Handmade and Fabulous: Alexander McQueen’s Kimono Jacket

I may have been hiding under a rock all this time. No other explanation for (almost) missing this pattern, made all the more precious because the genius behind it is no longer. That genius was the late Lee Alexander McQueen, and the masterpiece I’ve unearthed is the pattern for his famous Kimono Jacket made available online by the gods at ShowStudio.com. Apparently, it has been there for all to see since 2005. It only took me 7 years to find it and I blame the rock.

If that piqued your interest, you may have clicked on that link, saw the photos, and totally forgot about this article. A perfectly understandable reaction in the face of such beauty. The Kimono, modelled by some impossibly skinny waif,  looks divine. The oversized sleeves, that arrestingly minimalist front,  those intriguing origami details at the back – my mouth was watering even as my mind was racing: Would I? Could I? Dare I?  I was teetering on the brink of madness knowing that I, a lowly seamstress-in-training, actually have a shot at owning a piece of McQueen. And so, brimming with excitement, I downloaded the pattern, printed out 50 A4 pages, painstakingly cut and taped the drawings until I had 7 glorious pattern pieces lying on the floor, waiting for me to work my magic on them. Not one to dilly dally when something epic is about to happen, I printed out the Pattern Help that came with the pack. And right there and then, my hopes and dreams came crashing down.

Well, if you think L’Enfant Terrible will hand you his iconic design on a silver platter and spoon feed it to you, think again. The Kimono Jacket must have retailed at hundreds, nay thousands, of dollars when it first came out and there is no way you are going to copy it without shedding blood, sweat, and tears. As those brave souls before me who dared take on The Kimono would tell you, the Pattern Instructions were as vague as a politician running for office. It was more than vague – it was opaque.  The instructions are in English but they may as well have been written in codes. After reading it 5 times, each time slower than the last, I finally gave up and decided I needed to sleep on this one. I, of course, dreamt of origami and threads.

I woke up the following day feeling a bit braver. So brave, in fact, that I decided I wouldn’t bother making a muslin – I can’t imagine devoting too much time and effort on something I wouldn’t be able to wear. So I plucked a folded fabric from my ‘special’ fabric stash – a polyester metallic blend called Hablon in black and gold, woven by the local weavers in my hometown of Iloilo. Fabrics from this stash are reserved for special projects and a McQueen Jacket is a very special one, indeed!

Perseverance, patience, research, and a little bloodshed paid off. After 23 solid hours of sewing, head scratching and cursing, a piece of McQueen is finally hanging in my closet!

Here are some snapshots of my very own Kimono Jacket.

East Meets West Meets Me: My take on Alexander McQueen’s famous Kimono Jacket
Origami details make the back just as interesting as the front
Love the open armholes and flamboyant sleeves!

If you think you’ve got what it takes to take on The Kimono, please check out the tutorial section in the next few days. I will try my best to make sense of everything I did and write a tutorial on it.

 

 

 

Update: Tutorial finished!

Thanks for visiting!

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Tutorial: De-mystifying Alexander McQueen’s Kimono Jacket
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20 thoughts on “Handmade and Fabulous: Alexander McQueen’s Kimono Jacket

      1. I found the tutorial on ShowStudio, too, but I found it wayyyyy too hard (I tried making it but the finished product (on cotton muslin) looked NOTHING like yours)….. Can u please please please make a simpler tutorial? by the way your kimono jacket looks AMAZING…. even Alexander McQueen would be proud….. 😉

  1. Well yours is very, very pretty. Perfect fabric. You might include a picture of the inside so we can see how you pressed, folded, etc.

    I don’t know what I would do without your tutorial. I did get the pattern printed on large paper so i wouldn’t have to tape the pieces together.

    1. Why, thank you! I did try to take photos (10 shots actually) of the inside but somehow they didn’t turn out as clear as the right side. Even Lightroom can’t bring out the folds and creases! I have to say, though, that my serger helped – a lot 🙂

      Lucky you for having it printed on large paper – you saved yourself a lot of trouble. Would love to see your finished kimono 🙂

    1. Hi Mary,

      The pattern instructions gave a teeny weeny clue about inclusion of a 1 cm seam allowance. Of course, I was unsure so I visited every forum I could find online discussing the kimono, just to be safe :-).

      Btw, I am a UK size 8 and the pattern fit was perfect without any alteration. You may have to make adjustments depending on your own measurements.

      Good luck!

      1. I finished the seams as I thought the design was fussy enough without the raw edges and bits of thread dangling about. But then, that’s just me 🙂

  2. Your jacket is gorgeous and that precious fabric has been put to good use! thanks for letting me know about your tutorial, it has definitely made me want to try sewing this really soon! I was just wondering if you would advise on the yardage required. Is 3 meters sufficient?Thanks

    1. Hi Adey, thanks for dropping by and for your comment! Yes, 3 meters should be enough. I had 3 meters of 39 width material and I had some leftover for a hankie 🙂

      Good luck making it!

  3. Thank you for your sweet words…I’m still working on the tutorial…very tricky as you can imagine…halfway through, I got so caught up making the jacket that I forgot to take photos of my WIP! Watch the tutorial page 🙂 xB

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