A very basic jacket made from rectangles, with a band round the neckline, is often called a ‘kimono’. Though some purists get upset about the validity of this name. Several mis-named patterns have been discontinued out of respect to the culture-linked idea.
The original Japanese kimono is made mainly from rectangles, and is easy to copy. Japanese kimonos may be made from very expensive silks, and there are several different versions, worn on different occasions.
Here are some ‘authentic’ patterns from Folkwear :
Japanese field clothing.
Japanese Hapi and Haori.
There are also other versions specific to other cultures in that area.
The rest of the patterns in this post are ‘fashion’ patterns. This image shows the general idea :
Sew Girl Suki – see below
Many teachers and pattern designers suggest this robe-style jacket, with a neckband along the front edges and round the neck, is the easiest jacket for beginners make.
(A ‘bog coat’ is even easier – made from non-fraying fabric such as fleece or boiled wool. See Shirley Adams on YouTube.)
Robe jackets have no fastenings – they have to be held closed with a belt.
For a first make : belt, pockets, sleeve cuffs, are optional.
This is a multi-purpose style, often very casual, which can be used for night wear, lounging, daywear, even at work, depending on which fabric you use.
Patterns originally designed to be a robe may need shortening for a jacket. Or lengthening, depending on your style 😀
This post is mainly a list of patterns for beginners and advanced beginners, with a few specials. Nearly every pattern line has one of these styles, either jacket or robe length, so these are just some that have caught my eye. You may well find a favourite pattern line has one you prefer.
Robe-jacket sewing techniques
As these are very basic makes, mostly without shaping and suitable for beginners, there needs to be little technique advice.
3 aspects of applying a neckband :
Staystitch the neckline, to make sure the bias edges don’t stretch out of shape.
This type of band is one of a group of similar techniques which are used for many purposes. Several methods for attaching bands, see casings post.
Attach a straight edge to a curve, this technique may be needed at the back neckline.
Any type of sleeve-armhole combination may be found in these patterns, see this post about sleeves.
As these designs are loosely modelled on the kimono, most patterns use square or flat set armholes. For these there is a special method for making the underarm join where 4 seams come together, see the sleeves post. A bit more difficult than the methods shown in most patterns, but I think it’s worth it as the result is no distortion at the underarm.
Simplest possible DIY pattern
As this garment is basically made from rectangles, it’s easy to draft yourself – perhaps make a zero-waste version.
Cut off triangles at upper front neckline. Use any spare fabric to make pockets or a tote.
There are many more such diagrams on this pinterest ‘western kimono’ board.
SewDIY has detailed written instructions for drafting rectangles to fit your body.
These instructions even include a spreadsheet calculator ! (not essential to use it) but not a paper or pdf pattern.
Here’s a free ‘pattern’ from Simply Sewing magazine which also just has instructions for what size rectangles of fabric to cut and make the garment from. Single not very large size. Photo tutorial on making.
There may be 100s of patterns for jackets in this style. These are ones I’ve noticed, but I can’t personally vouch for the quality of most of the patterns or instructions.
Beginner patterns :
Patterns with Videos :
Palmer-Pletsch have a learn-to-sew course consisting of DVDs + paper patterns. The second DVD is on making a robe. Their instructional DVDs are cumulative, so DVD2 assumes you have worked through DVD1 first.
Sew Girl Suki is an indie pattern for a robe-jacket with separate flat-set sleeves (image above),
with a clear photo tutorial, (scroll down to about half-way)
and access to a free video (move along the time line to 3hrs 16min).
If you need a wider range of sizes, try Muna & Broad patterns.
Their maximum body bust is 64″-162cm, and they offer to grade larger if you need it. Though you may not, as their easiest jackets have largest finished garment measure at bust level of 83″/210cm :
Belmore jacket (video sew-along).
Medlow robe (video on ‘collar’ application).
Easy patterns without videos
The Seamwork Quince robe-jacket is made almost entirely by straight line stitching and turning corners (apart from the back neck).
Variations on the Quince pattern, at the beginning of and from about 2/3 way through this post.
Wardrobe By Me Norma Jean robe is slightly more difficult.
Patterns for knits
(I’m not good on patterns for knits, there may be many more !)
McCall’s 8052 is a softer style easy jacket. Has to be made from fabric with 2 good sides, as the ’shawl’ collar/ neckband is a single layer of fabric. Pattern provides sleeveless and 3 sleeve length versions. Crop or extend the body length yourself. Can be made from light wovens and light knits.
