Making a Kimono Sleeves Pattern – Instructions, Tips, and Tricks

Jean Chaney
Jean Chaney
Research Writer
Jean is the brains behind her fashion label. She's a whiz with a needle and thread, and has been sewing since she was old enough to hold a pair of scissors. Jean has always read more
Reviewed By
Isabel Misner
Isabel Misner
Expert Consultant
A professional seamstress. Isabel has her own video blog where she shares her experience about all the aspects of sewing – from choosing suitable materials to step-by-step read more
Last updated: August 19, 2023
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Traditionally a Japanese dress, Kimono has now entered into mainstream fashion. Kimono is essentially a T-shaped dress that can be wrapped in the front. Kimono’s are characterized by their iconic square sleeves which are now being used for other clothes as well.

Kimono sleeves are now becoming a big part of the ‘Western’ women’s fashion. In the 40s, women’s clothing had exaggerated sleeves with large padded or puff sleeves which gradually transitioned into smooth silhouettes in the 50s. This transition also introduced Kimono sleeve patterns into fashion which have now become very trendy. The best thing about kimono sleeves is that they are not just trendy but also airy and practical. They are wide at the hem and spacious at the armhole area. This gives your arms plenty of room to breathe.

Kimonos are rooted deeply in Japanese history and according to Japanese culture, a different type of kimono should be worn at different occasions. While kimonos are not worn as frequently anymore, kimono sleeves are becoming popular again. This article is the ultimate guide for you to learn how to pattern and sew kimono sleeves.

Measurements and Pattern

It is important to get the measurements and pattern right because these initial steps will determine how your kimono sleeves turn out. As long as you follow our guide, you will be able to make the perfect kimono sleeves.

Since kimono sleeves are not like traditional western wear, making the pattern can be quite tricky.

If you are someone who regularly sews, you will surely have a made to measure bust pattern available at home. Take this same pattern, and place it without the darts.

You will have to now make some basic enlargements. Take ½ inches off length from the back and add it to the front.

In case you do not already have a bust pattern, here’s how you should start. Draw the bodice, and make sure you draw it with space for the sleeves. Move your side dart near your armhole.

For a kimono sleeve, you need a long shoulder seam. This seam should go all the way from your neck to your sleeve. You should also ensure that you align the front and back style, so the sleeves are not twisted or lopsided. You can do this by revising your front pattern to make them both the same.

Now take the back bodice, mark ¼ inch of the shoulder point and connect it to the highest shoulder point. Extend the line to make the sleeve length. This perpendicular line will be your sleeve hem. Extend it by ⅛ inch and then extend it to your underarm point to complete your sleeve pattern. You will also need to make it slightly curved for which you should go 3 inches on each side and draw a curved line.

Follow this exact process for the front of your bodice. Make sure you get the measurements right, and you will have yourself an amazing kimono sleeve pattern!

How to Sew Kimono Sleeves

In Japanese culture, the sleeve of a kimono is broken down into parts and each part has a name.

Now that you have the pattern ready, you need to get to the sewing part. The good thing is that once you have made the pattern, the sewing part becomes relatively easy and straightforward.

Tools and Materials

Here are some tools and materials that are essential for sewing your kimono sleeves.

The most important thing you will need is of course the fabric. Since kimono sleeve design is flowy and airy, you should opt for a fabric that gives an elegant look. We think cotton voile is a great fabric option. It is also an easy fabric to sew with, which will make your life easy.

The best part about sewing kimono sleeves is that they do not require any special tools. You can make do with the basic sewing tools and materials you have at home.

Step-by-Step Guide

Once you have made the pattern and acquired the fabric, you can get sewing.

If you are regular at sewing, you will know how to follow the pattern to sew a perfect sleeve. But in case you are confused or a newbie, here’s a guide:

  1. Attach the middle of the seam to the top of the shoulder area of your bodice.
  2. Attach the side seam to the gap before the side seam begins.
  3. If you are sewing women’s sleeves, sew at the front and bottom of the sleeve. This gives them an elegant and flowy look.
  4. For men’s sleeves, the open back area is sewn shut which also gives a sleek look.

Final Thoughts

Kimono sleeves are becoming popular and have also become a part of Western wear. They are popular because they are both airy and elegant. They let your arms breathe and also give your outfit a chic look that is hard to beat. And in case their functionality doesn’t convince you, kimono sleeves are also deeply rooted in Japanese history and culture. So in case you appreciate Japanese culture, kimono sleeves are a great way to immerse yourself in it.

We have detailed hot to pattern and sew kimono sleeves above. In case you have experience sewing, you should be able to pattern and sew these sleeves easily. However, in case you are new to the world of sewing, you will have to put some extra care and effort in but our guide will surely get the job done.

Make sure you pick the right fabric and do the measurements accurately. Once you sew kimono sleeves properly you will want to sew them on all your clothes because of the comfort they provide. Good luck sewing!


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