The kimono skirt


A friend of mine and I have a little tradition; whenever she's in Auckland we try to visit the Asia Gallery and Emporium, a vintage Japanese textile importer hidden in a more industrial area of town. This place is a haven for amazing fabrics, and there aren't many places where you can buy silk, wool or cotton kimono for $20 each. 

I've always wanted to somehow incorporate these amazing garments into my personal style, and short kimono can be really wearable, but I've never found quite the right one that would work with other stuff in my wardrobe. 

And then I found this. Silk. $20. Amazing checks. Pink.

You all know I'm not really a pink person, but I have been trying it out a little bit, and then I saw this kimono, in all its raspberry goodness, and I knew that if there was something pink that I would wear, this fabric was it.



I wasn't brave enough to just wear it as a kimono, but the fabric had an insane amount of potential.
I spent a few hours unpicking the sleeves, collar and separating the side seams to make one big piece of fabric.


I decided to make a really full skirt, using Tilly and the Buttons' Clemence Skirt pattern. All up I used about half of the kimono fabric, so there is plenty left for another project over my summer break. 

I started with the waistband. The beauty of kimono is they are constructed using rectangular pieces of fabric with very minimal shaping, and the collar was the perfect width for a waistband. I measured this to my waist length and lined it with the same fabric instead of using interfacing. 


The fabric is quite delicate, but luckily most of the edges had already been French seamed as part of the kimono, so there was only one raw edge to finish, and I French seamed this too. 

I hand-gathered the skirt to fit the waistband. I've tried so many times to do gather stitches with my sewing machine, but I always find that process pretty slow and I wanted to avoid running this fabric through my machine unnecessarily. I think this was much more successful and I had a lot more control with moving the gathers around, so I'll definitely be doing this again.


The zip was probably the best part of this skirt. I think this was the first time I've fitted one without any issues. I was shocked afterwards for about 15 minutes. 

So you can imagine my despair the next morning (I finished sewing about 9.30 on Saturday evening because I'm very rock and roll) when I tried it on again and it was a little more than an inch too big. I have no idea how that happened. 

It took me a bit of thinking to come up with the best solution. First of all I thought I could do it the quick way and sew two seams at the sides. As the fabric was so long, I didn't need to cut back and front pieces and just had a seam at the back with the zip inserted. But that would take out volume out of the skirt and put seams in my zero-seam waistband, so that was not a good option.

Then thought about removing the zip, trimming both sides of the waistband and sewing it all back together, but that didn't sound appealing because of my perfect zip sewing. 


And then I figured it out! Unpick just the part of the zip that was connected to the left side of the waistband, unpick a quarter of the waistband from there, trim it to the right length, re-gather this section of the skirt and sew it back in. This saved all of the skirt volume and half of the zip not needing to be unpicked.


I'm so happy with the finished result. I'll be wearing this all summer and I'm looking forward to more makes in this amazing fabric with my leftovers.

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