Sussex Seamstress Coolham cardi with fold-back doubled neckband, for stable knits, video.
Tilly and the Buttons has a jacket pattern made by converting from a top, this one for confident beginners.
The Nora oversize top has drop shoulders.
The supplement pattern shows how to convert it to a robe-jacket.
Advanced beginner patterns
May be a more challenging.
There can be slight differences in the width of the neckband, the relative proportions of sleeves and body lengths and widths, which you may feel makes some versions look more ‘you’ or more elegant/ stylish than others.
I find it fascinating to see what a difference these small style tweaks can make.
Which of these makes you ♥️ : Look no further 😀
Only a few designs have a front overlap, but they may be more useful makes for colder weather.
Some of these patterns have fold-back neckbands. You may be able to get this effect yourself by doubling the width of the neckband. But in woven fabric that may not lie well around the back of the neck. In which case you may need to use knit fabric, or cut a woven neckband on the bias.
Some of these designs may even be appropriate for wearing to look professional. Make one in pin-striped wool !
These are in alphabetic order of pattern company name. Most are download pdf patterns.
Closet Core patterns Veronik robe has overlap, square set flared sleeves.
The Common Stitch robe-jacket pattern is free from Peppermint magazine. CB pleat, some front overlap, very dropped shoulders and flat set sleeves.
Helen’s Closet Moss jacket has back yoke, flat set sleeves, choice of front bands, body and sleeve lengths.
In the Folds Whitlow robe, raglan sleeves, front overlap, the photos are textured woven fabrics not knits.
Named Clothing Lahja gown, front overlap.
Ready to Sew Pekka jacket, lined (with video), self-quilted or pre-quilted fabric options. This includes two widths of neckband.
The Ready to Sew Jasper jacket is lined so also a little more difficult, with photo sew-along.
Sewing Workshop Ikina jacket (piping trim optional).
Tessuti Tokyo jacket, cut-on sleeves.
Wardrobe By Me Wrap jacket, woven, knit, or pre-quilted fabric, front overlap, options for shawl collar and vest.
Examples of more difficult styles
The Fit for Art Tabula Rasa jacket has a different armhole, which is much easier to sew than it looks. There are many associated patterns which include the pattern pieces needed to make other styles, such as closed front jackets.
This Overlap pattern by Dhurata Davies is slightly more difficult, as it does not have a full length neckband.
I have an example of a more difficult pattern in which the end of the neckband is inserted in the front. But it’s out of print, so I need to find another.
Special occasion wear
Well, actually you don’t need a special pattern, just special fabric to elevate a garment. (I have a lace one, admittedly bought !) But these are some Vogue Designer patterns :
Sandra Betzina, classic ‘kimono’ rectangles.
Kathryn Brenne‘s outfit pattern includes top and very wide leg pants.
This Zandra Rhodes dress does get an ‘Advanced’ difficulty rating ! (and uses much double-sided tape).
Also a Zandra Rhodes jumpsuit, this design said to be ‘Average’ in difficulty. Both are said to have ‘kimono’ sleeves.
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Some guides to adding interest with embellishment and patchwork techniques
Bon Temps from BMann by Bridget includes a version made from an old tablecloth. Think of this one-size pattern as an easy starting point for creativity rather than a perfectly drafted pattern and instructions.
The Book of Boro uses Japanese simple hand stitching embellishment.
McCall’s 7132 is ‘designed for you’ multi-fabric patchwork, unlined, back neck has facing not neckband.
Tropical Research has easy drop-shoulder jacket patterns which can be made from nearly any fabric and include quilt-it-yourself instructions. The Kimono cardigan has a neckband and link to video. (One thing which takes a bit of getting used to is he calls the wrong side of the fabric the left side.)
Koos van den Akker : Vogue 1493, an Advanced pattern with bias binding embellishment. I think the flowers are print fabric, the techniques used are more obvious in the line diagrams.
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No shortage of possibilities to try.
Your favourite pattern source may include some I haven’t mentioned.
Have a look through and see which you like best. Which would you enjoy making and wearing ?
😀 👍 ♥️
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Other posts on specific easy-make garment styles :
Cut-on sleeve tops – group of five posts :
2A. Reasons to make a test garment.
2B. Making a test garment, and adjusting for fit and preferences.
2C. An example of a changed test garment, plus how to revise your pattern.
3. Sewing a cut-on sleeve top.
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