Japanese textiles

A Quilting We Will Go


waf new year 2015

Welcome to my www.wafuku.co.uk Wordpress blog

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

Happy New Year.
A slightly belated Happy New Year for 2016, the year of the Monkey. I was born on a year of the monkey too. Oh my, that was such a long time ago. I put a little monkey amulet on my Wafuku New Year’s logo above.

A quilting we will go.
Some time ago I wrote a post or two here about wonderful fabrics I had bought, especially Christmas themed ones, but I hadn’t got around to making anything with them. During the 8 months up to the end of 2015 I used some of those fabrics to make 6 queen sized patchwork quilts, two double (full) sized ones and one single (twin) bed quilt, which my daughter and I made together when she was recovering from a collapsed lung. The Peanuts one was the first we’d ever made. My daughter swears it will be her last but I went on to make the others. I had no choice, I’d bought all those fabrics.

We searched for and bought many Peanuts (Charlie Brown & co) fabrics while she was in the early stages of recovery, then we made a quilt with them when she was well enough to share that task. Her recovery took 4 months and the quilt was made during the fourth one. She loves it.

I made a Dr Seuss queen size quilt, which I gave to my daughter, then another one, called Comfort Food, made from all those fabulous fruit and vegetable prints, another called Ghastlies, with cartoon prints, and a Christmas prints one, all queen sized, those three for myself. I then made queen sized Christmas print ones for each of my two sisters, which I gave them when I visited them in July. Next I made two double bed sized quitls, from which my brother got to choose one at Christmas. He could choose between another Comfort Food one I made (I knew he had liked the fruit and veg fabrics in the one I made myself) or one that I called Along The Garden Path, which was floral print patches in among a pebble print fabric. Each patch represented something about our mother’s garden and the wildflower field that my brother has been creating every time he visits her, which this year looked lovely.

I have now decided to combine two interests, Japanese textiles and making quilts, by using the many bolts and sampler books of Japanese cottons and silks that I have, to make more patchwork quilts. I have to justify that new sewing machine somehow. My next post will be about the Japanese textiles I plan to use for quilts while this one will show you the patchwork items I made in 2015.

Peanuts Quilt.
This is my daughter’s, the one we made together when she was recuperating from an operation. She wanted one to snuggle up in when on the couch watching television.

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The white backing fabric is from a Peanuts duvet cover my daughter found.

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Ghastlies Quilt.
I loved the style of the cartoons on this fabric. It reminded me of the style of the cartoonist Ronald Searle, who created the St Trinians stories and cartoons, books which I loved when I was a child.

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I do love the Ghastlie family’s cat.

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Those bearded hipsters get everywhere, even the Ghastlie family hasn’t escaped them.

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The backing fabric has a sort of optical illusion. Of course that means it doesn’t photograph at all well. In reality it looks really good.

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A Christmas Quilt for For Me.
I absolutely love these Christmas prints. Every time I see my Christmas quilt it makes me smile. Most of the Christmas fabrics were chosen because they remind me of Christmas wrapping paper. Some is very like paper that I remember from my childhood in the late 50s and the 60s, some reminds me of wrapping my daughter’s Santa gifts in cheap Christmas paper so they bore no resemblance to the more expensive paper I chose to wrap the gifts from me in. 

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My daughter loved a book called Santa Mouse, when she was a child, and one of these fabrics was chosen because it reminded her of that book.

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I really like the pine cones fabric below. It feels Christmassy to me but also very Japanese. I have an exquisite, cream, silk, Japanese kimono with magnificent pine cones textile art on it. That holly print is a fabric I bought simply because I felt I should get one with holly on it and should get more green prints. Once it arrived and I really looked at it, it became one of my very favourite patches on that quilt. I love it and wish I could find a bit more of it.

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A Dr Seuss Quilt for my daughter.
I found a good selection of Dr Seuss prints available for a while. My daughter and I both remember Dr Seuss books from our childhoods. The one I remember best was The Sleep Book. I made this quilt and, because my daughter especially liked the subject of this one, I gave it to her. This one will fit her bed when the nights get coldest.

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The backing is a wonderful African fabric that I found. It was a bit of a pain to prepare for use because the colour ran, so I had to wash it many, many times to get all the loose dye out, and it shrank in the process, so I had to add borders at the back to make it wide enough but I absolutely love those huge paint tubes on it.
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Comfort Food #1.
When I found a fabric with large, red skinned potatoes on it I at first thought, “who on earth is that aimed at? Who would want a fabric with potatoes on it?”. It seemed a ridiculous choice of subject for a printed cotton. However, it turns out that the company producing it knew me better than I knew myself because that fabric remained in my mind until I grew to love the oddness of it and then to feel I had to have some, That led me to discover there were a good many very realistic food prints out there and I now had to have them all. From that was born Comfort Food, my costermonger’s dream of a quilt. Those fabric designers know exactly what they are doing, they know the world is full of people like me who can’t resist a bright, pretty and, more importantly, very odd fabric print.

