Top Menu

{How To:} Sew the Easy Kimono short sleeved Dress Pattern

The Easy Kimono Short sleeved Dress Pattern is great for beginners, with no zips or tricky techniques, just basic sewing skills. This tutorial is to support our beginner sewers and show you through photos, step by step how to create it!
Get the pattern from my online boutique or on Etsy.
Cutting Out: 

I like to give my fabric a quick press before cutting out, and also check it for any imperfections. I also recommend washing all your fabric and trims before sewing to take out any shrinkage that can occur.

Fold your fabric in half, lengthwise. With the rightside of the fabric in the inside, align the selvages of the fabric. The selvage is the edge of the fabric that runs along either edge of the fabric roll. This edge prevents the fabric from unravelling.

Insert pins along the selvages and fold, at right angles to keep the fabric flat and straight.

I use a long ruler to align the edges of the fabric, so that the grain of the fabric is straight along the length of the fabric. You could also use the edge of your cutting or sewing table. If you are using a particularly slippery and drapey fabric, use two rulers. One across the width of the fabric at right angles to the straight edge to make sure that the grain is evenly distributed and straight.

Using the cutting guides included in the pattern, select the right diagram by the choosing the correct pattern size and width of your fabric, lay your pattern on the fabric replicating the cutting guide.

For pattern pieces on the fold, ensure that the fold of the fabric is straight and lines up perfectly with your pattern edge. Pin along the fold first, before pinning the corners and edges.

For pattern pieces not on the fold, align the grain-line of the pattern, parallel with the selvage or fold of your fabric.
Measure the distance at each end of the grain-line to ensure that the grain-line is perfectly matched to the straight grain of the fabric. If the pattern piece is out, even slightly, this can dramatically effect how the garment hangs on the figure.
Measure at either end.

Continue pinning all pieces on to your fabric and cut it out using good quality and sharp fabric scissors! Don’t forget to clip into the fabric at the marked notches.

Sewing the Dress Bodice:
1. Back Bodice: With right sides together, matching notches and raw edges place back bodices together and stitch the centre back seam, starting at the notch, sew down to the waist with a 1cm / 3/8” seam.

Clip into the seam allowance at the notch, right to but not through the stitching.

Neaten edges separately from the notch down and press seams open.

Shoulder Seams:
Place Front bodice over Back bodice right sides together and match up the shoulders. Align notches and raw edges.
Stitch each shoulder seam with a 1cm / 3/8” seam.Because the pattern has a slight point at the end of the shoulder seam (this is to assist in the seams and facing lying flat, once facing is turned to the inside) it is easier and you get a better result if you sew to where the point begins, lower the needle and leave in the fabric, then raise the presser foot, and pivot the fabric so that the raw edges of the point is lying inline with your seam guides on your machine. Lower the presser foot and continue to sew to the end.Use this technique to sew the shoulder and underarm seams of the facings also.

Neaten edges together and press towards the back of the garment. To help seams to lie flat, when sewing on the facings, clip into the seam allowance just before the point.

3. Side Seams: Align the bodice side seams and stitch a 1cm / 3/8” seam on each side seam. Neaten edges together and press towards the back.

4. Armhole Facings: apply fusing to the wrong side of the armhole facings, as well as to the wrong side of front and back neck facing. Use a medium to low heat (depending on fabric) and use an up and down, pressing motion with the iron not a back and forth motion.
With right sides together join the shoulder and under arm seams of the armhole facing by stitching a 1cm / 3/8” seam and using the pivoting technique discussed earlier to create a sharp and accurate seam. Clip in to the seam allowance as on bodice.


Neaten edges separately and Press seams open on facings to reduce bulk at the seams.

Turn dress bodice right side out. With armhole facings wrong side out, place facings over dress armhole opening, matching all seams and raw edges. Stitch a 1cm / 3/8” seam all the way round the armhole opening.

Trim seam allowance to 6mm / ¼”. Clip into curves if necessary to help facing to turn easily.

Turn facing out and press seam allowances into the facing.

Trim corners of seam allowances on a diagonal to reduce the bulk and assist in facing lying flat.

