Florence Kimono in rayon–with cherries!


I have a truly absurd number of garments hiding in my closet.  Things that I’ve made, for myself, over the past few years that have never been shared or blogged about.  Or more accurately, have made it on to my Instagram feed, but have never been written about at length in a format where I can actually archive them and make them searchable, like here.  I’ve been calling them Lost Projects.


And I’ve resolved to share about them, because sometimes I find that I don’t bother to write a post when “I don’t have anything to write about” or because I’m working on projects that I can’t publish yet.  That seems like such a waste, when I have all these lovely clothes in my closet that I wear regularly–part of the fun of maintaining a blog is that I get to write about and take photos of the things I’ve made that make me most excited.  Instagram has really undercut that, and when I posted recently about how I wanted to get back to archiving longer details from sewing projects on the blog, there was very enthusiastic response from folks like me who miss “old school” blogs where there was plenty of meat and not just one photo and a caption.

So here we go: Episode 1 in the Lost Projects Series.


This pattern is the Florence Kimono from Sew Caroline.  I’ll be honest, the pattern didn’t look like much at first from the photos, and I know I wasn’t the only one who felt that way, because when people would ask me and I told them, there was almost universal surprise.  But!  As with all patterns, if you really look at the style lines, this design has a lot going for it: very simple, classic shape with good proportions (none of this cropped kimono 90s-throwback nonsense); clean construction details; and plenty of room for adaptation and embellishment.  A lot of us, me included, really want to make staples for our wardrobes, and to supplement those with statement pieces that can carry the look alongside solids–this seemed like a great in-between-season lighter-weight cardigan alternative (because I never, ever, ever go ANYWHERE without a cardigan in my bag, EVER).


I specifically chose this Cotton+Steel rayon not only because THE COLORS MAKE IT LOOK LIKE THEY DESIGNED IT JUST FOR ME AND I CHOOSE TO BELIEVE THAT’S TRUE, but also because this fabric is suuuuuuper forgiving.  I’ve wadded this puppy up in my bag for an entire day, hung it back up, and the next morning it looked like it does here: barely wrinkled and totally presentable.  WINNING!


I also love the ridiculous softness of this fabric.  Seriously, if you have the chance to purchase any print of theirs at all in the rayon, I can’t encourage you enough to do it.  This stuff is silky smooth to the touch and wears like you never want to take it off, but it sews like cotton and is very easy to handle.  It presses up like a dream, too.  I even have some smaller cuts and some scraps which I’m saving to use for pocket linings and waistband facings, because I can get a really flat finish from this fabric, and it feels great up against my skin, so I end up with better-feeling interiors on my garments with less bulk (my other go-to fabric for the same effect is cotton lawn, and Cotton+Steel makes an awesome line of those, too).


From a construction standpoint, this garment is crazy simple.  Two rectangular fronts, a back, and two rectangular sleeves.  Add a simple banding around the entire front opening, and it’s done.  I can’t recall completely, because I made this almost two years ago, but I don’t think I 100% followed the directions on the band–I think she wrote the pattern so that it was on the interior?  But mine is applied to the exterior on purpose, because I like the look of it there to break up the pattern.


If I were to do anything at all differently?  I’d take care to cut my French seams MUCH more consistently.  You can see that I have a few threads here and there poking out, where the first seam didn’t get trimmed down enough before I inverted to sew the second seam, and that bums me out a little every time I wear it.  It isn’t super noticeable, but it bothers me.  More consistency with how much I trimmed away would have prevented that from happening.

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One of the nice things about having all these projects left lying around is that I have really, really worn them and can write about what I love and don’t love without having to guess–I have great data from two years of packing and traveling and daily life-living in these clothes.  This particular pattern is exceptional for daily wear, and makes me feel more put-together than a fleece would when I toss it over my jeans+tee on the way to a school function.  It’s got a great weight in this fabric, so I’m covered from the cranked AC in most public buildings, but not sweltering all spring and summer long.  And making it in a clean color palette means it goes with almost everything.  I made a second one last summer that I took with me to France, and like it almost as much, even though it’s a very lightweight cotton and has a totally different feel than this one.

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I absolutely call this pattern a success, and have it on regular warm-weather rotation in my wardrobe.  The two I have fill a niche in my wardrobe, and get a lot of use in both casual and dressier settings.  Maybe the reason I haven’t bothered to take photos is because it was in the wash half the time!

Part of the magic of sewing is getting to make fantastical, impossible pieces that spring from your imagination.  But part of the exhilaration of sewing is that I can sew something up and forget that it hasn’t been here all along–it’s such a perfect addition to my wardrobe that I forget it’s something I made, and almost take it for granted.  Do you have lost projects floating around your closet that you sewed up and made an integral part of your wardrobe so soon after they came off the machine that you forgot there was a time when you didn’t have them?  Doesn’t that seem like maybe it’s a silent superpower??


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  • susan
    April 4, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    I love your rayon kimono. I made one out of voile, and concluded that kimonos aren’t me. Nothing about the pattern, I just felt frumpy, and I knew going in that the sleeves would bug me. That’s what I love about sewing, I can take a pattern, and some fabric I have lying around. Try a new style without breaking the bank, and pass it on if it isn’t me. I haven’t had to drive to a mall, spent time looking for a parking space, browsed all the shops, spent hard earned money, and then felt guilty that I wasn’t wearing it. This way, I used some stash, and got to spend time doing something I love. Win, win, even if it isn’t a complete win!

    • Deborah
      June 25, 2018 at 10:45 am

      I don’t think I would want to wear one over other flowy layers, for the same reason: they can get a little old-lady-ish. But over a fitted tank top or tee plus pants or a skirt, I really love them, much more than I would have guessed from looking at the pattern. Like a loose, light cardigan for warmer days. I took the other one I made from this pattern, which is a really light, gauzy lawn, with us to Japan and loooooved it in their climate.

      But also: what you say about trying styles out really resonates with me. It’s so similar to how I feel about the library–I can pick up anything, give it a whirl, and no guilt if it isn’t for me. I love testing a shape or style and if I don’t love it, I can gift or donate it, and I feel like I benefit from the skills I learned (and the insight into my style + what flatters my shape) without guilt!

  • Elle
    June 23, 2018 at 8:47 am

    Oh man, I’ve been seeing ladies in my town everywhere wearing these gorgeous flowy RTW kimono jackets and I’ve been drooling over them. I need to make one sooo bad!

    • Deborah
      June 25, 2018 at 10:42 am

      Soooooo simple to sew!! Seriously, you can have one cut and sewn in about 2 hours, for real (a little longer if you do French seams, but they’re worth it!).