Don’t you just love watching those Japanese anime characters in kimono? If you are a big fan of anime, you’ve probably wished you could wear a kimono at least once in your life. Because, why not? Kimonos are simple yet unique and elegant.
But how hard is it to make the iconic Japanese costume? Making your own kimono is fairly simple, even if you don’t have any sewing skills, you can easily make one. Whether you want to bring Kenshin Himura or Hiyoko Saionji to life, here’s a simple guide to making a kimono cosplay costume.
What Is A Kimono
Before we show you how to make a kimono, let’s learn more about this Japanese garment first. A kimono is a national and traditional dress in Japan. Both Japanese men and women wear it. It’s a T-shaped garment with a rectangular body and square sleeves. The kimono is wrapped in front that is put on from left over right with a wide sash which they call obi. To complete the whole kimono attire, it is worn with socks and sandals. They call their socks tabi and sandals zori.
Traditionally, kimonos are made from a narrow-loomed cloth called tanmono. However, Western-style fabrics are now commonly used as well. Kimonos vary depending on the season, occasion, age, marital status, and whether the wearer is male, female, or child. While kimonos may seem difficult to wear and too formal, there are some kimonos that are suitable for any kind of event, be it formal or informal.
Kimonos are usually made of silk. Traditional kimonos have twelve layers, but since it’s too heavy, the layers have been reduced. Men also wear obi but are narrower than women. It is also worn in a simpler way, just wrapped around the waist under the stomach and tied at the back in a simple knot.
Guide To Making Cosplay Kimono
Okay, now that you have a little background about kimonos, let’s get started on making one.
Check Out Your Local Fabric Store
The first thing you need to do is to find the fabric for your kimono. You can start by checking out the different local fabric stores around your area. Of course, you can always buy online, but it is best to see and hold the cloth in actuality. Since you’re going to use it for cosplay, it may be more challenging because you need to match the colors and patterns to recreate your favorite anime character. Be sure to bring pictures of the character you want to portray so have the right patterns or color.
Tips On Searching For The Right Fabric
- As much as possible, stay away from material that is glittery, and shiny. Aside from these fabrics being more challenging to sew, your kimono won’t look authentic.
- Never go for stretchy fabrics as they will hang unnaturally to your body when worn. You can check if the fabric is stretchy by pulling on it.
- If you are going for a plainer look, then you can check out the wool and linen section. You can find a wide variety of nice cloth there.
- If you prefer to wear a kimono with patterns, then stripes and geometrics are the way to go. These patterns are usually worn by men, but women can wear them, too. Other patterns can be landscapes, animals, and flowers. Kimonos that have repeating pattern is called komon, while iromuji are the plain kimonos. Iromuji are considered to be more formal compared to komon.
- For a more casual kimono, best to check out the quilting section. You’ll find great patterns in quilting cottons.
- Check out some kimono shop online or if there are authentic kimono stores in your area. This way, you’ll have an idea on how they look like and how they feel.
- Make sure to purchase high quality fabric.
Decide How Much Fabric You’ll Need
Okay, when you’ve found the right fabric for your kimono, the next thing you need to decide on is how much fabric you’ll purchase. The amount of fabric will depend on the kind of kimono you’re planning to make and of course your height, body shape or weight. You can always ask the personnel on the store for help or they can even help you get your measurement. With kimonos you’ll need a large amount of fabric because it has dangling sleeves which they call furi.
The sleeves’ length varies depending on formality and age, however most sleeves usually have a length of 50-60 cm. But you can always change the sleeves size depending on the kind of kimono you want to wear. You may also want to add extra cloth so you can make accessories.
Make Or Print Your Kimono Pattern
You can make your kimono pattern DIY if you want to, but you can also find kimono patterns online. Or you can also go ahead and start cutting your fabric if you know exactly what you’re doing. You can measure and mark the the cloth with straight lines then cut them. Or cut the kimono pattern first then trace them on your fabric.
Cut The Body Panels
Once you have your kimono pattern ready and had traced them on your fabric, it is time to cut the body panels. Cut two panels with at least 1.5 inches allowance, the width would be the whole width of your fabric. Fold the fabric in half and measure it around your hip and waist. Measure 1/4 of your hip from one of the fabric that was folded and add 2 inches. This will be your kimono’s back piece.
For the neck opening, from the fold, mark it with 3.25 inch and from the top, mark 1 inch then cut it out. Next, get the other fabric piece and fold in the center. Mark 1/4 for the hip round and add 6.5 inches on the fold. This will be your front pattern piece. For the neck width mark it with 7.5 inch on the fold then from the top going down mark it with 12.5 inch. Again cut out the opening for your neck and cut the center part.
Next is to cut a strip of fabric for your collar. If you are making a standard collar, you can measure 19 cm x 190 to 200 cm. For a full-width collar, you need a wider fabric. For the sleeves, cut two 38 cm panels twice the sleeve length you prefer but make sure to leave some seam allowance.
By this time all of your fabric has been cut out, you may want to do a rolled hem on the longer sides of the okumi panels and body panels, as well as on the sleeves panels. This will make your kimono look neater and nicer.
Sewing The Parts Together
For the fun part, it’s time to put the panels together. Sewing is fairly simple and you don’t need to have experience with sewing to make a kimono. Let’s start by placing the two panels together. Make sure the two panels are on the right sides. Make a straight seam towards one edge that is about 5 cm just above the middle. Doing this will make the collar lay nicely. The straight seam you did will run on the back of your finished kimono.
Now, take for the okumi panels, lay one over the front body panels that you didn’t sew. Then make a straight seam to the edge near the gap. Repeat the process on the other side. Once you have finished sewing the okumi panels, you’ll have a long rectangle that is sewn midway up to your back and another 2 rectangles that are overlapping in the front. Try draping it on your shoulder to see how it will form into a wrap.
