My Sew Sew Life: Remnants, a Kimono & Dragonflies

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.

Front Closeup

The front and bottom bands and simple rectangular shape.

Back Closeup

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.

Some Indispensables

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!

22 thoughts on “My Sew Sew Life: Remnants, a Kimono & Dragonflies

  1. hi Terri,
    Your dragonflies are great. I’m also in love with your “If You Dare” by Raquel Welsh –the color, the light & easy style. I often have some pink in my reddish blonde hair and have been thinking about going natural (some version of grey/white) for a long time. I have hesitated about wigs–because they often don’t fit well, so I’m reluctant to try. But this one looks wonderful on you.

    Have you had it for a while? How do you like wearing it?
    Thanks a million!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Linda & thank you for dropping by and commenting. As far as hair, my hair is natural grey-I stopped coloring it about five years ago and decided never to use anytype of processing on it. However, I still wanted some fun styles and colors and that is when I discovered wigs. I have a larger head (22″) so research my wigs pretty thoroughly because some companies are just too small.
      Even thought, I didn’t feel that If You Dare’s style would look that great on me (my round face), I just really wanted here. RW’s lace fronts are great and she (I call all my wigs she) fits just great. It just like wearing a hat on your head.
      Can you find a wig store to try on some just to see if you like how they feel. All the better brands have good quality wigs. You should check out Cysterwigs.com. That is where I get all of mine. Heather is even starting her own line and I picked up this wonderful little lady called Piper in Rose Blush-economically priced and fabalous. I’m going to wear her in the next SIA post.

      They have been a godsend during Covid! In five minutes, I look like I just walked out from my hair dresser. And I feel some of the styles take ten years off me.

      Well, as you can tell, I can talk forever about wigs.
      I’m a rarity among wig wearers. My bio hair is just fine but a few wigs just makes life fun!

      Take care, Terri

      Like

    1. Hello. Melody Thank you and you are welcome. I know that the walking foot is mainly a quilter’s tool but it is so useful for a lot of different fabrics. I can’t see life without one now. Take care, Terri

      Like

    1. I’m glad you like it.She was happy. Ironically, she had forgotten what they looked like. I have a couple of pieces that could be good “simple” kimonos for myself. Infgeneral, they should be an easy make.

      Like

    1. Hello Anna, thank you for dropping by and leaving such a nice comment. I was lucky that Rachelle chose patterns that went together so nicely. I’m happy to get the neck scarf out of it-that was an easy one to do.

      Like

    1. Hello, Iris It’s nice to hear from you! Yes, silk is a big pain, unless it’s a rough silk like silk noil. I still have some silk in my stash so know it will eventually be on my radar again. Oh, and congratualtaions on being a Great Grand-Mother!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Mireille. Those pieces had been on my mind for a while and I’m happy that they pulled together into something that works.
      Thank you also for the compliment of Rachelle’s work. As an artist she has gone through many phases but I think she has found her true voice with this one. Take care, Terri

      Like

  2. First Terri,
    I am loving that Racquel Welch hair on you! A great color that goes well with the lipstick too! I am such a dragonfly fan, i was drawn to it. Such a special and beautiful piece you made for your daughter. I love the fabric and color here too, a work of art. I am always impressed with ladies who sew!
    thanks for linKING!
    jess xx
    http://www.elegantlydressedandstylish.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Jess, I got through the project, epecially when I would make mistakes becasuse I was so excited about making the dragonflies and putting them on. I love you linkup-every week you start us off with something absolutely beautiful.

      Like

    1. Thank you, Emma. Yes, she does like it, a lot. Ironically, she had forgotten what the fabic actually looked like!
      I rarely wear this hair. For some reason I never wore big hair (but loved the color). Then I ran across some photos of me from the 80’s-with big hair-changed my view of this RW and will be wearing it more.

      Like

  3. Terri, there is so much wonderful, beautiful stuff in this post that I don’t know where to begin. I love that wig style and color on you! It is really vibrant and playful and super sassy. This kimono is absolutely gorgeous. I love the colors in the prints and the fact that you mixed prints in one garment. And the dragonflies are just too perfect for a gorgeous one of a kind garment. What a fabulous Christmas gift for your daughter. And finally, Rachelle’s art installation is breathtaking! Wow! I would love to see more of her work! Thanks for linking with me.

    Shelbee
    http://www.shelbeeontheedge.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shelbee, thank you. This was a labor of love and I guess a good exercise in print mixing. Colored hair does make a statement-this is about as wild as I will probably go. I think Rachelle has quite a bit of her work on her blog. There’s a link somewhere in thus post.

      Like

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