Signs of spring? Kimono-style cardigan

Kimono jacket

The weather in the UK has been so miserably cold that I decided what I needed to make next was a really warm cardigan. For one reason or another it took me a while to sew, and of course the very day I finished it the weather warmed up. Guess I should have sewed faster.

I chose the kimono style after a bit of snoop shopping on the Internet. I wanted something with a bit of shape to it but not too girly. Waterfall cardis are great but I find they look best in lightweight fabrics and worn open, OK for spring but certainly not for winter! The kimono has a very generous wrapover and you can make the collar as wide as you like to keep your neck warm. Here’s a better view.

Kimono jacket

You don’t need a printed pattern to make a kimono and it makes very efficient use of fabric. I always use this tutorial for the basic construction steps. I added patch pockets to the front because I had a little bit of leftover fabric and also I figured it would stop me stashing too much stuff in the sleeves. The patch pockets are on the left front because a kimono always wraps left over right whether worn by a man or a woman.

My fabric was 60″/150cm wide charcoal coloured boiled wool jersey from Truro Fabrics. This is how I laid out the pieces. Units are all inches because the sizes I needed divided into inches more nicely than centimetres. I could have made the collar piece quite a bit shorter. When I made the layout I hadn’t decided where I wanted the collar to finish so I erred on the generous side.

Seam allowances are 5/8″ except on the belt where I used 1/4″ to keep as much width as possible. The pockets are lined with a scrap of leftover cupro lining. The lining pieces are cut the same width as the pocket piece and about 1.5″ shorter because the fashion fabric piece folds over to make a facing. I fused a wide strip of interfacing to the top of the pocket pieces but there’s no pattern piece for that; I just eyeballed it. In the event that anyone wants to use the layout below as a basis for their own version, I’m about a size 10 in Big Four and 5’10” tall with an 18″ back waist.

kimono-jacket

The fabric I used doesn’t ravel at all but I bound all the exposed edges with satin bias because I like the finish and it’s quick and easy to do with a binding foot. I finished most of the hems with the blind hem foot on my machine. The fabric is so thick that stitches just sink into it and vanish so it’s ideal for a machined blind hem. Here’s the inside of the front showing the binding and the collar attached with ditch stitching from the outside.

P1020275

The sleeves are the least practical feature of this pattern. I can just about fit these under my coatbut it’s a squeeze. I sewed up the wrist edges most of the way so I can use the sleeves as pockets, but left the back edge open as is traditional. I was a bit worried I might not be able to move my arms if I sewed the underarms right up. Kimono sleeves make great pockets; I’m always amazed by how much stuff I can get into the sleeves of my kimono dressing gown. I used to worry that things might fall out through the open back but they don’t seem to.

Kimono jacket

And here’s a back view. Not a lot going on here. You can see that I topstitched hems on the sleeve backs rather than breaking out the blind hem foot. The hems are a lot narrower here so this was the easier option.

Kimono jacket

I’m pleased with the way this has come out. It’s a really simple garment to make too. By way of contrast, while I was googling I came across this free download for an Alexander McQueen kimono jacket pattern. It’s beautiful but amazingly complicated! I intend to give it a try at some point so I’ll post a comparison when I do.

20 thoughts on “Signs of spring? Kimono-style cardigan

  1. This is a beautiful topper! And it will get cold again so you will be ahead of the game. Thanks for explaining how you made this beauty and the link to the Alexander McQueen version.

  2. Love it!!! You did an amazing job and will get so much use of this in the cold weather. This is something I would get so much wear out of. Thank you so much for the post! I will definitely bookmark and sew one of these up. Something I would wear a lot. I will also have to check out the link for the more complicated version. I have a definite love of kimonos and have several versions in my wardrobe that I wear often.

  3. What a great snuggly make. I had no idea that Kimonos were constructed from such simple pattern pieces. Love how you finished the seam and interesting what you say about the mechanical blind hem. I don’t think I would ever try it on a woven fabric again. I’d have been better off carelessly hand-hemming!

  4. Magnificent! This looks so comfortable and warm … thanks for the link to the pattern designer … I have to try this ..

  5. This is absolutely brilliant Catherine, and the pattern layout looks so efficient and economical. I really love everything about your kimono. Looks so stylishly warm. I will have to try your pattern out too…
    I tried making that Alexander McQueen jacket about four? years ago. The instructions are a bit sparse, plus I chose revolting fabric, so it was a complete wadder and I ended up heaving the whole hideous mess into the bin in a rage. But i still like the pattern. Your mention of it has made me think that I should take another look at it.
    I cannot wait to see your version 🙂

  6. Catherine, you’re such an inspirational sewster! This is not only a wonderful stylish make, but such an interesting read too. So much to say: love the seam finishes ( have to investigate a binding foot…), amazing cutting layout and love the idea of sleeve pockets!! I’ve also checked out the red kimono too…I’ve a kimono type dressing gown on my to make list and this is such a cool inspiration. Thank you

  7. I really like this! What a great idea for a cardi!

    I too have been “fantasy sewing” that McQueen jacket – I’m hoping someone else will sew it first and figure out how its done. LOL 😉

  8. Do you think that the McQueen Challenge is enough to tear me away from revision and back to the sewing machine? Thanks for that link, and I love the sweater kimono. You’re looking great.

  9. What a good idea and with ‘bottomless’ sleeves. Thank you for the details as the weather here has suddenly slid well towards the cooler side of autumn.

  10. It’s amazing that a bunch of rectangles can turn into something that looks so cool, brilliant. I too downloaded that McQueen jacket years ago and that is as far as I ever got with it, I’d still love to try it someday though.

Comments are closed.