Kimono Sleeves – How to make one for your dress (2 ways)

Learn how to make a kimono sleeve and sew the on to your dress

What is a Kimono sleeve ?

kimono sleeves

Kimono sleeves in the modern context refers to sleeves which are cut as one with the bodice – an extended sleeve with a wide hem. You can also call sleeves that resemble the ones in the traditional Japanese kimono as kimono sleeves. They are wide sleeves at  the hem with more ease at the armhole

Checkout the sleeves in a typical Kimono.

kimono sleeves on a kimono

back view of a kimono

You can checkout the tutorial to sew a kimono for more details on how to sew a Kimono sleeves with straight lines

kimono sewing pattern - diy

If you go by the Japanese traditions you cannot casually make the sleeves as per the pattern and wear it – there is a particular tradition associated with the sleeves .

According to Japanese culture, kimonos are different for different occasions; their  sleeves have special meanings.  The sleeves of the kimono indicate the age and marital status of a woman.  A young unmarried Japanese woman would wear a Furisode, a colorful kimono with flowing sleeves which almost touch the feet. The sleeves are about 18 inches long ( or more) .  Tomesode and Houmongi are kimonos worn by married women. Tomesode kimono has short sleeves.

flowy kimono sleeves


 The loose drapes of the sleeves will suit almost every body shape. Remember to make it in a very flowy fabric which will drape well on your body

Know more about Kimono and the different types of Kimonos in the post “What is a Kimono?“.

For a different take on Kimono sleeves check out the post with tutorials to make Kimono jackets.

How to make a kimono sleeve for your bodice

It is not a difficult task to draft the kimono sleeves.Take a piece of fabric 40 inches wide and 20 inches long. Fold the 40 inch side by half. You will now get a 20 inch square with fold on one side. 

cut out 40 inch by 20 inch fabric piece to make the sleeves

On the fabric, mark the following dimensions. A-F is the armhole depth which is marked as 8 inch. You can increase this to 9-10 inch for more ease. Your bodice should also match the armhole depth.

From F mark 3.5 inside at B. Join A to B in a soft curve. This is your armhole line

Now join B in a curve (as per the picture) to C which is marked 8 inch from the bottom right side corner. Cut out A-B-C-E-D. You need to cut two of these for both sleeves

Mark the shape on a folded fabric

Hem the bottom edges of the sleeves. To sew this pattern, open the sleeves and keep it on top of the bodice shoulder seam, right sides together, edges together. Stitch to either side joining the armhole, stitching from the center to both sides. Now stitch and join the two side seams B-C &C-E

The other way of making the kimono sleeves is to make a drop shouldered pattern, with extended sleeves. Infact many of the patterns with this type of sleeve are called kimono sleeves, though technically speaking this is not right. 

kimono sleeves pattern

Here A-B is the length of the bodice, A-E is the measure from the center fold to the sleeve hem. B-C is the wiast

A bell shaped sleeve like the one in this flare dress pattern is a similar wide hem sleeve.


flare dress free stitching pattern

Related posts

types of sleeves

flutter sleeves


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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.