DIY Kimono Style Dress With Drawstring

kimono sleeve dress diy

kimono sleeve dress diy full

Ok, so this might be one of those tutorials where I just end up confusing myself, but I’m going to try and explain it to you as simple as possible. This is a really great dress, it’s easy to make and afterwards you feel like you’ve actually accomplished something. The less details you add to this dress, the more casual, loose and comfortable it is. On the other hand, you can also make it elaborate and add almost as many details as you’d like.

The Pieces

First you need a fabric that is tearable – in BOTH directions. This is really important as this dress relies on straight lines and there’s a lot of tearing involved. It’s also good if the fabric drapes well and is on the thin side. My fabric is a thin cotton deadstock find. Not sure where to place it in time, it was mixed up with some other fabrics that was very late 60’s early 70’s-era in style, so maybe that’s it. The important thing is that it was perfect for this dress and surprisingly easy to work with despite being thin.

I started out with a piece of fabric measuring 150 cm x 155 cm (basically, all that was left of it in the store). This dress uses every inch of fabric- so nothing of it goes to waste! Yay!
These are the measurements for all pieces taken from this fabric sheet. This fits me (euro size 36/38), and I’m pretty sure It would fit a lot of different shapes and sizes, otherwise, just adjust the size of the two dress pieces and it should work.

dress pattern measurements

The dress consist of:

  • 2 Dress pieces – 110 x 75 cm
  • 2 Drawstring tubing – 29 x 5 cm
  • 2 Sleeves – 70 x 29 cm (basically what’s left when all other pieces have been taken out)
  • 1 Front – 150 x 9 cm
  • 1 Drawstring – 150 x 7 cm

There is one more piece though that I had to add when I made my dress. I was able to take that piece from the front. I will get back to that later in the tutorial.

This is how the smaller pieces should look like after they’ve been taken out from the fabric sheet.

dress detail pieces

The Dress

Start out by sewing together the two dress pieces. Leave the areas where you want the collar and sleeves unsewn. How much you leave unsewn depends on how wide you want the neckline and sleeves to be. I left maybe 15 -20 cm unsewn at the neck and about 25 cm unsewn at the sleeve opening. The only thing to think about here is to make the sleeve opening smaller or as big as the sleeves.

dress pattern 2

Cut up a round neckline.

cutting neckline 1

cutting neckline 2

cutting neckline 3

Cut up the front.

cut up front

Fold down the neckline. This can be a little tricky, and the result can look a little weird. I found that pressing down the fold after I sewed it flattened it.

neckline 1

neckline 2


Just realised I didn’t take enough photos of this step. Crap!

Anyway, you fold the sleeves in half like this:


(This is the part I forgot to take photos of) You sew the two ends together and then you attach the sleeve to the armholes on the dress. I attached the sleeves like this in a top last year, so check out that tutorial for a more in depth description of this step.

If the sleeves are too wide for the hole, don’t worry. Just gather them at the top until they fit the armhole.

After attaching the sleeves you could easily just stop and leave it like it is, sew the hems at the sleeves and skirt and fix the collar and it’s finished! Use the drawstring as a belt and you get this cool looking hippie-esque tunic.

sleeves attached

hippie dress

Front and buttons

One side of the cut up front is folded twice and sewed with two seams.

The other side has the front piece attached to it. It’s sewed on and folded twice and it also has two seams.
front 1

front 2

So, then you have one side that looks like this, this is where the buttonholes will be made:

front 2

This is how it’s folded:

front 5

And the other side looks like this (folded just the same as the above except it didn’t have any extra piece attached to it). This is where the buttons will be attached.

front 2

I can’t do buttonholes on my sewing machine. Actually, it’s supposed to be able to make that stitch, but every time I try it out it ends up a complete disaster. So, I prefer to sew all my buttonholes by hand. Here’s a great tutorial with the technique I always use to make mine.

I used 11 buttons in my dress.

buttons 1

buttons 2

buttons 3


I didn’t want this dress to be too much hippie. I was going for a more 1940’s look, so I decided to gather the fabric in folds on the shoulders. Each fold is about 1.5 cm wide. How many folds you need here depends on how wide your shoulders are. The idea is to get the sleeve seam to sit on the shoulder like a normal sleeve would, not slouching off the shoulder like a kimono sleeve.

shoulder gather 1

shoulder gather 2

shoulder gather 3

See the difference? 40’s on the left, kimono slouch on the right.

shoulder gather 5

I pressed the folds with my iron and sewed two seams on each fold to keep them in place. However, remember how I mentioned at the start of this tutorial an additional piece that wasn’t included in my pattern? This is where I had to add it.

shoulder gather 4

Even though I easily could have just left the seams like this, the area looked unfinished and I wanted to cover it up. The front piece of the dress where the buttonholes were made didn’t need to be that long. I took off two pieces from it and added those to the shoulders. I just sewed them on like two patches.

shoulder gather 6

The drawstring and tubing

You could easily just make the drawstring and tie it around your waist, or skip the drawstring entirely and use a belt instead and be done. I felt like complicating things though and wanted to make the drawstring and some tubing to put it in.

The drawstring is extremely easy to make. It’s folded three times and has 2 seams.

drawstring 1

drawstring 2

drawstring 3

The two tubing pieces are placed on the sides of the dress. Measure where your waist is and put the tubing a a centimetre or two down from it (you want the top of the dress to slouch a little over the waist).

tubing 1

Sew one seam at the top, like this:

tubing 2

Fold the tubing twice at the bottom and fold in the seam allowance from the upper seam under it. You will get a tube.

tubing 3

tubing 4

Sew two seams to finish it.

tubing 5

Insert the drawstring.

This is the back of the dress. The tubing on each side and the exposed drawstring in the middle makes a great little detail!

tubing 6

Finish the dress by sewing the hemline and adjust the length of the sleeves to your liking.

Yep, that’s it, I hope you liked this tutorial. I think it’s longest I’ve written so far… Phew.


DIY Kimono Style Dress With Drawstring — 1 Comment

  1. This is an amazingly beautiful result from such an easy-going “pattern”! I also love the button choice, how well they match that wonderful fabric shows your class. I will probably use either elastic, or an adjustable tie on the inside so it fits itself to me when I button it…

    Thank you for sharing your creativity with us!