For the more challenging part, sewing the collar. In traditional kimono, the okumi panels are folded and not cut to make it stiffer and give it more body. You can either do that or just cut them, it all depends on you.
Before you start sewing, find out how much okumi you’ll be needing under your collar. To get the right measurement, get your height and divide it by two. Then lay your kimono with the the front panels and back in a straight position, while the okumi panels should be overlapped.
Next, measure and mark where your collar will be by starting on the bottom part of your okumi. You can use chalk pencil or marker for this. On your body panels, find the end of the side seam and make a vertical mark to the seam at least 9 cm from the center. From here, make a curving line to the mark you did earlier on your okumi then cut it. Repeat the process on the other panel and this will give you an idea on how your collar will fall on your kimono.
Now that you have the collar, take the collar portion then fold it in 1/2 lengthwise. Next, fold it in 1/2 widthwise and find the middle then use a pin to the center. Remove the widthwise fold and you’ll get a long narrow strip that has a pin in the center. Align your collar’s edges by using pins outward. You can also add a small pleat around 45 cm starting from the center going to each sides to achieve a collar-protecting strip.
Try it on by draping it on your shoulder. Check that the collar was not misplaced, if not you can start sewing it. With a straight stitch, follow the collar’s line first. The straight lines are fairly easy but when you get into curvey part it may start to be a bit challenging. When you reach the curve portion, sewing carefully and slowly is the key to prevent the body fabric from slipping and getting wrinkled.
Now that you’re done sewing the straight stitch, try the kimono on by draping it on your shoulders. This is to make sure everything was sewn correctly. In case it wasn’t sewn properly, you can rip it carefully and start stitching again. To prevent the collar from fraying, you can place an overcasting stitch on the raw edges. You can use a serger to do this if you have one or you can simply fold the edges inside the collar when sewing.
To sew the side beams, from the shoulders, fold the kimono in half making sure the right sides are together. Measure the arm holes and pin on the sides then do a straight stitch. On the armhole, put another pin; this is where you will attach the sleeves. Leave a 15 cm gap between the side beam and your sleeve. You can measure 21 cm from the shoulder going down and pin it. Do this on your two side beams.
On this stage, you now have a garment that’s only missing the sleeves. Try it on and check if it fits perfectly on your hips and waist. Make sure you can wrap your kimono edges around you at least. 1.5 times. Try walking around as well and see if you are comfortable with it while you walk. This is the time you can make adjustments, so make sure everything fits you perfectly.
Get your sleeve panels, with the right sides together fold them in half. Find the short side and pin it opposite the fold to get the sleeves’ bottom. Next is to mark the opening of your sleeve. Find the long side of your sleeve and pin it underneath. Leave the other side open, then from the sleeve’s corner, draw a curve.
Sew the sides that you pinned going to the curve and then flip the sleeve with the right side out. Repeat the process on the remaining sleeve panel. Now that you have your two sleeves, leave them right side out and your kimono still inside out. Find the long side of the sleeve that was left open and place it on the arm hole. Join the sleeve and the armhole using pins and make sure to leave at least a gap of 15cm.
Now, pull the sleeve out carefully, your kimono should be right side out by this time. Try your kimono and check if it looks correct. If everything looks fine, turn it back again and sew your sleeve. Begin sewing one side where the gap is then continue until the pin marking. Repeat it on the other sleeve. Make sure you sew it carefully and that everything is in place at all times.
Now, try your kimono with both of the sleeves attached already. Check in the mirror and ensure that all parts fall nicely. If you want to give your kimono some weight, you can add a thicker rolled hem on your kimono’s bottom. After that, you’re all set and ready to wear your kimono.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you make a kimono out of a t-shirt?
To make a kimono out of a t-shirt, you need to prepare an oversized shirt, 2 yards of fabric trim (such as tassel, feather, or ruffles), permanent fabric glue, fray stopper, fabric marker, scissors, needle, and thread (optional). Once you have all the materials, the first thing that you need to do is to lay the t-shirt down and find its center.
Use your marker to cut the shirt straight. Cut the center of the top layer including the collars. Then, draw a curved neckline and cut it out. Stretch the shirt cloth lengthways. This will make the edges roll up so there is no need to sew them. Now put the trim at the back of your kimono. You can use permanent fabric glue to attach it or you can hand sew it. You now have a cute kimono out of a t-shirt. Remember to let the glue dry for a few days before washing it.
How do you make a no sew kimono?
You can make a no-sew kimono by using only four items. You only need one yard of self-finished fabric, chalk, measuring tape, and a pair of scissors. Once you have gathered all the materials, the first thing to do is to fold the cloth in half. After that, draw a straight line in the center. Cut only the top part of the fabric where you draw the line.
Remember that you don’t cut the back of the cloth. By this time you now have a kimono. Make the belt by cutting a piece of fabric around 60 inches long and 2 inches wide. Your no-sew kimono is ready to wear and it only took you 5 minutes to do that simple no-sew DIY kimono.
What is yukata vs kimono?
Yukata and kimono look almost exactly the same. However, yukata is an informal form of kimono and is worn in casual events, for instance summer festivals. They are usually worn during summer in Japan. Traditionally, yukata are white and indigo in color, but modern yukata now features multicolored designs. When it comes to fabric, yukata are typically made of polyester or cotton. Kimono, on the other hand, are more formal and made from silk. Kimonos are considered to be more luxurious.
Have you picked out the Japanese anime character you want to imitate? Creating a kimono may seem difficult with all the steps you need to follow. But it is fairly easier than other cosplay costumes. Aside from that, it is much cheaper to make a kimono than to purchase one.