Welcome to a wonderfully, watery world of mermaids, octopi, vintage bathing beauties, fantail goldfish, and more! We are celebrating the Neptune and the Mermaid fabric collection by Margot Elena for FreeSpirit. Margot is the Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Margot Elena Companies & Collections. She is the design and marketing mind behind several cult-classic, niche beauty brands, including TokyoMilk. To her long list of accomplishments, she now adds: Fabric Designer. Our Elegant Fantail Kimono and Matching Obi Belt, incorporates three of the beautiful designs: Lost Atlantis, Age of Aquarius, and Anthemoessa. Just the names conjure up an enchanted ocean adventure.
The “fantail” of the project title refers to the unique triangular back on our kimono, which is further accented by a tassel. You’ll love the clever way the tassel is attached through two tiny eyelets so it’s easy to remove before laundering.
A pattern download is provided. To reduce the number of pieces required, we’ve used our unique Sew4Home “negative space” patterning. The main sections are cut as large rectangles, then you need only small pattern sections to cut away the appropriate angles and curves.
Do take the time to fussy cut all the pieces that make up the kimono – it’s what gives the finished garment such style. Both the split front and the full back center are fussy cut to take advantage of the fabric’s featured mermaid motif. The sleeves are cut from one of the collection’s two border prints. Rather than the traditional method of wrapping the sleeve with just one underarm seam, we have you cut two pieces so those gorgeous fantail goldfish are swimming right side up on both the front and back. Finally, we cut the border by itself for the bottom accent panel on the kimono, using the remaining goldfish fabric for all the facings.
You do not have to use a border print, but with careful fussy cutting, it does give you the look of three fabrics when only using two.
There is no hand stitching needed on the kimono; all the facings are topstitched in place, which means it is extra important that your thread is a perfect match to the fabric.
An obi belt, as shown in our photos here, is a wide style wraparound belt that ties in the front. We’ve lightly quilted ours with bold straight line vertical quilting.
This kimono is sized as a small to medium, approximately a women’s size 10-12. A drawing is shown below with measurements for both the kimono as well as the obi belt should you wish to adjust the sizing for your best fit.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional but helpful for the quilting on the belt. You can also engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as the Janome AcuFeed™ Flex system, which we used on our Janome Skyline S7
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: Our yardage recommendations for the featured Neptune and the Mermaid fabric include extra to allow for the specific fussy cutting shown in our sample, such as centering the mermaid motif on the front and back, cutting the border as a separate element, and making sure all our beautiful goldfish are swimming right side up.
- 2 yards of 44″+ wide quilting weight cotton for the main front and back panels; we used Lost Atlantis in Ivory from TokyoMilk presents Neptune and the Mermaid by Margot Elena for FreeSpirit
- 1½ yards of 44″+ wide quilting weight cotton for the sleeves, bottom accent panels, and all the facings; we used the Age of Aquarius Border Print in Pink from TokyoMilk presents Neptune and the Mermaid by Margot Elena for FreeSpirit
- ½ yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight cotton for the obi belt; we used Anthemoessa in Yellow from TokyoMilk presents Neptune and the Mermaid by Margot Elena for FreeSpirit
- 1½ yards of 20”+ wide lightweight fusible interfacing for the facings; we used Pellon Shape-Flex
- Scrap or ¼ yard of 25”+ wide fusible batting for the obi belt; we used Pellon Thermolam
- TWO extra small eyelets; we used red
- Eyelet pliers
- TWO skeins of pearl cotton floss or similar for the tassel; we used dark pink and blue, purchased locally
NOTE: You want a heavy floss to give your tassel enough heft to stand out against the fabric.
- All purpose thread to match fabrics
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- Download and print out our SEVEN Fantail Kimono Pattern sheets, which have been bundled into one PDF to make the download easier.
IMPORTANT: Each page is ONE 8½” x 11″ sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale
- Cut out each pattern piece along the solid line. There are THIRTEEN pieces that make up the EIGHT finished pattern pieces.
- Patterns B, G, H and J will need to be assembled. To do this, butt together (do not overlap) their pieces, aligning the printed arrows. Tape together to create each full pattern.
- A cutting diagram is shown below to help you visualize how to assemble the pattern pieces as well as to show how each is used/cut.
- From the fabric for the main exterior (Lost Atlantis in Ivory in our sample), fussy cut the following:
TWO 14″ wide x 25″ high rectangles
ON THE FOLD: ONE 13½” wide x 29” high rectangle
NOTE: We centered the main mermaid motif for both the front and the back. Find the center of the motif and use that as the center point to cut your two 25” high front panels. Then, fold along that exact same center point (directly below your cut) to cut the one 29” high back panel.
- Place the two front panels wrong sides together. Place the assembled B pattern along the upper right side (the center raw edges), pin in place, then cut away.
- With the back panel still folded, wrong sides together, place the assembled G pattern along the bottom raw edge, pin in place, then cut away.
- With the back panel still folded, place the F pattern at the top right corner, aligning it with the fold as indicated on the pattern. Pin in place, then cut away.
