Sew-Sew Kimono

Ahhhh silk… you truly are a delight to wear but a bitch to sew. Who’s with me??

silk kimono

I have this not-so-secret quest to sew most of the garments made by one of my favourite Aussie seamstresses/bloggers Julia Bobbin (as well as Liz. And Sophie).  I made a start with this dress and this top and the kimono takes me another step closer.

And yes. The list is very long.

Julia posted her silk kimono back in June and I knew then I had to have one.  Even the challenge of sewing silk for the first wasn’t enough to put me off.  And I’m talking the lightest, flimsy-est, slippery-est silk I think it must be possible to get.  What the hell was I thinking?!?!

Despite the frustration and many (MANY) a curse word spoken, a lot was learnt from this make and I think it’s at least somewhat successful.  It looks pretty and I’m happy to wear it in public, so long as there aren’t any bright lights or decent dressmakers in close proximity.

Pattern

No pattern but this tutorial by Elle Apparel which is super basic and easy to follow.

In hindsight, I’m not sure how much I’m loving the length and how it goes straight across the front panels but scoops around the back.

silk kimono side

Size & Fit

One size, although there are instructions on how to adjust if you need.  My measurements were similar to those the tutorial described – hurrah!  You can see it’s a really loose fit.  Perfect for something to throw over a swimsuit or a casual “jacket” to brighten up an otherwise plain outfit.  I find the shoulder seams don’t like to sit on my shoulders and I was constantly readjusting for this photo shoot.  I don’t really care, it looks pretty.

silk kimono back

Fabric

Silk – I don’t know much more about it other than that.  I’ve never sewn with silk before and had no idea what I was buying, I just saw “Silk” and picked a pretty one.  One thing I do know, it doesn’t like to stay still while cutting. Or sewing.  Or ever.

The Sew

I followed the mantra “Do as Julia does” and sewed french seams as well as following her construction method of sewing the shoulder seams, then arm syces, then sleeves and side seams in one go.  It made sense to me.

silk kimono seams

Not so much loving my attempt at the rolled hems with my machine.  I really struggle to get these looking nice and even.  I’ve heard it’s just a matter of practice but if you have any advice PLEASE SHARE!!

silk kimono sleeve

Photographer’s Licence: I’m showing you all the pretty ones.

Instructions

Simple but not much explanation is needed for this basic construction.  I do prefer the method that Julia (and I) used as explained above, rather than the one explained in the tutorial.  Some help in the rolled hem department would have been useful – but hey, it’s a free tutorial, who’s complaining?

Difficulty

The tutorial and construction itself is really easy – apart from the rolled hems.  The fabric wasn’t hard to sew, just REALLY frustrating!!  Lots of pinning helped but I think next time I’ll look for a silk that isn’t quite so light-weight!

silk kimono front

Despite all the complaining I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

Is anyone else making kimonos?  I’d love to know what pattern/tutorial you’re using.  I’m keen to try another one.

Nat.

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  • Renee //nearestthepin

    Well it looks great! You are brave to take on silk, I made one in a light cotton but I’d like to try something with a little more weight next time like a rayon so it drapes.

    • Natalie @sewoutnumbered

      Thanks Renee. Brave or ignorant – I’m not sure which haha! Rayon sounds like a great choice. I made a pair of harems in rayon and they turned out great…perhaps I should go for that instead 😉

  • Stitchwiz

    Nat, correcting the problem with the back dropping & the shoulders going back is just a simple design alteration.

    Our bodies are not flat. we have a curve where the back meets the neck. You need to scoop the back neck area deeper to allow the fabric to ride up your back, around your neckline, and let the shoulders sit on your shoulders. Once you have it figured out, you will use this shape over & over again to get all your clothes to fit better. You can adjust your patterns before you cut them out and save lots of aggravation at the fitting stage.

    Practice with some cheap fabric to get the right fit – old sheets that are too thin to use on a bed are great to use for a ‘muslin’. Cut out your kimono & whip it up on the machine – don’t finish the neckline – you are going to gradually grade the back neckline down – grade it down, try it own & repeat until it feels good. Then wear your kimono around the house for a while to make sure it sits on your shoulders. If you have a wider back or thicker neck than was used for the pattern instructions – they were for a very willowy body : ) – you have two choices for how to fix this. 1. You could grade the shoulder seam, curve from the back round to the front in a nice easy line. Again a little at a time – you don’t want to take away too much. Or 2. You could go back to the beginning and start with a wider curve at the neck and then grade down the back neck area until it fits. Either way, you may need to tweak it a bit until it’s perfect.

    Once you have your perfect fit, trace your kimono onto sturdy paper, make another pattern for your neckline that you can use to reshape other patterns – be sure to include your grain line and mark whether you have a seam allowance or not. Label and date your patterns.

    Date it ? – If your weight changes, you may need to redo the fitting. It’s amazing where we store our ‘reserves’ – 5-10 pounds can make a huge difference, especially on a small body. If the date won’t trigger your memory, write your weight on it.

    Your test kimono can still be useful. Finish the edge with a rolled hem, bias binding, whatever you want. If it is too narrow in the front to overlap, add a wide decorative facing down the fronts. Just whip up a tie belt and you are all set. Now your kimono is ready for a quick coverup when you are ready to go out and one of the children needs some TLC.

  • Jenny Young

    Hmmm thought I commented but the internet seems to have eaten my comment. Anyway – I was going to say… lovely, great fabric and your hair is fab. I made a kimono using this tutorial too in Jan http://www.mendandmakenew.co.nz/2014/01/sewn-kimono-for-me.html … using chiffon. I didn’t find the sew too bad (from what I can remember!) but my fabric, despite being lightweight wasn’t too slippery. I decided to curve the front panel a little to fit with the back a bit more. I’m hoping to make another version out of some lightweight cotton I have in my stash soon 🙂

    • Oooo lovely! I honestly don’t think I could have found a more slippery fabric if I tried but the up side is that everything I’ve sewn since then has seemed so easy haha!! Thanks for the hair comps. My hairdresser is awesome – she’s my friends aunty and she flies over from Sydney every 6-8 weeks to visit the fam and do all our hair!! It’s such a great system coz I’m sure I wouldn’t get it done regularly otherwise 😉

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