After I finished my Zero-Waste red plaid project, I was really inspired to create a new piece in that spirit. I remembered that my youngest daughter had given me some beautiful challis remnants that she had picked up at our favorite fabric shop when it closed it’s doors back in 2006. She really liked them and thought somehow she would eventually use them in her art work. They traveled with her as she moved from apartment to apartment. However, she finally gave up on finding a use for them and gave them to me.
These remnants became my project when I decided to surprise her with a kimono that I would create using them. It originally was meant to be for Christmas but I actually finished it on January 11th. I didn’t exactly meet my Christmas deadline.
I will talk about all about the sewing stuff in the second part of my story but right now let’s look at my finished kimono. I have no idea how Rachelle will wear this when she finally gets her “Christmas” present but I decided to wear all black. OK, with the exception of my hair. I really wanted to see how my “If You Dare” by Raquel Welsh went with it all.
A full length view, which gives you an idea of the general silhouette of the kimono, including side slits which helps give it a more flowing form.
The front and bottom bands and simple rectangular shape.
Black chiffon inserts to make the back wide enough and this also has a good view of the black silk crepe de chine strips that I put between the top and bottom panels.
Another Side View Closeup
And There Are Dragonflies
The Sewing Nitty Gritty
Now it is time for the why and wherefores of what guided me through this sewing creation.
I didn’t have a pattern but used the measurements of a kimono that I own, which I had on the blog last February. You can read about it HERE.
None of the challis remnants Rachelle bought were wide or long enough so I pulled out some black silk crepe de Chine and black silk chiffon that I had left over from previous projects to make them stretch.
A simple Kimono is a very good beginner project. It’s nothing more than sewing together three rectangles. For this Kimono, the two front pieces measure 17.25″ x 27″ and the back measures 40″ x 27″. I think it should fit anyone who wears a size small to large. It would take 1 1/2 yards of a single fabric. However, I didn’t have a single piece of fabric, just remnants and there was my challenge.
Rachelle’s remnants were:
-one 34″ x 22″piece of pink/ white/violet/lime green floral rayon challis,
-one piece of 37″ x 20″purple/pink/white paisley design rayon challis
-one 39.5 x 6 black and white abstract polyester
-2 pieces of black and white abstract polyester: 40” x 14” and 23” x 21”
-one 23″ x 21″ blue and black bamboo print which I did not use in the kimono
My Plan of Action
I looked at the pieces and figured out where, given their size, they could be used. The two pieces of polyester abstract worked for front and back yolks. If I cut the paisley rayon challis in half, I would almost have the fronts. That problem was solved by adding 1″ front bands. The floral rayon challis was a bit narrow for the full length that I needed in the back but if added some inserts, it could work. I used my silk chiffon to solve both those problems.
I also inserted black silk Crepe de Chine strips between the yolks and body pieces. Honestly, I’m not sure the design needed this in the end, but they are there nonetheless.
All the pieces needed to be 27″ long, but they weren’t. My silk chiffon came to the rescue again. I had to make the bottom bands 2 1/2″ wide.
A close up of the front and bottom chiffon bands and one of the butterflies.
Again, The flowered challis that I used for the back wasn’t wide enough either and I inserted 4″ wide double layers of silk chiffon.
Flight of the Dragonflies
You probably noticed that in most of my photos there’s a swarm of Dragonflies flying around, five to be exact. I wanted to make some type of reference to my daughter’s art work. She is a professional artist who uses fiber in unorthodox ways and many times her subject matter is drawn from her experiences of being raised on a farm. We have three ponds so Dragonflies are abundant.
My machine has an embroidery component and lately I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. This fabric is pretty thin and I didn’t have nerve to embroider directly on it so made appliqués and sewed them on by hand.
Rachelle installing one of her pieces at a Kansas City gallery.
I found the Dragonfly embroidery pattern on Embroiderydesigns.com. I changed the color combinations so each Dragonfly is a tad different.
Missing My Christmas Deadline
I missed my Christmas deadline by just three weeks! This fabric is semi-sheer. If you look at some of the photos when I am wearing it, that is fairly noticeable. Because of that, I decided to turn all the interior seam edges under and sew them in place using a slip stitch.
I’ve been watching a lot of Bernadette Banner, a historical sewist who does quite a bit of her work by hand. I always have liked handwork and spending time watching her videos has made me love it even more.
With all the pieces I had to put together, there were a lot of seams. Then there were those two times that, after sewing a seam down, I decided to redo something and had to rip out all those teeny-tiny stitches. It all added up. But on the bright side, I binged quite a few series on Netflix and Acorn.
A few things helped me to get through this project. As far as my machine sewing, I find that using a walking foot really helps when you have anything to do with silk. Also, when I’m working with silk (especially chiffon), I break out my silk pins. Anything else, leaves holes. Another note is that I always hand-baste any silk before sewing it on the machine because silk is a slippery little devil.
Other items that helped greatly were my L-Square (for all those strips and rectangles, my gridded cutting pad and dressmakers chalk. I don’t like using rotary cutters as a rule and having a good chalk line to cut on worked really nicely.
What About That One Piece of Remnant That I Didn’t Use?
That turquoise and black bamboo print just didn’t work with all the others. But not to worry! I fringed its edges and now I have a new neck scarf-sort of my reward.
This is finally the end of my newest “making” adventure. I hope you enjoyed it and are inspired to make your own kimono. Remember, if you have a yard and a half of fabric, it’s a very good beginner project and there are plenty of instructions on YouTube and Pinterest or you can just use my measurements.
Take care everyone and create on!