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Birds and Flowers Kimono

Since we had the start of the lovely warm weather a few weeks ago I had really fancied making a lightweight dressing gown – then along came fate in the form of this beautiful Crepe Fabric courtesy of Minerva Crafts. Listed as ‘Birds and Flowers Print Crepe’, this absolutely reminded me of those Japanese heron print fabrics, an elegant oriental vibe. The fabric is lightweight enough to be beautifully drapey but is opaque and substantial enough to make a lovely quality garment. 
Now I’m not reinventing the wheel here and there are plenty of Kimono tutorials around, however I wanted to do this a little differently, with a quality finish and all the bells and whistles of a proper dressing gown. I also wanted to challenge myself to use as much of this gorgeous print as possible and minimize any waste. This is how it goes:
Start with 2 meters of fabric and fold it so that the folded edge is at the top. Ensure the folded length is enough to give you the coverage you want as this is the length of your finished kimono! This is 1 meter so plenty for me.
 
Cut 2 strips from one edge of the fabric – this is going to be your belt. I went for 12 cm each on these to include the seam allowance. Just a note, the measurements on this are not precise, you can go a bit or as small as you like with yours.
Leave your belt pieces to one side for a while, now fold the remaining fabric in half again from right to left, with the new fold being down the right-hand side of the fabric.
Now for the formation of the kimono! Taking a tape measure, I roughly measured across my body allowing a lot of room either side for ease and wrapping capability. Then halved it. The width of the kimono is 35cm and the sleeve depth is also 35cm. Draw a T shape onto the fabric and cut away the excess. (Keep this part!!)I also wanted a nice neckline on this so snipped a rounded shape into the top right had corner as shown. 
Unfold the fabric so it lays flat, then cut a line up the centre front of the kimono on the FRONT PIECE ONLY. To create the neckline, simply rule a line from the curve of the neckline to the centre line and cut it out. 
Pop everything to one side for a bit and grab those excess rectangles you saved. We’re going to make some bias binding! Cut the excess rectangles into squares, and then into diagonals again.
Using the continuous bias binding method, go ahead and create your own beautiful binding! I’m not going to repeat the tutorial for this here, as the fabric was too small to properly show the method, however it works out just nicely. This was the first time I’d tried this method and I was astounded at how much binding such tiny scraps of fabric could make! Those two squares above were enough to bind the whole kimono! I used this method from Craftsy.
If you want some belt loops, go ahead and cut a couple of little strips of fabric, sew up the raw edge, turn inside out and press. I turn things with a wooden knitting needle or kebab stick! Make sure these are long enough to cover the width of your belt. 
Coming back to the main kimono, lay it out so that the right sides are facing. To find the placement of the belt loops I held a tape measure to my neck then hung it down to my waistline, using that measurement to make a mark on the fabric edges.
Trap the belt loops at the waistline between the two kimono pieces and pin all the way up the side edges. 
Sew those side seams up any way that you like. French seams for fanciness? I went for some jazzy overlocking. Quick and easy and this time attractive!
Now you have your main kimono and all that’s left is to pimp it up a bit and finish those raw edges. Taking your pre-made binding, pin and sew that all the way around the front of the kimono, from one inside edge, all the way around the neckline and back down again. 
Give it a good press towards the inside of your garment, pin and sew again. If you want a little hook for hanging your gown, pop one in now! I used the same method as the belt loops and just trapped a little piece of this under the binding in the centre back before stitching it down. Give the whole edge a good press. 
For the hem and sleeves, you could either use some more of that lovely binding to finish them off, or hem as desired. I went for a fold and fold again situation. Everything is straight edges, so it makes this very easy to do. Your kimono is done so give it a final press!
All that’s left is to sort out the belt. Pin the 2 long pieces of fabric together, right sides facing, stitch around the edges and leave a small gap for turning.
Turn your belt the right way out and press flat. I chose to top stitch all the way around to encapsulate the open turning gap and to give the belt a bit of stability. 
After cutting some more bias binding squares and saving it for other projects, I managed to reduce my offcuts to just this little pile which I’m pretty happy about :)
To finish off - thread your belt in the loops and ta-daaaaa a kimono style dressing gown for lounging about in on lovely warm days!
(Just FYI this was not a sunny warm day – it was totally raining when I took this picture and I could see my neighbour looking on in wonder….)
Enjoy! xxx
Emma @ Crafty Clyde

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