A Velvet Kimono for the holidays

img_0670Hi All – -During, the holiday season, a sewing project has to meet certain critieria to make it onto my lengthy to-do list. It must be  1. easy and quick with little chance for frustration.  2. Gorgeous fabric must be involved. 3. It must provide a healthy dose of instant gratification. This festive kimono definitely earned high marks on all fronts.

Most holiday occassions here call for ‘casual holiday’ attire; something dress-y you can wear with pants/jeans. That’s because the weather has been less than cooperative with snow and freezing rain, which has left sidewalks and parking lots difficult to navigate in high heels and dresses. Given that scenario, I decided (the day before an event, ha!) to add a fun piece to my wardrobe that I could layer to dress things up a bit. Nothing like a last minute project in the midst of the holiday craze! Luckily, I had this lovely piece of ‘burn-out’ velvet in my stash, perfect for my project.

img_0543I love this drapey and shimmery velvet. To make the fabric texture more noticeable,  I decided to use black velvet for the contrasting sleeve bands and ruffle.

If I’d chosen a pattern that I’d made before, the project would have been an easy success. But, of course, I couldn’t make things simple. I had to try a new pattern…and that’s where the trouble started. Enter Simplicity 8172.


I was attracted to this pattern because I was in a hurry and LOVED that the  sleeves are cut as part of the main bodice…so fast and easy!


What I didn’t notice was that there isn’t a front band to finish the opening. Instead, the pattern has you finish it with seam binding.  My drapey, flimsy velvet did not like this at all. It wanted to roll constantly. Well, I could not wear it like that so I self-drafted a 4″ front band (thank goodness I had a bit of fabric left over), and stiffened it up with fusible interfacing. Yes, this complication added quite a bit to my simple project, but now, the front opening lies as it should. I am so much happier!


Overall, I think I like this project. The pattern is fun and easy, and, because you don’t have to set in sleeves, it’s a quick and easy sew. I like the fit on this pattern and the options for adding a flounce. However, the pattern envelope recommends silky fabrics and velvet. As is, I don’t think those fabrics are the best choice for this pattern, since it lacks a front band, relying on seam binding for finish. To me, that works best with a crisper fabric with bit of body so that the seam binding can do its job. Still, I will likely make view C of this pattern in the near future because it allows you to mix patterns and fabrics. And, I’ll make just about anything if it has a high-lo hem!

img_0689Have you sewn with velvet? Did it have a tendency to roll? What did you use to stablize it?

I hope you’re enjoying the festive season and can still find a bit of time for some sewing fun. Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!




13 thoughts on “A Velvet Kimono for the holidays

  1. This is so festive! What a beautiful fabric, and the black really sets it off well. I’ve had luck with stretch velvet–it’s not terrible to sew, but you may be hand basting seams, and never touch the iron to it! My only experience with non-stretch velvet was to make a pair of large floor cushions. That was a lesson in how it’s totally possible to cut two pieces of fabric the same size and have the seams end up INCHES apart from each end. What the heck. I did walk by some really really pretty velvet today in the fabric store. I almost bought it, but there was just 1.5 yds cut as a flat-fold, and 1.5 yds won’t be cutting it for the proper velvet blazer I’ve always wanted to make.

    1. Yes, velvet does squirm around a bit on the cutting table, which is frustrating. How brave of you to try floor cushions! However that sounds so luxurious. Since velvet is one of my favorite fabrics, leaning against a velvet cushion would be a little bit of heaven for me! A velvet blazer sounds even better…cozy yet stylish.

  2. That velvet looks so luxuriously drapey and pet-able, even in pictures–LOVE! And the colors are spectacular, almost peacock-like! I think you used it perfectly: it’s a great statement jacket that you can wear with multiple outfits for so many occasions. I am also surprised that the pattern doesn’t provide an alternative finishing method for the fronts while recommending velvet…sometimes you just have to wonder whether the designers and instruction copy editors actually *talk* to each other!

    I have never worked with velvet–it’s actually on my “NEVER EVER List” at this point!–but I imagine that, apart from heavy velveteens, rolling and slithering is probably just its nature! And as for end-of-the-year sewing, I am DONE, lol. I figure it’s probably 50/50 odds as to whether or not I even turn my machine on again before January 1, haha! My last project was a doozy and I am still pouting. 😉

    1. Thanks! It is odd that the pattern suggest such an weird finish in the front. You might be on to something, that it’s a case of the left hand not knowing what the right was doing:) I’d probably avoid velvet if it wasn’t such a kick to wear. Honestly, I feel like royalty in my little kimono. I love your last dress, btw. Even though it wasn’t what you’d started out to make, it’s gorgeous and looks great on you!

  3. Really cute! I made a velvet dress years ago. Added a velvet collar to a plaid wool jacket also years ago but just pulled it out for a potential wearing. That’s about it for velvet over many decades of sewing. In both cases it was stabilized by facings or a second piece of fabric. I think your topper has a ton of potential. It is great for your festive/casual look.

    1. A velvet collar would be such a nice contrast to wool..yes, I think this project would have been easier if there had been facings as part of the pattern design! Live and learn:)

  4. hi there, I just started working with this pattern and am so glad I came across your blog. I don’t like using seam binding, but I am no expert at drafting, so I will do my best to make a facing. Also, I am small, so I cut out the xxs size and am finding that the front and back do not lay flat when I match the notches..did you find this happened as well? Also, I want to make the design c and use different fabrics, but will need to adjust the position of the pieces to hit my short frame in the right places!! I hope this works out..love your looks, and will enjoy following you, I live in Sedona Az, but lived in Oregon for a number of years, Eugene and Ashland..loved it

    1. So nice to meet a former Oregonian :). View C with different fabrics will be fabulous. I didn’t have an issue with the front and back laying flat, at least not that I noticed. My fabric was really drape-y and I had to use a lot of pins to keep things from shifting. Your concept for this pattern sounds great, and I’d love to see it when it’s done. Thanks for the lovely comments about my blog…and thanks for taking a look!

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