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I am beginning anew my old relationship as a Sewing Diva and have posted my kimono results on that blog. Please see Woman’s Lined Kimono for Lounging for more information about this garment of my dreams.




Kimono Studies with MIL’s Japanese Stash and Ebay Purchases

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1st: Happy Mother’s Day! A peony for you all


Thinking about a kimono for me, I realized I hadn’t shown you some post War II Japanese fabrics from my late Mother-in-Law’s stash. My Father-in-Law had sent these home to his new bride and mother of his twin year old sons and brand new baby boy (my husband).

Obi fabric: 13.5″ wide, 116″ long


The medallions are gold, silver, maroon and pale gold machined embroidery on a textured peach-y beige faille silk


Shibori and tie-dyed silk chiffon, 23″ wide and 7 yards long. The colors run on the bias up the length of the yardage. This would make a beautiful sash or lining for the interior of the kimono.


You can’t see it so well in this photo but the fuchsia and yellow squares still show the raised bumps from having been tied to block the orange dye. It is sold this way to prove that the color block were created by shibori methods rather than printed on to the silk. I am guessing that the fuchsia and yellow areas were first painted onto the fabric, then the square shapes were tied off as was the white areas and the scarf fabric was then dyed orange, all done on carefully spaced diagonal placements.

Unfortunately it has 4 1″ long chunks cut out of it in random places and a few spots that look like machine grease or tar. I don’t even want to know the history of the damage, after all it has been 60 years and 7 kids since a Polish American sent it to Hamtramck, Michigan, from Tokyo, Japan.

This is a tiny kimono, done in a woman’s style with lining to the edge and open armscye. The off white ties were obviously added after it reached it’s American home. It’s in very poor shape. Chucky said that all the children had worn it, that might mean that all 7 rough housed and daydreamed in this tiny garment.

old child's kimono

It has originally hand stitched throughout with this carefully placed single strand hand construction. All the kimonos are stitched so beautifully by hand.


I don’t know if it was sold new as a child’s kimono (it’s not exactly the traditional style for a child’s kimono according to the Kimono book) or is perhaps an old kimono salesman’s sample???

close child's kimono

This is a kimono that I bought on ebay a few years ago. The purple silk fabric is backed by cotton batiste in 2 colors. The lighter peach is visible at the sleeve opening and the darker orange is visible at the under arm openings.

open armscye

The lighter peach is the color seen when the wearer walks

purple lining

This is another ebay kimono showing its age with well faded metallics and mildew spotted linings. It is unique because the collar is 4″ wide and it has a pieced back


The Kimono book said that the Japanese about construction was such that if basting was needed it was left in and not removed and that the selvedge labels were left to be seen in the garment, that is: the garment is what it’s construction and fabric make it, nothing should be “hidden” as we are trained to do these days. All the kimonos I have have been hand stitched throughout and where a collar needs to be pieced there is a luxurious fold rather than an attempt to hide the joining

pieced collar

The linings are often turned and “appliqued” and the hand stitches done so that they are part of the beauty of the garment


It was over a year ago that I purchased Husband’s kimono cloth at Silk Road Fabrics in Austin, Texas. I bought this Alexander Henry “Buddha Clouds” piece because I thought it might work with the Obi fabric. When I shop away from the stash I have to go with my best guess and it doesn’t always work out. As you can see from the traditional kimonos above the colors do not contrast enough to show the obi up very well.

kimono and obi

So that leaves me still puzzling through my own kimono and the old Obi nestled back in the stash, safe from the ravages of use and wear for another how many years?

Kimono II

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Please see the prior post “Kimono” for the back story of this finished kimono kindly modeled by patient Husband, O’Che’ski-san.


If you or your intended are over 5’6″ then add to the length of the pattern. I took a little less than 1.25″ hem and the kimono is close to being too short. With the rain and the time constraints being what they are today I didn’t want to push my luck and ask Husband to take off his standard uniform street clothes for the photo shoot so without tennis shoes the robe is right above the ankle where it should be for a man’s kimono.


One difference between the Simplicity pattern for kimono and this book’s pattern is that the front extension is not cut on the bias across the front but folded up into the front band, giving the band more padding and heft. The front band is sewn on to the slanted front then turned and finished attaching the band to the wrong side by hand stitching.


One of the things I tried to avoid was the long tie that balls up in the laundry and becomes like a string that most bathrobes have. The tie for Husband was cut at 104″ long and 6″ wide and interfaced with Pro-Woven Standard #2 Medium (non-fusible), then seamed, turned and top stitched by machine. It’s hefty like a woman’s obi might be and I defy it to fold into a skinny mass.


