Pattern Review: Kimono Tee

I stumbled across the Kimono Tee a few years ago when I first started sewing. It’s a free (I love free!) PDF pattern by Maria Denmark. The pattern is a thank you for signing up for her newsletter.

If you aren’t familiar with Maria and her site, you should click on over and check it out. In addition to patterns, Maria offers e-books on fit and maintains an active blogging schedule focused on how to build a handmade wardrobe. Maria won me over when I read that she taught middle school for several years before launching her sewing business. As a former middle school teacher, I have a huge soft spot for fellow educators, especially those who taught/teach at the middle level.

I wisely decided to sew a muslin of the Kimono Tee before cutting into my pretty fabric. The shirt is only two main pattern pieces and a neck band. Construction is simple. If you’ve made a knit shirt before, you probably won’t need to read them.

I made a muslin because I wanted to play around with the neckband finishing- visible t-shirt style or invisible and folded under. In addition, I’m in between waist and hip sizes on the pattern’s size chart and was a little worried about having enough room around my hips in the finished garment. The shirt did sew up too tight in the hips, so I graded out the side seams by about an inch and a half on each side. I went with a visible t-shirt style neck band for the muslin which turned out okay, but not great. I decided to go with the invisible finish for the final top.

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Since this shirt is such a fast sew, the muslin and final shirt were completed very quickly. I started mid morning and was done by lunch!

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Worn here with my linen Fint Culottes

 

Let’s talk about these fabrics…

Something weird happens to me in fabric stores (and when browsing online for fabric). I fall for a print or color I would never select in a clothing store. Colors or prints I would pass over in a RTW garment because I know they don’t compliment my complexion are suddenly in my cart when I’m fabric shopping. A prime example is the fabric I used for this muslin.

This midwestern style print features dusty shades of pale blue and coral. On the bolt, it was really pretty, but I know better. Coral is not a good color for my skintone and the blue in this print is too muted to provide any sort of visual pick-me-up. The resulting shirt badly washes me out.

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Look how close the coral matches my skin tone! Eek!

The second Kimono Tee was also made with a fabric that featured blue and coral, but this print really upped the wattage. The coral is bright and contains some red tones. The blue is dark, nearly navy. Additionally, this pattern utilizes a white background that really makes the colors pop. It looks a million times better on me than the knit I used for the muslin.

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Sorry about the brightness of the photo. I took the pictures on a REALLY sunny day.

It’s disappointing. I adore the pastel color palettes I see on so many IG accounts and love millenium pink (I hear that’s what the cool kids are calling it) , but such soft shades are poor matches for my skin tone. To fulfill my pastel dreams, I buy my husband lots of pale colored shirts and sweaters. The soft shades look great on him.

As I shop for fall fabrics, I’m trying to stick to the colors and shades I know are complementary to my skintone. It’s easier for me in the cooler months when stronger, darker colors fill the shelves.

Is it just me? Do you also buy fabrics that are pretty on the bolt only to find they don’t look particularly good on you?

Happy Sewing

XOXO

Pattern Review: 1 Dune, 3 Looks

As a former Floridian, I have extensive tank top wearing experience and hold firm beliefs on what makes a good tank.

First, the top should not be super tight to the body. When sweat is leaching from every pore, you don’t want fabric hugging your body and sopping up circles of moisture- ick.

Second, the straps should be wide enough that you can wear a regular bra (or racerback bra) underneath. The last thing you want to fuss with as you melt under the sun is a strapless bra sliding down your body.

Third, the neck should be on the modest side. I don’t think I am a particularly prudish dresser, but, as a part of the over 35 crowd, some things are better left to the imagination. (You know I love my lacy bras, but they shouldn’t be peeking out and upstaging my outfit.) Plus, a higher neckline allows the tank to be worn in a variety of situations, not just trips to the beach.

Because of my strict criteria, I had a tough time finding a tank sewing pattern.

Enter Dune by Valentine and Stitch.

I’ve sewn Dune three times so far and, not only does it meet my criteria, each version looks completely different. Non-sewists would assume I sewed three different patterns!

