Sunday, 27 April 2014

Completed: Liberty Kimono

Hello! I'm still hanging in there. As of today I am 38 weeks so still a bit to go. And still sewing!

My friend Lorna and I had a Crafternoon planned for last Tuesday. Lorna sews home dec and soft furnishings, for a living, specialising in curtains, cushions and gorgeous appliqued gifts. It was all good in theory, and I duly packed my machine, sewing stuff and even my overlocker into the boot of the car, but events conspired against us, and it turned into more of a Chat-and-eat-ernoon instead. We should have known better seeing as we haven't seen each other for a few weeks, we had lunch and cake to eat, and she had a brand new 10 week old puppy for me to meet! Unsurprisingly, not a stitch was sewn. We did have a bit of sewing chat though - her asking for my advice on how to refashion her daughter's old dress into a skirt - and me asking for her advice on how to make piping, so it wasn't all lost.

So, Lorna will be reading this, fully expecting a post about the chair cushions I had planned to work on (and pipe) that afternoon. And instead, although this has already been given away by my post title - I have made a kimono! Eh, what?

I did say back in this post, that I had wanted to make a lightweight dressing gown to wear in hospital. I had kind of forgotten about it, until recently Kirsty from Top Notch made the same one.

The pattern came from The Liberty Book of Home Sewing, which, funnily enough, Lorna gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago. It's a beautiful book, but this is the first thing I've made from it.The biggest turn off as far as the book is concerned is that it doesn't come with any patterns: you have to draft them.

Actually once I got down to it, the drafting wasn't that bad. I used centimetre squared dressmaking paper (like this), which I already had, and basically copied the "technical drawing" in the book, which was also printed on a grid. It was pretty straightforward. The idea of it was much worse than the reality.

I "drafted" the pattern on Wednesday, and then went fabric shopping. I went with a fairly open mind, not necessarily wanting Liberty fabric (i.e. hoping to find something cheaper) but of course, that was the thing that jumped out at me. The fabric is Liberty Tana Lawn, from Mandors, and was labelled as Abstract Blue Rose. I've done a quick Google search, but haven't found it so not sure what it's official name is, nor the history of the design. I deliberated for a while in the shop over various contrasting and co-ordinating fabrics for the trim. I really wanted 2 co-ordinating prints, but nothing looked right. Eventually I settled for this solid lightweight cotton. In the shop it looked quite purple-y, picking up the little purple spot in the middle of the flowers, but since I got it home it has looked much browner, which is how it has photographed. It gives the kimono more of a masculine feel but I still really like it. And the purple/brown fabric is actually shot with pink, albeit not that obviously.

Pretty good match, non?
I like to imagine there are little zebras hidden in there.
You can just about see the pink in this photo.
The make was really straightforward. The only changes I made were to add in-seam pockets and a hanging loop, and using French seams throughout (yep, including those pockets, using this tutorial). I finished the front and cuff bands by hand.
My first every rouleau as belt loops
I made a third rouleau to use as a hanging loop
French seamed in-seam pockets! So, so proud!
I completed the majority of it on Thursday. With the handsewing finished across Thursday and Friday evening in front of Masterchef. I was sewing slowly as I've had quite a bit of back pain this week, so I tried to keep moving while sewing, mixing up cutting and sitting at the machine with standing to press. As a result I took the long and probably less logical route. I didn't even cut it out in one go. But that was infinitely preferable to rushing it. I am immensly proud of this make. The insides are so pretty!!!

My only gripe, other than drafting my own pattern, is the sizing. It's one size, which the book describes as a "comfortable UK size 12". Now, I know I am pregnant, but even so, I expected it to be bigger - a size 12 is 2 sizes bigger than my normal size and this barely meets over my tum. It will fit me once the baby is born and is comfortable, but to me a dressing gown or kimono should be oversized, not snug - the lounging lady in the book (pic at the top of this post) would certainly suggest that. My old M&S size small towelling dressing gown fits me, 38 weeks pregnant belly and everything, with room to spare! It's not an issue, but something to be aware of if you were planning to make this. I can't tell you the number of times I have checked the measurements and seam allowances.

It was a joy returning to sewing with cotton. I have enjoyed the knit sewing I've been doing recently, but cotton is and always will be my favourite. It's just so easy!

Now, I know it's always much better to see finished garments worn. But since this currently looks a bit ridiculous on me, I decided to embrace the ridiculousness and so Small Boy and I embarked on a photo shoot! Bear with us on this one. I did deliberate over whether to use these photos, but figured if Nessa can post a photo of herself in a slip, I can do it in a dressing gown. However if I ever decide to look for a new job, this part of the post may disappear...

With our PJs, our dressing gowns and our teddies (and yes, that's my original 1970's teddy bear I am holding!)

Pockets in action!
And just in case you think I wake up looking like that - I don't! This was after my shower, I have my normal make up on, I have "post-hairdressers" hair (from yesterday), and I am wearing underwear (top and bottom!). Small Boy on the other hand, really does look that cute, and lively, when he wakes up! :)


  1. It looks gorgeous, that fabric is amazing. I have that book but have never made anything from it but I like the look of your dressing gown more than my fluffy cow print one so I might have to give it a try! Love the photos of you and Small Boy, so cute!

    1. Thanks Alison! It is worth making, and no one else in the hospital will have the same one!

  2. This is so luxurious looking! Congratulations on your tidy finishes - I can't even begin to imagine how to french seam a pocket!
    I love a dressing gown and totally agree with you that it should be oversized, enough to get the front flaps folded right over to the other side.
    AND... love your brave photos of nightwear ! Small boy looks so sweet, you look so pretty, and you're so cosy together. I like your idea about future proofing your blog! I too may take my slip post down at some stage in the future, but for now we can live with it!

    1. Thanks Nessa! It was actually very easy to French seam once I got my head around it - actually very obvious, bit I could never have worked it out myself!

  3. it's gorgeous! and i wouldn't worry about pj pics - think of all the people who sewed along with karen's pj party a while back! you look great. not long to go now!

    1. Oh, I know it's not that much of a big deal, just weird when you spend too much time thinking about it!

  4. Fabulous Helen - as usual I am very impressed.....
    I have altered the skirt fairly successfully (it doesn't look nearly as pretty inside, mind you!) and made a cover for an unusual shaped window seat. Think both you and SB looking amazing. Good luck this week x Lorna

  5. Oh it's lovely. Very elegant! I want to treat myself to some liberty print sometime, as I hear it's such great quality and easy to sew, too. That is very useful information for anyone who owns the book about sizing - it's one of the things I really find quite tricky at the moment as there is such a huge variation between books, magazines and patterns. Wouldn't it be great if a size 12 was a size 12 every where? Anyway, I think this was an ideal thing to make at your stage of pregnancy as you can use it now and later. I loved your cheerful pictures and I hope it all goes well for you and the babe x

    1. Definitely worth trying. Liberty tana lawn is sooo lovely to sew with (and wear). Yes, it would be lovely if everyone agreed what a size 12 should look like, but shops don't even manage that within their own ranges, sadly! I guess normally I would have measured it, but for something I expected to be largish, it didn't even occur to me!

  6. You will look smashing in hospital, well done. It is a beautiful make, no wonder you are proud. Small boy looks very cute modelling with you too.

  7. Ha ha! Not sure that "fabulous" will be the word I would use, but I will FEEL better, which will definitely help! X

  8. Oh, it's just lovely - that's the way to make lounging look elegant! And your photo shoot is too sweet for words...

  9. Hi
    The print is called Philippa zebra and it was made as a seasonal print in 2011. I found your blog post when I was looking to buy some. It looks like a great dressing gown. Hope everything went well.

  10. I've just drafted the pattern for this and hadn't even thought about adding pockets, definitely going to do that now though!


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