Kimonos and coats

After all that pantsing, I was ready for a dead simple project. I’d been considering making a kimono-like garment for awhile, and decided that the floaty Thakoon fabric (sold as cotton, but it’s got some major drape to  it) I’d bought last year would be perfect for the occasion. | kimono

I mostly used this tutorial and added a neck band for luxury and to break up the vertical-striped-ness of it all. I also went my own way with sleeve width – mine are huge! (I’m getting an R. Kelly vibe from this photo.) | kimono

I also made a white tank to with it, since the reason I’d delayed using this fabric was because the lighter color was cream. Wearing beige or cream colors near my face makes me look seasick. It had been a year or so since I chopped up my beloved, completely trashed, totally off-grain American Apparel tank to make into a pattern. Since I’d bought some white organic cotton jersey (with no elastic whatsoever, hooray!) it was time to replace it. | kimono

I used this knit binding method, which I really like. The neckline and armholes gaped a bit after sewing but shrunk up nicely after a wash and a dry. I love the bumpy texture that the binding has now! | kimono

After I finished these two pieces (which I’ve been wearing non-stop), I realized that I’d abandoned my coat project for far too long! Last we talked coats, I was considering a change to the View C collar. A couple of nights ago, I gave the new collar a try along with an SBA. Sooo much better!

photo 1 (1)

Question: what do you do if there isn’t a roll line included with your pattern?

I also decided to shorten the hem 7.5″. I’m a tall-ish person with average-to-short legs and anything past the knee tends to make me feel stumpy.

photo 2


I thought I was smiling…


I’m not sure I’m totally sold on this length, though – it’s better than the full length, but maybe I should play a bit more with it. I may shorten it 4-5 inches when I cut the pieces out and see how it looks in the real fabric.



I inherited some wool herringbone that I plan to dye over with a blueish charcoal color. It’s pretty lightweight, which doesn’t fulfill my original intention but may allow me to wear the coat into spring.

Next, I need to make decisions on interfacing and buttonhole type, as well as secure supplies. Oh yah, and learn some tailoring techniques…


49 thoughts on “Kimonos and coats

  1. I love your kimono! I’ve had three yards of that same Thakoon ‘cotton’ in my stash for quite some time now – I was actually considering making a very similar kimono-style jacket with it, but recently decided on a matching set of pleated, tapered pants and a simple kimono-sleeved top with a bateau neckline. Now I’m second-guessing all over again….

    1. Thanks, Emily! I love the idea of pants and a top. I found this fabric a bit challenging to pair with a pattern or idea so I’d love to see which route you end up taking!

      1. I liked the idea of separates, because it gives me the option of wearing them, you know, separately…. or together, like some kind of crazy/awesome jumpsuit concoction! All the fun of a jumpsuit, none of the bathroom difficulties!

  2. I love the kimono! That fabric is gorgeous. I’m thinking about making a coat (albion), so I’m really enjoying seeing your coat progress.

  3. i love the kimono! it looks so elegant. and i like the tank–i’m always on the lookout for a quality white knit and have yet to find one i like. i was wondering about your coat progress… i think it either needs to be a couple inches longer or the 4-5″ shorter you’re thinking about.

    1. Until recently, there wasn’t too much coat progress to share! I got distracted by less complicated projects. On the length, I think you’re right – it has a slightly flared shape to it and it’s cut off awkwardly right now. I will report back!

  4. Okay, your kimono is fabulous! And I’ll have to check out the binding method for myself.
    If your pattern doesn’t have a roll line, just go ahead and draw it in. Once you’re happy with how the lapel is sitting, the roll line is just the the fold where the facing “rolls” over to the lapel, and it finishes above your buttonhole (just enough above the hole so that you can see the button). I don’t do much tailoring for myself, but for men’s wear I follow Classic Tailoring Technizues by Roberto Cabrera and Patricia Flaherty Meyers. It’s a great reference.
    Can’t wait to see how your coat progresses!

  5. I’ve been wanting to make a kimono too! Even though I’m all for tailoring and fitting, the idea of a universal fit like a kimono is intriguing.

  6. Your kimono and white tank combo is so simple and stylish! I must check out that tutorial. I can see why this would be a wardrobe favorite.

  7. kick arse kimono jacket!! The fabric looks kind of japanese which really suits it. i just bought some soft white cotton knit, I’m planning to make the perfect white tee with it.