- From the fabric for the sleeves, border accents, and facings (Age of Aquarius double border print in Pink in our sample), fussy cut the following:
FOUR 14” wide x 12” high rectangles for the sleeves – cut TWO rectangles from the border along one side and TWO rectangles from the border on the other side so that when the two panels are placed right sides together to seam them along the top, the fish will all be swimming right side up.
Using the assembled H pattern, center it along just the border of the fabric and cut TWO for the back accent borders
TWO 14” wide x 4¼” high rectangles from just the border for the front accent borders
NOTE: Both the front and back borders are 4¼”. You could trim away the borders (after cutting the sleeves) in order to make all your accent panel cuts.
TWO 23” wide x 4¼” high rectangles for the sleeve facings
Using the I pattern and cutting on the fold, ONE back facing
Using the assembled J pattern, cut TWO front facings.
NOTE: For all the facings, cut the pieces so the fish are swimming right side up as shown in the photos above.
- From the fusible interfacing, cut the following:
Using pattern I, cut ONE on the fold
Using pattern J, cut TWO
NOTE: If you’re a Sew4Home regular, you know that we traditionally cut interfacing and batting layers smaller to keep them out of the seams. In garment sewing, when creating facings, you want to cut the interfacing at the same size as the fabric. Keeping the interfacing in the seam helps give the facings their sharp edges.
- From the fabric for the obi belt (Anthemoessa in Yellow in our sample), fussy cut the following:
TWO 24” x 4” strips, then use the two pattern K pieces to round each 4” end of each piece.
TWO 36” x 2½” strips for the ties
- From the fusible fleece for the obi belt, cut ONE 23” x 3” strip. Cut the two pattern K pieces along the dotted seam line and use these trimmed patterns to round each 3” end of the fleece.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Attach the sleeves
- Find the two front panels and the two front sleeve panels. Place a sleeve panel in position next to each front panel to insure the motif is running right side up on all the pieces. Remember, the cut-away edges of the front panel are the center edges; you are pinning the sleeve to the outer straight edges.
- Place each sleeve right sides together with the proper front panel and pin in place.
- Thread the machine with thread to best match the two fabrics in the top and bobbin. Set for a standard straight stitch.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch together from the top of the sleeve panel to the bottom of the sleeve panel.
- Finish the seam allowance with your preferred method. We used a simple zig zag. If you are new to machine sewn seam finishes, we have a four-part series on the most popular options.
- Press the finished seam allowance toward the sleeve panel.
- Repeat to stitch both front sleeve panels and both back sleeve panels in position.
Attach the bottom accent panels
- Find the two H panels. Place them right sides together along their angled ends. Pin in place.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch together.
- Press the seam allowance open and flat.
- Place the back panel right side up and flat on your work panel. Make a small clip at the exact center of the panel’s point.
- Place the assembled back accent panel right sides together along the bottom raw edge of the fabric panel, aligning the accent panel’s seam with the clip you made in the point.
- Remember to keep track of the directional motifs; you are pinning the top raw edge of the accent panel to the bottom raw edge of the main fabric panel. Pin in place.
- Using a ½” seam allowance stitch across the bottom of the back panel. Start at one edge, stitch into the seam, stop and pivot…
- … then continue stitching to the opposite end.
- At the point of the back panel’s “fantail,” trim and clip the seam to allow for the sharpest point.
- Press the seam allowance together and down towards the accent panel.
- Find the two main front panels and the two front accent panels. Pin and stitch these panels in place in the same manner.
Assemble front to back
- Place the two front panels right sides together with the back panel. You are pinning along both sides of the top edge, the bottom of each sleeve, and down each side.
- Along the top edge, carefully match up the vertical sleeve seams front to back.
- Then pin from the open end of each sleeve into the corner (the bottom of the previous vertical seam).
- Finally, pin all the way down each side. Make sure the bottom accent panels are precisely aligned front to back.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides of the top edge.
- Next, stitch from the open end of each sleeve into the corner. Stop in the corner and pivot.
- Continue stitching down each side.
- Finish all the seam allowances with your preferred method.
Attach the bottom facing
- Find the four bottom facing panels: two for the back and two for the front.
- Pin the two back panels right sides together along their angled ends. Pin in place.
- Stitch one front facing panel to either side of the assemble back facing panel.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch all three seams. Press the seam allowances open and flat.
- Press back the top edge of the assembled facing strip ½”. We’re using our Clover Hot Hemmer. You do need to keep track of which way is up when working with facings. You are pressing back the top edge because once seamed and folded into position on the wrong side of the main garment, this is the edge that will be right side up and will cover the inner seam allowance.
- Place the assembled facing right sides together with the full bottom edge of the kimono, aligning the raw edge of the facing with the bottom raw edge of the accent panels. First align the center back seams, then pin out and around to either side of the front.
- Using a ½” seam allowance stitch the facing in place. Remember to pivot at the back seam.
- Press the seam allowance open and flat.
- Bring the facing up into position so the facing/accent panel seam is now the bottom of the kimono and the folded edge of the facing covers the upper main panel/accent panel seam allowance.
- Pin the facing in place.
