I was asked by a co-worker at the day job if I could recreate a favorite garment. It seems the co-worker’s significant other had purchased him a casual kimono while on a trip to Japan. The garment had become a treasured item and has been worn almost daily. He wondered if I could make him some more exactly like it with a few minor adjustments. I always like a challenge and have an interest in Japanese garments so I agreed. Sure, I thought, I should be able to do it. My research led me to this book, Make Your Own Japanese Clothes: Patterns and Ideas for Modern Wear. I borrowed this book from my library and found it to be an invaluable resource. Unfortunately, the publisher has closed their doors. On mentioning the book, the client agreed to purchase the book for me as a down payment. Happily, I agreed and received the book a few days later. The client brought me the beloved kimono, gave me precise instruction on fit, and suggested preferred fabric colors and weight.
After careful study, I found that the kimono is in fact styled in a very Americanized manor, not like traditional Japanese garments. It has shoulder seams, a narrower collar width, and shaping more akin to American menswear. “Frankenpatterning” was my best idea at the time. I used traditional Japanese methods of patterndrafting from the book but used the client’s measurements. The book is excellent for assisting with patterndrafting but it lacks the construction detail that I am accustomed to seeing in sewing patterns, in particular location and construction of the self-fabric ties. Considering myself an intermediate sewist, I constructed the new kimono in a storm-grey cotton.
The resulting kimono was beautiful on a clothes hanger. The client was pleased with the color and the fabric weight. It was after the client tried it on that my mistakes became horribly obvious. Two of the four self-ties did not match up resulting in a front that gapped and was unwearable. I could not in good conscience let anything that looked that bad leave my studio. Another co-worker agreed the fit was indeed “horrible”. So I’m going back to the studio with the original garment in hand and the intentions of drafting a pattern based solely on the treasured kimono while planning on another pattern mashup adventure in the near future.