cute way to recycle vintage kimono fabric scraps

This pleated skirt was a thrift find that I couldn’t resist. The color is such a dreamy coral and accented with an unexpected wood grain pattern. It gave off a feeling of pastel mori girl the minute I saw it. The trouble? While very long it was 2 sizes too small at the waist. That didn’t put me off as the price, color and charming pleats were all too good. At the time I was very inspired by Grimoire and dolly kei style with its east-meets-west approach to reinventing vintage western clothing.  This skirt was made in Japan so I though maybe a west-meets-east concept would be fun by reversing the style using eastern pieces in dolly way. The challenge was not how to make the skirt fit a larger size but how to decorate it without losing the beautiful pleats. Then the idea came to me… a floating apron… made from kimono scraps.

vintage pleated skirt upcycled with kimono fabric

First things first, the skirt had to be altered to a larger size. For that I had to lose some of the precious length. I started by removing the original waistband and cut a few inches from the top of the skirt to remake a larger waist band and cinched it together with elastic. During this process I added the ivory lace panel which would serve as the top of the apron. I next set about picking a color story that would both harmonize and pop against the coral. Ah, my love of fabric yo-yos. I can’t get enough of these little buggers. I cut out circles from my kimono scraps collection and for a few days spent my morning coffee-ritual hours sewing up these little lovelies.

selecting complimentary kimono fabrics

I wanted the panel to be big enough for drama but not so overwhelming that it would take over the whole look. You can see it best in the view of the full skirt, where the amount of skirt uncovered by the apron on the width of the waist is the same (roughly) as the amount from the hem to the apron. The formally trained graphic designer in me likes matching gutters/margins. The yo-yos on their own are beautiful but I couldn’t stop there. Felt it needed that one extra element to push it out of the craft realm into something more elegant and fashionable. Out came some pink pearl beads to use as the joints between each of the yo-yo flowers.

final arrangement before sewing together

The finished skirt is so playful. When worn the apron swishes back and forth every so gently. Happy to report that even with shortening it to create the waist band it falls at a very flattering length just below the knee. I wore it a few times over the summer when I was feeling especially girly but styled it casually with a dainty t-shirt. Hopefully one of these weekends I can make a proper top for it. I found a modern Japanese print fabric in Okadaya that I think will compliment it while not being overly matchy-matchy. But that is a story for another day.