Idea Log: Indigo kimono jacket

Idea Log: Indigo kimono jacket

Two years ago, at the late-lamented Stitches South, I bought a piece of African indigo cloth from Veronika of YOTH. I posted a pic of it on Instagram, and got an incredible range of suggestions for what to do with it (including making a window shade, which would be amazing), but I’ve always pictured it as a kimono. A few weeks earlier, I had seen this photo of Ariele Alasko in an indigo kimono, followed shortly by a reference to this older tutorial for a quickie kimono, and the universe seemed to be trying to tell me something. I studied the dimensions in the tutorial and my fabric, did some diagramming and adjusting, and came within inches of cutting it … but my scissors literally hung in the air above the fabric, my brain unable to convince my hand to clamp the blades down on it. That “pattern” is the sort of thing where you just sew two pieces of fabric together halfway up the back, and the slit becomes the back of neck. It would be a fun and defensible thing to do with a less precious piece of fabric, but I knew I’d regret doing it with this. I wanted a proper garment. And was pondering pockets, of course. Always with the pockets. So I decided to wait, and think on it, and see if the desire would fade.

Meanwhile, it’s mostly been draped over the daybed in my living room, where Darla has enjoyed shedding on it liberally. Thankfully, it washes up beautifully!

The whole plan sprung back into my head in the past few days due to encountering two images on the web, again in close proximity: One being Liesl Gibson’s new Butterick B6464 kimono pattern; the second being this quilted linen kimono jacket by 7115 that is really just too good for words. (I mean: Quilted. Linen. With those pockets? Must have.) So now I’m fantasizing about tinkering with Liesl’s pattern a tiny bit, drafting some big pockets, and finally turning this bit of cloth into the kimono I’ve been dreaming of. Just need to figure out if there’s enough of it … and if I remember how to sew.


PREVIOUSLY in Idea Log: Cowichan-style cardigan, take two

41 thoughts on “Idea Log: Indigo kimono jacket

  1. Oh!! The quilted linen kimono jacket is absolutely heavenly…but some tightening up (just a wee bit) is in order), no?

  2. I’m also considering a linen kimono for summer, and my main reference is the Emma Kimono by Elizabeth Suzann. I’m thinking of Seamwork’s Almada as a base.
    But, when I saw your drawing and fabric choice, I immediately thought of a French pattern called Marana, which I have seen made in a beautiful indigo fabric somewhere on the internet.
    Then, when you started writing about quilting, I immediately wanted to sew a Tamarack jacket (I mean right now!).
    So, all I can say is, please, can you stop writing such inspirational posts, it makes me reorganize my project list every time ;-)

  3. thank you for this post! I’ve been dreaming about a denim kimono for a long time. I’ve been thinking about drafting one too since the beauty of kimonos are their pure simplicity and basic shape. I do get tempted to buy one offered by Toast or Caron Callahan, etc. I’m looking forward to seeing what you create. I know it’ll be a beauty and totally inspiring.

  4. That will be lovely. Looking at the LG drawing, I thought the sleeves looked too slim for a kimono, but the photos of the made up jacket look just right. Hidden portions of big pockets can also save main fabric. You have wise scissors.

  5. Couple of thoughts.
    First thank you for introducing me to 7115. And many others that I have never written to you about. Your blog is a real gateway for me.
    Secondly, if you are unsure about a pattern like the quickie kimono do it first in a less expensive fabric. What they call a muslin in the business. Only I use a wearable fabric -why do all that work with nothing to show for it.
    And lastly quilted clothing warning:the act of quilting ducks up the yardage so cut it out with extra large seam allowances , quilt it ( I am imaging hand quilting in a shashiko pattern) then lay out the pattern pieces and re cut it .

  6. OMG, I so want an Indigo fabric Kimono! Indigo makes me happy every time I see that very special color. Finding it maybe tricky (the fabric) but now you’ve posted a pattern! And I’m guessing there will be lots of other suggestions made here. I’m checking them all out.

  7. I’ve been thinking about how to DIY an elizabeth suzann emma kimono in black linen. I saw this person’s kimono jacket on IG

    and it’s this pattern:

    although the lisette pattern looks simpler to accomplish. I was going to take apart a self-drafted top (dolman sleeves, lots of ease, boatneck) and cut it down the front, add a facing and drop sleeves.

    we’ll see if I ever get to it!!!

  8. Karen – are you familiar with Tessuti, an Australian fabric and pattern company? ( Based on the styles you highlight in your blog, I think you would like many of their patterns. Check out the “Tokyo” jacket – it seems to have many of the details you are looking for in a kimono-style jacket. Their patterns are available as pdf’s – a bit of effort to print and paste them together, but I’ve had good luck with them. (The postage costs from Australia for their hard copy patterns are crazy high.)

  9. Of course there is the ‘authentic kimono pattern that Folkwear sells.
    You could modify this fairly easily. I have loved all of the comments and have clicked on every one. I have Vogue 1493 in my collection and have been wanting to cut it out in silk and paint on some of the panels before sewing. It sits forlornly in my studio. Whatever you do, make it in some inexpensive and cute fabric first (a muslin).

  10. Karen, you are in my brain! I have just last week acquired a gorgeous piece of vintage African indigo and I’m not sure I can ever cut it. But the indigo kimonos might be a good reason why. And that link to the one quilted with pockets–divine. I just tagged you on IG but wonder if you also know Mira Blackman’s work. Her African indigo fabrics made into garments are swoon-worthy. I owe you an email. Hi! xoxo

    • Omigod that site is AMAZING. I ordered this pattern largely because I want to make the pants! But there are lots of others I’m dying to try. Thanks so much for pointing me to it!

  11. There’s the Victoria blazer, too — pretty unstructured so less classic kimono, but seems to fit the profile you’ve drawn of straight sides. The neck band and sleeves could be altered pretty easily, but clearly more effort involved in setting in the sleeves. ( It seems like you’ll have to decide how narrow you want the shoulders to actually be, given what I recall to be your lack of preference for drop shoulders on knits. Clearly a sewn garment is different, but Japanese kimonos at least are more highly structured than one might think. Searching for happi coats might also be useful (

    And thanks to those who posted the Tokyo jacket! The pockets would be quiet easy to embiggen.

  12. Indigo yardage was all over the African Village of the Tucson gem show this year. I bought a nice piece with short fringe at either end – I think I will cut and re-piece it so it’s longer and narrower and wear it as a scarf.

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