Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A Contemporary Kimono

I have long been enamored of the traditional kimono shape. I have made many, usually from the Folkwear pattern, Japanese Field Clothing. It is composed strictly of rectangles, a conventional Japanese kimono construction.

Recently I've seen a plethora of posts on Instagram for the Wiksten Kimono. I resisted ordering the pattern as long as I possibly could. After all, what could be so different in a kimono pattern?

Ultimately I fell under the Wiksten spell after seeing one image after another of this kimono on Instagram. There are a ga-zillion of them, all lovely, IMO.  Wiksten patterns are produced by a designer out of Oregon. She has a few patterns, but I am certain that nothing has sold like the Wiksten.

It took about 10 days to arrive. The Wiksten is nicely drafted, unconstrained by a need to rely on rectangles and so is different from a Japanese kimono. The front and backs are curved out at the armcyes. Also the shoulder line is sloped in a more natural fashion than a typical kimono. And the sleeve is slightly shaped to reduce the amount of bulk under the arm.

Fabric came from stash - a medium brown washed linen for the face fabric and a plaid linen for the lining. The Wiksten is intended to be fully lined. It is lined in a manner appropriate for a reversible garment though I'll not reverse mine.

The pattern has 3 suggested lengths. I chose the longest one which is about three-quarter length. I chose my size based on my hip measurement as that is the most crucial one for me.

Once I had the pattern pieces prepared, it was pretty straight-forward to cut out and make.

The lining is sewn to the face fabric on the lower hem first. It called for under-stitching to keep the lining from peeking out. I used the standard bag lining procedure for sewing the sleeve hems. The band was stitched to the remaining raw edges, then wrapped onto itself and slip-stitched in place.

When worn, the band/collar folds back on itself, creating 4 layers of fabric. The sleeves are long enough to create a fold-up cuff. Due to these 2 features, the lining is highlighted as trim.

At first I thought it was much too heavy. But that was simply because the weather has been so warm here. As soon as we got a cold snap, I was totally in love with this piece.

And it provided a nice canvas for sashiko, always a plus. I have a number of stencils for sashiko and chose the hemp leaf one. The brown linen was dark enough to use a white powder pounce to mark the pattern. It rubbed off as I sewed, sometimes before I wanted it gone.

I may add some more stitching. There is still space. I enjoy having a project to wear that is still a work-in-progress.

So, have you fallen under the Wiksten spell yet?

Thursday, October 18, 2018


The Sewing Workshop re-issued the Bells and Whistles pattern just a year ago according to my copy. But it's been around a while. I see reviews dating back to 2008. It contains two very different blouses. I was mostly drawn to the Whistles version initially, especially after I saw one of their samples in that style.

When I found this lovely soft cotton lawn at Gail K, I figured it would make a great version of one of these tops. At this point I don't remember why, but I selected Bells instead of Whistles. I will continue to long for a Whistles version.

This blouse is, I think, one of the most fitted patterns ever published by the Sewing Workshop. The sides seams are quite shapely and the back has 4 (!) vertical darts. The hem is curved in a very girly fashion. All of this makes me wonder if I'll enjoy wearing it. Oh, yes, I will. I promise.

As you can probably tell in the picture, the left and right front pattern pieces are quite different in order to create the angled closure. The pattern contains two sets of button bands, one set following the more expected center-front vertical placement. I omitted the vertical set and kept the button bands that follow the curve of each front piece. It seemed to me that there was already plenty going on in this design and that I'd be happier with one fewer design element.

It has a single epaulet on the right shoulder that balances the asymmetry formed by the button bands. And the sleeves are quite different too, with the button bands and the cuffs. These 3 elements presented a fun opportunity to use a contrasting cotton fabric. I also used the contrast as the under collar and the under collar band.

My contrast fabric is a bit more beefy than the soft cotton lawn. This worked out fine as I was able to skip the interfacing that I would have needed otherwise.

Overall I am pretty pleased with the result and look forward to wearing it. Isn't the pattern fun? Calculus was the last math course I really loved when I pursued my mathematics degree at the University of Texas. So this is a small tribute to that.

So what's on your cutting table?