Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Faux Leather Kimono

Last week I decided I wanted to try working with one of the faux leather "home decorating" fabrics from the local Joann. They are very interesting to look at and to feel and are typically pretty cheap. I wanted something simple which would show off the texture without details that would create too many layers of the thick fabric. I chose a kimono, as this crappy picture with a random scarf at the waist shows.

I already had the sewing pattern (Simplicity 5839), which apparently approaches kimono fabrication from a fairly traditional viewpoint. This included a lining which was very integrated into the construction, but which I wanted to omit. This meant some pattern editing on the fly -- skipping the lining made it simpler in some ways, but trickier in others since I couldn't actually use the instructions. The most complicated portion (and I hesitate to say "complicated" since the whole garment is traditionally quite simple) was the sleeves. But the sleeves really do make the kimono. (The outer corners really are radiused as they should be on those sleeves... Just doesn't show in the crappy picture. Did I mention the picture is crappy? I did? Carrying on then.)

I chose a black/brown printed faux leather lightweight upholstery fabric from the clearance table (ultimately <$3/yd), with a fairly dense, plain knit backing. After folding it and flipping it around a little at the store, I decided it would be sufficiently floppy to make a garment, light enough to actually wear, while stiff and glossy enough to at least look like it was trying to be leather.

Cutting was easy and no-ravel, and the stitching went well with longer stitch-lengths and a Teflon foot where needed. Seams could be trimmed very tightly and left unfinished because of the plasticky nature of the material, and it took topstitching like a dream. The only problem I had was my own fault, when it came time to attach the neck band. I tore the thing off and restitched it at least 3 times. Grr! Too many layers moving at different speeds was the culprit. Once I figured out a way to keep everything cruising together, it went just fine.

I intend to wear it with either a large mesh/elastic waist cincher or a corset (to be named later). I was considering making some belting out of regular webbing covered in the same faux leather, terminating in some big silver buckles, and attaching 2 or 3 of those to the kimono, but I'm reconsidering putting anything permanent on it. I think I'd like to be able to wear different obi-substitutes as the mood strikes me. (As if I'm going to be wearing this thing every weekend. In this weather?!)

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