Draft a simple Kimono Tee: An old project revisited….

“Draft your own Simple Top” was one of my first proper tutorials and still one of my most visited and repinned posts. (That and the bias tape trick!) I guess because a simple basic will always have appeal and a place in our wardrobes. I posted it waaaaay back in October 2011, and whilst that tutorial will still yield a cute and wearable top….I’ve learnt a bit more since then and there are a couple of refinements to the drafting and construction process that I wanted to revisit in an updated tutorial. Mainly to eliminate the drag lines I would often get around the neckline….but also some of the design tweaks  that I tend to apply during construction as opposed to during drafting…in a way….kind of self drafted then refashioned!


Start with a rectangle and calculate the length of the sides as follows:
A = Bust or Hip Measurement (whichever is the larger) + 2-3″ (ease) divide by  4 and + 3″
B = Required length of top + desired hemming allowance
Mark which is your side seam and which is your centre back/front line….

This is what we’re going to end up with….


For the neckline:
C = Mark a point between 2-3″down the CB/CF seam from the top (depending on how low you want your neckline to scoop this could be more but wouldn’t advise it being any less as 2” is just about at the base of your throat)
D = Mark a point along the top edge where you want your neck opening to finish. I used my bra strap as a guide as I don’t like to flash them! This point marks the end of your neck opening and the beginning of your shoulder line.
Draw in your neckline curve either freehand or using a French Curve. Where the neckline curve hits the CB/CF seam needs to be at a 90 degree angle so as to avoid “peaking” when you come to cut out the pattern piece on the fold. 


Now Slope the shoulder (below left):
E = Mark a point 2”down the side seam (The one opposite the centre front/back line) and join to point D. This slopes the shoulder seam to follow the natural slope of your shoulder line and this is the part that avoids pull lines around the neckline….

Draw in the Sleeves (above right):

F = Mark a point approx 8″ down the side seam from what will be the top of your pattern. (This will be your armhole. I made mine 8″. Yours may be slightly more or less depending on how big you want  your armhole opening to be).
G = Square down 3″ from F and and then 3” across (in from the side seam).
Join these two points up creating a curve for the underarm…this will become your actual stitching line/side seam…


Finish the Side Seam:
Join G to your hemline (straight down or slightly angled to create an A line. I prefer the veeeeeery slight A Line to give me a bit more ease at the hips) and you have your basic pattern piece!

Add a seam allowance to the underarm/ side seam AND the shoulder seam…then cut out your pattern piece and mark relevant details like the grainline, fold, size etc. 


Then cut 2 on the fold out of your fashion fabric and with RS together sew together the shoulder seams and then the side seams.
You now have a basic kimono tee! (Or tunic/dress depending on how long you drafted it). Try it on for size. At this point you can choose to take it in or let it out a bit. Or tweak the design elements. For instance, I scooped my front neckline down a little, shortened the sleeves, added a patch pocket and cut a shirt tail hem. You could shorten it, cut a high low hem, add cuffs to the sleeves, cut a scoop back, ruche the sleeves, add a faux button placket, peter pan collar….what ever your imagination allows. At this stage you essentially have a blank canvas on which to create. And once you have that basic pattern piece, you can just keep churning out a basic shape, that you can turn into a different top each and every time by changing up design details….what about making this in a semi sheer bold print cotton lawn, and slicing it right up the centre to make a kimono cover up for cool summer evenings…..or drafting it ankle length to and making in a drapey jersey to make a maxi dress?


I guess that’s why I keep coming back to this shape time and time again. It’s easy, it’s quick, its comfy, and it’s as versatile as your imagination allows it to be !
Once you’ve tweaked to your hearts content, finish seam allowances, hems and neckline.  I finished the neckline with self fabric bias tape,(see posts here and here) and just hemmed the bottom and sleeves with a narrow hem. Simple as that. Go on! Give it a go! 


