Laura Stone (stoney321) wrote,
Laura Stone

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New Sheriff in Town + Kimono how to's from a white girl in Texas

I am in the depths of the teen years now. I don't know how I'm going to make it until they are out of my house and safely in college/military school/prison. Any are options at this point. I'm constantly on the lookout for eyeballs on the floor because SURELY that level of eye rolling can't be helping those ligaments keep them in the sockets. The Mr. has no clue how to deal with this rash of OH MY GOD YOU ARE SO MEEEEAAAAAN/Get out get out GET OUT! because he grew up in a sterile lab where no one spoke. "Pick your battles" has been a steady conversation in the quiet of our bedroom. That and "is that the hill you want to die on? Put the silverware away? REALLY?"

The biggest issue is that my son has learned to express anger. Which means loads of shouting and "Damn it! I'm sorry I said damn it, but damn it, mom!" and that's usually directed at his little sister, Emily. Emily is entering those horrible girl years, the 8 - 10 year old sneaky snotty stage. Every girl goes through it. Every one of us, even if you think you didn't, you did. It's filled with "I am so wounded by what you're saying to me!" horror-face and then causing people to continue to say those wounding things to you by your sneaky/snotty behavior. When you're the youngest in the house, it's typically the most amplified in you as well.

So. I have come upon what I think is a brilliant solution. When the two of them fight, say they hate each other, try and get the other in trouble, any sort of negative behavior, the opposite child will go into the offender's room, select one precious item to be brought to me. I will then keep said item in a box in my closet until they do something kind for one another. It is going to drive them CRAZY to have their personal space invaded, which will just lead me to saying, "Well, I guess you shouldn't have blah blah, then, huh?"

Or I could ignore them all and drink the next four- five years away, it's pretty iffy most days.

Now for kimono-making pics! Warning: I used a shiny patterned fabric, so it might be difficult to see the detail, but the beautiful thing about kimonos is how straight forward they are. After all, everyone from peasants to the gentry made and wore them for thousands of years, that stuff has been pared down to the most efficient method. On with the show!

[ETA] I cannot for the life of me find the cord that connects my camera to my computer, so I used paintshop to make a picture of the way you need to cut. BOO, housemembers, BOO. Sorry there aren't the step by step shots. Mostly because that took me a long time to do while sewing. Gargh.

As a reminder, I was borrowing the whole concept of my particular costume from a movie about a scarred and demonic ...geisha. She's a prostitute co-opting the geisha look herself, because geishas aren't hookers. Okay, now I feel better for getting that out there.

American patterns suck, so please do yourself a favor and do not buy one. There's really no need for a pattern in the first place, you just need a LARGE surface (if you can get a 72" table, kitchen island, that's the best.) good scissors or the daring to tear your fabric (as long as you don't have satin, more on that later) and something reliable with with to measure, either a tape or large ruler.

6 YARDS (or if you're less than 5' 3" and very slender - no more than 38 inches at your widest you can use 4 yards) of HIGH QUALITY FABRIC. This means NO costume satin. That stuff is the devil, MM'KAY? You will not be able to sew it, I promise you. I've been sewing for over 25 years and that stuff foils me every time. Proper satin is different, but really should only be attempted by someone that knows their stuff. Really. Really really. If you're not sure if you have proper sating vs. costume satin, look at the price. Cheap = costume. Or, squinch it up in your hand. If it feels stiff and immediately wrinkles and stays kinda squinched, that's costume. Real satin will wrinkle, but not as easily and will also attempt to go back to a flat state. It's also much heavier and thicker and of a better quality. names to look for: moire, bridal, heavy weight.)

Fabric choices: silk, obv. and any synthetic silk would be fine, too, dupion silk... IDK, that might be too stiff in my book. Charmeuse would work, too, esp. for a lining like I did. Acrylic fabrics or any other synthetic fabrics that have a light feel to them (aka, nothing stiff.) Cotton is right out, as is linen. Avoid chiffon unless you are crazy good like Christian "Fierce" Siriano with a sewing machine.

Coordinating thread (protip: if you have a pattern, go for the darkest color in your pattern, not the lightest. That will stand out, and in a bad way. Dark will melt into the background.)

A TEFLON SEWING FOOT (if you're using silk or any other "slippery" fabric.) Trust me on this one. They're not expensive, you can get them at Hancock Fabrics, Joann's, etc. You will be so much happier.

