Monday, April 19, 2010

Folkwear #113: Japanese Kimono

Okay, maybe the dry spell is broken! Yesterday I went down to the sewing room and pulled out a project that had been on my "to do" list since last Fall.
A long time ago -- probably close to 20 years ago -- I made a kimono using Folkwear 113. One of the things I remember about it was the enormously long main pattern piece: the front and back was piece nearly 10 feet long!! But I really liked the resulting kimono, and wore it for years until it finally wore out.
Fast forward to last October. I was at the sewing expo in Chantilly, and came across the SewBatik booth. There, I found the most amazing fabric: extra-wide hand-dyed double-border batik! 108 inches wide!! The first thing that popped into my head was, oh boy, wouldn't this make a fabulous Folkwear kimono.
One of the great things about using this extra-wide fabric was that I could cut the body piece on the cross grain and eliminate the center back seam. Cutting was pretty straightforward, but rather than spread the fabric out on the floor (since I don't have a 12-foot table anymore), I placed the pattern piece on the fabric and traced around it with a chalk marker. It took four passes to get the whole piece marked out, but at least I wasn't crawling around on the floor like I did 20 years ago to get it laid out in one shot!
Construction is pretty straightforward, and the instructions are very well done. I started it last night and finished this afternoon; all told it took about six hours.
Here's the front view:
The back view:
And a shot of the formal sleeve. A bit of trivia for you: according to the instructions, a woman's kimono is open from the armpit to the bottom of the sleeve (see where my hand is); a man's kimono is sewn shut here.
This will be my summer robe, and it's just in time too... The weather is really warming up here, and my previous summer robe was in tatters. Here's hoping this one lasts a bit longer!
(Oh, and my husband likes it so much he wants one for himself. But I'm not sure if the fabric pattern will suit him. We shall see.)


  1. Very nice!

    "Not sure if the fabric pattern will suit him?" Isn't that like saying "My sewing machine doesn't do that?"

  2. Karen Minturn BrownApril 19, 2010 at 8:54 PM

    How does this compare with the kimono in Wild Ginger Curves? I have been considering making that for myself.

  3. Karen, the Folkwear kimono is drafted like a traditional Japanese kimono, whereas the Curves kimono is more like a robe with big sleeves. The Curves kimono has a shoulder seam and the front extension (i.e. the piece that extends beyond the center front to create the wrap) is cut on. The folkwear kimono has no shoulder seam; the extension is sewn on; and there's also an inside shoulder yoke. The curve of the sleeve is also more pronounced on the Curves version.

    Not saying that one is better than the other; they're just different drafts. The Curves is more a "kimono-style" rather than a true kimono.

  4. Karen Minturn BrownApril 20, 2010 at 3:20 PM

    As always, I'll try it for myself. If/when it gets done, I'll report. Thank you for the comparison.


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