A kimono is a conventional garment used by both men and women in Japan. Though it is normally made of silk, the kimono can also be made from cotton, satin, flannel or even synthetic material. Traditionally, the cloth in Japan comes in a "tan," a single bolt of cloth that measures nine meters in length and 30 centimetres in width. The whole tan is used to make a kimono; hence, very rarely are fabrics for kimonos sold by the meter. The kimono has a very basic pattern, hence stitching one can be a rewarding job.
Cut six panels of the fabric, each one measuring 22.5" (57.15 cms) in width and 72" (1.82 meters) in length. Name them panels 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.
Cut one (panel 1) of these six panels into half, width-wise, to make panels 1a and 1b. Take another panel (panel 2) and cut it into half, lengthwise, into panels 2a and 2b.
Cut diagonally across the centre of panel 2a. This will give you gore pieces. This and the 2b panel will be used for making the collar. Once you finish cutting, you will have in front of you nine pieces of cloth.
Cut nine inches off the bottom left corners of two of the large panels (panels 3 and 4). These two will make the front panels of the kimono. The uncut panels (panels 5 and 6) will make the back of the kimono.
Pin the two front panels (panels 3 and 4) and back panels (panels 5 and 6) and stitch them together in a straight line leaving about ½ inch of seam, for 60 inches of the material; stop at about 12 inches from the end. Turn and iron. Pin the slanted edges on the top and stitch to create shoulders.
Fold panels 1a and 1b into two rectangles 22" (55.8 cms) wide and ½ yard (45.72 cms) long. Use the cloth pencil and mark the place where it folds. Stitch the sleeve to the front panel, leaving about ½ inch for the seam and taking care you are matching this fold line with the shoulder. Stitch the other sleeve in the same manner.
Stitch the gore piece at the centre of the bottom edge on the front panel, allowing for a ½-inch seam. Take the 2b panel, and fold it into half, length wise, to make the collar. Find the middle, lengthwise; allowing for a ½-inch seam, stitch this to the centre of the back of the kimono. Pin the neck of the kimono to join the collar; stitch the collar accordingly. Stitch the hem all over to give it a neat look. Iron the kimono well. Your kimono is ready!
Tie the obi around your kimono and enjoy a completely traditional Japanese look.
It is best to try your hand with cotton fabric first. Use silk only after you are sure of yourself, for this is an expensive fabric.
Tips and warnings
- It is best to try your hand with cotton fabric first. Use silk only after you are sure of yourself, for this is an expensive fabric.