Category: Pattern Alterations

4 Unique Styles from 1 Basic Kimono Pattern

4 Unique Styles from 1 Basic Kimono Pattern


4 Unique Styles from 1 Basic Kimono Pattern

4 unique styles from 1 basic kimono pattern. Does that sound impossible to you? I was skeptical at first but I’m so excited to share the four new kimonos I have added to my wardrobe all while using one simple pattern.

4 Unique Styles from 1 Basic Kimono Pattern | Chambray Blues |

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I adore kimonos. They can be dressy or casual and are great for any occasion. You can layer them over tanks, t-shirts, sweaters or blouses. There are any number of ways to put them together with different fabrics and trims. You can use wovens such as chiffon, organza, cotton, linen, denim, georgette, challis, shirting or denim. Good knit choices are ponte, jersey, pique, jaquard or novelty knits. My kimonos were all made from wovens, since that’s what I had on hand in my fabric stash but you could use this pattern for knits too.

4 Unique Styles from 1 Basic Kimono Pattern | Chambray Blues |

The kimono pattern I’m using for this fun project is Simplicity #S1318.

I adore the fact that this kimono pattern only uses about 2 yards of fabric even for the extra large size. If you are on a tight budget, or are a beginner sewer this is a great pattern choice since it is unfitted, and only has a few seams!

Look #1 : Lace Edge detail

For my first kimono, I used a blouse weight polyester woven fabric. It was a thrift store purchase for $.60. You can’t get much cheaper than that! The lace came from Walmart and was about $3.00 for two spools. Lace is easy to sew on in place of the self fabric band that goes down the front and around the sleeves. Simply use a zig-zag stitch close to the edge of the fabric to sew the lace on. It is not necessary to finish the fabric edge under the lace which will save you time. You can use a narrower lace for the back edge of the neck and eliminate the back neck facing too! Look for a lace that’s 3/8″ to 1/2″ wide for the back neck. The lace trim down the front is 2″ wide, and the laces are caught into the shoulder seam. This visual continuity will create a seamless look around the entire neckline and is deceptively simple to sew.

4 Unique Styles from 1 Basic Kimono Pattern | Chambray Blues |

For the sleeves, eliminate the pattern sleeve band pieces. Stitch the lace with the decorative edge along the bottom edge of the sleeve, allowing the lace to hang loose over the edge of the fabric. You only have to overlap the lace and the fabric by 3/8″ and zig-zag it in place to finish. Wash your lace trimmed garments on a gentle cycle to keep them in good shape and line dry or tumble on low heat.

4 Unique Styles from 1 Basic Kimono Pattern | Chambray Blues |

I paired this floral print kimono with a fun hat, casual western choker and a simple white t-shirt. Add your favorite jeans and a pair of heels for a fun way to wear your kimono for a date or girls night out!

Look #2 : Contrasting Colored Bands

4 Unique Styles from 1 Basic Kimono Pattern | Chambray Blues |

4 Unique Styles from 1 Basic Kimono Pattern | Chambray Blues |

My second kimono is made from yellow floral georgette. This fabric was originally intended for a skirt project that didn’t come together AT ALL. So, I cut the skirt apart and made a kimono instead. I just love the yellow floral, and the chambray cotton shirting on the sleeves provides the perfect finishing touch. For this kimono, I used self fabric bias binding to finish the back of the neck instead of a back neck facing. Sewing binding on a back neckline is easy and provides a clean finish, it’s also less bulky when you are wearing the garment. After the shoulder seams are sewn, cut the self fabric bias pieces 2 1/2″ wide the length of the neck plus 2″. With wrong sides together, fold bias lengthwise and stitch to the right side of the neck with raw edges even. Trim the neck to 1/4″, then turn the binding to the inside and top stitch close to the folded edge, then press.

A lace t-shirt and a simple necklace complete this outfit for an entirely different look than my first kimono.

Look #3 : Embroidered Silk Organza

4 Unique Styles from 1 Basic Kimono Pattern | Chambray Blues |

I have had some incredibly luck recently at our local thrift shop! Imagine how thrilled I was to find this stunning silk organza sari for $.60! A sari is a traditional Indian garment that is 6 yards of fabric (usually silk or linen), that is wrapped around the body. This kimono is longer in length to take advantage of the beautiful fabric, plus it had an ombre green border that ran the length of the piece. Wow! The sleeve hem was placed on the border, and stitched with a tiny rolled hem.

4 Unique Styles from 1 Basic Kimono Pattern | Chambray Blues |

The green band down the front is just self fabric binding made from the contrasting border of the fabric. I did not use any interfacing in this version of the kimono. The organza is plenty stiff and has lots of body on it’s own. The green colored border was so pretty I didn’t want to waste it! I also feel neck trim ties the colored border of the sleeve into the look. The organza is printed with silver metallic, and it feels very airy and elegant to wear. I can even imagine this over a satin gown with heels for a summer wedding or other formal occasion!

