Plu size DIY Kimono, sewing without a pattern

I've been admiring kimono cardigans online for weeks now, and wanting to add at least one to my wardrobe. (I'm using the term "kimono" in the way it's used in current fashion -- a simple drapey jacket, duster or coat, largely constructed of rectangles -- rather than in the authentic Japanese way).


There are lots of kimono sewing tutorials out there but none especially for plus sizes. (I was especially amused by the one that cuts a T-shaped piece of fabric out of one width of material -- after leaving enough room for my magnificent body, this would give me a kimono with 3 inch long sleeves :))

This one is probably closest to the tutorial on Elle Apparel, although I think mine makes putting on the sleeves easier :) And mine doesn't have an extra shirt tail of fabric on the back (although that might not be a bad idea ...)

I had about three metres of a really lovely, slightly crinkled fine woven fabric in my stash, in a rich, orange, grey, green and black paisley print. I had bought it last season for a dress, but decided that it would be perfect for my first kimono! It's definitely got the exotic, boho feel I want.

Love this paisley pattern! The main colour is a super-saturated dark orange that's only a few steps from a tomato red.
This kind of kimono is made of 5 rectangles -- one big one for the back, another equal one, split vertically for the two front sides and two equal, smaller ones for the sleeves.

I'm a US 3X or 22/24 so this kimono is made to fit me.  It would actually work on a 4X, size 26 as well. It's roomy :)

1. Cut or rip a length of fabric that equals the length of garment you want. I used a 36" length. I took 2.5 inches off each side giving me a rectangle measuring 36" long by 40" wide (I originally thought I could use the full width of the fabric -- this gave me a really enormous and unflatteringly wide kimono :))

2. Cut or rip a second equal length and width, then cut or rip it in half vertically giving you two rectangles 36" long by 20" wide.

3. Sew the back to the fronts at the shoulders, leaving room for your neck. I left 4" on each side of the centre front opening.

I ripped a 16' wide strip of fabric from my left over piece and then ripped it in half giving me two 16" by 22.5" rectangles. These will be my sleeves.

5. I found the centre of these rectangles and put a pin in place to remind me where that centre was (you could also make a little notch in the fabric). I pinned the sleeves to the kimono, matching the centre of the sleeve to the shoulder seam, and sewed the sleeves on.

I then turned the sleeves out. 

Folding the kimono in half along the shoulder seam, right sides together, I sewed the bottom of the sleeves together, then turned the corner and sewed the side seam of the kimono. 

I tried on the kimono at this point, danced around for a while and and then hemmed the sleeves and the bottom edges.

8. The last edge to finish is the centre front/neck.  You could shape this edge and then bind it with either self binding or contrast. You could make a facing. Or you could do what I did: I turned in the front edge from the side of the neck opening to the centre front to create a straight line and trimmed off the excess fabric.  I then turned in the edge twice to contain the raw edge and hemmed all the way around the front opening and back of the neck. After pressing, this looked just fine to me.

Here's how it looks at the end of today. I'm going to buy some fringed trim for the bottom edge, partly to give it a little weight (that will bring out the drapey-ness of the fabric) and partly because it looks extra bohemian that way!


