabric. They are primarily handsewn (and designed to be taken apart for washing), with extra tiny patches of fabric sewn inside at the ends of seams (like under the arms) for stability. I have had to re-line a few and they are really difficult to get back together as nicely as the original hand-sewing.

    Yours might be a pain in the bum, but it really looks great =)

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    1. Yes this is true! Traditionally kimono is always picked apart for washing. Also the kimono evolved into the garment it is because the traditional fabric used to make it is milled in narrow widths of only 13 to 15 inches. Another interesting tidbit is the way to tell a men's kimono from women's is the sleeve; women's kimono sleeves are shorter and curved at the inner corners while men's are longer and squared off. Folkwear Patterns has book called "The Folkwear Book of Ethnic Clothing" that delves into the history of the garments in their pattern line and the chapter on kimono is really fascinating. It details the history and traditional construction methods. For example there are no patterns for kimono, the cutting layout is based just on the way narrow fabric needs to be put together and for the most part the narrow width used "as is" except for the bands and the collar.

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  3. I think we chatted about making a kimono out of an olive and green asian inspired fabric from Mood. Thankfully it was a reasonably priced silk. It also turned out to be a pain in the ass. Definitely should have done set in sleeves....not square dolman. I did french seams throughout. Put pockets in which definitely clashed with the wacky square angled sleeves.....definitely want a do-over

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  4. Gilbert and Sullivan: LOVE 'EM!
    Three little maids who, all unwary
    Come from a ladies' seminary
    Freed from its genius tutelary
    Three little maids from school

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    Replies
    1. ...and a better Yum-Yum there never was.

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  5. I have a kimono robe in the pipeline but, frankly, have been waiting for you to finish yours first :) After this post I'm a little apprehensive, but will have a go anyway.

    Will we get to see your creation modelled?

    Spud.

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  6. "Frankenpatterning" is a word I will adore from now on. :-)

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  7. This may be a PIA, but it is going to be very beautiful and something that you will really enjoy wearing. Sounds like you came up with good solutions to me. By the way, I am always intimidated by large swaths of fabric. I make drapes, but I hate all those large, heavy pieces of fabric I have to manage.

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  8. "Make Your Own Japanese Clothes: Patterns and Ideas for Modern Wear," by John Marshall. Invaluable resource. Probably still on the shelves at the public library in NYC; definitely still in print. Y'all are making this harder than it need be.

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  9. I've tried, but not succeeded, in making my own kimono pattern from a kimono that I took apart, for the same reasons you're citing. I think I need to see LinB's book. I wonder how lawn trimmed with silk would launder? I think I'd use the sateen, too.

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    1. Most silks,including charmeuse and the crepe de chines launder just fine. I pretreat by cold water washing and pop them in the dryer on low. Thereafter I wash in cold on gentle and either air dry or use the dryer on low. Touch up with an iron.

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  10. The dogs always make me smile. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. Yes, I did make my own kimono about 10 years ago, also using "Make Your Own Japanese Clothes: Patterns and Ideas for Modern Wear,". I have to agree with LinB that it is a wonderful reasource for the patterning and construction. I don't remember my kimono being hard to make. I just remember it taking up LARGE amounts of fabric. I think I'll go locate it and swan about in it for a while.

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  12. A Flat Felling question. How much do you trim a 5/8 inch seam allowance before beginning the process?

    Things appear to be coming along nicely!

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    Replies
    1. I generally take off half the width, just eyeballing it.

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    2. Many thanks!

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  13. Oh my goodness, those little faces! I am going to go give Tino a good cuddle right this minute!

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  14. I made a longer-sleeved Vogue 8820 view C in silk crepe-de-chine. This pattern/view is basically a short kimono. The armscye seemed needlessly tricky, but I blamed the pattern's poor directions. I decided on french seams, and machine-rolled hems throughout - but I think your flat-felled side seams will both feel nicer and wear better.

    I like the reinforcement triangles, they are attractive and should hold up nicely. Great job so far!

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