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The strips around the sides of the big squares are called sashing and I decided I wanted a woodgrain print sashing for this quilt, so that the fruit and vegetables looked as though they were in crates at a market. It took me a lot of time searching to track down any woodgrain prints and, of course, the very few I found were only available in the USA, so postage to the UK and import tax made even the fabric for this quilt’s sashing very, very expensive. It’s bad enough that the fabric for all the squares in my quilts comes from America or Japan, since that means costly shipping and import tax making it all fantastically expensive, but usually I can at least use plain fabric bought here in the UK for the sashing and posts (posts are those little squares at the corners of the sashing). All my quilts have been very costly to make because of having to import the patterned fabrics but this one was even costlier because of the woodgrain sashing. I do, however, think it was worth it. I love the wooden box effect. I now have two or three other woodgrain prints, also from America, and two basket weave prints, one sent here from Hawaii and one from Texas, and can’t wait to see how Comfort Food quilts look with those as sashing.

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I can almost smell that basil in the next one.

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Here are those red potatoes that suckered me in to buying the fabrics for this quilt in the first place. I really love those courgettes. I want to pick one up.

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Check out these Brussels sprouts. Aren’t they just great?

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Those blackberries look so juicy you feel your fingers would stain purple if you touched that print.

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Everyone who sees this quilt has said, “Oh wow”. I can’t really take the credit for that, it is purely the incredible prints in it. I have still to quilt the squares in this one, I’ve only quilted along the seams so far. I stopped at that point because I wanted to get quilts done for my siblings and, as I was visiting my two sisters in July, needed to have their two made by then, followed by other patchworks in time for Christmas.

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A Christmas Quilt For Each Of My Sisters.
I offered my elder sisters a quilt each and asked them which of the above themes they would like. They both chose Christmas. I showed them all the plain fabric colours I had and my eldest sister chose green and red for around her quilt’s squares and my other sister chose purple. I wasn’t sure that purple would look right on a Christmas quilt but it was what she wanted and I have to say I liked the end result. I can never capture purple well in a photo. This cotton was called Cadbury’s purple, so, if you know the chocolate wrapper and foil, you know the richness of this purple.

Here are those two Christmas quilts.

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And for the other sister…

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She is very much a dog lover.

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She had a favourite fabric in it but then realised that her favourite kept changing; it would be one print one day, a different the next, then another, then maybe back to the first and so on, so she took to looking at it each night when she went to bed over the Christmas period and choosing her favourite for that night..

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The vehicles transporting trees in the next photo remind me of people coming to buy Christmas trees from my father in the 1970s, who grew some in the field to supplement his income at Christmas. People would leave with a tree sticking out of their cars or tied to their car roofs.

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Nativity illustrations take my sister back to her youth. Me too. I remember in primary school at Christmas we would get cards to colour in, usually with nativity images on them. I had forgotten about those until I came across nativity print fabrics.

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I can’t resist a good bauble print. I remember we only got one or two new ones each year when I was a child in the 60s. They were expensive things then and made of very thin, fragile glass. We would unwrap them each year and discover which had survived its year in storage and which had broken. Occasionally, when hanging them on the tree, one would fall and there would be that high pitched Tsss as it smashed. I can still hear that sound clearly in my head and remember the sadness when it happened, especially if one of my favourite baubles.

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I adore snow, the look of it and the sound of footsteps in fresh, deep snow. I love to build snowmen. How could I resist this fabulous snow scene, with caravans and Christmas lights? How could I resist a fabric with an Airstream on it too?

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I like using completely contrasting backing fabrics sometimes, then you can flip the quilt over and have one that is totally different.

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Cushions As Christmas Gifts
I made my two sisters matching cushions as Christmas gifts and two more for some friends.

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Glitter fabric! I didn’t add the glitter, just a few of the fabrics came as glittered ones.

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My ex had a vintage Morris Cowley pick up that looked incredibly like this one, it was even the same colour. My daughter really loved this fabric because it reminded her of that vehicle from her childhood.

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The cushions have envelope backs and buttons, though not yet added when that photo below was taken.

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Mmm. Smell the peppermint…

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Glittering snow globes. I love the few glitter fabrics I found.

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The style and colours of this design take me right back to being 6 years old again. It is possibly my most favourite.