Look #4 : Flocked Chiffon with Contrasting Crepe Bands

In this version, I decided to use a beautiful flocked chiffon (another thrift store purchase) for the body of the garment. The contrasting bands were made from scraps of black crepe that I had in my scrap bag. The chiffon looks light and airy compared to the dark fabric bands. They make a striking pair! I can see this type of kimono over a strapless evening dress, a satin tank top paired with jeans, or even a pretty bra and panties for a boudior look. So many possibilities!

4 Unique Styles from 1 Basic Kimono Pattern | Chambray Blues |

The black chiffon is very dramatic. I decided I liked the look of it against our rustic unfinished attic space. Someday I would love to make this huge unused space into my dream sewing studio.

4 Unique Styles from 1 Basic Kimono Pattern | Chambray Blues |

This design is great for using scraps, I used pieces of leftover polyester crepe for the contrasting bands of this kimono. The sleeves take on new drama with the chiffon and remind me of a traditional Japanese kimono!

4 Unique Styles from 1 Basic Kimono Pattern | Chambray Blues |

4 Unique Styles from 1 Basic Kimono Pattern | Chambray Blues |

My necklace is a velvet ribbon that has leftover beads and gold tassels attached to it. I am allergic to metals, so ribbons work well for DIY jewelry projects. Velvet necklaces are also very on trend which is a plus!

Kimono Tips & Tricks

Here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind while you sew your own kimonos:

The shoulder, side and sleeve seams in all of my kimonos got special treatment. Because the fabrics are sheer and the kimono design is rather open and flowing, I didn’t want the seam allowances to show. A french seam that encloses the seam allowances completely is the best way to finish them off. French seams are not hard to make, but it’s a little different process because you sew the WRONG sides together, then flip and sew the RIGHT sides together. Confused? Here’s a video of that technique:


The following video demonstrates how to sew a narrow rolled hem as used for look #3:


I had so much fun with this kimono pattern and I’ve already been getting so much use out of these beautiful pieces that are now part of my wardrobe! All four of these styles are sure to become staples in my everyday closet.


More Inspiration

Looking for more design inspiration? Here are some other posts you will love:

The Tunic Bible: Embroider Your Tunic Dress

Classic Wool Pleated Skirt: 7 Secrets to Sewing it Right

Easy Denim Hack to Make Your Old Jeans Fit Again

Stylish Little Black Dress with Simplicity

#YogaLife T-Shirt with Cricut


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How to Read a Sewing Pattern Envelope

How to Read a Sewing Pattern Envelope

Learning how to read a sewing pattern envelope is the first step in sewing a garment. Learn these tips for success!

Learn to read a pattern envelope|Chambraybluesblog|
Learning to read the pattern envelope is important for sewing success.


My first experience with sewing involved picking out patterns and proper fabric at our local fabric store when I was 7 years old. The woman who ran the small store was very experienced and she could answer any questions that you might have and steer you on the right path. Today, things are are very different. So many people are learning to sew for the very first time and have no one to ask for help. Even the employees in the fabric store (if you can find one!) don’t always know how to answer your questions.

Learn to read the pattern envelope before you choose your pattern and you will feel much more comfortable with the process. This post will help you know how difficult the pattern is, what fabric and notions to buy, what size pattern you need and give you an idea of what the garment will cost to make.

Reading a Sewing Pattern Envelope

1) Choose your style in the pattern style book. Pull out the desired pattern from the storage drawer in the store and view the back of the envelope. Not sure how to do this? Watch this FB Live video.

How to read a sewing pattern envelope|Chambraybluesblog|
Most sewing patterns have the body measurements listed on the envelope flap.

2) Find the envelope flap. Most patterns have the body measurements listed here for each size. Compare your body measurements to find the size that is closest to your measurements. Ready to wear sizes are not the same as pattern sizes, so don’t buy a pattern based on your ready to wear size. It won’t work!

How to Read a Pattern Envelope|Chambraybluesblog|
Back of McCalls 7100 pattern

The Pattern Size Chart

3) Look at the description of the garment on the top of the rectangular chart on the envelope. This description tells you how many pattern pieces are included in this particular style. Easy patterns have fewer pieces, you can sew an entire dress with as little as 4 or 5 pattern pieces. More advanced patterns such as coats have lots of pieces, some coats have as many as 28! Different pattern companies have the sewing level clearly marked in the description as beginner, intermediate, advanced etc. Make note of what notions are required. Do you have the skill to sew them? Items like buttons and zippers require more skill to sew. If you are a beginner sewer, you may want to look for a pattern with draw string or elastic closures instead until you have more experience.

4) Recommended fabrics are included on the envelope for each style. Restrict your fabric purchases to only these fabric choices for that style. This is important for beginning sewers who often get misled when purchasing fabric for the first time. Woven fabrics and knits for example, require very different construction methods so they are not interchangeable. If you want your garment to turn out, you must choose the proper fabric for that style.

How to read a pattern envelope|ChambrayBluesBlog|
Some pattern envelopes have a knit fabric stretch chart.

