03 October, 2010

A tale of two kimonos

My pants-sewing and general me-sewing have been gently shoved to the side this week, partly because  my lovely college kid who is sharing living quarters with roomies, requested a cover up. Call it what you wish: housecoat, bathrobe, dressing gown - everyone needs one.  Luckily, I have one of my own - made ever so many years ago by my own mom - and it did a perfect job as a model.  Thanks to it, I was able to make my girl's kimono robe without a pattern. 

This robe is very similar to a traditional Japanese cotton kimono, aka yukata. 

In the pic above, the traditional yukata is on the left, my version is at right.  Since I once owned a genuine yukata, I knew how to change the pattern to suit modern living. The overly long, overhanging sleeves had to go;  so did the excess body length, which requires double belting.  Logistically, the fabric I used was only 115 cm (45") so the sleeves had to be sewn on - not cut on, as they could've been with a 60" width.  Another difference, not shown here, is the front/neckline band:  the traditional yukata's band ends in a blunt chop at the bottom of the V, while mine continues smoothly to the bottom hem.  Notice too that I scooped out the back neckline, while the traditional neck is straight across.  I also added belt loops (shown), and, just below them but not shown, side seam pockets. 

Except for the side pockets and belt loops, the garment is made out of five lengths of fabric, all of them rectangular, which made preparation all the easier:  each piece was ripped, not cut.

The pieces are as follows:  (each includes a 1 cm seam allowance)
Body front + back:  262 cm x 75 cm.  This includes a 5 cm hem plus a 1 cm SA fold-over, for a finished length of 125 cm.  The entire piece is folded in half so that there is no seam along the shoulder. 
Each sleeve:  45 x 60 cm.  Folded in half and hemmed, the sleeve is 35 cm wide x 28 cm high. The sleeve hem is 8 cm deep (plus a 1 cm SA fold-over).
Front band:  I prepared 280 x 12 cm, and cut off the excess 5 cm or so at the bottom hem after attaching it all the way around the fronts and neckline.  It's not interfaced. 
Belt:  220 x 12 cm.  I interfaced it.

I found it very helpful to press all the important folds, hems and important seams into the fabric in the flat, even using a little starch to keep the creases, before I started to put everything together.  In the expectation that the garment would see a lot of laundering, I french-seamed and flat-felled it: even the side seam pockets.  If not for that,  it would've taken just a morning to put together.  As it was, it took the day.

That's the first version.  She had her heart set on blue cotton batik. What's more fun than snowflakes in mid-summer?  Oh, and have I mentioned that I love winter?

For myself, I made the body 5 cm narrower and 5 cm taller.  I also omitted the side seam pockets - you know how much I abhore those, right?  Instead, I added a secret pocket on the inside of the right front, below the belt-line.  One edge of the pocket is caught into the front band, while the other, except for being tacked to the body front at its upper corner, hangs loose. It's completely invisible from the outside. 

I realized while making robe #2 that the sleeves are wide enough that they can be flat-felled in the round.  I also took advantage of the relatively narrow fabric and the fact that the print is perfect selvedge-to-selvedge, to use the selvedges productively:  the entire one side of the kimono and its sleeve SA are selvedge, as is the top of the secret pocket, and the inside of the front band. 

I have two more of those to put together:  big his and little his.... with dinosaurs.  Rawr! goes t-rex!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this DIY guide on how to make a kimono robe. The blue cotton batik fabric with snowflake accent is so beautiful, reminds me of a Japanese-Indonesian-Western inspiration.=)