sewing · Upcycle Sewing

My Indonesian Sarong Kimono

My fabulously colorful Kimono began it’s life as an Indonesian Sarong from Jakarta.  A little snip here, a little seam there and it’s now my newest favorite thing to wear!!

In June, my hubby spent two weeks traveling through Southeast Asia and . . . buying fabric for me!!! Yes, he IS the best husband in the whole world! He asked for and got a crash course in “How to Buy Fabric For My Wife” before he left. I expected him to bring back two or three pieces, but he came back with (loud gasp!) 56 beautiful yards!! That’s a whole other blog post. . . .

For my first project, I chose to upcycle an incredibly colorful, fringed sarong length. Since I wanted to preserve the handwoven, ikat design as much as possible, I chose a simple kimono. The pieces were initially cut from View A of Simplicity #8172, but there were lots of design elements added along the way. That’s the fun of it, right?!

Bottom Fringe

The fringe, of course, had to be used, so the front was cut from one end of the sarong and the back from the other. Somehow, I managed to cut the front longer than the back and had to re-cut it to match. These things happen . . .

My sarong wasn’t wide enough to cut the back on a fold, so I added a seam allowance along the solid red selvedge. I didn’t want a solid stripe going down the back and chose to add a “stripe” of scraps to break up the red. I randomly cut narrow rectangular shapes and pieced and pressed them together to create a long strip to insert. There’s a little wonkiness in the piecing, but I’m assuming no one is looking that closely at my backside!

The pattern has cut on sleeves, but my sarong length wasn’t wide enough for that. I cut rectangles for sleeves from the fabric left under the arms of the front and back pieces. It still wasn’t quite wide enough, so another design element was born! I really, really loved the marvelous pattern woven into the wide red section that ran the length of the sarong. So, to supplement the sleeve width, I cut pieces of the marvy red section and added them to the middle of each sleeve.

Sleeve insert

The sleeve also needed a little extra length, so I cut strips of leftover scraps to add at the hem. They were folded in half lengthwise and sewn to the bottom of each sleeve. I really like the little bit of “weight” and distinction that style of hem added.

Pockets! There were no pockets in Simplicity 8172 – such a tragedy. But, they’re a must in a jacket, so I added a pocket that I love from Indygo Junction’s Urban Tunic pattern.

It’s a clever side seam pocket that uses just two pocket pieces inside that are topstitched to the front of the garment. I tried on the now sewn together kimono and marked where I wanted to be able to put my hands in before I added the pockets.

The rustic red selvedges were perfect for the center fronts, but I had no plan for the neckline. Simplicity 8172 calls for purchased bias binding around the neck. That sounded yucky to me (yes, that’s a sewing term), so I wanted to create my own binding. By this time I was down to very small scraps, but I was able to cut enough bias strips to piece together a neck finish.

front tie ob

And, then, a bit of late night genius struck! (Did I mention that this was sewn in two after 9:00 pm sessions?) The kimono needed some kind of closure and I love having ties on the front of my jacket-type garments – so, why not?

Front tie with fringe

I cut straight grain scraps to add onto the bias strips and created a piece long enough for a tie. Once the bias was sewn to the neck, I folded the whole strip in on itself, pressed and then top stitched the whole length. I was able to cut two strips for the bottom of the tie that added the original fringe! It looks like I had this planned, doesn’t it? But, no, just a happy, overly-tired moment of late night sewing magic!!

I’m incredibly pleased with my Indonesian Sarong Kimono! It’s fun to wear, I feel well-loved in it and it brightens my day every time I put it on. It was perfect for the end of Summer, but I think it will keep making appearances this Fall, too. Because, after all, wearing what we love is the whole point of a Handmade Wardrobe!

Sewing with joy,

Annette signature

Moment of Further Truth:
This post includes affiliate links and I may receive a small payment if you make a purchase using that link. Thank you if you do – it helps keep The Sewful Life stitching along and I sincerely appreciate your support. All opinions are solely and truly mine and I only gush about things I love!


14 thoughts on “My Indonesian Sarong Kimono

  1. Beautiful garment, love the colors! I am a big fan of your “make it work moments” throughout the garment. Your top stitching is making me a green eyed monster.

  2. Beautiful vthus has many of my favorite colors/shades.
    What a kind & generous husband you’re a blessed woman.

    1. Thank you, Faye!! I’m a little obsessive about topstitching and my wonderful walking foot makes it pretty easy. My sarong fabric came from Jakarta and then there’s the stack he bought in Phuket, Thailand. More to come!

  3. Hi Annette – I really love this project! Can you please tell me if you used more than one sarong? Thank you

    1. Hi Debbie – Sorry I’m so slow! It was just one sarong and I’m assuming it was just a standard length. There was a lot of judicious cutting done and I honestly only had a tiny scraps left when I was done. I’m about a size 20, if that helps you to gauge what you’d be able to do. It was a super fun challenge! Kind of like a fabric puzzle. Hope that helps!!

Leave a Reply