Part 2: Drafting & Sewing an Easy Kimono Cardigan

Kimono-sleeved cardigans are a versatile and timeless addition to any wardrobe. In this 2-part blog series, I’ll guide you through the steps of drafting a pattern for an easy kimono cardigan that you can customize to fit your unique style and body shape. In Part 1 of this blog series, I walked you through the steps of drafting the body of a custom-fit-to-you kimono cardigan. With a few more steps I’ll outline in this second part of the series, you’ll be on your way to creating a beautiful and functional garment that you’ll love to wear!

Step 3. Waistband and Neckband

Once I was happy with the kimono sleeve, it was time to design the waistband and neckband. For the waistband, I used a 2″ strip of scrap knit with similar stretch to experiment with how long I wanted the ties to hang in front after tied in a knot. I decided on 12″. To make your waistband, first calculate your waist length, like in the sketch below.

Now that you have your waist length, you can determine the length of your waistband. You’ll add 2 times the length of your ties, plus 85% of your waist length. You multiply it by .85 to shorten the waistband a little like you do with a neckband. Note that this can vary between 75-85% depending on the stretch and recovery of your chosen knit fabric- your mileage may vary. Trial and error may be necessary to get the right length! For my waistband, the following applied:

  • my seam allowance is 3/8″
  • my desired finished width of the band is 2″, so for the pattern, (2″ + 3/8″) will be doubled since the waistband will be cut on the fold.
  • total waistband pattern width = 4 3/4″
  • also, as mentioned before, my band only needed to be 85% of the waist length. Your’s may need to be shorter, but it’s safe to err on the side of cutting it longer as you could always cut it shorter later.

To make your neckband, you use a similar process. Decide on your desired finished width, and for the pattern, double that plus double your seam allowance like we did with the waistband. For my pattern, I wanted a 1″ wide finished neckband and my seam allowance is 3/8″. So, to achieve this, my pattern measured 2 3/4″ wide. Now for the length of the band, measure the neckline length, and multiply by your same factor, .75-.85, that you used for your waistband.

Once you have cut out your neckband, you can fold it in half lengthwise right sides out. You can now baste it together with a long stitch length to make sewing easier later. Mark the center of the neckband and center back at the cardigan neckline. Pin the neckband center at the center back neckline, right sides together. Now pin the neckband at each end, matching it up to the end of the cardigan neckline. You can add more pins if you like to ease in the neckline to the neckband evenly, then sew in place with a stretch stitch, narrow zig-zag, or serger. Press the seam open, pressing the seam allowance into the inside of the cardigan.

Next we will prepare the waistband and sew the end ties. Take the waistband and mark all four edges 12″ from each tapered end and clip 1/4″ into the seam allowance at each mark.

The next step will form the end ties. Fold the waistband right sides together, and pin the ends and at the 12″ marks. Sew on the 3/8″ seamline from one tapered end to the 12″ mark. Repeat for the other tapered end. Flip the tapered ends right side out, fold the waistband right sides out, and press. The clippings made at the 12″ marks should help the remainder of the seam allowance flip out. Baste the rest of the waistband, right-sides out, just like you did for neckband. Mark the center of the waistband. Also mark the cardigan neck center back and waistline center back.

Pin the center of the waistband to the center back waistline of cardigan. Now pin the ends of the waistband (where the tie meets the waistband, at the 12″ mark) to the ends of the waistline at center front. Be sure the keep the neckband flat/pressed open. Again, you can add more pins if you like to ease the cardigan waistline into the waistband evenly, then sew in place with a stretch stitch, narrow zig-zag, or serger. Press the seam open, pressing the seam allowance into the inside of the cardigan.

Step 4. Add the cuffs

Now you are almost at the finish line – we just have to add the cuffs! Take the pattern piece you set aside in Step 1. In order to make this the pattern piece of our desired cuff, we need to double it’s width and length. Why, you might ask? Well, we have to double it’s width because the pattern piece only reflects the front of the arm – we need enough to cover the back as well. And why double the length? We will double the length to make it thicker and more comfortable and durable, just like we did with the neckband and waistband. The picture below shows what the pattern piece will look like once you double it twice and add seam allowance.

Mark the pattern piece as shown, with the direction of greatest stretch, vertical fold line, horizontal fold line, with a circle at each top corner, and a triangle at each bottom corner. Now cut two cuffs out of your fabric, aligning the pattern with the direction of greatest stretch. Take one cuff and fold it along the vertical fold line, matching circles and triangles. Sew along this vertical seam line with a serger, zig-zag or stretch stitch. Now fold again, this time along the horizontal fold line, and bast the raw edges of the cuff together. Repeat for the other cuff. Pin a cuff to the sleeve end, matching seams, and sew with a serger, zig-zag or stretch stitch. Repeat to for the other sleeve to complete your cardigan!

Some Final Construction notes:

  • If you choose, you can vary the width of your neckband, cuffs, and waistband each time you make it by simply narrowing or widening their width in the pattern. If you look closely in my photos you can see that I varied the width on my neckbands, but I kept the waistband the same.
  • As another option, once you have finished your cardigan, you may choose to cover or enclose the neckline’s raw edges at the bodice back. A few reasons you might consider doing this would be: for comfort (if it irritates your neck), for aesthetics (it gives a tidier “hanger” presentation) and/or for added stability (if your knit is delicate or has poor recovery). I did this on the black “holey” cardigan I made, because while I loved the distressed “holey” look of the fabric, the holes made the fabric delicate and slightly unstable. Also, it was a cotton/linen blend with no lycra, so it had poor recovery. To do this, you can simply use a scrap strip of knit fabric, or even a lightweight woven ribbon. Just sew it over the raw neckline edges, enclosing them from shoulder seam to shoulder seam. Here is a picture below of what the back neckline will look like when finished with this technique. If you’d like a detailed post about how to do this technique, just ask me in the comments below!

In conclusion, drafting your own pattern for an easy kimono cardigan is a great way to create a unique and stylish garment that fits perfectly. By following the steps outlined in this 2-part blog series, you’ll be able to customize your kimono cardigan to suit your individual style and body shape. Not only is this a cost-effective option, but it also allows you to unleash your creativity and add your own personal touch to your wardrobe. With a little bit of practice and patience, you’ll soon be able to make your own custom kimono cardigan! Happy sewing!

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