Kimono: finally something that I can wear

After finally buying an IKEA table to sit my sewing machine on and clearing out the space for my crafting corner I wanted some inspiration for a first project so I bought a sewing magazine with a few patterns.

These magazines focus mainly on womenswear but this ‘Kimono’* caught my eye as something that I could wear myself when in a flamboyant/hippy mood.

Simplicity 8419 misses kimono pattern envelope cover

Line creating simplicity misses kimono pattern

I like the additional length in the back of view C and want keen on the fringing or contrast sleeves in the other versions.

I decided to make it in view C and originally I was going to line it as the magazine suggested that would be a good challenge.

Stretch and satin do not mix

I had bought a lovely patterned stretch velvet for the main fabric.

Stretch velvet for kimono on turquoise and rust colour with leaf pattern

The rust coloured one is for me and the blue / turquoise for my best friend.

And also many metres of a burgundy satin as a lining.

When they arrived I realised just how stretchy 4 way stretch crushed velvet is (durr…) and how very non-stretchy the lining fabric is. After asking the Internet if mixing the two would work (I worried the non stretch fabric would affect the drape of the velvet) I received this advice:

Facebook rely to my query saying do not mix stretch and non stretch fabrics

That was me told.

I headed to Hellerslea’s to source a new lining.

With the help of the very friendly staff I picked out a black and a silver plain stretch crushed velvet fabrics to line the kimonos* with.

Biting off more than one can chew

I’m the type of person who likes to follow instructions step by step, even IKEA furniture never frustrates me. So before I started work cutting out the fabric I read through the pattern instructions like a good sewist.

Neckline facing battle #1

I admit that I have not sewn many facings but when I was younger I definitely put 2 or 3 necklines in. They weren’t pretty but they were there.

I could not picture how this facing worked from the diagram. I was most confused by the random turned up part of the bias binding in the diagram.

I later realised this was simply to show which way round the bias tape is (or at least that’s what I believe it’s there for).

Neckline bias tape instructions simplicity misses kimono

At first glance to me this looks like the shoulder seam stitching extends along the neckline. No! It meets the edge stitching on the bias tape!

I ended up thinking that it would be easier to follow when I had the fabric pieces in my hands… At least that’s what I hoped.

N. B. In the hands of a more experienced sewist I’m sure that this would have been no trouble at all.

Cutting out stretchy fabrics is surely one of the innermost circles of hell

This was only my second time at the cutting out stretch fabrics rodeo and perhaps I was being overly careful (in hindsight I must have been) but I spent over an hour laying and smoothing out this fabric before cutting it.

I had realised that I couldn’t just fold it in half casually so I was smoothing, laying, picking it up and starting again with this fabric for over an hour πŸ€ͺ.

Stretch velvet fabric laid out for cutting

It was much neater than this by the time I’d finished though.

It was only after doing this and cutting it out that I realised I didn’t have a hope in hell of pattern matching the 4 panels of kimono πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ.

Once again, after the fact and too late, I consulted the Men Who Sew group on Facebook who confirmed that to pattern match this I’d have needed to cut it in a single layer (ie twice the cutting). However, it would have been a lot quicker to get the fabric to lay flat with no distortion that way.

I’m glad I’m making two of these so I can put these lessons into practice.

Procrastination and the blank slate

Looking back, I think this garment was making me nervous as it was the first garment I had sewn in two years (and the other one wasn’t well finished).

Putting the stay stitching into the neckline actually helped me breakthrough the nerves. It was like putting that first wash of colour onto paper when painting and how it helps conquer the intimidating blank slate.

I played around with some scraps of fabric and chose a very narrow, quite short, zigzag stitch to use for the construction seams.

I’ve not constructed a garment by overlocker alone yet and although this project would have been perfect for that approach I wasn’t quite ready. Perhaps on version two?

Battles of the neckline facing

Once I had the back sewn up it was back to the neckline bias binding /facing battles.

The diagram did seem to make more sense to me when holding the fabric pieces but I couldn’t decide whether the edge of the bias binding should overlap or be aligned next to the shoulder seam piece.

Initially I thought that they should overlap each other but when I sewed it up that way it looked at first like two very boxy corners had been created and these were now protruding from either side of where it should lay flat against the neck.

Neckline bias facing protruding corner

That corner that’s visible now is what I *thought* would be protruding (well almost, I have so many photos of this stage I’m not 100% sure which is which but this is similar to what was happening)

So I thought I should have aligned them next to each other instead so unpicking it was 😭😭

But the result was worse

Kimono neckline facing misaligned

This definitely shouldn’t be happening, the overlocked edge should be flush with the other piece and together they should form two sides of a right angle

At one stage I had both mistakes simultaneously

So I unpicked again. Velvet doesn’t like unpicking once, let alone twice in the same area, but I figured that was the price I had to pay for my errors.

At least now I had learned that the pieces needed to overlap to form the corner / right-angle correctly.

I decided to baste it all together and continue to the next step, basting again, to see how it would then come together.

Facings go on the inside πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Of course, the next step is to turn the facing to the inside and edge stitch it down.

When the facing is turned to the inside then the previously protruding corner (or so I thought) is now flipped onto the other side and everything lays flat!

There was still a very slight misalignment at the corner but I think this may, in part, be due to the thickness of the velvet compared to the bias binding.

I think these are my pictures of the correct way this comes together

Conquered

After I had got that part sorted everything else came together without any stress.

I had read that crushed velvet hates to be pressed and to basically only use steam on it and the pattern instructions called for a lot of narrow hems.

I decided instead to use the rolled hem setting on my overlocker which had pros and cons:

Pros

  • I got used to using my overlocker and realised that its bark is worse than its bite.
  • I didn’t need to put an iron anywhere near the fabric.

Cons

  • I only had white thread and the stitching is really visible. If this had been black I would have preferred it. However, one of my favourite bloggers – Sew Andrew – uses rainbow coloured thread on his overlocking and I’m definitely going to steal borrow that idea from him.
Brother 1034d limited edition overlocker sewing stretch velvet

Action shot.

Overlocked Rolled hem on stretch velvet

Yes, a traditional tailor’s tack, I’m old school like that.

The finished garment

It’s a little too big for me, I had cut out the XL size as I wanted to make it for some friends too but I love it and am going to a hippy festival next week where it will get lots of wear!

Finished simplicity misses kimono

I do love the auto skin smoothing setting built into my phone’s selfie camera, I look much less fresh than this IRL!

Is it a kimono* though?

I tried to show a picture of it to my friend Mila while she was round my boyfriend’s for a dinner party last week. We’d had a fair few glasses of wine and I pulled out my phone to show her the pics and she just said ‘that’s not a kimono, maybe a simplified type of garment’.

I don’t know if she realised I had actually made it myself because she only glanced at it for a second, dismissed its name and carried on the conversation πŸ€£πŸ˜‚.