Introduction: Faux Kimono
This is a fairly simple pattern, for a reversible wrap dress made almost entirely of geometric shapes. Once the pattern is drafted the dress comes together fairly quickly; it does, however, require a lot of fabric - I used about three metres for each side, and made the sash from a bed sheet. Oh, and you’re going to be spending almost as much time with your iron as your sewing machine with this project…
Step 1: Measuring Up...
We’ll start by taking some measurements:
1.Shoulder to shoulder
2.Shoulder to knee(ish)
3.Neck to ribs
4.Shoulder to clavicle
5.Upper arm circumference (When taking this measurement, be sure to keep two fingers inside the tape measure to allow room for movement.)
Step 2: Lines...
Using the 1st and second measurements, create a rectangle.
Find the halfway pint of the width and draw a vertical line the length of the 2nd measurement, making sure to mark the length of the 3rd measurement. The reason this line needs to go to the bottom will become apparent.
Draw a horizontal line, straight across, that intersects with the bottom of the vertical line. This will mainly be a guideline.
Mark where the shoulder to clavicle measurements sits. Draw a diagonal line from this point to the edge of the paper where the last horizontal line starts.
Step 3: More Lines...
Divide the arm circumference in half and add 2 inches ease and seam allowance.
Mark this point vertically on the upper straight edge of your pattern. Decide how long you want the sleeves (bearing in mind that this will be a dropped shoulder) and create the rectangle sleeve pattern accordingly.
Extend the vertical line from the sleeve edge, essentially adding a triangle under the 'rectangle' of the sleeve.
Measure from the armhole to the cuff. Use this measurement to create an icicles triangle. The width is down to personal taste. This is to give the sleeve some flow.
Underneath the horizontal line, along the straight edge mark a two-inch ‘button-hole’: this will be where the sash on the opposite side of the dress will feed through.
Cut off the excess paper along the diagonal line.
This is the first part of the pattern completed!
Step 5: A Couple More Lines...
Now we’re going to use this pattern piece to create the back of the dress.
Fold the pattern in half lengthways as the back will be cut on the fold.
Place the first pattern piece onto another piece of paper and draw around it: complete the rectangle but mark where the slope starts on the first piece.
Remember to mark the ‘button-hole’ on the new pattern piece.
From the point where the slope would start and draw a gentle curve between that and the edge of the paper. This is to shape the neckline.
Mark a point approximately two inches down from the bottom of the new piece. Draw a curve in a similar fashion (but opposite shape) to the neckline to extend the bottom hem...
If you plan to make a toile (which I strongly advise) this is where you’d do it.
A toile is to a certain extent, another branch of the pattern drafting process; so always keep the stitches large so that the garment can be disassembled quickly. That way, any changes made to the toile can be transferred to the pattern by means of a simple overlay.
After making a toile, myself, I decided that for my body shape, a traditional looking kimono back would make me look as though I were balanced strangely. So I decided to dart the back (not excessively) just to make it sit more like a shirt.
I also decided to take a little fabric out of the bust area (where the dress crosses over) as it was flattening me!
Transfer any fitting changes to you pattern then put both pieces to one side and begin work on the two sashes.
Step 6: Time for Bed (Sheet)
The sashes need to be long enough to cross over once at the back, once at the front and still have enough material left over to be tied. I aimed for approximately 1.5 metres with mine.
The width is really down to personal taste: I’ve always liked a thicker waistband, so I aimed for a finished width of around 3 inches.
Make sure the width is double what you want the finished sash to be, plus half an inch seam allowance.
Fold the fabric in half to enable you to cut both sashes at once. (I don’t have a lot of space so I drew the two long sides of my rectangle in stages by marking a ruler with my desired width, and plotting along the bottom edge.)
Pin inside of the rectangle then cut out.
Step 7: She's Got Sash...
Fold each of the rectangles in half, lengthways, then pin or press to hold them in position as you sew.
Sew along one short and one long edge. Clip the corners and trim any excess seam allowance before turning. Press both turned pieces carefully.
Step 8: Dress No. 1 (and a Half...)
Place the back pattern piece on the fabric, making sure you mark the ‘button-hole’.
If you’re using a regular width fabric (or if you’re really tiny) it may be difficult to get the front pattern piece to sit fully on folded fabric; so you may have to place the piece twice. If that is so, remember to flip the pattern over (so that the sleeve is facing the opposite direction) before cutting the second piece of fabric. Again, transfer the button-hole marks to the fabric.
Sew any darts that you may have added from the toile.
Pin and sew the sleeve godet to the underside of the sleeve on the back piece.
Step 9: Two's Company
Pin the first front piece to the back piece, right sides together, carefully matching up the sleeves.
Sew from the neck along the top of the sleeve,
Sew from the underside of the sleeve to the top of the ‘buttonhole’.
Sew from the bottom of the buttonhole to the hem.
Repeat the previous four steps with the second front piece.
Press all seams open and top stitch the side seams, which will also finish the ‘buttonhole’.
That is the first dress completed!
Repeat all of the cutting and sewing instructions with your second fabric.
Step 10: Getting Attached...
Pin the open edge of one sash to the shorter straight edge on the right side of one of the dresses and attach with a basting stitch. Repeat on the opposite edge of the dress.
Step 11: Inside Out...
This next bit is fiddly but take it slowly. Once everything is aligned properly, the rest of the project comes together really easily.
Place one dress inside the other, right sides together. be careful to keep the excess fabric of the sashes out of the way. (you could actually safety pin them together, or use clothes pegs, as they will eventually be on the outside of the dress.
Sew along the outer edge, leaving the neck and sleeve areas open.
The easiest way to do this is by taking it section by section, rather than trying to sew the whole thing at once.
Finger press the seams open, then squeeze the edges down - this will enable you to press the seams open without having to open the garment out.
Step 12: Pressing Issues...
Notch the curved seam at the bottom hem, then repeat the same pressing process as in the previous step.
Trim any excessive seam allowance so that the garment will sit without too much bulk in the hem.
Carefully turn everything right side out and press all the edges (again).
Turn each of the four sleeves under by about a quarter inch. Pin together (matching the seams) then topstitch the sleeve hems closed. Press.
Close the neck with a whip or ladder stitch.
Step 13: Kimono, No?
Put the dress on.