Sunday, May 30, 2010

Kimono Reform to Burda Jacket

This jacket in the April issue of Burda Style caught my eye.



The style of this jacket, waist length with a band and shirt type sleeves is what I have always referred to as a “battle jacket”. At least that is what we called in back in the early 70’s when my mom made me one, and a matching skirt, out of purple velvet. It was my piano recital outfit. (I hated recitals!) Burda showed the jacket made in a snakeskin embossed fabric and the copy reads. “Our short blouson jacket with buckled band collar, hem band, and wide lapels is very daring indeed. You’ll be dangerously sexy in the shimmering, beige/brown reptile print.”
I didn’t particularly like the brown snakeskin fabric, but it got me thinking about the other colors in snake skins; greens, grays, yellows, and it reminded me of fabric I had in my stash. It was a jacquard weave of grayed greens and yellows in an abstract diamond pattern. And many snakes’ skins have diamond patterns. I also liked that the wide lapels of the jacket were sewn on, instead of cut on, because the fabric was very narrow. There’s an illustrated sewing course for this jacket in the supplement which was very helpful. I tried to use my bodice sloper to adjust the pattern for my unique shape, but I still ended up making a lot of fitting adjustments while sewing it together. In the mean time, based on Vicki's and Myrna's recommendations, (Thanks ladies!) I ordered the self-published book De-Mystifying Fit by Lynda Maynard (order info at Kenneth King’s website book). This book is the only one I am aware of on the subject of how to use a personal sloper/moulage to adjust commercials patterns. It is very good, with pictures and step by step descriptions of the process using many different patterns and the slopers of many different sized/shaped ladies. Reading it, I learned what mistakes I was making, so hopefully the next time I do this, I will be more successful.

The hardest part of making this jacket was finding the two matching buckles, one 2” and one 1”. I finally found them in a shop on Philadelphia’s “Fabric Row” on the PR weekend.


Actually the fabric I used for the jacket was originally a Japanese kimono.



One I had purchased specifically for refashioning. Refashioning old garments into new ones is currently very popular. One variation is to take kimonos apart and reuse the fabric to make western style garments. It is called Kimono reform/restyling. The Japanese pattern magazine Lady Boutique has an article in each issue titled "Restyling Kimono". They show the original kimono, the directions for drafting the pattern and the finished garment. These articles and the wonderfully unique prints and weaves of kimono fabrics inspired me to try my own version of kimono remake.



Kimonos are constructed of about 12 yards of 14 or 15 inch wide fabric. There is very little cutting into the actual yardage when the kimono is constructed. So when it is taken apart you will have several very long pieces of fabric (equivalent to approximately 3 yards of 56” wide fabric). The patterns for the western clothing in the reform books and articles are designed specifically for 14 inch fabric and often incorporate unique seaming to provide enough width for a garment section or to incorporate the wonderful large motifs printed on some kimonos into the finished garments. I also find the patterns and the seam lines useful as ideas for solving a problem when I do not having enough fabrics for a pattern I am making or when I accidentally cut or serge a hole in the main piece of a garment.


Kimono fabrics range from lovely printed silks, and shibori dyed cottons to wool, rayon and synthetic jacquard weaves. Prices for vintage collectable kimonos can be thousands of dollars, but recent ones of less expensive fabrics are much more affordable for kimono reform. Still the only ones that I could afford, and actually liked, were the wool blend, jacquard weaves found in recent vintage men’s everyday kimono. The colors are subtle and the patterns interesting. I bought a couple from an Etsy vendor for $20 - 35 a kimono. The fabric from this one is a synthetic blend in a jacquard pattern of grey green and yellow. The seller described it as being from the Showa Era, which is from 1926 -1989. Doing some research I found that “during the Showa period the Japanese government curtailed silk production by taxing it to support the military buildup. Kimono designs during that that time became less complex and material was conserved.” Interesting how war has affected textile production and clothing styles in all cultures. The original construction sewing of this kimono was impressive. It was all hand stitched and all raw edges were hand overcast.

This took so long to make, it is now too hot to wear it. It will go in the closet until cooler weather comes back. Now to do some warm weather sewing.

26 comments:

Amanda S. said...

How lovely! I enjoyed reading all the information about kimono reform.

Rose said...

I appreciate your showing posting on the Kimono Reform. I took advantage of the opportunity to buy some yukata fabrics (cotton kimono) at an estate/store closure sale. I'm still figuring out what I want to make from them, but I'm glad tot see that there are other resources to check.

Rose in SV

a little sewing on the side said...

What an interesting post to accompany your very nice jacket (it looks great!) For some reason I would have guessed it inappropriate to reform a kimono, so it was a real treat to see these photos and this article.

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

The jacket is beautiful but the history behind the jacket is even more intriguing. And I think you've inspired another variation on my TNT dress pattern. I love the blue/white dress with the v-neck & tie and arm bands. That dress is calling my name! Thanks for the inspiration!!!

KayY said...

Gorgeous jacket and a very informative post as well.

Shannon said...

Amazing refashion - the fabric is lovely!

Trudy Callan said...

Love your jacket. And great information, too.

Bunny said...

Your jacket is lovely with such an interesting back story. We used to call these jackets "Barracudas' back in the day. However they didn't look stunning like this one.

Carol said...

Lovely colours and a very stylish jacket. Thank you for sharing all of this interesting information.

KID, MD said...

Such pretty fabric, and restyled wonderfully. Fascinating information on kimono reform. I think it is interesting that they intentionally take a traditional Japanese style and Westernize it. I bet the traditionalists among the culture are appalled.

gwensews said...

Super refashion! Your jacket is fabulous! Love it!

katherine h said...

What an interesting post about kimonos! Thank-you for sharing your info. The jacket looks great...I hope you get a least one or two colder days so that you can wear it before putting it away.

Gail said...

I've been thinking of making this jacket but was unsure about the neck buckle treatment. I like your version a lot. The fabric choice is just lovely.

Sigrid said...

Great refashioning. I'd never have thought of that. The jacket is so nice.
Loved to read the information on the kimono refashioning. And I"m off to read on the book on fit.

cidell said...

I love that jacket. I've been wanting to make a motorcycle style jacket for the longest time. I even have fabric waiting for it!

I also love this refashion. What a cool idea!

Myrna said...

Glad you enjoyed the book. It made "the click" for me.

Lisette M said...

Great looking jacket!

Vicki W said...

Even though it took a long time it turned out great!

Angela said...

Awesome jacket! I love how it's made from a kimono!

Vicki said...

Great post, really enjoyed the Japanese articles (even without being able to read it!) Your jacket is lovely and has a real history behind it now. Glad you like Lynda's book :)

The Slapdash Sewist said...

Love the jacket! Very hip style and flattering colors. I enjoyed the discussion of kimono reform as well.

j.kaori said...

Just beautiful! My grandmother gave me many kimonos but I just don't have the heart to refashion them! I think the women of her generation all know how to hand sew kimonos --- the ones I've seen are all hand sewn.

Tany said...

I enjoyed reading this article, thank you for all the info you provided!
Your jacket looks wonderful! I have some embossed faux snake skin too, and I remember wanting to make that same jacket but somehow I got sidetracked

Sheila said...

Interesting post and enjoyed the history of the kimono. You did a fantastic job on the jacket.

Karin said...

Oh, wow, this is seriously interesting! I happen to have 17 kimonos at the attic... I bought them in Japan 10 years ago. I don't know how it is now, but back then you could find fabulous used kimono at 1000yen each (about 10us$) and I went a bit crazy... Maybe one day I will be brave enough to cut into them!

Karin said...

Of course I forgot to mention that the jacket looks great!