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Such stylish Santas.
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I particularly like the style of this fabric, with its cut paper look and black background. Very striking, very retro.

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This last pair were for friends of mine. Just the covers shown here but I did provide them with the inner cushions as well.
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I do love a Christmas tree bauble print. Check out the transparent baubles in the next photo.

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An envelope opening and button fastening works well. I will put the buttons a tad closer together in future cushion covers. I have fabric cut out to make a further 26, which I will put on for sale on Etsy from around next August

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Finally, the two quilts I made for my brother to choose one from at Christmas.
These two are double (full) bed size. The first one is called Along The Garden Path. My brother comes to Scotland a few times a year to visit our now 94 year old mother. She lives in an ex-farmhouse, with a reasonably big garden and a 5 acre field. The field has a small wood in it because my parents grew pine trees to sell at Christmas, to supplement their income. My father died in 1973, after which the trees were left to their own devices and have grown absolutely enormous. Locals call it The Forest. There was also a section of the field that had been taken over by various self seeded trees and left unheeded for some years. My brother has been cutting down and logging that copse of self seeded trees over the past 6 years or so, to let more light back over to part of the garden and to provide logs for my mother’s two open fires.

The sloping top part of the field, the bit most visible from my mother’s house, was a solid mass of very tall fire weed (also called rosebay willow herb) that had long since taken it over. In autumn the air used to be full of its floating, fluffy, white seeds. At first the patches of tall purple-pink flowers were pretty but once the entire top section of field was solid fire weed, we grew to hate it. For a few years my brother spent every visit simply weeding it out, over and over, until he got on top of it. He then scattered seeds but he made the mistake of including couch grass and other strong, invasive grasses that wild flowers could not compete with, so he then spent two more years digging out the grass and trying to halt its progress. He has got rid of most of it, though not yet quite all, but now the wildflowers are starting to thrive. The addition of lots of yellow-rattle seed may help deal with left over grasses, as it attacks grass roots and provides a rather nice yellow flower. We had lots and lots of yellow and white daisies all over that area of field this year and, among them, various other flowers including red poppies. I bought and scattered millions of poppy seeds out there last summer and autumn plus a very good quantity of other things, so I am really keen to see how it looks this coming summer. Luckily I live next door to my mother, in an ex-farm cottage, so I get to see the field every day. I do her gardening now that she is too old to manage it. She does plant the odd bulb and deadhead things now and then but the garden is pretty much left to me now.

Along The Garden Path is a quilt with fabrics that represent my mother’s garden and field and work my brother has done here and in his own allotment at home in England.

Although it is full of mementos which are meaningful, I knew he had liked my Comfort food quilt and thought he might prefer one of those, so I made two quilts and let him choose.

Along The Garden Path Quilt.
My mother insisted on adding fresh gravel to her path every few years for decades. She seemed oblivious of the fact that it raised the path’s level each time. I only managed to persuade her to stop doing it when I was able to point out that her porch used to have two granite steps up to it and it now only had one, the bottom one having been swallowed up by the many, many tons of gravel she had added over the years. Swallowed too were all the edging stones around the front garden and lawns.

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My mother’s long dining room table has been a real boon when it comes to sandwiching the top, the batting (wadding) and the backing together on each quilt. I have nothing so useful for that task in my house. I hate doing the layering.

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My mother has a lawn that is completely covered in crocus in spring, then replaced by daffodils. It looks incredible, especially when it is the solid mass of crocus, so one fabric square is all crocus and one is all daffodils, both representing that lawn, Another square has the lilies she and I keep adding to her garden each year because they flower for ages and add a much needed boost of bright colour here and there. Another square represents the hundreds of tulip bulbs I was given by the head gardener of a park in Glasgow in 2015 when they took them out the park’s gardens and were just going to mulch them. There’s also a square there with frogs because frogs spawn in the garden’s little pond every year.

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There is a lilac bush, like the one below, and lots of squirrels here. I feed the squirrels and 4 now come to me when I call, knowing I will toss them quality nuts in shells.

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Her garden has many huge poppies and we have planted dozens and dozens of clematis over the years, They climb up every wall and over fences.
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The top patch in the next photo represents the copse of trees that my brother logged for my mother. It may seem a shame to cut down a nice mix of trees but they darkened the garden and there is no shortage of all sorts of trees here, over and above ‘The Forest’. The entire house and garden is edged with huge trees. These trees had taken over a section of the field because my father was no longer around to keep them away the way he did when he tended the field to grow strawberries in it, as well as the Christmas trees. The logs the trees provided, however, have been really useful to my mother.

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The next photo shows the quilt top before it was layered and bound.

