The Kimono Jacket, designed by the late Alexander McQueen, is one of the most challenging projects I have taken on so far. If you think your sewing machine is a bit rusty and needs a serious spin, then this project is for you. First, you need to download the pattern pack from this website.
If you have an ordinary home printer, print out the following sheets:
- mcqueen_dload_sheet1 (25 A4 sheets)
- mcqueen_dload_sheet2 (25 A4 sheets)
- pattern help OR pattern instructions
Before proceeding, make sure you read the printing instructions and the text written on page 1 of #1 above. Now go and read them again. Believe me, you need to.
I have to admit I dreaded making this tutorial because it is not as straightforward as tutorials should be. When I decided to take on The Kimono, I scoured the internet hoping to find a layman’s version of the pattern instructions and found none. I now know why: making The Kimono is a very personal experience and to translate it into words is quite tricky. karinsi at Burdastyle did have one tip I took to heart: follow the instructions even if they seem super weird. So, let’s do just that, with some modifications on the side.
Assembling the Pattern
First, arrange the A4s you’ve printed out on the floor according to the numbers (1_1, 1_2, 1_3, …2_1,2_2,2_3…and so on) found on top of each page. The first number refers to the row, the second to the column…so 1_1 is row 1, column 1. If you do this correctly, you should have a set of patterns roughly similar to mcqueen_dload_LG1&2 sheet. Now, carefully cut out the sketches from each page and tape them together. This is quite an arduous step but be patient: after this, you will have all 7 pattern pieces you need to construct The Kimono.
Cutting the Fabric
Next, cut out your chosen fabric using the patterns. Note that the pattern pieces are numbered (refer to Pattern Instructions page 2). Ideally, you should follow the straight grain when placing your patterns on your fabric to ensure the finished garment hangs beautifully. I had to make adjustments as I had limited fabric material.
Cut 2 pieces of the following:
- Pattern #1 (Front and Back Bodice)
- Pattern #3 (the Back bodice facing)
- Pattern #4 (the Front bodice fabric flap) and
- Pattern #5 (the Sleeves).
Cut 1 piece of the following:
- Pattern #2 (Back panel)
- Pattern #6 and (the collar/lapel)
- Pattern # 7 (the collar/lapel)
Transferring the Markings
Next, transfer ALL the markings you see on the patterns to your fabric – the notches, the lines, the letters, the littlest dot. This step is crucial as without these markings, you will find it hard to execute the folds correctly and the back of your jacket may end up like crumpled paper instead of an origami masterpiece. This is how mine looked like (note: I made the markings on the RIGHT side of my fabric as I wanted to see them as I worked. If you do this, make sure you use tailor’s chalk or washable ink lest your final garment look like an architect’s blueprint).
Now let’s decipher the enigmatic Pattern Instructions:
1. Back bodice. Stitch back panel of 2 to 1 matching the notches, as shown below
2. Facing. Stitch the short ends of 3 together to create a back facing as shown below:
3. Stitch 3 along the bottom of 1 and 2, right sides together and turn the right way round and press flat. Translation: Attach the facing to the bottom of your back bodice ( #1 and #2), right sides together, as shown below:
4. On piece 1 bring together all the dots marked A, stitch together firstly the short A lines, then the long one, to create a bust dart.
5. Points C and Y – fold down the top C and Y to meet the bottom C and Y, matching C with C and Y with Y and stitch at the armhole.
I was in limbo after reading Steps 4 and 5 so I did the following instead (please refer to the photo below):
- Bring the two short A lines together by folding along the broken lines indicated by the red arrows (with the crease towards you). To secure this fold, stitch along the line where the short A lines meet.
- Now, bring the fold down following the directions of the maroon arrows, such that the two ‘Cs’ end up touching on top of each other. This also ensures that the two ‘Ys’ will be on top of each other, though not touching.
- Lastly, bring the two long A lines together by folding along the middle line in the triangle and following the direction of the blue arrow.
After steps #4 and #5, you should have something like this:
6. Shoulder Dart. Fold together the notches at the shoulder line to create a dart and stitch closed at the armhole. (This is about the clearest step in this whole thing!)
