Designing a Kimono-sleeved jacket

The brief

The sorry saga of the jacket I chose as the centre piece of my Sewing with a Plan (SWAP) challenge meant I was determined to fix on an alternative before the New Year. So for the last few days I have been plotting.

I wanted a jacket that has a shape that contrasts with this one, Simplicity 7305.

Simplicity jacket in boiled wool
Simplicity 7305 jacket

I wanted

  • a fitted into the waist look, as opposed to boxy
  • a proper (stand and fall) collar as opposed to a simple stand (Nehru) collar
  • inspired by Japanese styling, with a kimono sleeve
  • an opportunity to think about gussets
  • waist shaping created by a wide Obi-type belt

Initially I scoured the pattern sites, and looked at lots of vintage patterns (gussets have died a death in both RTW and modern commercial patterns). Because I could not find what I had in mind I designed my own pattern for this project.

The design

So I have made a pattern for a simple jacket pattern without side seams, but with a gusset panel at the side body, and kimono sleeves. There is a back piece cut on the fold, jacket fronts, a facing, a two piece collar, and a belt. And a lining pattern.

Kate's Kimono - drawing
Kimono style jacket for SWAP

The toile

I am toiling it in a nice wool (welcome back into my life wool, my old friend) that is actually a dark navy with little bits of green in it, although you can’t see it here.

Dark navy wool with white - front and underside
Dark navy wool with white – front and underside

This is me checking the style and size of the collar (obviously it will be somewhat smaller when sewn).

Woman with a collar piece draped round her neck
Deciding on the collar

I have already got a skirt cut out of this cloth (the wrap around skirt that I toiled earlier) so I was keen to see if I might make a jacket in the same material. Unfortunately I only had a small uneven piece left. This is what I did:

  • cut the sleeves down on the jacket so it now has short sleeves (Kimono sleeves, being cut with the bodice are quite cloth-greedy)
  • joined the front facing to the front to save two seam allowances
  • cut the under-collar on the cross grain
  • will make the belt from the remaining scraps, maybe in a single thickness

A short sleeve jacket is a novel look but I think it will look quite nice with a jumper underneath, especially to lighten it up as this is quite a dark fabric for me.

Here it is, partly sewn, with shoulder seams pinned and collar draped. I will want to make sure the stand actually stands by pad stitching some firm organdie to it and gives some height to the collar. I think this can be achieved with pad stitching. I tied it up with my purple silk belt.

designing a kimono style jacket
close up of sleeve and collar

Variations on the design

When I make up this jacket for the SWAP I shall make it with full length sleeves, but that will probably require a change to the gusset. I would ideally want the sleeves to be fairly slim,  so I will taper the gusset, or maybe ending it with a triangle fairly close to the underarm. Also with a longer sleeve it is possible that I may need to deepen the angle. In the fairly thick wool (below) the sleeves have a life of their own. If the sleeves work well,  I will have a pattern that could also work very well as a coat.

Also I think this might work well with some exposed seams, say on the shoulder. Or with the side panel in a contrasting fabric. This wool is very nice as it has an interesting reverse. In making up the toile I created two belts – one with the check, and one (that I am wearing at the top of the post) with the reverse spotty side. I went with a narrower belt due to the shortage of fabric. This is joined in three places.  I am pleased to say that I love this pattern, and it got the thumbs up from my family members. As far as the SWAP is concerned this jacket will now replace the Simplicity 100. I made up the 1970s wrap round skirt too – it makes a nice suit with an A line skirt, but I don’t think I will do this skirt for the SWAP.

Kimono jacket and wrap round skirt
Kate’s Kimono jacket



10 Responses

  1. Jenny

    Amazing. That is as right for you as the other was wrong (if you know what I mean). The large collar and the fullness of the kimono style gives you a nice top line and the short sleeves look really good.

  2. Joyce

    I adore this on you. I didn’t see much wrong with the other one, but now I see this is much more your personality…lively and interesting. really cool. Your a trooper… keep marching forward —- so exciting.
    By the way, I have found a spray for hair that washes out (brown to light brown) , and I think it will get me through the stages to the complete natural grey/silver.. and I have cut my hair short pixie again, which I like much better then the long. Yippieee. (Santa bought me a Serger this year ! fun fun fun

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