On the right side of the facing, understitch, through all seam allowances, close to the seam. Understitching is a straight stitch, sewn on facings and pocket linings, sewn close to the seam and catching the seam allowances underneath. It assists in keeping the facing to the inside of the garment, preventing it from rolling to the front.

Neaten the lower edge of the armhole facings and press facing to the inside of the armhole.

Secure the facing to the inside by pining facing at both shoulder and underarm seams and stitching a tack from the right side of the garment at the base of the facing, right in the seam. Stitch about 3 stitches and backtack.

Neck Facing:
Join back neck pieces together at the centre back seam, with right sides together matching notches and raw edges, Stitch a 1cm / 3/8” seam from the notch down to the lower edge. Clip into the seam allowance at the notch, right to but not through the stitching. Neaten edges separately and press open.

Join back neck facing to front neck facing by placing front facing over back facing right sides together and align shoulders. Stitch the shoulders with a 1cm / 3/8” seam, neaten edges separately and press open.

Rouleau Loop: with right sides together, fold loop in half, lengthwise and sew a 1cm / 3/8” seam.

Trim allowance to 6mm / ¼”.

Turn right side out, by threading a needle with thread, stitching a couple of stitches through one layer of fabric at one end and tunneling the needle (without catching any fabric) through the tube. Pull needle through to pull rouleau loop right side out.
Trim loop to 5.5cm / 2 1/8”. Fold in ½, and place at the notch on the right side of the back bodice neck. Stitch to secure just shy of 1cm / 3/8”.
With the dress bodice turned right side out, place neck facing on to bodice, right sides together, matching seams and raw edges.
Stitch a 1cm / 3/8” seam from the clipped notch at center back keyhole opening up and around the back and front neck to the other notch.

Trim allowance to 6mm / ¼” and clip into curves (if necessary) to assist turning. Trim corners on a diagonal to reduce bulk.

Press seams up into the facing. Understitch neck facing starting and finishing just before and after the center back seam. You won’t be able to stitch right up to the center back opening.

Turn facing to inside the garment and press.

Secure facing to inside by tacking facing at the shoulder seams in the same way as you tacked the armhole facings.


Join front and back skirt together at the side seams by placing right sides together and aligning raw edges. Stitch a 1cm /3/8” seam. Neaten edges together. Decide and mark on the wrong side of skirt, which will be the back. Press seams towards the back.

Press over 1cm / 3/8” , then press up 8 cm / 3 1/8”, Topstitch.
Joining skirt to bodice:
Turn skirt wrong side out and place bodice inside skirt, right sides together. Match side seams and raw edges of the waist seam. Stitch waist seam with a 1cm / 3/8” seam. Neaten edges together.

Elastic waist:

Cut 6mm / ¼” elastic to stated sizes below:

  • SIZE XXS: 57cm
  • SIZE XS: 62cm
  • SIZE S: 67cm
  • SIZE M: 72cm
  • SIZE L: 77cm

Overlap elastic ends 2cm / ¾” and join together with a narrow zigzag stitch.

Fold elastic in ½ and insert pins to mark. Fold in ½ other way and mark again with pins.

Find the center of the front and back by folding in half and matching seams, place pins at centre.

Place elastic over waist seam of dress and match pins of elastic with centres and side seams of the dress waist.
Stitch elastic over the top of the waist seam with a straight stitch, pulling and stretching the elastic to bring in the fullness between pin marks.
Cover a button in matching or contrasting fabric and sew onto the left back bodice neck. Give your lovely new dress a good final pressing and wear it out!

, , ,

  • ooobop

    Really great instructions and lovely supporting photography 🙂

  • Finally! A sewing blog that is modern and FASHIONABLE and explains itself to beginners!!! i have been looking for you! Thank you!!!

  • Sorry for the late reply! Thank you so much for your comments!

  • Sorry, I got a bit confused with the fusing. It should be the exact size as the pattern pieces. I thought there should be some space for the seam. Also the notion of clip in.

  • Hey PeixBlau, thanks for your comment, Fusing can be slightly smaller that the piece its being fused to, (ie have a smaller seam allowance to reduce bulk) but the fusing should always be in the seam as it’s there to stabilise the seam. In some garments we used to always fuse the hem of the garment and the sleeve also, just a couple of cm’s past the foldline on both sides to both give weight and support. On seams that have a lot of wear and tension such as waistbands and necklines and openings you do really want the support and stability that fusing provides. Adds life and structure to your garments!

    regarding Clipping into the seams, this happens alot! 🙂 pockets, corners, openings, curves…clip baby!