Dune #1


For my first Dune, I sewed a size XS. This was a mistake. I meant to sew a size small. I blame The Great British Baking Show. I was watching a particularly intense episode featuring French pastries on Netflix while cutting out and assembling the pattern. I got distracted and cut the wrong size. I didn’t realize my mistake until I was preparing to sew up version 3!

Dune offers both low and high necklines. The low neckline isn’t super low, but, as stated above, I prefer a higher neck. The only change I made to the pattern for this version was to finish the neck and arms with t-shirt style bands. The pattern suggests turning the bands under completely to give a smooth finish. I thought leaving the bands visible looked cool in this print, so I went with it.

The fabric I used is a cotton knit with a lot of stretch and a fun geometric print.

Despite sewing up the wrong size, the resulting top fits. As long as I don’t gain an ounce, it will continue to do so!

Version 2

 

While it is a simple top to make, the style lines have a big impact. The shoulders are slightly cut in and the waist flares gently out. This highlights a curvy figure and glides over the body in places where other tops cling unattractively.

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Dune #2


I decided to make Dune #2 in a bigger size for a more relaxed fit. Thinking I’d sewn up a size small for Dune #1, I cut out a medium and selected a leftover piece of gray knit fabric from my stash. Dune’s construction is incredibly simple and I didn’t need to look at the directions for this version. I woke up early and was finished with my second Dune before my husband kicked me out of the sewing room/home office for an early morning conference call. It took me about an hour to sew.

Version 2

Like my first Dune, I finished this tank with exposed neck and arm bands. The result is a very casual top that seems to go with all the bright bottoms in my closet. So far, this is my most worn Dune. Since sewing it last week, I’ve worn it three times! It pairs really well with all my colorful summer shorts.

Dune #3


Dune #3 is a dramatic departure from the first two. Helen, the mastermind behind Valentine and Stitch, modeled a maxi version of Dune on IG recently. I loved the drama of the maxi version and thought it could transition nicely into fall with a jacket.

I selected a fairly thick burgundy floral knit from my stash and took over the living room floor to cut it out. It was during this process that I realized I’d cut an extra small for Dune #1. I recut my pattern pieces to sew the maxi in a size small.

Unfortunately, my chosen fabric wasn’t long enough to cut both the front and back pieces of the maxi, so I got creative. I cut the front of the dress in one continuous piece. Then, I cut the back in three sections:

  • Bodice back, ending above the waist
  • A panel at the mid back. I included a swayback adjustment in this piece.
  • Bottom half of the skirt

I sewed these three back pieces together and checked them against the front piece to make sure all the seams matched up. Luckily, they did!

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Dune #3 sewed up nearly as quickly as the first two, but I struggled finishing the neck and arm holes on this version. Since the fabric was thick, sewing on the bands at the neckline and arm holes was a bit of a nightmare. Despite using a stretch needle and walking foot, the fabric at the neck bunched up terribly when I applied the neck band.

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Plan B was to sew in a facing. This was also a failure. The fabric was too heavy to lay flat. Even with understitching, the inside of the facing rolled up and out.

After a deep and calming breath, I employed Plan C. I pulled out all the stitches from the band and steamed the neckline in an attempt to relax the fabric back into place. I then folded the edge of the neck over and sewed it down. It worked perfectly. I did the same for the arm holes. Thankfully, all my stitching and unstitching didn’t seem to stretch out the fabric and the hemmed edges are flat and smooth. In retrospect and considering the thickness of this knit, Plan C should have been Plan A. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’m pretty pleased with my maxi Dune. It earned a voluntary “I like that” from my notoriously picky husband.

The autumnal color and thicker knit mean it will transition well into fall. I played around styling it for cooler weather and like how it looks with my old RTW denim jacket and brown ballet flats.

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Concluding thoughts on Dune


Dune gets top marks from me. The simplicity of the shape means you can use all sorts of prints and different knit weights. It’s a fast sew (instant sewing gratification is the best!) and the style lines are really complementary on those of us with curves. Plus, my three versions look very different. I don’t feel like I’m wearing the same thing over and over even though I used the same pattern.

I’m taking a Dune break this week and working on some more lingerie; although more Dunes are certainly in my future. I could use some more in basic colors… maybe black for fall layering with jackets and jeans.

Have you tried Dune yet?

Happy Sewing!

XOXO