Wednesday, 28 December 2016

A Pair of Kimonos finished (New Look 6217) and things not made

A Pair of Kimonos from New Look 6217

My plans for Christmas sewing were scaled way down. A number of reasons for this - illness, various household appliances breaking down,  initial over commitment etc. Initially the plan was for a ‘DIY’ Christmas but to be honest, that rarely (read never) works out! I tried,  though. David did too  - he framed sewing photos for my sewing room (temporarily a dining room again) and a photo of Tammy,  Alison's previous cat for Alison; Alison made some nice spice mix for everyone,  in addition to their present and Joanne gave Alison a manicure (that is actually did it). Helen made Anthony a photo album from their honeymoon,  and Helen and Anthony framed some wedding photos for my mother. So quite a lot of DIY, really. I made kimonos for Joanne and Alison,  cushions for Joanne and an infinity scarf for my mother. More of that later. 

I didn't make:

Shirt for David
A shirt for David - not started. I love the fabric and will make this shirt next year. Possibly for his birthday. David chose the fabric so I know he likes it. I'm not sure what pattern to use as yet. I did buy one from Thread Theory but haven't looked at it yet (it's a PDF)

Cargo Shorts

My initial idea came from a fabulous pair of really well made shorts I saw in an outlet store, very reasonably priced, but the wrong size for Steven. He and Anthony wear shorts a lot. So I thought about making some for our DIY Christmas.I asked and was told by their wives, my daughters,  that this would be entirely suitable. These cargoes were going to tick the DIY box, be a useful make, extend my trouser making skills and I would have entered the PR menswear contest, which has just finished; I wouldn't have been able to get a photo of them being worn.

Helen suggested bright - yellow - and I got the fabric but clearly she had made an error of judgement! She didn't get back with sizes and when I asked,  it's clear that Anthony didn't fancy. I'm not surprised! Unfortunately after I tracked down a suitable zip! I bought fabric for Steven’s but didn't pursue; his was standard chino fabric.

I was planning to use the pattern in one of the GBSB books as I find I tend not to think about book patterns. I abandoned both. Possibly,  probably, for ever. Well,  it's easier just to buy something! I'm not going to commit to DIY for next year - unless as David suggested I start in February.

Tartan Skirt; Silk Dress

I also, once again,  abandoned a tartan pleated skirt for Helen as she's not yet sure what style she wants. She asked me to hack her favourite red silk dress and I'm doing that but it won't be ready until after Christmas as she needed to try on the toile, which I managed to make up quickly (it was already cut out) and we've made some minor changes. I plan to start on that next week.


Joanne asked me to make a kimono like Helen's. 

I struggled to find suitable fabric. I got some that is possibly suitable but not the same type of fabric as Helen's, which would have been better,  and a bit late - but in the course of my searches I found some ‘China silk’ which I thought would make a fabulous kimono. Black with flowers for Joanne. They also had turquoise with dragonflies  - perfect for Alison who loves turquoise and dragonflies!

I originally got the New Look pattern free with Sew magazine. I looked out the pattern - but the kimono pieces weren't there. For Helen's I had traced the pattern and I couldn't find that either. Helen doesn't have them. I decided I had no real option other than to buy a replacement pattern, fortunately at half price. Murphy's Law says that I would then find the mislaid pattern but I haven't yet!

Helen's kimono was lengthened in body and arms and that's what Joanne wanted. However, this fabric is narrow and I wasn't able to lengthen the sleeves more than about 3 cms. I tried but it didn't work. I only slightly lengthened the body as I felt the body and sleeve lengths should be in proportion.

I made Joanne's kimono first. This fabric has no silk in it! It's polyester, pure and simple, I would say. I did an accidental burn test with my iron which I felt showed this. Rory did a proper burn test and agreed. The fabric is stiffer and less drapey than I'd hoped. However, both fabrics were bought for the design so I'm not really worried. One issue with Joanne's is that the vendor gave me two pieces of fabric and it is clear they are from different batches as the striped lining is different, the stripes different widths,  though I can't see any difference on the face of the fabric. I used one piece for the back and the other for the two fronts. I don't think it's noticeable. A warning for the future.

With Joanne's kimono, because of the amount of fraying,  I decided to overlock all the edges before construction. This turned out to be a mistake.  As the fabric doesn't press well,  I found it very difficult to get the open seams to lie flat and in the end decided to overlock the two sides together.

There were no major construction issues. I did something wrong with the back neck band meaning that it was slightly narrower than the front bands and this made the top stitching more difficult,  that is to get it even. I overlocked the outside edge of the facings rather than make a hemmed edge. I did slightly lengthen sleeves and body but apart from what I've already mentioned,  I followed the directions. I used interfacing in the band but felt it wasn't really necessary. I later asked advice at class and decided to miss out for the next rendition.

I like the final kimono, even though it's not perfect. I hope Joanne likes it. Oh,  I used ordinary black Guterman thread throughout and didn't have any stitching problems.

When I bought the turquoise dragonfly fabric for Alison, I had no clear idea what I was going to make as Alison told me she didn't like kimonos so I asked her what she wanted. I sent some pattern images. She decided she also wanted a kimono as she likes Helen's too.

