Ikat Kimono

Ikat kimono

This project came about because of dire necessity. A few years ago I made myself a kimono style dressing gown out of cheap and cheerful cotton. In terms of number of wears it’s probably the most successful thing I’ve ever made, but it is showing its age! I’d been resisting replacing it for a long time because it was still basically functional, if tatty, but when it developed huge tears running across the front from under each arm I finally caved in. And after using it for seven years I had thought of a few improvements I could make too.

Here is the new one.Ikat kimono

I had a hard time finding fabric. I originally set my heart on an ikat fabric I saw on Pinterest, but there were no details about the source in the pin and I couldn’t find anything like it in my usual online fabric shops. Eventually I gave up on the idea of ikat and started considering prints. After hours of online searching I still couldn’t find anything I really liked that wasn’t outrageously expensive. I very nearly splurged on a beautiful but pricey palm leaf print, but luckily I sent off for samples first because when it arrived I found I didn’t like the feel of it. Finally I looked in John Lewis more in hope than in expectation, and there was the very fabric I’d seen on Pinterest in the first place. It turned out to be a John Louden fabric called Cross Hatch in black and white, although the black looks dark navy to my eye.

Once I had the fabric in my hands I found it was quite a tricky one to work with. The weave is very open so I had to line it. I don’t normally finish seams on lined garments but I had to do these otherwise they’d have frayed to nothing. It’s also narrow – 110cm – and a kimono takes up a lot of yardage even on normal width fabric. Finally you have to match that very geometric pattern, so it consumes even more fabric than you might expect. But it is pretty and I like the irregularities that come from the ikat weave.

Ikat kimono back top view with mirror

The ‘pattern’ is a very basic kimono pattern, ie all rectangles. I originally got it from a cosplay website that has sadly ceased to exist or I’d link to it. Anneliese’s Fibres and Stuff was the site name (be careful if you google it because the domain it was hosted on has recently been redirecting to a site serving malware). There are no paper pattern pieces involved. You work out the sizes of your rectangles based on your body measurements and chalk them straight onto the fabric. I’ve made a few of these over the years both for myself and other people, and always been happy with the results. I normally make them with what I understand are the traditional kimono sleeve style for younger women: very wide ‘swinging’ sleeves which are only attached half way down the armscye, so there’s a gap under the arm. It looks great but isn’t so good for toddler wrangling, or decency when answering the front door come to that, so this one has narrower sleeves with no gap.

This time around I added a few refinements. It has belt loops and a hanging loop. Those were made from some cream coloured twill tape I had lying around that was almost the same colour as the shell fabric. There are large patch pockets on the front, although they are invisible in these pictures. I interfaced the belt with Vilene F220 to give it some body. I wish I’d done the same with the collar. It works OK without interfacing in something crisp like cotton poplin, but this fabric needs a bit of extra help.

I bagged the lining and it’s not quite right; the lining is too short for the shell so there are sometimes wrinkles at the hem. I measured really carefully but I think the shell fabric grew. But it’s only a dressing gown so I’m not going to go back and fix that. I’m very pleased with the pattern matching though. There is a centre back seam but it’s almost invisible.

Ikat kimono back view

I was a bit frustrated with this when I finished it because of the hem issue, and also the fit isn’t quite right – I had to compromise slightly on the width of the panels in order to match the pattern and not require a truly outrageous amount of fabric. But it’s grown on me and I’m going to wear it anyway because it’s a vast improvement on the torn one. I hope this is going to last me the next seven years!

Ikat kimono lounging view

25 thoughts on “Ikat kimono

  1. Thank you for the information on that fabric. I have some that I am hesitant to cut because of the weight and I never even thought of lining it (oh duh). We are having a short heat wave this weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area and I would love to be lounging around in a robe like the one you are wearing.
    LisaD, SF Bay Area

    1. For what it’s worth, my lining is an ivory coloured cotton poplin and it worked out well. I thought about using a slippery lining fabric but I suspect sewing that to the already wriggly ikat would not have ended well.

  2. It’s a very fancy looking kimono! I have two metres of that fabric, and I’m scared to mess it up! It’s been in the stash for 2-3 years now… I think I’ll dig it out and give it a go!

  3. So pretty, looks comfy. The fabric find is a funny story – it was meant to be. I’m cutting out a new robe today, in French terry. As with yours, my 2 flannel robes are ages old and looking sad. I have one other, a RTW robe in wonderful plush, from Long Tall Sally. It was quite a splurge! but worth every nickel. Robes are essentials.

  4. I love your attitude that even a utilitarian item like a dressing gown is a project that is embarked on with hours of research. The final result reflects your personal aesthetic of restrained elegance. Though I am a full time working textile artist who loves clothes I have always bought my dressing gowns at K-Mart!

    1. Heh it’s not so much research as browse the Internet on the bus at every opportunity, and my commute means I get a lot of that 🙂

  5. I have to comment on your statuesque pix. A clothed Olympia in posture, the kimono reminiscing of Breitner. The fabric is lovely, very inspiring sewing.

  6. Despite its flaws your robe is beautiful. Congratulations on finding the fabric you desired. I want to make a similar kimono style robe but I want the edges unfinished so that there is some fraying. I envision it in pale pink and green. Went to JoAnn’s today to try to make my vision a reality, but just could not find any fabric I liked. I did buy fabric for the kimono, but it’s not the colors I wanted. But I will find a way to make it work. Hope mine ends up looking as good as yours.

  7. It looks wonderful, and I particularly like the ikat fabric. I have a similar styled kimono dressing gown which only comes out in summer and is now (I just realised!) 33 years old 🙌. Bought by my wonderful MIL and I probably should take my lead from you and copy it before it dies altogether.

  8. Great outcome. Looks so good on you and so cozy too. A winner for sure. Inspiring.

  9. That looks fantastic and I love the ikat. I have to admit that I’ve never been in a John Lewis, but I’m definitely making a stop next time we’re in the UK! I had no idea they had fabric.

  10. impossibly chic! I really should replace my 20 year old dressing gown, although it’s actually in amazingly good nick

  11. Ooh, I love it! It’s such a bold graphic fabric, but the irregularity of the ikat really seems up your alley. I’m glad it is going to get years of wear!

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