My friends Kelly and Josh are having a baby soon and I made them a couple of tiny kimonos as a present!

Kimono #1:

Kimono #2 (please excuse the awful photography):

Pattern: Lucy’s Kimono, from Heather Ross‘s Weekend Sewing

Fabric used: Kimono #1: anonymous pale blue quilting cotton with black swallows; black store-bought bias binding. Kimono #2: all Amy Butler, all the time–the main fabric is Full Moon Polka Dot in yellow, and the bias binding is homemade, from a fat quarter of Acanthus purchased at Purl Soho, so between the designer quilting fabric and the crazy markup at Purl, this basically means it is the most expensive cotton bias binding ever. (By the way, I love Amy Butler but what on earth is this Photoshop disaster going on on the splash page? And why does it take 5 minutes to load the fabrics list for each collection?)

Pattern notes: Heather Ross suggests in the pattern intro that this is one of the easiest patterns in the book, which I think is not really true. It’s small, which is nice, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a lot; the pajama pants from this book were much larger but also much easier to sew.

I found it pretty difficult to sew the bias tape around the curve of the neck because the front meets the back at a very acute angle that the bias tape has to be eased around. I couldn’t catch the second side of the bias tape consistently on kimono #1 when I was machine-sewing, so I ended up hand-sewing the bias tape in place to finish it.

I didn’t think the pattern pieces were clearly marked (I may have traced them off wrong, admittedly, but I don’t think there were any notches and the pieces are big blocky shapes, so you could conceivably sew them wrong by 90 degrees). The back and sleeves seem to be gentle trapezoids; I assume the wide end of the back-trapezoid goes towards the bottom end of the baby, and the wide ends of the sleeve-trapezoids get attached to the body of the kimono.

I didn’t use the super-narrow bias tape called for in the pattern; I think mine was 1/2 inch. It seems incredibly fiddly to work with the suggested 1/4″ bias binding for this pattern, and my version doesn’t look terribly different from the one in the book, so I’m not totally sure she used 1/4″ bias tape in the sample, either.

There are errors in the pattern–for instance, it calls for 1/2 yard of bias tape, but I think you actually need 1 1/2 yards; it says to sew the shoulder seams with wrong sides together, which is wrong, of course–they should be sewn right side together, unless you’re going for an edgy deconstructed look for your baby garment.

The book is pretty unclear about how the ties should be handled. As any woman who has worn a wrap dress knows, both sides of the wrap cannot be treated identically, because one side ends up on the inside of the dress and one side ends up on the outside. You are instructed here to “make sure the ties themselves… extend on the right side of the Kimono Front and Back in your sewing set-up” but I don’t know what that means for the side inside the wrap. I figured that there were basically three alternatives here:

  1. Don’t do anything with the inside part of the wrap (I didn’t think this was right because the book instructs you to make two ties.)
  2. Sew the 2nd tie to the inside of the wrap and tie one bow inside the kimono and one bow outside the kimono. This might be what was intended, since the photo in the book doesn’t show two sets of ties visible on the outside of the kimono. However, this seemed both annoying for the parent dressing the baby to fasten and annoying for the baby to wear–how would you like to have a bow tied on the inside of your shirt? Probably not a whole lot.
  3. Leave a hole for the second tie to go through so both ends can be tied on the outside. This is what I ended up doing, taking a cue from every wrap dress I’ve ever owned.

I did this by basically just leaving about an inch and a half of the side seam unsewn and stitching the tie onto the seam allowance on one side rather than catching it inside the seam like on the other side. Here’s a view of the inside of the kimono: you can see the hole with one tie passing through it, and the second tie sewn to the seam allowance: these two ties are tied in a bow on the outside of the kimono.

Here’s a view of the outside of the kimono, with the one tie extending through the hole:

As you can see, the seams inside the kimono are pinked. I think it should be pretty easy to do French seams instead, since most of the seams are straight and very short, but the fabric I picked was sturdy enough that I figured pinking would hold up fine.

Lots of corners on the inside of this sucker. I accidentally pressed and sewed down the seams down kind of randomly because I wasn’t always keeping future seam dependencies in mind. Some are pressed open, some are pressed to one side. The book probably instructs you on what to do, but at a certain point I gave up on following the instructions in any kind of detail.

If you decide to make this kimono and make your own bias tape, I strongly recommend a Clover bias tape maker. You will be one cranky cowboy if you try to make bias tape with one of the crappy metal ones instead. Also, Yahaira has posted an excellent tutorial for making continuous bias tape–including a link to the conversions for how much fabric turns into how much finished bias tape.

A mother at the baby shower said “I like the kimono style because if ‘things happen,’ this can be taken off without having to pull it over the baby’s head”–a practicality that hadn’t even occurred to me, naive as I am in the ways of baby-vom, but seems very sensible.

Oh, and I got them this, too:

Why, yes! That is a Captain Kirk onesie from thinkgeek.com. A necessity for any well-dressed baby. (By the way, Josh and Kelly, if you’re still working on narrowing down names, check out this book. I think Cthulhu is a beautiful name for a little girl. Or Zaius, if it’s a boy.)

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