I found the kimonos in a used bookstore, on a rack tucked behind rows of shelves. I had ducked into the shop in DC one brisk day and had been searching through the handicraft section for books to add to my sewing library. Finding nothing of interest, I turned to browse the rest of the store, and came upon a rack crammed with kimonos. My hands eagerly turned them inside out so I could gaze at the seams, ran down the collars to feel the interfacing, examined the slits, hems and finishes and held each one up to see the size. I had just picked up another couple yards of silk (hadn’t bought enough the first time), and was planning on getting to work on my kimono when I got home. Good timing.
This is the free kimono pattern by Ralph Pink. I graded from a UK 10 to a US size 6, and then made it petite. This basically involved a lot of chopping and folding and retaping of all the pattern pieces (a couple inches widthwise and about 10 inches off of the length). I had to redraw the neckline piece but everything else was straightforward (tell me in the comments if you want to know more about this). The only piece I interfaced was the neckline, with medium-heavy weight fusible interfacing. The fabric is so slippery that it needs a structural neckline to keep the garment on the wearer. The fabric- all 4.5 yards- is from the Silk Trading Company in Richmond- best fabric store in town!
The pattern doesn’t have instructions, but construction is straightforward. If you used a less tricky fabric than silk, it could be an easy beginner project. I used mostly french seams (there are some seams on the sleeves that are partway open, so I just serged them, rolled them under twice and topstitched). The hem I attached bias binding from my never ending bias tape stash, turned it under and topstitched (so the curved hem would have a little more weight). The neckline I had originally burrito’d before adding the sleeves, but after realizing I had attached it backwards I had to rip it off and sew it back on. So now there’s some topstitching, but I like it more than I thought I would. The sleeves end mid forearm; the length hits just above my ankles. Just the right lengths to cover me without getting in the way.
The kimono has quickly become a staple in my wardrobe (<- code for “I wear it every single morning instead of getting dressed”). It is comfortable and slinky and just the right weight for hanging out and reading/eating breakfast/sewing on a cool spring morning. Well worth the $$ spent on the gorgeous silk fabric. As long as I don’t cook in it I’m confident it will hold up and last for years. Which is good because it’s been getting tons of use and it feels soooo good to wear.