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Comfort Food Quilt #2.
This one has a few fruit and vegetable fabrics that are not in my Comfort Food quilt and the sashes are plain brown with woodgrain posts, whereas mine is vice versa.

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The quilt my brother chose from those last two was Along The Garden Path. He liked the associations in the prints and how it will always remind him of our mother’s place.

My brother in my mother’s field in July 2015.
It should look much nicer next year, there should be more flowers and more variety of them but 2015 was its first year of proper flowering and it looked fantastic for months. The photos don’t do it justice.

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Next year there should be the addition of hundreds of foxgloves. There has been a lot of foxgloves for some years, ones that have self sown themselves over the decades, and one particularly large clump of them too but this year there were hundreds of new little ones all over the place. so if even a quarter of those come up and flower this year it will be spectacular. My one regret with the Along The Garden Path quilt was that I could not find a fabric with foxgloves on it.

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In my next blog post I will show you the Japanese, vintage textiles that I have decided to use for making quilts. Very traditional Japanese prints, weaves and colours. I will go for a rustic look to those quilts, I think. They are still at the planning stage but I’m quite excited about doing some Japanese ones. I also have some appliquéd quilts in mind and a couple of those will be Japanese themed but lots of others to do before I get to those ones.

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You can also check out my www.wafuku.co.uk website, providing vintage & antique Japanese kimonos & collectables.

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One of my kimonos being modelled by the singer Rita Ora

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Please note that any advertisements shown below my posts are put there by WordPress, not by me. I am not responsible for whatever product or service is advertised and it being there does not mean that I endorse or recommend it. 

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Textile Art To Drool Over

wafuku blog aug 12 logo A

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

Welcome to my www.wafuku.co.uk Wordpress blog

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Japanese textile art often leaves me overwhelmed by its beauty and intricacy. Many kimonos have hand applied textile art, known as yuzen, created by several artisans, from the designer to an artist whose speciality may be outlining, another whose speciality is shading, perhaps one who applies metallic lacquer etc.There are also magnificent examples of textile art that is woven and some is hand printed or stencilled or created using batik or shibori (tye dye) techniques.

I am saying this simply as an excuse to show off some beautiful examples of the Japanese garments I have.

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This next kimono has a wonderful repeat landscape.

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Blind Man’s Bluff on a Men’s Haori Lining.
One way geisha entertain is by playing lighthearted games and here, on the donsu silk lining of a men’s haori, is a portrayal of a game of blind man’s bluff being played in a dark room, by just the light of the moon coming through a little window.
The outside of the haori is black habutae silk, with 5 mon, making it the most formal haori, called an itsutsu montsuki haori.

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The outside of that haori; black habutae silk with 4-eye mon. There are three mon at the back and two at the front, making it the most formal style of men’s montsuki haori.

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Mount Fuji Through clouds. Simple but striking.

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The textile artist has added his signature to this kimono.

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An antique furisode kimono. This kimono has the ultra-deep swinging sleeves of a furisode (only worn by young, unmarried women) and wonderful artwork including brightly coloured flowers, beautiful birds, ouches of lacquer work and lavish, gold  embroidery.

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A delightful woven design on a pre tied obi.

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You can also check out my www.wafuku.co.uk website, providing vintage & antique Japanese kimonos & collectables.

www.wafuku.co.uk

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One of my kimonos being modelled by the singer Rita Ora

haorisweeritao

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Please note that any advertisements shown below my posts are put there by WordPress, not by me. I am not responsible for whatever product or service is advertised and it being there does not mean that I endorse or recommend it. 

Seijin-No-Hi & Other Bits & Pieces

Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu – A Very Happy New Year

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

Welcome to my www.wafuku.co.uk WordPress blog

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We’ve had incredible winds here of over 100 miles per hour as Hurricane Katia reaches us here in Scotland. I hear there is even worse to come, so we’ll see. It’s frequently wet and windy in Scotland but it has been much wetter and windier than usual this year. I don’t know if it is anything to do with global warming or simply a natural cycle that happens every generation or whatever but the grey skies that have been close to constant since late summer have become depressing and make one reluctant to go outside. Scotland does not have great weather at the best of times but this has been much more severe than usual.

Below is a photograph, from http://www.sott.net, of a wind turbine in Ardrossan, not so very far from where I am, which burst into flames because of the force of the winds making it spin in the wrong direction.

Still, there has been relatively little damage, despite the roaring winds; the hut is in a bad way, a small amount of tile repair required on the roof, a huge tree came down in our adjacent little field and about 6 foot or so was blown off the tops of a few of the pines growing further down the field, where there is a small wood entirely of very tall pine trees. There are smallish branches, from the old trees surrounding the house, littering the place, the plant covered metal mesh arches have blown over, etc. but no drastic damage. An acquaintance’s car, in a tiny village about 3 miles from here, was flattened when a large tree fell on it but it was empty and parked outside his home when it happened.

