Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please! It’s time for a Pattern Throwdown. Three sewing patterns will enter the ring, but only one will emerge victorious! Your referee tonight is Jennifer W. from We Bought a Manor. Weighing in at “none of your business,” she is a rectangle from the front, apple from the side, and all party in the back. Her measurements at the time this review was conducted were:
- Bust: 48 inches
- Waist: 44 inches
- Hips: 54 inches
- Bra Size: 40DDD
- RTW: Size 20-24
- Usual Sewing Size: 20-24
Our contenders tonight are:
- Suki Kimono from Helen’s Closet, $14 PDF
- Almada Kimono/Robe from Seamwork, $12 PDF (or $7 for members)
- Asaka Kimono from Named, €10.00 PDF
A few important notes from the referee before we begin:
- The Suki and Almada robes are sewn up in rayon challis, which is soft, thin and with beautiful drape. The Asaka is sewn up in a silk sateen which is super luxe, but with a stiff drape. As a result, the Asaka has more structure and doesn’t lay as smoothly over the body.
- I received all the Suki and Almada kimono patterns for free from their respective designers, with the understanding that I would write this review giving honest feedback about each patterns pros and cons. I already owned the Asaka pattern when I decided to undertake this pattern throwdown. Thank you to Helen’s Closet and Seamwork for your generosity!
To recap the goal of Pattern Throwdowns: I’m focused on finding the best kimono/robe pattern – something I can make and wear 100 times over the next few years. I can play with the details (length, extras) indefinitely – what I wanted to find here is the basic block that fits the best through my shoulders, bust, waist/hips.
Let the throwdown commence!
Round 1: Pattern Options and Instructions
Winner: Suki Kimono
All three patterns are well-drafted, with clear instructions. The notches match where they are supposed to, the technical drawings are sound, and the process for each is quite straightforward. Any confident beginner should have no problem tackling any of these patterns. Note: these three patterns are PDF only, but each does come with a copyshop version (my personal preference).
Now let’s talk about sizing. The Seamwork Almeda is the most generous, with a max bust of 54 inches in the size 3X. (Named doesn’t provide body measurements for their patterns, so you have to go by the finished measurements. Hence the weirdness in the numbers above). For all of these patterns, it’s easy-peasy to grade out for the waist and hips, so don’t hesitate to do that if you need a little more wiggle room. And — don’t forget! Your bust size in a robe will likely differ from your bust size in regular clothes because… ahem, things may flatten and move south without the aid of undergarments.
I’m giving the edge to the Suki Kimono in this round. While it has the least inclusive sizing (boo), I like that it has the most detailed instructions. And I appreciate that there are several places where the instructions provide multiple ways to tackle a specific task (like sewing the neckband) based on the amount of time and effort you want to put into it. There is also a beautiful sewalong if you’d like some extra hand-holding.
Round 2: Overall Fit
Winner: It’s a tie! (Suki and Asaka)
Overall the Asaka robe feel more secure — it has a higher neckline coverage (less cleavage) and seems to have more overlap in the front. But it is super short — do NOT bend over in this robe unless you are prepared to feel a breeze!
The Suki kimono has a slimmer fit (which I think comes through in the photos and looks most traditionally flattering) but feels too small. I’m constantly tugging at it to ensure that I’m still covered. But it has a great range of motion, and I think adding a little more ease to the side seams will help give me more confidence in the modesty area.
And now a word on the poor Almada robe. Note how the waist tie is sagging and bringing the entire front down (and the back up). That’s not cute or comfortable. First, the tie is too long — even with a thin rayon challis, it’s weighing the entire middle down and takes away from the floaty feeling the pattern is going for. Second, it’s not meant to cinch you in at the waist — just to kind of hold the robe closed. As a result, it kind of ends up loosely around the “lower waist” area. I do NOT feel secure in this robe — it doesn’t feel snug enough to stay away from “suddenly flashing the kids” territory.
Round 3: Sleeves
Winner: Asaka Kimono
I really like the Suki sleeves, which are the perfect length to provide warmth, but short enough not to get in the way when making coffee, putting on make-up, etc. I have zero complaints about the Suki sleeves. But at the same time, I am head-over-heels in love with the vented, two-part sleeve on the Asaka. It feels so glamorous to wear, and yet somehow manages to be practical at the same time. (The sleeves hang down when you bend your arms, so they don’t get in the way.)
In this category, there is a clear loser: the Almada Kimono is structured in a way that severely restricts arm movement. The sleeves are also VERY deep, which means if your arms are even slightly raised, you are giving the mailman a direct view to your torso. I want my robe to provide a bit of modesty, and the Almada is definitely of the “sneak peek” variety.
Round 4: Extras
While I’m concerned primarily with fit, I would be remiss not to give extra credit to the Suki kimono, which was the only pattern in this competition to include all the “standard” extras I expect from a robe. It has a loop at the center neck for hanging the robe on a hook. (Because who is putting their robe on a hanger every time? Uptight grouches, that’s who.) It has roomy inseam pockets, perfect for carrying around my phone and snacks. And it has inner ties to help keep the robe from flapping open.
And the Champion is…
Asaka wins by a hair’s breadth, primarily because of two things: 1) the higher neckline coverage and 2) the vented sleeves that make me feel like a Hollywood star. I’d like to try this pattern again in a rayon challis, or maybe a cotton lawn, since I think a drapier fabric will look lovely. But I will definitely add another 3-4 inches to the bottom, so that I can safely pick up the newspaper without fear of indecent exposure allegations.
The Suki kimono comes in a very close second, and is especially welcome for everyday wear when I’m looking for a more practical (yet still pretty) robe. I will definitely take those extras (pockets, loop, inner ties) and frankenpattern them over to any future robes! I would like to make this one in a fuzzy flannel in the longer length for the coming winter months.
Sadly, the Almada didn’t hit any of the right notes for me, and I won’t make it again. But after perusing Instagram it looks like there are a lot of people who disagree. So maybe do some more research before making a final decision!
Now that you’ve made it through the throwdown, dear reader, please leave a comment. Do you agree with my findings? If you’ve sewn up any of these patterns, how did they work for you? Are there any other kimono/robe patterns you’d like to recommend to CSC readers? If you could sew up your dream robe, what would it be?