Kimono sleeve – a yellow dress

posted in: Finished projects | 7
Vintage women's dress pattern from 1970s
Old Pattern 9248

This old pattern, with its “seamed to slim” promise was probably linked to a newspaper or magazine in the early 1960s. The number seems to suggest that the company had already produced 9247 patterns before this one came out, but I doubt it. I am intrigued by the lack of marketing, but it is possible that the periodical featured a model wearing a made-up version, and the pattern was then produced as cheaply as possible. It may have been given away free, or possibly the reader sent in a postal order for 2/6 and the pattern was posted out. My Grandpa ran mail order ads at this time for slippers and made a small fortune as the readers of the People or the News of the World bought the cosy “Raymar” brand from the comfort of their own armchair. I also had a job when I was about 18 working for an insurance company (for 50p an hour) where I cut out the name and address section and the Direct Debit details and, with a glue stick, attached them to cards and copied out the details on to the envelope and bank mandate. Soul destroying work. I thought mail order would die a death, but the internet has revived the experience of receiving a package with a degree of anticipation. I know I love getting the odd eBay package in the post – it feels a bit like a present.

And Seamed-to-Slim? All I can think is that the lines of the dress – with its fairly strong centre front feature – are obviously vertical and do have a tendency to draw the eye up and down, giving an impression of “slimness”.  The drawing assumes a striped fabric and there is a nice contrast between yoke and dress. The horizontal lines, especially the yoke and waist line are at the slimmest points. But I am not sure if this is a pattern that would have anyone looking particularly skinny?

I picked this pattern up on Clitheroe market for a small donation to charity. I liked two features – the flared skirt and the way pattern of the fabric goes across the body above the bust-line, and down on the sleeves. The type of sleeve used in this pattern – common in the 1950s and 1960s  and pretty rare today – is known as a Kimono sleeve, and here is an idealised pattern piece.

Bodice with Kimono sleeve
Bodice with Kimono sleeve

The sleeve is cut with the bodice, with the seam going down the centre of the shoulder and arm. I think it looks very flattering on the shoulder. There is some slight restriction in movement so normally both bodice and sleeve are cut somewhat generously. One of my blouses has a short kimono sleeve and I find this makes it really fast to make up and easy to finish.

white linen three button blouse
white linen three button blouse

I find the name Kimono something of a misnomer as a kimono does not have this sort of sleeve. Here is one from the wonderful collection at the Victoria and Albert museum. The seaming is evident not just where the sleeves join but down the centre back too. As you probably know the Japanese silks were woven on narrow looms.

Red Kimono, V&A
Kimono with traditional sleeve

As the Kimono has a particular kind of sleeve I wondered how the name had come to pass. Then I started searching Chinese jackets and of course this is the standard approach used for the padded jacket, but also the more ornate Kimono style long coats and jackets. It’s not unusual for westerners to get people from China and Japan mixed up – but when it persists in language it can cause confusion. A similar type sleeve is known as the Dolman, a name borrowed from the Turkish.

Traditional Chinese T shaped garment
Traditional Chinese T shaped garment


I have a particular interest in the T shaped garment which is used many cultures from Inuit to Ghanaian. So on to my dress.  I made up this pattern in a nice soft, yellow, cotton. I lined it in yellow cotton. It has nice big side pockets. I made the sleeves a little longer than the pattern. It was easy to make and nice to wear. The only thing I dislike is the Centre Front zip.

Kate Davies wearing a yellow 70s dress
Dress in soft yellow cotton

7 Responses

  1. Stephanie

    Very nice fit! The blouse and the dress are terrific. I enjoyed the details about mail order and your job as well. When I was 18 I worked in my uncle’s insect laboratory for the summer (he is an entomologist). I pinned, or rather glued the thorax of thousands of small dung flies (under a microscope) to tear-shaped pieces of paper that were stuck on pins at a specific height for purposes of the collection. He had just gone on a special trip to Siberia and I think he had 60,000 of them for me to pin. The llab smelled of formaldehyde! (I adore my uncle so it was OK. :))

    Just yesterday I was looking at a pattern in one of my old Burda magazines for a t-sleeved 1950s-style coat. I love that treatment but the sleeves are usually short and wide (for the reasons you mentioned) and so it’s not necessarily the most practical style for me. Still I very much like it and feel an impulse to make such a coat if I ever find the time. Thanks for including the info about true kimono sleeves and Chinese jackets – interesting.

    • fabrickated

      I don’t know really. I just think they should be at the back and out of sight. I feel they are somewhat “industrial” rather than a design feature. I could change my mind with the right design I suppose, but I prefer button as rule. But course I have a few cardigans that zip up and I am fine with this so its probably completely irrational. Having said that I don’t really like buttons at the back – but that is due to discomfort when sitting and needing help to get dressed?

  2. Joyce

    great post as always
    You look great in the yellow dress. Is the zipper too stiff? Thanks for all the information, you really put an effort into your posts- it doesn’t go unnoticed.
    keep em coming.

  3. witness2fashion

    Pattern # 9248, which you correctly guessed was ordered from a newspaper, has a strong family resemblance to American patterns made by a company called Needlecraft Services, Inc., which allowed regional newspapers to sell patterns with their own names on them, e.g., “Progressive Farmer.” Usually there was a column in the paper which would show a drawing of the pattern, and sometimes I find these newspaper clippings stored with the pattern that arrived in the mail. I blogged about them — with lots of pictures — at

    • Brenda Marks

      Yes! Thank you. The history of patterns is fascinating.

      The yellow dress is becoming. I don’t like zippers up the front, either. I’d prefer loops and buttons with one of those tabs behind the opening (for modesty, unless you are a Kardashian…).

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