There’s been some flooding in the town, which is in a valley, but my home is on a hill on the edge of the countryside, so is never going to flood.

When I think of Japan’s tsunami and other natural disasters around the world, I do admit we have been let off lightly.

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Seijin-no-Hi

January 10th was Seijin-no-Hi in Japan. Seijin-no-Hi is the Coming of Age Day when people who will have their 20th birthday in the present year all celebrate. The celebration begins by going to local government office, then to a shrine with their parents, then partying the rest of the day away with friends. Young women usually dress up in wafuku (traditional Japanese clothing) for the day, which means wearing a furisode kimono, which has exceedingly deep sleeves and beautiful patterns on it. Young men may wear wafuku too, with an ensemble of kimono, hakama and haori, though most seem to choose to wear yofuku (clothing that is not traditional Japanese clothing), usually a standard suit. Of those young men who do wear wafuku, some wear the more usual, formal ensembles, comprising montsuki kimono and haori in black and hakama with black and white or grey stripes, but some turn it up a notch and wear even more striking versions, with brightly coloured kimono and haori and hakama of bold patterns and gold brocade, sometimes seen with very contemporary hairstyles, such as spikey blonde styles etc. I love both the more sedate versions and these more gaudy ones and the mix of traditional and contemporary.

Tokyo Fashion as a blog post about Seijin-n-Hi in Tokyo so, as I’ve written about it before on this blog, you may want to visit theirs, as they have lots of lovely photos such as the one below.

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You can see more photos here on Akakusa Diary, which has, amongst others, the picture below, with young men in both contemporary and traditional clothes and both colourful (front left) and serene (front right) versions of the traditional outfit.

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Now for just a few of the furisode kimonos on my Wafuku.co.uk website

Floral Bands

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Rainbow Peacocks with Rhinestones

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Bouquets on Purple

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Soft yellow with Fabulous Flowers

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Bright Peacocks & Rhinestone Details

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Detail on Bright Peacocks & Rhinestone Details

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Furisode Kimonos

Furisode means ‘swinging sleeves’ and there are three styles of furisode kimono, all only worn by young, umarried women:

type 1 – Ko-Furisode: the shortest sleeved furisode, with sleeves that are around 85cm in length, one might wear a ko furisode, for example, with hakama for a graduation ceremony

type 2 – Chu-Furisode: a furisode with sleeves that are around 100cm in length. “Chu” means “medium”.

Type 3 – Oh-Furisode: “oh” means big, therefore oh-furisode means big, swinging sleeves, with the longest sleeves of all the furisode type kimonos. Oh-furisode have sleeves of 114 – 115cm. This is the type that would be worn for Seijin-no-Hi. all the kimonos shown above are oh-furisode.

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3D paintings

Check out the 3D paintings by Riusuke Fukahori; he paints a layer, pours on thick layer clear lacquer, paints on that and repeats the process  until done. You can see pictures of his work here on the www.thisiscolossal.com design website, as well as a short film of him doing the work.

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Snow Monsters

It is worth having a look at these trees covered in snow and rime ice in Japan, known as “snow monsters”. You can see one photo below and lots more here on the Pink Tentacle website.

Japan’s Snow Monsters

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I really like this photograph from tokyotimes.org 

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wishing you all the best for 2012

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More Japanese Textiles

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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More Japanese Textiles

…and the reddish cats on grey silk

Next is a very Japanese motif, flying cranes, on a glorious purple silk.

The one below is an odd one, it is a very fine, high quality, soft wool textile, so fine it almost feels like soft cotton, with Thumper the rabbit from the Disney film Bambi. Not what one thinks of as a Japanese motif but the Japanese did like early Disney animations, so one occasionally finds characters from them on their textiles. This is an entire bolt of textile, roughly 12 metres, woven to make a child’s kimono and haori ensemble.

I can’t resist any Japanese textiles, whether unused lengths of fabric or already made up into fabulous Japanese wafuku.

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Haori Photo Shoot – The Versatile Kimono Jacket

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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Haoris in the sunshine – A photo shoot with fabulous, Japanese haori kimono jackets

Saturday was a beautiful, sunny day here in Scotland, so I made the most of it and had a photo session to get pictures of a few of my Japanese haori kimono jackets. Astrella modelled them all for me, sweltering in the heat without a word of complaint. We took 331 photos and I have selected 58 for you to feast your eyes on here.  The pictures may help you gauge the general length of them, as haori are longer than many people realise from pictures of them just on a hanger. Astrella is five foot one inch tall (roughly 155cm) and a UK size 10 and about 125 cm from wrist to wrist.