SILK PINS (again, trust me.) These are also not expensive and are finer than, say, ball-tipped quilting pins. Once you make a whole in silk, it's there forever, it doesn't go away like in cotton. This way your hole is much smaller. [insert naughty joke, feel shame] You also want to pin very close, almost every inch or so, so get a big pack.

2.25 YARDS OF ANOTHER FABRIC FOR YOUR OBI (if you have a larger waist, you want to get maybe 3 yards. Wrap a tape measure around yourself twice, tie a bow and let it have long ends - a 1 ft. hang. That's how much you need.)



Note: if you want to line your kimono to add a realistic dimension to it - so it doesn't look thin like a costume, but like a proper kimono - get a lining fabric - 4 yards is what you'll need. Follow all of the instructions for cutting the front and back panels, sew them in the same manner, and then - once you've done this for both the outer and lining, put them right sides together, sew at the shoulders first following your original seam then sew the sides together down 10 inches only - don't sew down the whole length, just for the arm hole. Turn it right side out and carefully iron the seam flat. You will have a weird 45 degree angle where you stopped sewing, it will get remedied when you put the sleeves on.

Cutting the Pieces
FIRST: if your fabric is very wide (more than the standard 44" for a bolt - it would probably be 58") you can get away with 4 yards, unless you are very busty/hippy.

  • Measure yourself at your widest
  • divide the width of your fabric in thirds (if it's a 60 inch bolt, that's 20 inches)
  • Add two of the thirds together
  • Is this number larger than the measurement you took by more than 5 inches? GO WITH THE 4 YARDS
  • If it's not, go with 6 and be comfy in your kimono. You can always make it slimmer, but you can't make it wider.

SECOND: I'm going under the assumption that we have 6 yards. If you go the 4 yards option, I'll note the small changes in cutting after the main instructions in italics

  • Measure out 2 yards of fabric. Measure again. Are you extra sure? OK, cut.

  • Repeat (this won't be necessary if you have 4 yards. Just fold in half and cut.)

  • You should now have three pieces of fabric blocks, 2 yards long.

  • Along the length (also known as the selvedge) of your block, fold in half. The length should still be 2 yards. (fold your fabric into thirds. If it's 60" you'll have rectangles that are 2 yards long and 20" wide)

  • Measure twice, cut once. Or cut a notch and tear. It will tear straight, I promise. (cut two times to make your three rectangles, 2 yards long, 20 inches wide)

  • If you have a serger, serge the ends.

  • Take your second block of fabric that is 2 yards long. Repeat the measuring and cutting from before. You should now have 4 rectangles that are 2 yards long and 22 inches wide. (Repeat with the remaining block of fabric - you should now have SIX rectangles that are 2 yards long and 20 inches wide)

  • With this second set of rectangles, lay them out flat, lengthwise, and side by side. At the top of the first rectangle, the narrow end, measure from the inside towards yourself 3 inches. Measure down 10 inches. Make a line between those points. Mirror this with the other piece. Make sure you have them both facing the same way (right side up or down, but both the same) so that the two lines meet down at the 10 inch mark and it will look like a triangle cut out of the top center. Got it right? Now cut on those lines and discard the scrap. This is the FRONT of your kimono. Set aside.

  • Take the third and last block of fabric and also cut this in half (or notch and tear the length.) Take one of those pieces and cut/tear it again into halves. You should now have one piece that is the same as the others you've cut, and two thinner pieces that are the same length. The thinner pieces will be the collar and the gores. (Take two of the remaining pieces of your 6 and follow the same cutting instructions here and below.)

  • With that thicker piece, fold it in half to make it only 1 yard in length. It should remain the same width. Cut this (no tearing, sorry) so you have two big blocks. These are the sleeves. Set aside.

Sewing the pieces: The Back Panel

  • Take the first two pieces you cut and pin them together right sides together. You should be seeing the BACK sides of your fabric (the wrong side.) Sew down the length of your pins.

  • (Note on pinning fabric, for n00bs: pins MUST be perpendicular to the edge you're sewing. This is how you keep your needle from slipping around the pin or breaking.)

  • Iron the seam flat (n00bs: this means laying the fabric down right side down and using your fingers to press open the seam. Go over this with your iron to make it lay flat. This is an ESSENTIAL part of sewing, otherwise things get lumpy and won't hang right.)

  • Lay on you work surface RIGHT SIDE UP.

Sewing the pieces: Attaching the front

  • Take one of your front panels with the neck notch.

  • Lay it RIGHT SIDE DOWN (you will see the back side, then) on the appropriate side of your back panel. Meaning, the notch should be in the center of your work, not the edge.) The outside edges should line up.

