Monday, October 24, 2011

Sewing Through the Decades: 1920s Tulip Kimono

Guy: So, what are you up to lately?
Me: Sewing.
Guy: What are you sewing?
Me: (cheery) A 1920s robe!
Guy: Ah .............why?

I guess that does come off kind of random.

But, hey, now I have a robe to stylishly drink mint juleps in on the front porch.......this winter. Though I have to say this keeps me quite warm, which for some reason surprised me but I'm not complaining!

Pattern: 1920s Tulip Kimono from Decades of Style
Fabric: "Van Gogh" rayon and chambray for the contrast, both from Sew L.A. Fabric
Size: Group A, 32" bust
Pattern Level: Beginner
Paired with: My favorite pair of blue suede shoes! (Sofft brand Mary Janes, sooo comfy)

This is my first item made for my Sewing Through the Decades challenge, coinciding with the Sew Weekly theme "lounging around" from last week! I've added a tab at the top of the blog to document the Decades challenge. I have to say, I'm not really a fan of the 1920s silhouette on me (I think it looks great in period films), but I do like it for this comfy robe. Obviously I don't plan on wearing it with high heels, but hey, it's fun to think "glamorous"! And these are my favorite pair of shoes you see here, I love the little flowers on the straps.

I used this great rayon print called "Van Gogh" and pink chambray for the contrast. I love the Van Gogh series, I have it in another color way and Sew L.A. still has some available on their website so I've had to refrain from buying more! The print reminds me of a lily pond. And I love how the chambray has two colors of thread that cross each other to make a darker color (difficult to see here). The one thing about the cotton is that it wrinkles easily so I'm going to have to lounge all genteel-like.

Fun fact: I actually chose these two fabrics a year and a half ago with the help of Sew L.A. worker Sarah Trost who soon after went on to be a contestant on Project Runway 2010! I was bummed that she was ousted on the party favors challenge, she really is as nice and laid back as she appeared on the show and I wanted her to go far, but oooooh well.

Did you know rayon became popular in the 1920s even though it had been invented decades before and under a different name? I didn't.

This pattern came together very easily though there is a lot of hand stitching! Because the robe is unlined I used French seams on the side seams and sleeve seams; every other seam, besides the armscye seams, is covered so it all looks nice and tidy from the inside. In fact, there's no hem to worry about because you cut two bottom band pieces and sew them together. Just a note, I couldn't "visualize ahead" so I used French seams on the cuffs only for them to be covered up completely. Oh well, you've been warned!

As the pattern says, this isn't really a kimono robe because the sleeves are attached. I've noticed that Decades of Style assumes you know some things about the sewing process so that might be challenging to a beginner even though this is a beginner pattern. But if you have a number of projects under your belt that shouldn't be a problem.

None! That was easy.

Me with my "before smiles were invented" facial expression typical of
turn-of-the-century photographs (but at least they had an excuse).

...Things I Added...
To close the robe, the pattern recommends a frog closure and an interior ribbon. I couldn't find a frog closure in the color I wanted so I made a single posie with a button in the middle using A Fashionable Stitch's "Pocket Full of Posies Corsage" tutorial. I also added a little chambray loop that goes around the posie button. 

I decided to tack down the cuffs at the end of the sleeves and the collar trim, just so everything stayed in place while I casually lounge.

...And My Antique Singer...
Introducing my newly acquired antique Singer treadle machine from 1920! I've had all kinds of geeky fun poking around this machine and finding some great treasures that I'll share in a future post. I do plan on cleaning it up and removing the rust, etc. in an attempt to get it running again. A winter project! I love restoring stuff, though I haven't done it in some time. This 91-year-old will look 19 again!


  1. This is fantastic! I love your color choices, and the style of the robe is perfect for some glamorous lounging!

  2. I'll take you up on that mint julep reference. I make a pretty good one. But you have to like bourbon to actually want one ;)

  3. Thanks, Suzanne and Meg!

    Haha, Kim, you know me ;) I just thought mint julep sounded like a nice Southern reference, but I'll try it if you make it!

  4. That turned out sooooo beautiful! You should send a link along to Janet at Decades of Style - she'd love to see your fabric combination. Now, off to the Sofft website...

  5. Thanks, Shaerie! I will do just that :)

  6. Very 20s kimono robe indeed. The image of the Singer sewing machine does make me smile. We had a similar one long ago and just can't help relieving the old memories of learning how to sew.


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