The first haori shown below is covered in large, pink and white ume (plum bossom) and shows how good haori can look when worn with a belt, which is something the Japanese don’t do. They wear them unbelted on top of a kimono and obi. You may notice that haori (and kimono) sleeve seams lie down the arms a bit, not up at the edge of the shoulders. The traditional way of fastening a haori, if one chooses to fasten it at all,  is with a single tie, just inside the fronts, called a himo, which holds the fronts edge to edge, not overlapped. As you can see, though, from photos on this page, haori do also look extremely good with a a belt added. The first one below is being worn with a wide elastic belt.

This next one has magnificent textile art of bright flowers on black, shown modelled with a narrow leather belt as well as without a belt. The large white stitching at the edge of the sleeves is called shitsuke and is often put in, by the Japanese, just to keep garment seams neat during storage. It is simply pulled out before wearing but, as this haori was just being modelled, I left it in.

All but one of the haoris in these photographs is pure silk, inside and out, and all are entirely hand tailored, with the seam edges completely hidden in the lined ones, so those can actually be worn inside out too. Some have hand applied textile art. The quality of the fabric and workmanship is absolutely exquisite.

The following photograph shows a haori in a pretty pink, with a design of magenta leaves.

Now a touch of 1950s pattern. Shown, in one photo, inside out. The bottom half is usually lined in the same silk used on the outside, with a lighter weight silk on the top half and the sleeves. This haori’s upper lining has a lovely design of colourful parasols on it.

Pink leafy repeat pattern.

Graduated pampas leaf pattern on russet. The leaves become more dense towards the bottom.

Bingata style print of pretty flowers.

The one below has autumn maple leaves, shown with and without a belt and shown inside out, with the beautiful lining on show. Haori are usually so exquisitely made, with hidden seams and hand tailoring, that you can wear or display the lined ones inside out. The lower half is lined with the same silk as the outside and the upper half and sleeves are lined with a lighter silk in a different design. This one has lovely Japanese parasols on the upper lining.

In the next photo you can see how beautifully they are made, with the edges of the seams completely hidden inside and out; not a line of stitches in sight in the lined ones.

On the next haori you see a wonderful design of stylised kiku (chrysanthemums) swirling over the silk.

Now black, with striking, champagne gold, metallic urushi (lacquer covered silk thread) woven to create a landscape design.

An iro muji (self coloured), scarlet haori, with flowers in the damask weave of the silk. I do wish I’d ironed it before the photos, though. They usually aren’t creased when unfolded, as there is a special way of folding haoris and kimonos to ensure they very rarely require ironing when unfolded for use.

Swirls of dragon fire on black silk, with subtle touches of gold detailing that are lovely when up close. A 1930s haori, so slightly longer than most of my more recent ones, with slightly deeper sleeves too.

Magnificent birds and flowers.

Big, pink butterflies on black.

Vermillion flowers and leaves on black.

Now for two examples of kuro muji (plain black) haoris, with patterns in the weave that the photos haven’t picked up. Each has one white mon (crest) at the centre of the back at shoulder level.

This second plain black one, below, is an antique haori, which are often longer than more recent ones. This one is 102cm long.  I am keeping it for myself.

Below is another metallic urushi landscape design haori, this one with glinting, distant mountains and a formal mon (crest) at the centre of the shoulders, making it a hitotsu mon (one mon) haori

An unusual one next. It’s a large sized, child’s michiyuki jacket but big enough for an adult to wear. It would fit a child because children wear them with big tucks loosely stitched in the shoulders, narrowing the width. Children’s ones have a collar and tassels, whereas adult michiyuki usually don’t have either of those and would also be longer than this one. The michiyuki you see in the next two photos is made of shibori patterned silk, with little red dots all over and large ume (plum blossom). Shibori is an intricate tie dye process, usually painstakingly, entirely hand done, making it a frighteningly expensive fabric that is highly revered by the Japanese, so this garment would have been for a child from a family with a great deal of money.

In Japan, haori jackets are not worn with the fronts overlapping and not worn with a belt but michiyuki jackets are worn overlapped at the front and they are usually fastened with press studs, which in itself is unusual, as almost all traditional Japanese garments are fastened only by tying; using using various sashes, cords, obis etc.