  • Pin the SHOULDERS starting from the matching outside corners.

  • Sew together with a 1/2" margin

  • Lay on your ironing board and sew this seam FLAT

  • Repeat with the other panel at the other shoulder

  • This should now look like a floppy vest without sides

  • I recommend putting this on at this point and seeing if you need to reduce the width. IF YOU DO: you need to make sure that several inches (at least 4, preferably 6) hang off the edge of your shoulder. The edge should not be like Westernized clothing, as in, the seams are the same as your shoulder.

  • If you are reducing the width (and I had to, by 4 inches per side, whoops) reduce it from the OUTSIDE EDGES. Make sure you do the exact same amount on both sides. Kimonos are supposed to be wide at the shoulders, but not comically so (like, you wouldn't want it to come half-way down your arm - about 1/4 is just right.)


Sewing the pieces: Making and attaching the sleeves

  • Take your two wide sleeve panels (they should be about 22" wide and 1 yard long, remember?)

  • Fold them in half again so they are now 22" wide and HALF a yard long. Make a mark at the fold on the wrong wide of the fabric.

  • Take the kimono that should be right side out and lay it on your work surface

  • Sandwich over one shoulder ONE sleeve that is wrong side out. (Right sides are touching) The mark you made for the location of the fold should line up with the shoulder seam

  • Pin together, but leave the bottom 4 inches on both front and back pin/sewn free. Kimonos have ventilation flaps at the arm pits. :)

  • Sew the pieces together (making sure you leave that opening at the bottom!)

  • Repeat with the opposite shoulder, remembering your 4 inch no sew zone at the bottom front and bottom back

  • Iron your seams flat, and iron a "hem" for the four inches on the front and back that you didn't sew. I'm picky and sewed that down flat so it looked polished. DON'T SEW THAT DETAIL YET, THOUGH, if you choose to be anal like me

  • You'll notice that you've not sewn all of the sleeve together. That's done next.

Sewing the pieces: Sewing up the sides

  • Lay the kimono right sides together, wrong side out.

  • Match up the outer edges and pin up the sides, leaving yet another 4 inch gap at the base of where you attached the sleeve. Ventilation s key when you're wearing layers of silk, you see.

  • The sleeves should be perfectly matched up after sewing them to the body of the kimono. starting at the bottom inside edge, pin them together along the bottom and up the outside 4 inches - it's a magic number

  • Do this to both sides while it's laying flat

  • Sew a 1/2" seam all along the places you've pinned

  • On the outside bottom edge of the sleeve, trim off the point of the seam making sure you don't cut the stitches

  • Iron the seams flat all along the sewn edges and iron the un sewn material to match

  • Turn right side out and iron again

  • This is where you can take the bottom basket off your sewing machine (to make it narrow) and slip the sleeve over the base and hem the unsewn edges for your hand (end of the sleeve) and ventilation (where it attached)

  • Trim all threads

Sewing the pieces: Making and attaching the gores

  • You have two last strips of fabric, one of which is 11" wide and 2 yards long.

  • Fold in half so it is 1 yard long, wrong side out

  • Mark that fold discretely top and bottom

  • Bottom mark: measure left 1/4 yard, make a mark

  • Top mark: measure right 1/4 yard, make a mark

  • Draw a line between these two - this should leave you with two rectangular pieces with pointy ends.

  • Cut along the line

  • With the kimono right side out, lay the right side of one pointy piece onto the bottom edge, lining up the hems (the long side affixes to the kimono)

  • Sew a 1/2 seam down the length of the gore

  • Iron seam flat, and iron a handkerchief hem (aka: thin) along the unsewn outer edges - minus the hem

  • Sew CAREFULLY as this is very thin fold along the ironed hem so all edges - minus the bottom - are finished off. (This is when you thank me for talking you into a Teflon foot. No bunching here, hooray!)

Sewing the pieces: Making and attaching the collar

  • You only have one piece left. The big one (2 yards long and 22" wide) is your collar. Fold it in half right side OUT (so how it will look when finished) and iron the fold flat

  • Turn it back out and put the right side face down. Iron a 1/2" hem all along the perimeter - you are cheating a hem, in other words.

  • Turn it back the original way and fold in half length wise. Make a discrete mark at the bottom of your collar to note where this is.

