How to Make a Real Kimono

Updated March 23, 2017

When translated, kimono means "thing to wear." Traditionally made from fine, brocaded silk, it is a robe-like garment worn by Japanese men and women. It is an ankle-length, T-shaped, wide-sleeved, front-opening garment, which is secured around the waist with an obi sash. An authentic kimono is made from a single bolt of fabric known as a tan. A tan is 14 inches wide and 12.5 yards long. Your finished kimono will consist of four main strips of fabric. Two panels will cover the body and two panels will form the sleeves, while smaller strips will form the narrow front panels and collar.

Measure down the front of your body from your shoulder to your ankle. This will determine the length of your kimono.

Lay your bolt of fabric (tan) flat on the floor. Cut four pieces to the length of your shoulder-to-ankle measurement, plus two inches for seam allowances.

Sew two of the pieces together down their longest sides to make the back of the kimono.

Sew the short sides of the other two pieces to one of the short sides of the back of the kimono. This will create the body of the kimono, front and back, and where the two sets of panels join will be the shoulder seams.

Cut two more panels from your tan for the sleeves. Decide how deep you want the sleeves. For sleeves 12 inches deep, you must cut two pieces of fabric 26 inches long. This measurement includes 1-inch seam allowances.

Lay the body of your kimono flat on the floor, right side facing down. Find the middle of each sleeve length and match this with the shoulder seam on either side of the kimono body and pin the sleeves to the body, right sides facing.

Sew the sleeves to the body of the kimono and sew the sleeve seams together.

Try the kimono on and wrap it around you. Tie it in place at the waist with an obi sash.

Sew the side seams of the kimono together.

Cut a strip of fabric four inches wide and twice as long as the length of your shoulder-to-ankle measurement, plus two inches for seam allowances. This will be the edging band at the front opening of the kimono.

Pin the strip of fabric up one side and down the other side of your kimono's front opening. Sew the strip to the kimono.

Pin a one-inch hem around the bottom and the edging band and sew.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Tan
  • Scissors
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
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About the Author

Helen Harvey began her writing career in 1990 and has worked in journalism, writing, copy-editing and as a consultant. She has worked for world-class news sources including Reuters and the "Daily Express." She holds a Master of Arts in mass media communications from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.