Finally, black silk, with painterly, red branches and little ume (plum blossom), shown with and without a smile. This is a haori that the model has kept for herself, to wear with her red, Terry De Havilland shoes

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Japan’s 20 Year Old Girls’ Seijin-No-Hi Celebration & Furisode Kimonos

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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Each year in Japan there is a celebration called Seijin-No-Hi (sometimes seen as seijinsiki), now usually held on the second Monday of January. No matter where you are in Japan on this date you will see many girls, dressed in their traditional kimono, out and about celebrating Seijin no hi. The celebrations are organized by the local government of their place of residence. Styles of these ceremonies are different from region to region. Many of these young women have their hair and make up done by a professional and have a photographer take a commemorative photo, just as we might when dressed for a university degree ceremony.

Seijin-no-hi is a coming of age ceremony for girls who have reached the age of 20. At this age, they are considered adult and can legally vote, smoke, drink etc. It is meant to be an auspicious event to celebrate and encourage people who realise that they have become adults and have made up their minds to live their lives independently.

In Japan, the 20 year old women dress in beautiful furisode kimonos for that day. Furisode is pronounced foo-ri-so-day, with no stress on any of the syllables. Furisode kimonos are very ornate and have exceedingly deep sleeves. The beautiful furisode is usually bought for them by their parents, at a cost of thousands of UK pounds for a silk one, plus as much again for the obi, obi accessories and such. Nowadays they sometimes just hire the outfit for the day. The Japanese have a saying that translates as, ‘have three girls and be broke’.

Girls used to be taught by their mothers how to on put their kimono and obi, which is a time consuming and difficult task, but this tradition has largely died out, so they usually now go to classes to learn how to put it all on and how to carry themselves when wearing it or have a dresser to help them on the day.

Below you can see examples of current fashions in obi knots for wear with furisodes, nagoya obis in a variety of bow knots. You may also notice the little stoles many wear around their shoulders, another popular fashion just now. The stoles are often fur fabric or, particularly popular, floaty marabou feather. Although kimonos have changed relatively little over the centuries, there are, like everywhere, fashions that come and go. This can be a style of print, a weave of silk, a way of tying an obi, a particular kimono accessory etc

Furisodes are astoundingly beautiful kimonos when on but they also make spectacular display items, either on an ikou (special kimono display stand) or on a wall, hung from a kimono hanger or bamboo rod, back view with the fronts pulled out and pinned to the wall or clipped (like in the next photo, below) to the sleeves. The furisode comes in three different sleeve lengths: oburisode(full; 105 cm), chuburisode (medium; 90 cm), and kofurisode (short; 75 cm). The ones shown here are all oburisode, the deepest sleeved furisodes.

Below are some examples of the furisode kimonos on my site. Where you may see a break in the pattern at the back, this area is hidden when on, by the waist fold and obi.

This first one has wonderful, stylised cranes and ume (plum blossom) on it

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This pink one has pretty clouds floating across it, a very popular motif in Japan.

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The pale yellow one below has trailing flowers and lovely, gold, kinkoma couched embroidery detailing.

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The green floral one below also has gold detailing. The photo doesn’t do it justice, it is exquisite when on.

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The furisode below is a pretty, soft green colour, with wonderful flower sprays in shades of pink, white, blue and green.

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This next furisode kimono is a more modern one, also on my website. It has magnificent peacocks on it, with rainbow tails, and is highlighted with sparkling rhinestones

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Finally, the furisode below, one of my favourites, has a dramatic design of tabane noshi and flower baskets, with pretty embroidered detail too. Tabane noshi is a decorative bundle of strips, originally narrow strips of dried abalone/mother-of-pearl bundled together in the middle; it was the ritual offering to God in Japanese Shinto religion. Tabane noshi is now also is used to refer to a bound bundle of any kind of ribbon strips. This motif is often seen in the masterpieces of furisode kimonos from the middle of the Edo era, created by various techniques. It remains a very popular motif in Japanese design.

When you think of the quantity of silk used to make these furisode, which are usually fully lined in silk too, and the fact that they are almost all hand printed and entirely hand tailored, it is hardly surprising that one will pay at least £3000 for the kimono alone.

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More Vintage Kimonos & More Post Office Annoyance

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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More Kimonosoidered Furisode Kimono

butterfly furisode kimono

The kimono above is a lovely, silk furisode kimono. Furisode (pronounced foori-so-day) means ‘swinging sleeves’ and this style of kimono has extra deep sleeves and is worn by young, unmarried women, from about the age of 20. Once married, they replace it with a houmongi kimono, which has much less deep sleeves. This one has the most fabulous embroidery on it; great big butterflies. The lining is foxed, that is, it has yellowish brown spots on it, a characteristic sometimes seen on vintage silks, especially the ones used for linings. It doesn’t weaken the fabric, it just discolours it and that doesn’t show when it is worn. The photos don’t really do that furisode justice, it is much nicer up close. My daughter’s scarlet hair goes well with so many of the kimonos.

