wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing
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Japanese Textile Quilts
Having taken up making patchwork quilts last year, I have now decided that I am going to use some of the many bolts of unused, traditional Japanese textiles I have, to make a range of quilts and cushions in Japanese rustic style.
A bolt of fabric for a kimono is called a tanmono (often shortened to just tan) and is always made in one specific size, roughly 35cm by 11 metres. I have kimono bolts in cotton; woven for casual yukata kimonos, in silk; woven for more formal kimonos, and in wool; mostly made for men’s kimonos. Each type of textile will make wonderful quilts and, perhaps, a few matching cushions.
I am quite excited about creating a range of Japanese textile quilts. I have about a dozen bolts of indigo dyed, Japanese yukata cottons, in lovely, traditional designs. I also have a few other yukata cotton bolts, with floral designs. As well as those I have several yukata cotton sample books that I can use. Three of the sample books are quite old, although still very strong, good cottons, with white backgrounds and a variety of great, simple designs on them. The rest are much more recent cotton samples and are florals, mostly with black backgrounds, they too are vintage but only about 10 to 15 years old.
Japanese Cotton Textiles
Here are the indigo and white bolts of yukata kimono cotton, these were woven for men’s kimonos.
Chainlink designs are a very popular, traditional print in Japan
A woven lattice with geisha on senmen (the paper parts of folding fans)
The next one is a woven bamboo design.
A shaded chainlink mesh.
I especially like the bamboo pattern on the next bolt.
The next one has hanabishi dotted among a grid pattern hanabishi are diamond shaped flowers
This last bolt is rather like tatami matting.
I have done a few quick mock ups. I really ought to leave that for later and get some other sewing done first.
Japanese Yukata Cotton Sampler Books
The sample books above each have 5 different prints, each one metre long and folded in half lengthwise. The samples in the three books below are about half a metre each.
Japanese Wool Textiles
I have, as I mentioned, numerous unused bolts of extremely high quality wool textiles, a few more colourful ones intended for women’s kimonos but most for men’s wool kimonos. Men’s wool kimonos tend to have traditional, small, subtle patterns woven into them, they will produce fabulous quilts in a variety of muted blues and browns, very rural in style, like old farm-style, country quilts. The fine wool textiles will be extra warm and cosy.
Three made for women’s wool kimonos.
Now five for men’s wool kimonos.
The hexagon popular motif, based on the pattern of the turtle shell. It represents longevity.
In addition to all those I also have many unused bolts of kakebuton textiles, most with ikat weave pattern. Kakebuton are quilts made especially for Japanese futons and these bolts are woven specifically for making those quilts. These have traditional motifs and patterns that have been popular on kakebuton for over a century. Most of them have some ikat patterns; ikat is when the yarn is died with sections of it bound to block the dye, called resist dying because the yarn inside the tied sections resist being dyed. It may be dyed once, in which case it is most often indigo dye that is used, or it may be retied and dyed repeatedly, allowing it to bave more than one colour. When this thread is woven, with the undyed sections cleverly lining up, a pattern emerges. because the pattern is from the weaving of the threads, it does not have hard, crisp outlines. Ikat’s primary characteristic is that the designs have slightly fuzzy, soft edges. It is widely seen in kasuri kimonos, in cotton or wool, the style worn by farm workers, but it was very popular in the past, especially from about 1920 to 1950 when it was fashionable to wear meisen silk kimonos that had an ikat weave. Meisen is a sort of taffeta like weave silk and the patterns usually have that fuzzy edge too. I was also popular in the early part of this century in textiles wove for kakebuton.
Japanese Kakebuton Cotton Bolts
Japanese girls lying on a futon under a kakebuton (futon quilt)
I have some silk bolts too. It will be nice to make a few silk quilts. These Japanese bolts are fabulous quality silks and any quilt made from them would be very special. I have a few more than shown here.
As with all my previous quilts, I will go for simplicity and use large pieces, letting the fabric do the talking. These Japanese textiles will make fabulous rustic style quilts that really echo Japan. I have enough Japanese fabrics to keep me cutting and sewing for a few years..
Pacchiwaku is the Japanese word for patchwork, made up of pacchi – patch and waku – frameset. It is pronounced pack – chee – wakoo. When I build up some stock of my Japanese textile quilts and cushions, which will take me a good few months, I will make them available on Etsy, probably with Pacchiwaku as my Etsy shop name, although I am also considering the name Tanmono because it simply means cloth, as well as meaning a bolt of kimono fabric.
I’m now way too tired to proof read this, so I will risk posting it and try to get back to check it tomorrow. It’s almost time to get up, so I must go to bed now.
You can also check out my www.wafuku.co.uk website, providing vintage & antique Japanese kimonos & collectables.
One of my kimonos being modelled by the singer Rita Ora
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