Unfortunately the pattern for the kimono does not indicate the length of the front band or the place at which the front band should attached to the front. I had to guess at the best location and having had plenty of experience making shirts for this man I knew he had a long back waist length. It turned out that I ended the front bands right at the spot that he uses as his waist. If he were to pick a location closer to his real waist than the bands would be the correct length, coming 3″ +/- below the tie. At least the band doesn’t end above where he ties it.

Kimono for men do not have openings under the arm nor on the side seams like kimono for women. I attached the sleeves to the body using a 3/8″ seam on the machine and then stitched up the side seams and armscye seam in one pass. There will be a 90 degree turn on a man’s garment so expect that and take it slow. A woman’s side seam and sleeve joining would end about 4-6″ from the sleeve edge on both the sleeve and the side seam. I prefer mine to be 4″. All the joining seams are 3/8″ with 4-thread overlock finishing.

I shortened the length of the sleeve pieces (measured from the shoulder of the garment down the arm) by 14″. Watch out for that measurement if you are going to use the book’s pattern. I also used 2.5″ strips to face the front edge of the sleeve, turning and topstitching the facings to the sleeve.

I measured and calculated 2 extra inches on each end of the band before I cut it (28 +2.5 (back neck) +28 +2 +2) and my band came out too short. I had to recut it and when I did I cut it extra long so that I was sure I had enough length. I recommend doing this as I still can’t find the error in my calculations and I suspect that the fronts stretch when you apply the bands. The bands are appliques to the fronts by machine stitching. I stitched at .25″ from the band’s cut edge.

Since I was not lining this kimono the front edges were 4-thread overlocked and turned and topstitched at 1/4″ and 3/8″ to give the edge the extra weight.

Book review
Making Kimono & Japanese Clothes by Jenni Dobson,
BT Batsford, London, publisher, distributed in US and Canada by Sterling Publishing Co, 2004

This book is inspirational especially if you wish to embellish your fabric and make up the Kimono, Mompe, Hippari and Jimbei, western/Japanese waistcoats, Hanten, Haori and learn some history in the process. The pattern and instructions for the kimono leave out a few major details but none that cannot be overcome by applying logic. I’m glad to be freed from tissue patterns in making my kimono for Husband.


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Today I am working on a kimono for my husband. He’s a wood worker who owns a company that makes Montessori materials and furniture so he’s doing the work and being the boss all at once all day long. Very often on the weekends he’s a salesman or a delivery truck driver.

Yesterday he came by The Stitchery to mow the grass and get the dog to go on the nightly dog walk. I saw him approach the door: “Honey, are those pants tan or gray?” I said, wondering where he’d gotten those jeans. “No, they’re black.” “What? No, they can’t be black!” “No, they’re black”, etc, etc, etc, finally proving the blackness of the jeans by lifting the belt on the side and showing me the seam line. Yep, they WERE black.

He was covered in fine sawdust! This precious man deserves to relax in style!

Here’s the soft but hefty Japanese cotton he will get to wear after a long hard day in the sawdust. It will soften with each washing. The photo shows both the wrong and right sides of the fabric. He likes the darker (wrong) side the best so that’s what he’ll get. This fabric is 45″ wide unlike the traditional Japanese kimono textile which were 14″ wide


Kimono means simply “Things to wear”. This garment will be a yukata as it is made from the simple traditional cotton normally worn by men and women for informal summer occasions and for lounging in the home. Yukata means “bathing clothes”.

I am following the instructions in this book. I will be making some modifications to the kimono to make it a man’s kimono: I will shorten the length of the sleeves and I will make only a 2.75″ wide tie which will measure twice his circumference plus 14″- 20″ for tying. It will also be ankle length for him rather than floor length as a woman’s more formal kimono is made.


Here are two patterns for laying out the kimono. The top pattern is the front and back pieces all in one long piece with separate pieces added to the fronts for the wrap over extensions to accommodate the 14″ wide traditional fabrics and a seam down the back pieces.

The bottom pattern allows the wrap front as cut on pieces and the fronts and back are seamed at the shoulders with no center back seam. I am using this one.


Simple enough instructions:


with one page of information on how to make a lined kimono


There are more instructions for additional pieces like the collar guard,


that can be removed for cleaning without having to take apart a fine silk kimono


tips for making ties


and even how to make a mock obi

Mock Obi

This pattern has been reviewed favorably at Pattern Review but it is for a lined kimono


Husband, au natural, is well insulated already so he will get an unlined cotton kimono.

I, however, am cold all the time. I will make a lined kimono and obi of some kind for me. More to come….