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Hi, it’s Jill from Snugglebug University. Today I’m going to show you how you can make a super simple BOHO style Kimono!
I’ve been eyeing kimonos this spring. I’ve seen so many pretty ones…but they can come with a pretty hefty price tag! I quickly realized that a kimono would be the perfect DIY. Not only does it come together quickly, but it also requires very little sewing. This makes it a great beginner project!
A kimono can be worn so many ways, too. Use it as a swim suit cover-up. Or as a pajama robe. Dress up a pair of jeans…or wear it to work. A kimono is just so versatile.
The weather here in the San Francisco Bay area is generally pretty mild, but it’s super nice to have a nice lightweight piece of clothing when the weather gets a bit chilly. I think this BOHO style kimono will get a lot of use this spring and summer!
This kimono came together so quickly that I’m eager to make a few more. By changing the fabric and the trim you can dramatically change the appearance of your kimono. I’m pretty sure I’ll be adding a dramatic flower print kimono and a black–goes with everything–kimono to my wardrobe soon.
Unlike a more traditional “square” kimono, I made my BOHO style kimono with flowing tapered edges, which is great for making the kimono a bit longer. You’ll notice how the sides of my kimono hang down on each side, but then go up to a shorter length in the center.
I also added some lace trim to the sleeves. I actually up-cycled the lace from a pair of badly stained vintage pillowcases. I seriously love the detail it adds to my otherwise 3/4 length sleeves.
I decided that I wanted the back to be a bit dressed up too, so I actually attached an old doily that my grandmother made. Of course you could simply omit this for a more simplified version.
I’ve always admired this delicate work, so it’s super nice to be able to display it a bit. Of course, with the vintage lace and doily, I’ll have to make sure that the kimono is washed carefully, but I think it’s totally worth it!
Alright! Are you ready to make your own kimono? Let’s get started!
* The benefit to using a knit fabric is that it doesn’t fray. This means that you don’t need to hem up or finish the edges of the neckline or the base of the kimono. Of course you could totally use another type of fabric–just plan on finishing the edges. There are some beautiful silks and chiffon fabrics that would be great kimono fabric…you’ll just need to take more care with the edges.
**Let’s talk sizing for a moment. The amount of fabric you purchase is going to give you the length of your arms on your kimono. If you’d like to see what I mean, hold out your arms (so they are equal with your shoulders…just as if you were a bird holding out your wings). Measure from one wrist to the other. If you wanted your kimono to be a full length sleeve, you are going to want to buy at least this length of fabric (plus a little extra for any shrinkage, hemming, etc. depending on your fabric choice). For me, I’m 5’7, so buying 1.5 yards gave me about full length sleeves–AFTER I added about 3-4 inches of lace to each side. I’ll show you how to adjust the width of your kimono (to make it wider or narrower) in a few minutes. The length of your kimono will be determined by the width of the bolt of fabric you are using.
***As always, if you need a bit of help with the basic sewing skills used in this tutorial, don’t hesitate to check out the Sewing 101 post for more help.
Begin by cutting down the center of your fabric. I cut through one side only, extending about 1.5 inches onto the other side. Note: If you’re unfamiliar with the term selvage, check out this post describing helpful sewing terms.
If you’d like, go ahead and try on your kimono at this point. This will give you an idea of how the kimono will fit you. Make a note of where you’d like your armpit to be. It won’t be your actual armpit since it’s meant to be a very loose-fitting garment, but rather the place where you feel comfortable having the arms transition to the body.
Refold your fabric and cut about 12 inches down from the fold. Then you’re are going to want to continue cutting for about 12 inches over…or the amount you determined earlier. You’ll want to adjust this horizontal cut length as necessary to fit you (this is the mental note you made earlier!). This cut will determine how “wide” the kimono is. Make your cut longer than 12 inches if you’d like longer sleeves and a narrower kimono. Make your cut shorter if you’d like a wider kimono with shorter sleeves.
Next you are going to cut from your endpoint down to the corner of your fabric. (Alternatively, if you’d like a more square bottom to your kimono, just cut straight down. If you do this, you’ll be cutting out a rectangle instead of a triangle). I just eyeballed the cut rather than using a ruler since the garment is very loose fitting and how “straight” your cut is won’t really matter.
Next you’ll need to repeat with the other side. I found it easiest to fold the kimono in half, and use the other kimono sleeve as a guide.
Now it’s time to start sewing. Open up your sleeve piece and attach any lace to the entire sleeve as desired.
In my case, I sewed the lace on to the base of the sleeve, and then flipped it over and top-stitched along the top. If you’re not used to sewing with knits, my advice here is go slowly and don’t pull. Otherwise you can get ugly puckers as you are attaching your lace.
Once you’ve added trim to both of you sleeves, it’s time to sew up the side seams. Sew or surge the front and back of the kimono at the sleeves and side as shown.
Repeat with the other side. Next I added a doily to the back of my kimono. I positioned the kimono so that it was centered with the center cut.
I pinned like crazy.
Then I sewed a oval all around the edge of the doily by machine. I went slowly here to make sure that the doily lay flat on the fabric and none of the fabric below was pulled or got scrunched up.
That’s it! All done! I hope you liked this simple BOHO style kimono!
Thank you so much for having me here on Make It and Love It! For more sewing projects make sure to check out my blog!
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Sewing clothing for yourself doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming. We love walking you through step by step. Check out some of these other great clothing tutorials and expand your handmade wardrobe even more!