  • Sandwich the collar over the kimono (and lining if you made one) so the mark you made lines up with the back center seam. Pin in place

  • Follow the line of the neck all the way down that cut you made in the front panels pinning in place. This is the trickiest part of the whole ordeal. It will look a little lumpy, but when you wear it, it's fine. Weird, but true

  • Pin along the bottom edges, covering up the edge of the gore you just attached

  • Sew the edge of the collar, effectively attaching both front and back panels to the collar, making sure you go along the bottom edge to affix that part as well.

Sewing the hemline

  • Turn the kimono wrong side out again and iron a 1/2" hem all along the base.

  • NOTE: true kimonos are all the same size, wearers make a fold at the waist, tucking it under their obi to get the length just right. If you are not wanting that, put the kimono on, put a belt to hold it in place, and get someone to pin up the hem to the desired length.

  • Sew the hem, trim the threads, and Bob's your uncle. (Maybe Paul is your uncle, I don't want to judge.)

Cutting and Sewing the Obi

  • Lay your beautiful and contrasting fabric that is 2 and a quarter yards long flat on a surface and make a mark 24" from the selvedge (the finished edge of the fabric)

  • Tear (or cut if you don't have a fabric that tears) down the length, discard the scrap or save for other projects.

  • Fold wrong sides together and iron flat the loooooong crease

  • Turn right sides together, match the selvedge edge to the edge you cut, and pin the three sides together (outer edges and long edge) leaving a few inches of gap at one of the outer edges <-- essential

  • Sew with a 1/2" seam all around

  • Reach into the gap you left, grab the opposite end, and pull the whole thing right side out.

  • Iron the seams flat - this takes care - and then iron the gap closed as closely to the edge as possible. (Handkerchief hem)

  • I took the extra step of sewing that handkerchief hem all along the whole obi so it was nice and crisp, but you do not need to take this extra step.


  • Put on the kimono right side under left side (boy style)

  • Put a thin belt on at your natural waist

  • Raise your arms to the side and get someone to line up the seams so they are perfectly perpendicular to the floor

  • If you need to "blouse" the kimono over the belt in order to move, now's the time - the hem should be perfectly level all the way around you, the under flap should also be matching. Eh meh ghed, perfection, people!

  • Take one end of your obi and drape it over your shoulder (only an inch or two should go down the backside.)

  • Have someone wrap the rest of your obi around your waist - it should go around twice - and then attempt any of the many obi knots

  • Or just get frustrated and tie a bow

  • Turn the bow behind you so it is over your tushie

  • Take the ribbon, wrap it twice around your waist (desired would be to make an X over the obi) and tie that in a bow to be placed on your hip or just inside your hip

  • If you want to REALLY look authentic, you'll want to put a board or really stiff cardboard that will fit under the obi under the layers of it at the front of your waist. You will not be able to sit if you do so, which is why geishas kneel stiffly. It looks pretty awesome, but won't be comfy.

People wear layer upon layer of kimonos, the more, the higher up the social ladder you are. You wouldn't wear just one. Which is why I made two, one in red because my geisha was really a prostitute. A lovely person would wear a white kimono with the collar exposed, layered under the main kimono - red is for ceremonies, I believe. If you don't want to go crazy nuts, you could get a piece of fabric, iron it flat, and tuck it under your kimono like a dickie. Lol. It would work, though, because I did that when I took my daughter trick or treating, because it was too much weight/hot for running over the neighborhood. I was proper for my party, though.

Here's me in my kimono with the whole kit-n-kaboodle on (you'll note my face isn't white, neither was the girl whom I modeled the look after. Again, see: prostitutes do it differently.) I did the "heart" lipstick that I've seen on many geishas, which is why I look like I'm pursing my lips. Also, I realize the makeup-scar thing looks like hell. Couldn't be helped. Full sided-prosthetic for next time! Also, I am slightly drunk here. Hahaha.

I wish I wasn't against a black background so you could see the height of the wig + the blue streaks in it. Ah, well, that's what happens when you rely on others for picture taking.
Tags: how2, she blinded me with science, stoney doesn't suck, stoney sucks

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  • I'm really tired of the hate piled on Texas. Hope after last night you will, too.

    Last night I spent almost 6 hours on Twitter liveblogging the filibuster happening on the Texas State Senate floor for the people who couldn't get…

  • JFC.

    Like so many people in my neck of the woods (I'm in the DFW area of Texas, about an hour and a half north of West, TX), driving 1-35 is a torment.…

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    I know my state is an easy target. We're huge and we're filled with loudmouths (hey, I wonder where I got it from?). But for the past 12 years, the…