| | | |

How to Sew a Lightweight Summer Jacket

If you’re in need of a stylish yet cool top to wear this summer, then you may like this free Jacket Pattern.  I stitched this one up last summer and already have plans to make a few more.  If you like this project then you may also like this Summer T-Shirt Sewing Pattern. 

How to sew a Kimono Top or Jacket for Summer, a DIY fashion sewing tutorial - by Melissa Mortenson of polkadotchair.com

This top is easy to make, the hardest part will be hemming the lightweight fabric but I’ll give you a few tips for doing that. I wore the top last summer on our trip to Charleston. It was a million degrees outside and I wanted to look stylish (because, Charleston is one of the most stylsih cities I’ve ever been to) but wanted to stay cool at the same time.

Since it’s such a large project I really couldn’t get great photos of the process so I’ve illustrated over my photos to give you a good idea of how the top is constructed.

Jacket Style Top Pattern:

To make one you’re going to need:

  • 2 yards of 45″ wide lightweight fabric like a voile or light rayon. If you buy 60″ wide fabric you’re going to just need to cut it down.
  • An old t-shirt that fits you well (not a fitted tee, a boxy one)
  • Chalk and a Ruler
  • Rolled Hem foot for your machine if you have one.

Step One: Create your Custom Pattern Piece

Don’t let this step scare you. Really all you are doing is making a giant rectangle with some cut out’s. It’s not a complicated step!

Measure from your neckline to the point on your body that you’d like the jacket to hit. For me, it was 30″ (I’m 5’9″ for reference). Cut your fabric to DOUBLE that length – so my fabric was 60″ by 45″ (the fabric comes 45″ wide)

Fold the fabric in half lengthwise. It will be 45″ long by 30″ tall (cause it’s folded) with a fold at the top, and the selvage edges on each end.

How to sew a cute Kimono Jacket - by Melissa Mortenson of polkadotchair.com

Find the center of the fabric and mark it with a piece of chalk. Fold your t-shirt in half and place the fold on the center mark of the fabric, the neckline of the t-shirt even with the fold on the top of the fabric.

How to sew a cute Kimono Jacket - by Melissa Mortenson of polkadotchair.com

Using a ruler and chalk, measure in 5″ from the edge of your folded t-shirt. Draw a line. Then measure down 3″ from the bottom of the sleeve of the t-shirt. Draw another line.

Step Two: Cut your Fabric

How to sew a cute Kimono Jacket - by Melissa Mortenson of polkadotchair.com

Cut the fabric away.  Take the cut away piece and use it to cut a piece  EXACTLY the same size on the other side of the fabric.

How to sew a cute Kimono Jacket - by Melissa Mortenson of polkadotchair.com

Your piece will roughly look like this (note the illustration is not to scale).  

Next, with a sharp pair of scissors, cut ONE layer of the fabric along the center line up to the fold. DO NOT cut both layers of fabric. Just the top.

Step 3: Sew the Top

With the right sides of the fabric facing stitch the underarm seams. Press seams open.

How to sew a cute Kimono Jacket - by Melissa Mortenson of polkadotchair.com

Step Four: Hem your Fabric

Now all you need to do is to hem all of the raw edges of the fabric. I like to use a rolled hem foot for this step. If you don’t have one, then fold the fabric over 1/8″ and fold it again 1/8″ and stitch along the folded edge.


If you are having a hard time hemming the lightweight fabric, try using a Microtex needle. It’s super sharp and will help the machine “punch” through the lightweight fabric more easily.

You may also need to hold your strings from your machine when you start your stitches to help keep the fabric from bunching up under the presser foot when you start sewing.

How to sew a Kimono Top or Jacket for Summer, a DIY fashion sewing tutorial - by Melissa Mortenson of polkadotchair.com

This post was originally published in 2015. It has recently been updated and renamed. While I realize that the style of jacket is commonly called by another name, I felt it was not an appropriate name to describe the tutorial.

More things to Sew that you can Wear:

How to Sew a Circle Skirt

How to make a Dress from Two T-Shirts

Girls Maxi Dress Sewing Pattern (easy! Uses a t-shirts for the top).

This post first appeared on Tatertots and Jello

Similar Posts


  1. This would be a good jacket for a beginning sewer. I like the fabric colors and pattern.
    How did you finish the back neckline? It looks like it might be a bit tricky at the back center neck.
    Thanks for your help.

    1. I just folded the back neckline under the same 1/8″ as the hem. It took a bit of pressing to get it to lay just right but I was able to work it out.

  2. Pingback: Tutorial: Kimono top for summer layering – Sewing
  3. Pingback: 10 Quick and Easy Sewing Projects for Beginners - Sew Some Stuff
  4. I don’t understand isn’t “long” and “tall” the same measurement…both vertical measures? Plz state which is length and which is width, I might be able to understand then.

    1. The back isn’t cut at all. No seam you’re just using the T-shirt to guide cutting the sleeves correctly. And next the discard piece is used on the opposite side for the same purpose.
      Then when you have a shirt shape with the fold at the shoulders, you cut ONE layer on the straight line down the fabric from bottom edge center to the center of the fold so that it’s open on front and not on the back after the sides and sleeves are sewn.

    1. I too am confused. It seems as though “Take the cut away piece and use it to cut a iece EXACTLY the same size on the other side of the fabric” means no fold at the top. Maybe it works out when one is doing it. Uncertain.

    2. No there is no back seam. The back of the jacket is one piece of fabric. The only seams you sew are the underarm seams

  5. I have been looking for a kimono pattern so was delighted to find this I don’t wear t-shits, so how would I fit this? M machine doesn’t have such a foot. How do I finish the edges?

  6. Love this. I don’t like my arms uncovered and finding something light to wear over short or sleeve less tops for a woman my age is nearly impossible. Thanks for posting it.

  7. If I wanted to make this kimono top long sleeved would that work? How would you do it? Thank you, love the top!
    And also, I’ve got a solid blue coloured cotton viole, would that work for this top?

  8. Hi! I’m sorry but it’s not printable by design. I’ve had many, many problems in the past with people printing the pages and projects from my blog and selling them in shops and on etsy.

  9. I really like this pattern. I was wondering if I can use a slightly heavier fabric like brocade for this project?

    1. I don’t think that would work. A brocade would have a heavy drape and part of why this pattern works is that the fabric is very lightweight and breezy..

    2. If you allow for the differences in drape and weight almost any fabric can be used for this jacket. I have made a similar jacket, using a very heavy wool remnant: 60″ wide by 3 yards long. It was a dark grey and I had a piece of dark green crushed velvet, upholstery weight, that I lined it with. Just cut it double, sew it right sides together, except for enough to turn it, then handstitch the opening. The extra width and length made it wrist and knee length, so it was warm enough for winter. When I wanted elegant I flipped it inside out so that the wool became the lining.

  10. Thanks for this tutorial – I made a kimono, I’m basically a beginner, but managed – I used an overlocker on the underarm and side seams, and a narrow hemming foot for the rest. I also added belt loops and a belt, although I think they might not be successful, we’ll see. It’s a dressing gown for my sister for Christmas.

  11. Love this! One of the photos looks like it’s longer than the photo of you modeling it. How much fabric to purchase if I wanted to make it say thigh or knee length?

  12. Love this kimono jacket. Would be very helpful if you could post a video tutorial,
    I’m looking for a longer version.
    Thank you

  13. Thanks for the tutorial. If I read the instructions correctly, the inside seams on the side for the underarms are left with raw edges. How do you finish them? Or we were supposed to finish them and only leave the bottom of the kimono unfinished to do the rolled hem?

    1. You can finish them any way that you would like. Some like to use a serger, others a zig zag stitch. Also not all fabrics need to have finished seams, as not all fray.

  14. Hi Melissa,
    I have watched your creating for some years now and want to tell you that I have made several of these sweet little jackets, even a silk one. I get so many compliments. What I wanted to say most clearly is that your directions are perfectly straightforward, easy to follow and I find it hard to understand why you get so many questions. Your illustrations are perfect. Keep up the good work.

  15. Hi Melissa, I just got here as I have been looking for a Kimono to make and I love yours. I just want to say you don’t need to keep repeating yourself when all these questions fly at you, you are very sweet and very understandable.. I have watched many tutorials and I love yours. I am very glad I found you! Thank You.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.