  • Hi, Thanks a lot!!! 😀 I am going to give a second try!!! Really lovely pattern!

  • Hi!

    Thanks for the great patterns and the detailed tutorial! I just have two questions… When you sew the elastic onto the top of the waist seam does that mean the seam allowance will be in the skirt- or in the body-part of the dress? I hope you understand what I mean?!
    And I’m worried that the fabric at the end of the keyhole-opening will start to fray. As far as I can see I didn’t miss any important seams, so can I do anything to prevent this?

    Thank you so much for your help! I’m already looking forward to wearing the dress!


    • Hi Kerstin, Thanks for your comments, regarding your 2 questions, the seam allowance should be pressed up towards the bodice, and then the elastic will de stitched on to that.

      Not sure quite what you mean about the fabric at the end of the keyhole opening? there shouldn’t be any fraying, as the seam allowances are enclosed in the facing and when you clip into the seam allowances to help it all turn, be sure to not clip past the stitching or stitching line. If your fabric is a particuly loose weave then perhaps applying a very lightweight, narrow strip of fusing on either side of the opening of the keyhole will help tp give it stability and when you clip the seams, it should prevent any stretching of the fabric and fraying.

      Hope that answers your questions!
      Thanks for asking.

  • Hi!

    I didn’t clip through the stitching, but I guess my fabric tends to fray easily (it contains linen and even when I cut it, it frayed a lot), so I’ll try your recommendation and use a bit of fusing!

    Thank’s for your help! I’m already looking forward to sewing another of your patterns!


    • Anonymous

      I just purchased two great patterns.Thank you very much for sending them quickly and the support photography is Brillant!I am impatient to start!

  • What are the bust and hip measurements for the large?

  • Are you neatening your edges on the sewing machine or with a serger? PS I LOVE your site! I’m so glad I’ve found it!

  • Anonymous

    I just purchased two great patterns.Thank you very much for sending them quick and the support photography is Brillant! I am impatient to start!

  • asf

    Thanks so much for this info. But is it possible to please, please adjust the text in your instructions so that it’s not running alongside the photos in tiny fragments, very hard to read. Thanks!

  • Hi! Great pattern, looking forward to sewing the dress. I really like the fabric you are using, but can’t see what it is. Could you tell me, what kind of fabric it is, you’re using?! Thanks in advance!

  • Hi! Great pattern, really looking forward to sewing the dress. Was trying to find some fabric similar the beautiful plum-colored fabric used in the tutorial, or to the black fabric used in the photos. What kind of fabrics are they? Thanks in advance!

    • Hello! Thanks for your comment. The fabrics I used are a silk crepe de chine, a heavy weight one. Its a little harder to cut out as its a bit slippery bit does sew up and press well as well as hang beautifully. Good luck with your version!!

  • Sarah

    I was looking at this pattern and I have never sewn a dress (or any clothing item) before but this seems reasonable. What fabrics would you suggest? Sewing with a silky material seems daunting!

    • PatternRunway

      Hey Sarah, Gosh so sorry for the late reply, not sure if this is still relevant to you now but for a first garment, I would suggest a fabric that isn’t silky or stretchy in any way, something like a light weight cotton, as it is quite easy to sew and won’t move around to much! You could also try a test run in a cheaper cotton fabric, and then move onto something a bit nicer with some drape, once you’re more comfortable! Might save you some tears!

  • Jen

    Hi Sarah! Love this pattern and I’m finally getting around to making one. Maybe a newbie question here but I can’t find help online. How do you sew the bottom of the keyhole opening in the back to make the facing turn nicely? I’m stuck!

    • Liz L.

      I have the same issue!

  • Charlotte Almond

    Hi there! I am nearly finished with making this dress and love it! I have used a drapey viscose which has worked really well. the only problem I am having is that the armhole facings are flopping out really badly despite the under stitching and the tacking to the seems – do you have any advice? Thanks