Thursday, June 26, 2014

summer sewing: black floral chiffon kimono

        Style & Co. petite V-neck tee, Macy's
distressed denim mini, Old Navy

        Summer = sewing time around here, and this is the first thing I whipped up. I've been wanting to buy a kimono top for a while, but saw many (albeit with pretty embroidery) going for $50 in stores. That's my entire monthly clothing budget, so I needed an alternative.
       I headed to the fabric store and picked up 2 yards of this rather florid print for $12. A bright print on a black background just says summer nights to me ... although I will admit that most of my summer nights are happily spent sitting on the couch with a book vs. going out. I liked the big print, but going for a straightforward floral was a stretch for me. I tend to lean toward abstract/graphic florals, so I'm still undecided on whether I like the print, although the colors are beautiful.
        This is basically 3 rectangles sewn together - no separate sleeve - which I think accounts for the voluminous fit. I've never sewn with chiffon before, so it was an interesting project - I used French seams for the first time (to enclose the madly fraying raw edges) and hemming the neckline, bottom, and sleeves took up the  bulk of sewing time. This came out a bit longer than expected, and it almost has a cocoon shape - notice how the side seams hang a bit lower than the rest of the hem in the side view below. I think it also has to do with the slouch of a generously cut arm opening.

    Nonetheless, I think this came out OK for my first time working with chiffon, and a longer hem has an unexpected benefit - more styling options! I figured out that I can alter the silhouette by tying the ends in front:
Or tying the ends in the back gives you just a peek of print in the front ...
... and an interesting draped effect in the back.
   Now I just need to figure out different ways to wear my kimono ... for its inaugural wearing, I went with the classic white V-neck tee and denim bottoms option, which is what you'll often find when you Google "styling a kimono top." Some other styling options:
  • dark skinnies
  • white jeans
  • tucked into a pencil skirt as a kind of wrap top
  •  And since Suzanne just blogged the versatility of a little black dress, I'm wishing I owned a simple black dress that I could pair up with this kimono ... I don't see many people wearing kimono tops with a dress, maybe because of hemline/proportion issues, but it sounds intriguing.
Do you own a kimono top? If so, how do you style yours (I'm looking for ideas!)


  1. I think it looks great; I love that it has a sort of cocoon shape. And I'm very impressed that it's chiffon; I'm terrified to try sewing chiffon.

    I've worn my kimono layered over a button down shirt and I've worn it over a long, almost maxi-length dress.

  2. This looks adorable. I am so jealous of your sewing skill! I'm also way into black+floral right now which is kind of unfortunate because I live in the hottest wasteland ever :/

  3. Wow you did a great job Carrie :) I don't own one myself but I have seen them around! They look light and breezy.

  4. Thanks, Kat! Chiffon is a bit more difficult to work with, but I'm already thinking about buying a pattern (vs. making one up like I did this time) and making a second kimono. The fabric store had some very nice chiffons!

  5. Hawaii can be warm, but I can't complain because we often have a nice tradewind that makes it feel cooler. I was in Utah for a few days last August, so I definitely hear ya on the heat! Hope you are staying cool!

  6. I like the idea of pairing it with a longer dress!
    One of the best tips I found was to lay out the chiffon on tissue paper, place the pattern pieces, then pin through the tissue paper. It was so much easier to cut that way! I did use fray check on some of my raw edges before enclosing them in the French seam because it's terrifying to see how much the fabric unravels just from handling.

  7. Cute, cute, cute! I really want to try making a kimono. It is on my sewing list - I have a couple fabric candidates in my stash. Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Suzanne - I have thrift regret (is that a thing?) over a simple little black knit dress I saw at Goodwill months ago. It was a maternity dress (didn't look like one), and I think that's why I put it back. It was cute, simple, and had a flattering fit, and I will keep an eye out for a similar one that would work with my kimono this summer.
    I'll have to take a peek at your archives to check out your kimono - it sounds lovely.

  9. Would love to see your kimono when it's sewn, Carly!

  10. ElleSees.blogspot.comJuly 1, 2014 at 3:59 AM

    so cute! love this!

  11. Thanks, Katrina! I was surprised to find out that a kimono can be styled differently, which makes me happy because I will get more use out of it!

  12. Thanks, Elle! Sewing is one of my favorite things to do in the summer.

  13. Oh wow, nice job! Love the fabric and the floral print. :) I think the kimono would look great with a maxidress or long skirt, as well, for an elegant -- yet comfy -- date night look.

    Jen @ Librarian for Life + Style

  14. oooo--that's awesome! great job and that kimono is very appealing! love it!


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