Now, for the fun part! Advanced origami skills needed here :-). Go to the back bodice and study your markings. I’m terribly sorry but I got carried away at this point and forgot to take photos so I will use my paper patterns to illustrate the steps. If you follow the instructions to the letter and fold carefully along the markings, you will get the desired origami effect. It also helped me a lot referring to this and this to make sure that I am going in the right direction.
Note 1: These steps almost glide into each other so remember that you may have to do some of them simultaneously.
Note 2: The subsequent steps ask that you stitch between the points. I did all these stitchings on the wrong side of the fabric, so they are all hidden.
Let’s start with the left side of the bodice.
7. Point P – create dart with matching dots on line opposite and stitch. (The fold should be on the wrong side of the fabric as this is a dart and should be hidden)
8. Points R and D – Match up point R with R and D with D, and stitch between them.
9. Points N and T – match up point N with N and T with T, and stitch between them. (Refer to photo below, red arrows)
10. Points N and O – match N with N and O with O, stitch up from N to next dot up and down from O about 5cm. Again, from right to left, bring points N and O together. Points N and O at the left should be at the bottom. (Refer to photo below, green arrows)
11. Point M – From right to left, match M with M and stitch 1cm along line. (Refer to photo below, purple arrows)
Points X are your guides. Make sure they are aligned to ensure you get the shape right.
12. Stitch the dart with M at the top closed to dot below point. ( I didn’t do this step as I couldn’t find the bl _ _dy dart after step #11! If you did, please let me know!)
13. Point G – From right to left, match G with G and stitch to the 2nd dot down.
14. Point S – fold 1 flat against 2 along the seam, right sides together and stitch from point S to 3 dots down.
What I did:
- Locate the notches on the back panel (Pattern no. 2, two notches at the neckline and two at the bottom).
- Fold along the thin purple line and bring the left neckline notch to point S, again following directions of the red arrow.
- Stitch from Point S to 3 dots down.
Now, remember that we have only done the left bodice part. Repeat steps #7 to #14 on the right side of the bodice.
15. Press all sections flat. You should have something like this.
16. Stitch side seams trapping 3 in between. Translation: Bring the front and the back bodices (with the facing at the bottom) right sides together and stitch the side seams close. It would be a good idea to hem the front bodice at this point
I should have done this ages ago, but better late than never! Here are some clear photos of how the origami back looks at the wrong side and how I secured it in places.
Steps #17 to #19 confused the h**l out of me so let me share what I did instead.
- Take one piece of Pattern No. 4, fold in half vertically right sides together (Fig. 1)
- Stitch 1cm across the flat end, and turn right side out. (Fig 2) Now do the same on the other piece. Press flat.
- Attach these panels to either side of the front bodice opening using a simple top stitch, matching the notches, as shown in Fig. 3.
Continuous Collar/ Lapel
20. Stitch 6 and 7 together at the short ends with 1cm notches. Fold length ways and press.
21. Stitch strip to the neckline and down the front, with 7 on the left side, matching the notches.
22. Fold the ends of 6 and 7 right sides together and stitch across the bottom and remaining side.
23. Turn the ends the right way round.
24. Stitch the other side of 6 and 7 to the neckline and front on the inside.
To make steps 20-24 simpler, please look at the diagram below:
- With right sides together, stitch 6 and 7 together at the ends where the 1cm notches are.
- Again, with right sides together, fold the strip horizontally in half and press.
- Make a 1cm seam at both ends, marked by the thin red lines.
- Turn the strip right side out and press at the seams. You are now ready to attach the strip to the bodice by following step 21 and 24.
Sleeves. To make the sleeves, just follow the remaining instructions. I think they are clear enough for us mortal seamstresses 🙂
25. Stitch sleeve (5) seams together.
26. For the sleeve edge fold 1cm over and top stitch.
27. Match up sleeve notches in the armhole and stitch from the first set of double notches to the second set of double notches leaving the underarm free.
28. Fold in 1cm on the armhole and sleeve hole and top stitch.
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Whew! That’s it! I hope this helps you with your own Kimono adventure! Please, do share your finished projects by sending me an email or leaving a link/comment. I would love to see them!
If you like this tutorial, please share with your friends by linking back to the blog.
Till the next adventure, fellow stitch addicts!