When I restyled a summer dress to a kimono a few weeks ago I absolutely wanted to sew one for myself. I already had the perfect fabric in mind for it. Then I went to the market in Castel del Piano and I found some nice remnant pieces of fabric at my favourite stall. One of them eminently suitable for a kimono. So the only thing to do was to sew two Venus Kimonos in two days!
Venus Kimono #1 in African Wax Cotton
I got this fabulous—but impossible to photograph—piece of African Wax as a present from my sister-in-law. I don’t know where it came from or what its origin is but it has some vintage vibe. The piece was 1,80 m by 1,40 width. I was intrigued by the design and I wanted to use as much of it as possible.
Therefore I placed the shoulders of the front and back in the middle of the fabric and lengthened both the front and the back, until the borders. Just like the restyled kimono, I made before, I put the back at the centrefold, after folding over the seam allowance of 12 mm.
The front pattern was too big for the width of the fabric so I cut off 21 cm at the arms and placed these pieces at the selvedge. This gave me more of the fabric design on my kimono and the selvedge didn’t need hemming!
Venus Kimono #2 in sheer flower fabric
When I touched this fabric at the market I knew immediately it would be perfect for a kimono: light, fluid and drapey. The only problem with this kind of fabric is that it is devilish to work with.
So, I treated it with starch to make it easier to cut and sew. And it worked! I didn’t have a single problem.
A small pattern hack
The sheer fabric was 1,65 m on a 1,50 with. I wanted a longer kimono so I lengthed the front and the back at the side seams with 35 cm and redrafted the hem.
The Sewing Proces
It’s not difficult to sew the Venus Kimono. Annie, from Sew This Pattern, has a detailed sew-along on her website with clear instructions and pictures.
The next three steps made it even easier for me.
#1 The 1/4 inch presser foot
For me, a 1/4 inch presser foot is an unmissable guide for sewing french seams. Here you see that I use some tissue paper for the start of a seam of fragile fabric.
#2 A stitched line to prepare the rolled hem
This I do slightly different than shown in the sew-along. I stitch a line 1/4 inch from the edge of the hem.
Then I fold the fabric on the stitched line and press. Next, I fold the fabric again 1/4 inch and sew the hem at 1/4 inch. Here again, the 1/4 inch presser foot is unmissable.
#3 Basting the curves of the rolled hem
With my first Venus Kimono, I had trouble with the rolled hem at the neckline so I finished it with bias tape. For these two kimonos, I followed Annie’s advice and basted the curved neckline. And I learned that basting isn’t slowing your sewing process but in fact skilling it up.
Do I love my new Venus Kimonos? I do! Do I have a favourite? No, I don’t. It’s difficult to choose one because both are different in style and in how they feel. Will I sew more Venus Kimonos? Not in the near future but you all know: never say never!
P.S. All the time when I was sewing these Venus Kimonos I was singing Venus from Shocking blue. This song is a huge teenage memory. The strangest thing is, that when you look at the video, Mariska Veeres is wearing some kind of Kimono.