One of the very first thing I have ever sewn in my life was a little kimono cardigan to wear as a costume with friends at school. Let’s never speak of that period of my life again. 15 years later I’m at it again, this time the goal being a nice, slinky silk kimono.
I’ve got a RTW polyester chiffon kimono that I wore to death when I was pregnant and when I was nursing. In a pinch it had worked great as a little cover (this was before I gave up on covering while nursing altogether). I didn’t realize a kimono as a cardigan would be something I love so much, but I had gotten the kimono cardigan through Stitch Fix. It wouldn’t have crossed my mind to pick it off the shelf so I’m grateful to my pre-sewing days of Stitch Fix for opening up my mind on stuff like this.
Anyway, I figure it was high time I had a silk one, and I had decided on the Kochi Kimono by Papercut Patterns, but first I had to make a muslin before I cut into my fancy expensive Liberty London silk that Roy, my husband, helpfully picked out for me at The Fabric Store.
Because of nearly all the seams being straight, this is a pretty straight forward pattern and fits really nicely in my size onto just 2 yards of fabric with plenty left over, so it’s a really fabric-efficient way to get a little light layering outerwear piece into your life.
For this version, the wearable muslin, I made the variation with all the tie straps out of an incredible metallic foiled linen. It’s pretty medium-heavy weight, and I feel like this is more like a structured jacket. I mostly tie it in the center when I wear it.
This gave me some trouble. I tried to French seam the underarm sleeve part and then French seam the underarm side seam. It didn’t go well and the finish at the armpit area is not as neat as it could be, but I figure no one will ever really look there, so who cares? Other than that this metallic linen is pretty much to die for and I’m glad I got it during The Fabric Store’s closing sale (though I’m still really bummed about the closure!). It was difficult to work with as it was quite thick and heavy, so difficult to press and sew down, but I enjoyed this make pretty well.
I really liked this pattern so far by this time, and I just think the beautiful drafting gave it the perfect swingy shape and homey, oversized, throw it on over everything kind of fit without it falling off the shoulders. The instructions were a bit bare and if you plan to finish the seams any way other than serging, all I can say is good luck because I still haven’t figured out how to French that underarm seam with the sharp corner cleanly.
And now, for the silk one. I spent forever that last day at TFS and had picked out another silk (a crinkle georgette) by Liberty, but Roy wanted me to buy this one too. “It goes with your skin tone,” he said, “And you like flowers.” He was right.
This was only my second time working with silk and the slippery fabric gave me a run for my money! It was really tough and I made so many mistakes in the underarm seam I gave up on the whole luxe French seaming finish and just serged it all to finish. By the time I did that I had ripped it so many times that the sleeve was a full 1.5 inch narrower than before, but it still looks nice and oversized and beautiful. Clearly this wouldn’t have been so lucky in a more fitted garment, so I say it was kismet that it worked out so well. And it turned out to have such a different look than the linen, didn’t it? I’d say the linen was a bit too edgy for me, but this silk version is soft and romantic and slinky.
Because of the challenges I had with these fabrics (total ends of the spectrum with this pattern, honestly), neither of these makes have the neatest finish but I’m learning to love that about my handmades. A few weeks have passed now and I wear them often when it’s not too hot, so I call it a win. And besides, I’m pretty sure in real life I’m the only one scrutinizing the mistakes.
I wore this exact outfit last night to the Hollywood Bowl and the silk cardi was the perfect little cover up for when it got a bit breezy but the temperature was high. I can see myself wearing this long into California autumn. And with the two versions I made you can see that it’s an incredibly versatile pattern as it’ll transform completely depending on the woven you are using. You can purchase the pattern over at Papercut Patterns.