I’m most annoyed with the UK Post Office. A parcel sent to Germany went missing (I since insist on sending overseas mail as insured, registered mail), so I put in a claim for lost mail, even though I will get £34 back at most, when the contents’ value was £120. The other day I got a letter from the Post Office, asking for my original receipt for the contents, saying I had 5 days to reply or they would consider the matter closed. What annoys me about that is that it took them 7 WEEKS to send that reply to me. I told them, in my reply, exactly what I thought about that!

Now I’m going to take a 30 minute nap, having got little sleep last night, then it’s time to make lunch, after which I will pay another customs’ import tax bill for kimonos I’ve bought from Japan.

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Obis Galore – wafuku.co.uk – Vintage Japanese Kimonos etc.

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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Obis Galore

oil painted purple silk obi

The obi above is a purple silk, two part nagoya obi, with a hand painted oil painting of glorious flowers. The large white stitching around the edges is just to keep them neat during storage, they just get pulled out before use.

The obi below has a lovely example of a stylised peacock and sensu (folding fan) shapes, woven in iridescent and metallic, urushi (lacquer coated) thread. The peacock’s feathers shimmer with metallic colours.

peacock nagoya obi

The photos show the rear section of the obis; this shape is known as a taiko. Contrary to what many believe, this shape ‘knot’ is not named after the little taiko hand drums, it is named after the Taiko bridge where this shape of knot was first worn on the opening of the bridge. It was worn by a few geisha and quickly caught on and became fashionable. Although called a knot, it is not actually tied into this shape; The obi sash section is tied and the knot section is folded into this shape and held in place using an obiage and an obijime. The taiko is padded out at the top with a bustle pad called a makura. You can see a nagoya obi being tied into this shape in the video instruction in one of my earlier posts on this blog.

Below is a maru obi.  Maru obis tend to be extra expensive because they have pattern along their entire length and on both sides. Fukuro and nagoya obis usually have pattern on only one side and often only on the parts that show; the section of the sash that doesn’t show may be plain.

maru obi

The next picture shows a reversible, man’s kaku obi and, the picture below that shows a heko obi. Kaku obis are formal wear for indoors and outdoors and a heko, soft obi (also known as a house obi) may used for informal wear at home. The kaku obi has one pattern in the weave on one side and a different one on the other. A kaku obi is wound round the waist and tied at the rear in a clam knot, the heko obi can be tied at the rear in a simple, floppy bow.

kaku obi

Below is a man’s, silk heko obi

heko obi

Obis are exceedingly long, as they are wound round the body more than once, and a woman’s one in particular requires a lot of length for the rear knot too. For example, the heko obi above is 303cm long, 70cm wide and is about half a kilo of silk. A women’s obi is usually much heavier and can cost as much or more than the kimono it is worn with. The obi is always bought separately from the kimono. Think of it like a skirt and blouse, you can’t wear either just on its own; you buy them separately and mix and match.

heko obi

The picture above shows Maiko’s obis, called darari obis. Maiko wear their obis with the ends hanging down at the back and their geisha house’s mon (crest) on the end. Even used, damaged darari obis are incredibly expensive and I have not yet been able to afford one.

Geisha (nowadays called geiko) are hostesses, they are not prostitutes; long ago obis were tied at the front but, when they became deeper and the knots became bulkier, they were worn tied at the back instead and have remained so ever since but the way to tell a prostitute from a geisha used to be that a prostitute continued to wear her obi tied at the front, which made it easier to remove and put back on.

Uses for Kimono & Obi Fabrics

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Below you see examples of cushions and a bag made using Japanese obi fabric. Obi also make fabulous table runners and look wonderful laid down the centre of a bed. Kimono fabrics, often with hand applied artwork, can also be made into lovely new things.


Welcome to my Wafuku blog

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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I am a collector of vintage and antique wafuku (traditional Japanese clothing) such as kimonos, haori kimono jackets, obis, zori & geta etc. Having fed this addiction to these incredible pieces of wearable textile art and sumptuous silks for many years until the quantity I own got way, way out of hand. I hope you enjoy my blog.

When most people in Japan wore a traditional Japanese clothing daily, they each used to build up a sizeable collection over the years, all carefully stored. Now few Japanese are opting for traditional clothing and lifestyles, so they are parting with those collections. This does, however, make now a good time to get a vintage garment, while there are still many varied and beautiful kimono and such in Japan. On the other hand, it also means there are far less people now keeping or building collections of them. which, of course, also means the supply in Japan is not being maintained as before, so there won’t always be the fabulous variation of high quality, vintage Japanese garments available that there currently is.