- Make sure your machine is threaded with thread to best match the accent panel fabric in the top and to best match the facing fabric in the bobbin. Lengthen the stitch slightly.
- Topstitch all around ⅛” from the main panel/accent panel seam within the accent panel, securing the facing.
Attach the sleeve facings
- Find the two sleeve facing panels. Fold each one in half, right sides together, aligning the 4¼” ends.
- Re-thread the machine if necessary for the best thread match top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch together to form a loop. Press the seam allowance open and flat.
- As you did with the bottom facing, press back the top edge of the facing loop ½”.
- Slip a facing loop over one sleeve so the two pieces are right sides together. Align the facing loop seam the bottom sleeve seam.
- Pin all the way around. For the smoothest finish, fold one finished sleeve seam allowance to the right, and the other to the left.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch all around.
- Press the seam allowance open and flat.
- Bring the facing up into position at the inside of the sleeve so the seam becomes the finished open end of the sleeve. Pin the facing in place.
- Make sure your machine is threaded with thread to best match the border portion of the fabric in the top and to best match the facing fabric in the bobbin. Lengthen the stitch slightly.
- Starting at the bottom seam, topstitch all around within the border, securing the facing.
- Repeat to add the facing to the opposite sleeve.
Attach the neck and front facing
- Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the lightweight interfacing to the wrong side of the neck facing as well as the two front facing pieces. The facing the fabric should be flush on all sides.
- Pin the top of each front facing to either end of the neck facing, right sides together.
- Re-thread the machine if needed to match the fabrics in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch each short seam. Press open the seam allowance.
- Clip along the outer curve of the neck facing.
- Fold back the outer edge of the entire facing (neck and fronts) ½”. Fold up the bottom edge of each front facing ½”.
- Place the raw edge of the facing right sides together with the raw edge of the front panel: both sides of the front and around the neck. Pin in place.
- Adjust the fold at the bottom of each front facing so the bottom of the facing is flush with the bottom finished border accent of the kimono.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the facing in place.
- Clip the upper curve around the neck.
- Press the seam allowance flat to set the seam, then fold the facing into position on the inside of the kimono. It should overlap the bottom facing at both sides of the front opening. Pin the facing in place.
- Re-thread the machine if necessary with thread to best match the main panel fabric in the top and to best match the facing in the bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Topstitch all around to secure the facing. Measure your facing from seam to inner fold to set the distance that will be closest to the inner fold of the facing, but will still securely catch it all around. We used the excellent plate markings on our Janome Skyline S7 to keep a precise distance of 1⅞” for our sample.
- Re-thread the machine if necessary with thread to best match the bottom border fabric in the top and to best match the facing in the bobbin. Keep the lengthened stitch
- Edgestitch all around the bottom.
- Create an approximate 3½” thick tassel. You want to create a fairly hefty tassel that can stand out against the fantail of the kimono. We used two colors of heavy pearl cotton floss.
- If you are new to making your own tassels, check out our step-by-step tutorial.
- Mark the placement for two extra small eyelets to either side of the center back just above the accent border. Cut a small hole at each marked point.
- Insert each eyelet. Check out our Grommets and Eyelets tutorial if this is a new technique for you.
- Knot together the double ties of the tassel and feed one pair through each of the eyelets. The bottom of the tassel should hang just a bit below the bottom of the kimono.
- Tie the tails together at the back in a simple knot. Then you can undo the knot and easily remove the tassel prior to laundering.
Create the obi belt
- Collect all the remaining pieces for the optional obi belt.
- Fold each of the long tie strips in half, wrong sides together and press to set a center crease.
- Fold in each long raw edge ½”.
- Fold in one end ½”.
- Re-fold along the original crease line so you now have two ¾” wide tie strips finished on three sides.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the belt fabric in the top and bobbin. Keep a slightly lengthened stitch.
- On each tie, stitch down the long side with the folded-in edges and across the one finished end, pivoting at the corner.
- Center the fusible fleece on the wrong side of one of the main panels. There should be ½” of fabric showing beyond the fleece all around. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- On the other main panel pin the raw end of each strap at the center of each rounded end. The raw end of the strap should be flush with the raw edge of the fabric.
- Fold up and pin the finished end of each strap in the middle of the panel – just to keep it out of the way of the seam.
- With both straps in place, layer the two main panels right sides together, sandwiching the straps between the layers, and pin all around. Leave a 3” opening along one long side for turning.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch all around. Go slowly to maintain an even distance around each curved end, and lock the seam at either side of the opening.
- Generously clip both curved ends.
- Carefully unpin the ends of the straps. Turn right side out through the opening. Pull the straps out either either side. Gently smooth out the curves, reaching in through the opening with a long blunt tool, such as a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner.
- Hand stitch the opening closed.
- Find the exact center of the main panel and use a fabric pen or pencil to draw in a vertical line at this point.
- Draw in additional parallel vertical lines in 1” increments to the left of center to the curved end and to the right of center to the curved end.
NOTE: You can draw in guide lines to follow or you can use a quilt guide bar set at 1”, which is what is shown in our photo below. If you use a fabric pen or pencil, make sure it is one that will easily wipe away or will vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild