Saturday, May 25, 2019


Kenroku-en Garden in Kanazawa, Japan
In the Hanamikoj Dori neighbourhood,
What a beautiful and interesting place! We had a wonderful holiday, looking at interesting gardens, visiting temples and shrines, tramping around various cities and seeing the sights, and of course, shopping.

Fabric makes the best souvenir, right? I didn't study prior to our trip or map out every single wonderful fabric shopping excursion because I knew I would not get away with dragging my husband and friends to fabric stores every day. And we were travelling around so I didn't want to increase the weight of my suitcase too much (or break out the auxiliary bag before the last minute). Also, I have a stash and augmenting it is something I try to be careful about.

But I could not resist those second-hand kimonos! (I did also buy fabric, that's for another post...)

I was especially taken with one cotton kimono - the print is made (I believe) in a process whereby the warp and weft threads are dyed before the cloth is woven. I knew this as Ikat but in Japan the technique is called kasuri. The background is clearly indigo but the print also has a medium blue, green, pale aqua and dots of bright yellow and red. The lining was red cotton broadcloth.

I bought this for the fabric, not to wear the kimono, and I took it apart almost right away. Kimonos are hand-sewn so it was pretty simple to pull out the running stitches. Kimonos are made with narrow fabric (13-14" or 33-35cm wide) and the selvedges are left intact. So once disassembled, I had lengths of  very usable, although narrow, fabric. Two body lengths were about 11 ft or 350 cm long and the sleeve pieces were 33" (85cm) long. The other parts of the kimono are narrower (the front overlap panels and the collar) but all are rectangular. There is only one cut into the fabric - a slit for the neck.

It didn't appear that this kimono had ever been laundered (apparently the process involves taking the kimono apart, washing it and then reassembling) because by the time I finished, my hands were completely blue from the indigo dye. While I had no issues washing the fabric by machine, I decided not to risk the dryer (fear of crocking because the tumbling action would turn my skinny strips into twisted ropes) and hung it out to dry. So pretty!

I decided I wanted to turn this kimono into breezy pants. At first I was toying with very wide Japanese-style pants (Hakama). But then I realized that the new Simone pattern from Jalie would be perfect, and more wearable.

Simone is one of the just-released Jalies. I had tested some of these (including Simone) before the release so I was familiar with the pattern. Its advantage for my kimono fabric is that it is designed for non-stretch wovens (this cotton has zero stretch) and the main pattern pieces are straight up and down with minimal curves.

Inside - view of added strip
When I traced my size (I chose size U based on my hip measurement, even though my waist is size S), I realized that the pants back piece was a bit wider than my fabric. No problem! I placed the side seam on the selvedge and added a narrow strip at the inseam. I was able to match the pattern so the seam is basically invisible.

To my surprise and pleasure, the front pattern piece was almost *exactly* the same width as my fabric. Minimal cutting was required, which also made me happy.

The assembly method instructed in the pattern is a bit different from what you might choose to do, left to your own devices. However, Jalie instructions are always thoughtful and I followed them with one exception. That is, when sewing pants (other than jeans) I prefer to sew the full crotch curve last instead of assembling the front and back completely, then sewing the inseams in one pass. The reason is that the pants fall better if the crotch seam allowances are not flattened by sewing over them.

To reflect the fact that my pattern pieces were two sizes bigger than required for my waist measurement, I cut the back elastic for size S and also took a slightly bigger side seam in the fronts only, tapering from near the bottom of the pocket. The completed pants are not super easy to pull on, but they are extremely easy to wear and I think they look pretty good.