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  1. Annabelle May 19, 2014

    Portia, this top is lovely on you! When you first posted this tutorial, it really wasn’t my style. Now my style has been changing and I love this top. Hopefully I can find some sewing time soon, because I would love to add this to my closet.

  2. Katie M May 19, 2014

    Thanks for the great tutorial. I do have one question about the measurements. You say:

    A = Bust or Hip Measurement (whichever is the larger) + 2-3″ (ease) divide by 4 and + 3″

    My bust measurement is 32.5″. Should my calculation go like this? (32.5″ + 3″) / 4 = 17.75″ + 3″ = 20.75″.

    I’m just trying understand if you add 2-3″ ease, divide your measurement by 4, and then add another 3″. OR if you just add the ease once.

    • Portia Lawrie May 19, 2014

      Hi KatieM! That’s exactly right. The first 2-3″ you add is for wearing ease. The 3″ you add at the end is for your sleeve length. So you could add 1-2″ at the end to make a shorter sleeve if that was your preference. When you curve back in between F and G to create the underarm curve, you’re basically taking the measurement at that point back to 1/4 of your bust + ease measurement…..does that make any sense?

    • Katie M May 19, 2014

      Thanks for the clarification. It’s the sort of thing that’s worth checking first, otherwise sewing disasters are sure to follow!

  3. amanda May 19, 2014

    wow thanks for sharing! such a simple yet effective top that has endless possibilities, im off to draft one tonight!

  4. Tiffany May 19, 2014

    Thanks for the tutorial! This is exactly what I wanted to make today!

  5. Kate McIvor May 19, 2014

    Thanks Portia! My daughters always want me to make them simple shirts like this. Now I know how!

  6. Nancy May 19, 2014

    I’m stuck on Step A (of course)… Divide by 4 and 3″? Is that divide by 4 + 3″. (x/4+3″) or divide by 4 then add 3″. (x/4)+3″ or something else entirely?

    • Portia Lawrie May 20, 2014

      Bust/hip measurement plus 2-3″ (this gives you the total circumference of your finished garment)
      Then divide by 4
      Then add 3″ for the sleeve part which extends out from the main part of the finished pattern piece 😊

  7. Beth – Sew DIY May 19, 2014

    Thanks for sharing this! I’ve made some similar tops in knit fabric. I should try wovens next!

  8. EmSewCrazy May 20, 2014

    I love this so much! Thanks for updating your tutorial!

  9. DressUpNotDown May 20, 2014

    You always look so nice in your kimono tops! Thanks for the update on the tutorial.


  10. JoBird May 22, 2014

    Just completed an extended version into a dress – very pleased with the result (I did however use your original post for my pattern draft). Good to see another post – such a good fit 🙂

  11. Thanks for the tutorial. Wish I’d chosen a better fabric though. Doh.

  12. ColorfulVoid June 4, 2014

    Thank you ! It’s just in time because I saw your previous tutorial last year, but wasn’t interested in making it now (I was in the making of my first Sorbetto) but now that I was searching for the pattern, I find that you’ve updated it ! How great is that 😀

  13. Stacy Gandy July 26, 2014

    Thanks for the tutorial!

  14. Mary Hutto January 14, 2016

    Just found your blog through Pinterest. Love this idea! So simple once I read but I probably would have never thought of it. Thanks so much for sharing. I have signed up and look forward to following you!

  15. Mary Hutto January 14, 2016

    Correction: In the comment above I was referring to your idea of using double-sided tape to transfer thread from a large cone to a small spool. Sorry for the confusion.

    • Portia Lawrie January 14, 2016

      Ah thanks Mary! And welcome!

  16. Megan October 30, 2016

    Does this work for both woven and jersey fabrics? If so do I need to adjust the ease when using woven versus jersey fabrics? Thank you!

    • Portia Lawrie October 31, 2016

      Yes it would work on both woven and jerseys. It’s a relaxed fit so no need to adjust for ease. Jersey versions are just more drapey. Px


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