I considered doing a full bust adjustment for Alison's.  In the end, I decided simply to lengthen the front edges;  I felt there was enough width that no extra was required. I decided against using interfacing. This time, I didn't overlock the edges before construction. That worked relatively well,  though there was quite a bit of fraying by the time I reached my last seam! I found matching the pattern difficult as the pattern match was oblique rather than straight.

While constructing, I accidentally sewed the front bands onto the back neck band wrongly. At least I think I did!  The notches didn't match. I altered to the way I felt it should be. I don't know if I did Joanne's wrongly too - that could explain why there was a problem with the band. Then, when attaching the bands, one attached in a puckered way and ended up too short so I had to unpick. As with Joanne's, I understitched but as I mentioned, this fabric really doesn't press well. I considered topstitching too - there is topstitching on hems and in from the edge so perhaps it wouldn't have been out of place but decided against it. It's also more difficult to match the turquoise than the black!
Grey overlocking thread used here - great match

You can see the mismatched stripes.

About thread matching - I agonised (no,  you're right,  I didn't!) over the choice of colour for the overlocker. I didn't want to buy any new ones. In the end, I went with grey which is a fabulous match! Now, I believe it when people say you only need black, white,  grey threads. The grey is closer to the reverse of the fabric than the blue I used to sew the seams.

I was working on it a bit last night while watching the Strictly final. I don't usually try to sew while watching TV.  This wasn't sewing, just pinning and tacking hems.  I didn't get it fully completed last night so finished it today.

I thought I'd use a metallic machine embroidery thread for all the topstitching as I thought it would be better to have that hint of metallic with the shiny fabric than just matt thread. I ‘auditioned’ 4 threads and decided to go with the machine embroidery thread. I had no end of bother, despite having tried it out before I decided to use it. I had problems with tension, with looping, with missed stitches. I had it in,  out and in again. It was still awful (I should have taken some photos but was too stressed!). Interestingly, the hem and sleeve hems had been okay and the first front band was acceptable. In the end,  worried about the fabric getting damaged, I unpicked the lot and redid with a standard Mettler thread. Much better. I had problems unpicking the embroidery thread as it snarled in the fabric so I couldn't pull out a long strand, and wonder if it was the combination of twisted thread and this fabric that led to the sewing problems. I'd love to get advice or hear thoughts on this.

I hope Alison will like hers. When I was unpicking and saw how easily snagged this fabric is, it occurred to me that it's perhaps not the best choice for a cat owner! Thomas the cat is visiting for the first time this Christmas, so we'll see! I have quite a bit of extra fabric of both the black and the turquoise but no plans to use them again at present. Thoughts anyone? Ideas can certainly include just getting rid of it! 

I've finished but it's dark. I'll take some photos tomorrow but do I post tomorrow or wait until I can have photos with Alison and Joanne wearing them? Not sure. The post is ready now except for photos and titles.


It's after Christmas! I'm writing this on Boxing Day. Joanne and Alison both liked their kimonos. I would say that Alison's, in particular, is a perfect fit.

Their Gran agreed to pose, wearing the infinity scarf I made her

Alison's cat, Thomas, hasn't really settled so he's being taken home tomorrow,  earlier than planned. He hasn't been crying or distressed just not sociable and has spent quite a lot of time sleeping/hiding under the bed. 

I managed to get photos of Alison and Joanne in the kimonos. Helen was away by this time - but hadn't brought her kimono with her in any case.

I'm sad to see everyone go - but also relieved as I find it more  difficult as I get older to cope with the noise, the mess and,  to be honest,  the amount of extra work. My Mum is here for an extra week,  though. 


  1. Its always so lovely and inspiring to read your blog posts. You have made some wonderful gifts for your family - I am inspired to try that for 2017. With enough planning I hope I can achieve that.

    Wishing you a Happy New Year to you and yours.
    Hila. xxx
    (p.s. its saturdaynightstitch - BlogSpotr doesnt recognise my wordpress account and always requires verification which is very frustrating)

    1. Thanks, Hila. I love your makes and you're so fast it seems to me that you can achieve anything you want to!
      In any case, you make your hubby loads of nice shirts.
      It's strange about all the different sites. I registered with Wordpress and depending on whose blog I'm commenting on, I can be any one of 3 identities!
      I'm glad you commented, it's appreciated.
      I hope you had a great Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.

  2. Great job, Anne! The girls look lovely in their kimonos. Wouldn't it be nice to make them matching make-up bags? I've seen pretty examples of zip pouches made with tutorials from the True Bias blog. Hope you'll have a relaxed week with your mum!

    1. Thanks, Marianne. Make up bags are a good idea. I'll have a look at the tutorials you mention.
      I hope you had a great Christmas.
      Happy New Year.

  3. Kimonos are always a fun make - and really, two garments in the lead up to Xmas is quite enough! The equivalent for 12 months would be 24 garments! I think pacing is the key...

    1. Thank you. Yes, they were fun to make. Doing two alongside each other helped as did having made this pattern previously. TNTs are still my aim (for me, that is)


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