  8. Gorgeous kimono jacket! Thanks for the links, I’ll need to give that binding method a go. Your coat fabric is gorgeous! I would say to shorten it the 4or5 inches you mention- it would lengthen your legs & would make the coat more spring-friendly.

  9. I love the kimono and tank top look. No wonder you’re wearing it all the time.

    Here’s how to mark the roll line if it’s not on the pattern. It will be from the inner edge of the shoulder (towards the neck side) to the first closure on the coat. Minus the seam allowances of course. Since you have the muslin mocked up you can just double check where the collar is naturally folding over.

    I like Fashion Sewing Supplies Pro Weft interfacing for lightweight wool. Just in case you don’t already have an interfacing stash.

  10. I too love your new kimono 🙂 I like those kind of garments that can be relaxed and smart at the same time, if you know what I mean! Great tip on the knit binding. A new one on me. Gives a very professional finish.

  11. Your kimono is just killer!! I’m pretty sure that Thakoon fabric was meant for a garment like this – the things it’s doing to my eyes!! Crazy!!

    Nice modifications on the coat muslin. I’m about to start mocking up my coat for the year, and I’m a bit nervous about how much tailoring I should get myself into. I’m thinking of going the fusible route for interfacing, since the coat is fairly unstructured, but there are some GREAT tutorials out there on how to traditionally tailor your coat if you’re thinking of heading that way. Good luck!

    1. I know what you mean – I’m torn between whole hog vs. achievable. I’ve been cruising the tailoring tutorials and projects pretty hard! I’d love to see your coat in progress.

  12. Wow, your kimono fabric looks amazing and that style is great. I bet it’s also easy to wear. I laughed when I read that you had cut up a RTW tank to hack the pattern because I did the same with a blouse a year ago and it is still sitting on my sewing table, untouched! One of these days…

  13. Your kimono is gorgeous! I made one a few months ago, and I swear it’s the most worn item in my wardrobe. Thanks for the knit binding link too, it’s fantastic.

  14. “pantsing” heh heh heh. 🙂 I love your kimono! I have, in the queue (oh the magical queue) a kimono style top, one in a sheer chiffon and one for knits both from the book Sewing in a Straight Line. I say, the bigger the sleeves the better! Your blazer looks like it’s coming along. I think I agree with you about the length and shortening it. Seems that it would fall in a better place. I can’t wait to see how dyeing the wool herringbone comes out!! Ping me if I miss that one, kay?

  15. I love the kimono, very cool. I had looked at that fabric several times but couldn’t work out what I would make with it- this is perfect! I am dipping my toe into tailoring a bit and it seems pretty daunting right now! I am trying to keep it simple with some fusibles which I don’t ever use…but I don’t want to go all crazy on my first try. I am looking forward to hearing your progress on your coat!

    1. Thanks, Kelly! I really can’t remember what project I had in mind when I bought it (if any) and I was stumped for a good long while. I just stumbled on Gertie’s Lady Grey sew-along which has some really good instructions (videos as well!) If I go the custom-tailoring route, I’m going to use her tutorials. Just ordered an interfacing sampler so I can test some options out with my fabric!

  16. Wow, I love your kimono! It’s so gorgeous and very you! And the coat muslin is looking great with the new collar! My two cents is that you should lengthen the coat by an inch or two. But that’s just my feeling– I’m sure whatever you go with will be right! I’m really excited to see how your dye job goes! What a fun project!

  17. Oh wow. The kimono is gorgeous and such a cool silhouette.

    I really wanted to attempt a coat this season, but I’m not sure I’m going to get to it. I’m excited to see how yours turns out!

  18. Would it be at all possible for you to explain (even just a little bit of detail would help me immensely) how you added your neckband? It looks different than if you applied it as binding (like you would with single fold bias tape) and more like one would apply a waistline but before I try this with my own DIY kimono I’d like to make sure as I really love the way your neckband looks.

    1. Happy to! Basically, I applied my neckband as if it were one really long button placket on a shirt (minus the buttons, of course!) I cut it twice as wide as I wanted it, added seam allowance to the edges, pressed it in half, and sewed it along the raw edge of the kimono. Then I sewed up the bottom edges (with the inside SA folded in), flipped it and then secured the inside SA – you can either slip-stitch it or stitch in the ditch. It’s a little complicated to explain but easy to do!

  19. Hi,

    I love the kimono, looks very pretty.

    I wanted to ask, when cutting the neckband strip, did you cut it on the bias grain or straight grain? I’d sincerely appreciate your response, I am in the middle of sewing a kimono wrap dress and I am stuck. Lol

    Thank you!

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