DIY Kimono From a Men’s Shirt | Thrifted Revamp Ep. 1

Posted on 2 min read
The familiar danky smell of old, used clothes traveled up my nostrils. I could feel the molecules of dust piling on my skin. Just as I can see them occasionally in the afternoon light that dried through the window. Most people would have left such a place long ago. But I knew this was where treasures hide.

In the last 30 minutes spent combing through the racks, I had not found anything to take home without the risk of having to return it a few days later. Returned in the donation bin, that is. Soon, the store will be closing, and I would have to try my luck another time.

I scanned the thrift store one last time from the shelf of mismatched shoes to the glass miniatures laid out haphazardly on top of each rack. My eyes landed on a rack of Halloween costumes and dresses lined up against the far right wall. It was oddly set out of place near the furniture and away from the rest of the clothes.

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Inspiration in a Button-Up Shirt

Not to be defeated, I made my way through the maze of loveseats and couches. In a race against time, I sifted through a few random pieces. As expected, most were oversized wedding dresses and costumes that had seen better days.

But wait! A curious design peaked out at me from between two voluminous dresses. The tag identified it as a men’s 3 XL shirt by Natural Issue. Perhaps it was the black and gold print or the white etchings. A image of a Samurai pacing in his home on a warm afternoon immediately popped up in my mind. Such was how ideas are born sometimes, as random as it was. I knew what I wanted to make next.

Thrifted Revamp is a series where I create chic garments from scratch. Check out Sew it Yourself to create existing chic garments from scratch!

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How I Style the Kimono

I wanted to play off the dark shades of the kimono. With the exception of the white shorts, I went for dark colors all around, from the top to the boots.

Pairing the kimono with high waisted shorts and ankle boots create different horizontal lines. The different lines, in turn, draw the eyes up and down. This helps my petite frame appear taller.

I kept the jewelry really simple by throwing on a small cross necklace.

Look for a material that is on the heavier side and not prone to wrinkles.

The Perfect Button-Up

Many button-up shirts are thin. Many are also made of polyester. This type of material makes the shirt stiff and not necessarily flowy. Some button-up shirts can also feel like fabric. It may be a beautiful dress shirt. However, this project requires another type of button-up shirt.

So what are some things to look out for?

When choosing your shirt, look for a material that is on the heavier side and not prone to wrinkles. This will help to hold the shape of the kimono better. The heavier fabric will also flow more nicely. As an added bonus, you won’t have to iron it each time you want to wear it!

Another feature to look for is a fun print. You know those horrendous dad shirts with flowers? This might just be the perfect revamp project.

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For this project, you’ll need the following materials:

  • Oversized button-up shirt
  • 2 ½ Yard decorative elastic
  • 1 ½ Yard fringe
  • Basic sewing tools

1. Create the neckline.

Put on some music. Dance like nobody’s watching.

Remove the collar. Cut close to the seam that holds the collar base to the shirt. Take care to remove only the minimum amount of fabric. If too much fabric is removed, the final neckline will be too big, and the kimono will hang off the shoulders instead.

Draw a diagonal line from the neckline to the bottom of the center front. Try to keep the transition from the neckline to the center front as smooth as possible. Cut along the diagonal line. This will become the new neckline.

Remove any fabric that remains from the folded shirt placket. The shirt placket is the folded center front where the buttons and buttonholes sit. 

2. Finish the raw edge with decorative elastic.

Attach the decorate elastic. 

Start by pinning with the decorative part facing away from the edge. Secure with a zigzag stick.

I like to have more trimming and fabrics than what the measurements call for. This gives me some wiggle room if I make a mistake. If you are the same, remove any extra elastic.

Fold the edge under, allowing the decorative part to peak out from beneath the fold. Secure with a straight stitch. Do no stretch the fabric or elastic since this will create a gathered edge.

3. Finish the hemline with fringe trimming.

With the fringe still intact, pin it along the bottom of the kimono. Leave ½ inch of extra fringe at the beginning and end.

Fold the ½ inch of fringe over the raw edge of the kimon. This will cover the raw edge and prevent the fringe from unwinding. Secure with a straight stitch.

Sew a second straight stitch below the first to secure the fringe. This part is optional and is an extra measure to keep the fringe attached to the kimono. You can also double stitch in Step 9 and skip this step altogether.

Remove the wire thread from the fringe. Shake it out and gently comb through the fringe to loosen it.


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