Unknown said…
Love it, nice and easy
Carol Dee said…
Very pretty, I would love to se it on you! :) And I think it might fit me! Saving directions , thank You.
sunnysmith703 said…
...hmm...with a black maxi dress or column skirt, some funky jewelry, sandals, and an anklet...yup...I can see me in this! Thank you for the inspiration...Be Blessed!
i've got a couple of sari with lovely embroidered bands. I'm going to see if the width will work!
lsl said…
I love your kimono and think it would make wonderful Christmas gifts for a couple of my friends. However, I was wondering if you could tell me how to downsize the pattern to fit smaller sizes. I am a 1X but I think my friend would be an XL or L. Is there a formula that would apply? Thanks for sharing your talent!
Nena said…
Thank you for posting this tutorial WITH diagram! I am a "visual" person and never understand written patterns until I can see a diagram or pictorial along with it. This kimono is lovely and I will try to make this out of some leftover yardage I have of silky fabric I bought three years ago. If this comes out as well as I think it will, I will be making a whole bunch more for my wardrobe! Thanks again for sharing!
Unknown said…
I've been wanting to make this style kimono for a long time, but never was satisfied with the DIY's I've found on line. Your's makes sense! I am going to make one this weekend with one change....I think I will make the armholes deeper (or longer, as the case may be). Wish me luck! Thank you for sharing this with us. Would love to see you wearing this with the added fringe you suggested!
Unknown said…
This is so beautiful! Great job. Do you think an African waxed cotton would be too stiff to make this with? Thanks, db
regina said…
New to sewing and want to make this.. How many yards of material do I need, approx?
Unknown said…
Eek! Mine is in progress as I type...excited, but terrified, as it's my first 'thing' to sew without a complete pattern ๐Ÿ™ƒ
Vilma said…
You did an absolutely beautiful job
Unknown said…
I made this over the weekend and I LOVE it!! I had to trim the arms down a little bit - I looked like Batman. I cut it out and pinned it on Saturday and sewed on Sunday. Only took a few hours (and I am a very new beginner - this is the first thing I made for myself!) and it's just lovely. I'm going to make another one. Thank you so much for the tutorial and pattern!!!
blog said…
I was absolutely clueless as to how to make this for a cosplay. Thanks for giving me great visuals on how to execute this! It really helped alot!!
Thanks for your pattern..I've made my own and am making more! I start by cutting for jelly roll quilt (or buying precut..), stitching it all up then recurring to size. Living in NW USA, I line with flannel..and I get lots of compliments! I'd send you a photo or post one if I couod!!
Unknown said…
Thank you for this tutorial! I just made it today and I love it, I'll definitely be making more of them cause it's perfect for summer! ๐Ÿ˜
Lawn Lobster said…
This is brilliant! What a simple way to add sleeves. This will help with my knitting too! Thanks!
HappyJoy said…
My thanks as well! I, too, was frustrated by finding this pattern for us larger ladies, and although I am an experienced seamstress, I didn’t want to guess and waste expensive fabric.
Fashion Schlub said…
Wow, I think even I and The Sewing Machine of Death could make this! And my sewing machine HATES ME!

I stumbled across this post just googling Kimono, not even considering MAKING one...but now I need to search your blog more to see if have any other projects that look do-able by me and you-know-who.

Brenda said…
Hello, You have just made my day! I have been searching the internet for quite awhile looking for a tutorial on sewing a Kimono that is not only simple (yes, there are many out in blog land) but most important....easy to understand the instructions! In all honesty, yes there are a few available. But while reading yours every step just clicked and I knew that making this garment was going to be so much fun now! Plus, the special fabric that I have bought and saved for my 3 daughters can finally be used and I will be making myself several. Thank you so much! I hope that you have a magnificent day!
Thank you so much for posting a free pattern
for us plus size women.
Can’t tell you how happy I was when I found you !!
Lots of hugs and good wishes!!
Keep posting sewing ! I’m just learning to
sew cloths. It’s been really hard to try
and teach myself. With ppl like you
to help me along I may just get something made!!
Silly NayNay said…
Thank you sooooo much for the free pattern and instructions for a plus size kimono (we're the same size)!! Yours seems to be best one I have found. Easy instructions too!! I can see several of these in my near future : D Thanks again!!
Hi! Thank you for the share this information. This is very useful information for online blog review readers. Keep it up such a nice posting like this.
Pattern Making Software and Tailor App
Unknown said…
Thank you so much for sharing this pattern...for free even. It makes me so happy! I'm fairly new to sewing and have made everyone else something but nothing for myself. I've been dying to do a kimono but didn't want to guess what size to make it then pray it would fit. It's the exact size I need and your diagrams and instructions make it so simple to follow. I think it'll look great with the fringe too. I can't wait to get started!
Kaz said…
Unreal. Thanku so much. So easy to follow with your excellent pics. Much appreciated. Cheers Kaz ๐Ÿ˜Š
DeAnna said…
Hey everyone! I'm trying to find a simple flowy blouse pattern, preferably free, in a size 3X. I'm having trouble finding one on line because all the ones I do find want you to signed up to their site and pay a monthly fee. Anyone seen anything like what I'm looking for? Thanks!
Kitty said…
Thank you so much for sharing this pattern...for free even. It makes me so happy that you have
made it in the bigger size . It is not easy to find patterns for larger ladies

Lauri said…
I have sheets leftover from my wedding 40 plus years ago. We had much smaller bodies and bed back I'm seeing roses and strawberries on my robes and nice heavy cotton.
Unknown said…
Thanks for this tutorial. I love your kimono. I love this style very much, I am on the
SHORT side, so being able to make the length to fit me works so much better than the
patterns on sale, or the premade kimonos (they are about floor length on me!). I am
saving this tutorial and am on my way to fabric store this week. Thanks again.
Very Informative, thanks for shearing it. small sewing machine
ShirleyC said…
Thanks for this pattern. I am using half inch size hexagons. Wish me luck

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