5) Knit styles sometimes have stretch measurements on the back of the pattern envelope. Place your fabric on the fold over the black rectangle marking on the top of the envelope. Stretch the fabric across the chart to see if it will work for that style.

5) Choose which style view you want to make from the front of the envelope. You may want to circle view A, B, C on the envelope so it’s easy to remember.

6) Look at the “size” column, calculate how much fabric you will need by reading down the chart. Fabric comes in widths of 45″ (cottons or specialty fabrics generally) or 60″ (knits, wool, lace, rayon, fleece, crepe, satin). You will need to purchase extra fabric if you plan to make alterations. I routinely purchase 1/4-1/2 yard extra fabric for each style to be sure I have enough yardage. When I forget to do this, I usually end up having to run back to the store and sometimes the fabric isn’t there any more, or it won’t be off the same bolt which can be a slightly different color. Be sure to buy enough fabric for your project all at once, you can always make something else from the scraps!

The Yardage Chart

7) Extra fabric will be required for matching one way prints or fabrics that have a nap. Buy at least 1 extra yard per style to match plaids. In the photo above, separate yardages are given for fabrics with nap. Fabrics with nap include corduroy or velvet, use these yardages if you are sewing with those items.

8) Don’t forget to purchase interfacing, and lining if your pattern requires it. These are listed separately, below the other fabric and notion requirements. Also, be sure you have a selection of fresh sharp sewing machine needles at home in case one breaks while you are sewing! (Hint, buy needles that are designed for the type of fabric you choose. Different fabrics such as knits, satin or denim require special sewing machine needles.)

What if I make a mistake buying my Pattern?

What happens if you do your best to read the pattern envelope and make a mistake in your purchase? If you get home and realize you purchased the wrong type of fabric for your pattern, most stores will return it. The fabric must be uncut and unwashed. You must have your receipt, including the cutting slip to get proper credit. Sewing patterns can be returned only if they are unopened. Usually, I keep patterns and fabric if I decide not to use them right away. I prefer to have a stash of things in my closet for reference even if I haven’t sewn them. You will quickly become a collector if you aren’t already!

I like to keep track of what I spend on each garment for my own enjoyment. My custom designs are akin to designer brands, they are good quality and custom made to fit me perfectly. Do not compare your custom sewn clothing to things you would buy at a discount or department store, those garments are poor quality and not custom made.

Every time you make a new project you learn something else. Think of this sewing journey as one that will be on going. The time to start is now!


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Check out some of these other tutorials:

Sew Along 2018, the Year of the Blues!

How to Shorten Pattern Sleeves

What You Should Know About the Cricut Maker

How to Measure for Pattern Alterations


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How to Shorten Pattern Sleeves

How to Shorten Pattern Sleeves

Shortening your pattern sleeves isn’t that complicated but it does take a little bit of know how. Here’s my best tips on shortening, it’s easier than you think!

How to Shorten Sleeves the Right Way|ChambrayBluesblog|
McCalls Cuting layout M7061

Sleeve Alterations

We have all been there. You work so hard on a sewing project, only to discover too late that the sleeves are too long. Chopping off the end of the sleeve and re-hemming does not work in most circumstances because sleeves are not perfect rectangles. It’s easy to shorten them at the beginning of the sewing process. Even before you cut! Here’s how!

Sew Along|Chambraybluesblog|

Shorten Pattern Sleeves the Right Way

  1. The first step is to be certain how much the sleeves need to be shortened. The best way to do this is to use the measurement from the center back neck, to the wrist. This is not included on pattern envelopes, it used to be on there but for some reason they don’t have it on there any more. Take your own measurement, or have someone else do it for you.
  2. Next, line up your back pattern and the sleeve pattern pieces. Overlap the seam allowances (so they are not included in the measurement), then measure the pattern from center back, across the shoulder to the sleeve hem. Do not include the hem as you measure.
  3. Compare the two measurements to find the amount needed. For example, if my pattern measurement is 30″ and my center back neck to wrist measurement is 28″ I need to shorten the sleeve length by 2″. ( 30″-28″=2″)
  4. Add wearing ease. Generally speaking you want to have ease of at least 1″. You can add more if you wish, but no less. As your arm bends you need extra fabric to compensate for the movement, so it’s important to have enough wearing ease or your garment will be uncomfortable and too short in the sleeves.

Sound complicated? It’s really not. Here’s a video tutorial:


You can follow my You Tube Chanel for regular updates and more tutorials. Also, be sure to subscribe for the Sew Along and join our Facebook group here. I am doing weekly Facebook live sewing sessions, answering questions and hoping to inspire you to keep sewing!

McCalls #M7061


Sew Along with Me!

This outfit turned out great! It was easy to sew and I love how comfortable it is. You can find out more on the sew along below. Sorry the photo isn’t very good, I will upload a new one later!

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Read more about the Sew Along here.

Read more about Measuring for Pattern Alterations here.

How to Read a Sewing Pattern Envelope

How to Triumph Over Your Unfinished Sewing Projects

Vintage Blouse Tutorial with Tulip Sleeves

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