Appliquéd Kokeshi & Winter Kimonos

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wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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Kokeshi Appliqué Waistcoat.
Back in the 70s my mother bought three appliquéd, quilted waistcoats while on a trip to America. She loves them and still wears them, so last Christmas I made her a grey one with silhouettes that represented her garden and the wildlife in it, then I made her another for this last Christmas, with chickens on it because she used to have chickens back in the 1960s and I remembered that, when I was a child, she painted little cockerels onto all her biscuit tins, so the waistcoat is a memento of those things. It will be her 96th birthday next month, so I made her one more, this time it represents my love of Japanese things. I bought a pattern for a small quilt from The Gourmet Quilter and adapted some of the appliqué items from that for my mothers new waistcoat.

Kokeshi doll waistcoat


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I also bought a couple of inexpensive kokeshi brooches for myself, as mementos of making her the waistcoat.

Yukata Times Magazine.

I wish this magazine was easily available in the UK. Yukata are ultra-casual, summer kimonos that are still very popular in Japan and worn by many to summer festivals etc. Further down this page you can see some fabulous, less informal kimonos for winter.


Tasuki are used to hold the long, swinging kimono sleeves out of the way while working wherever they might be a nuisance if hanging loose. You can get tasuki clips, like the beaded one in that picture (available on my website), which threads through the obi and clips onto the sleeves, providing a very elegant option to hold them out of the way, or you can simply use a koshi himo (soft tie) to do the job, as you see in the diagram. I was sent the diagram picture by a friend, so don’t know who to accredit for it.



Winter Kimonos
Check out all the wonderful kimonos in this site’s display of winter kimonos – HERE. I particularly love the three below but there are many more at that link.




Want to see some stunning kimonos and fantastic kimono styling? Check out the Akira Times blog.


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

Rita Ora.
One of my vintage, silk kimonos, from, modelled by the beautiful Rita Ora.


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. 


More Celebrities In Kimonos

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wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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I found more photographs of celebrities in kimonos.
These are in addition to the celebrities in kimonos I also have HERE.

Everyone loves a kimono, regardless of gender, status or era.

John & Yoko Lennon



Gwen Stefani.
Ever gorgeous. I love that ichimatsu obi.

I suspect her tag was meant to say #pricelessjapan


Shirley Temple.

Looking cute in a shichi-go-san kimono.



Culture Club, with Boy George.
George wears a colourful kakeshita kimono while the other band members go for monochrome patterned cotton yukatas.



Evelyn Nesbitt.
She is wearing a kimono that cost $3,000 way back in 1900. Evelyn Nesbit was a popular American chorus girl, an artists’ model and then an actress. She lived a life of controversy and died in 1967, aged 82.



Audrey Hepburn.
Wearing a lovely houmongi kimono .



Michael Jackson.
In kimono and hakama, complete with katana.



David Bowie in kimono.
He seemed to have a great liking of Japanese Kimonos and, of course, his Ziggy Stardust tour costumes were designed by a Japanese designer, Kansai Yamamoto. I think his short kimono type garment in the photo below is by Kansai Yamamoto.



Marlene Dietrich posing in a very beautiful, Japanese furisode kimono, with striking design of Japanese cranes. Cranes signify loyalty and longevity.

Did you know that Japanese, red crowned cranes dance for each other. Not just to win a mate, they mate for life and continue to dance for each other. It is such an endearing trait.



Gene Simmons from Kiss.
I posted this in a previous post but feel he should be in one that lists kimono clad celebrities.



Rita Ora.
One of my vintage, silk kimonos, from, modelled by the beautiful Rita Ora.


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



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. 

Kimonos, Cats and Cords

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wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

Welcome to my Wordpress blog in another magazine feature.
My website and I were part of a feature in the How To Spend It, the FT magazine, a few months ago, in their fashion edition.


Huge Kumihimo.
I have two of these huge kumihimo; they are enormously long, hand braided, silk cords, each with a loop at the centre and lovely tassels on the end. They are unused and the tassels are still wrapped in paper. I have no idea what they are for . I think they may have been made for a Buddhist or Shinto temple, because they very thick and long, pure silk, hand made, rather special and must have been exceedingly expensive to produce. They are really rather lovely and, when you move the cord about in your hand it has that lovely sound that silk makes, like footsteps in deep, crisp, new snow.
In that photo my daughter is holding just one of them.



Contemporary Take On Kimono.
This floaty, contemporary kimono is by Hayami Mariya.


Pretty Kimono.
Although this will fit an adult as a beautiful robe, it is actually a girls’ kimono but girls wear them with a big tuck in the shoulders and at the waist, which reduces the size of them a lot. They are always made big so tht these tucks can be inserted, so, without the tucks, they can fit adults surprisingly well. My adult daughter, whom you can see holding the kumihimo in a photo above, wears this size of kimono a lot. She especially likes them because they come in bright colours with vibrant patterns


Here she is again, wearing a kimono of same type and size. She is not a tall woman, so it is ankle length on her; on a tall woman they would be shorter.


Feline Fabulous.
Check out these great cat obis. I would love these.



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


One of my kimonos being modelled by the singer Rita Ora



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. 

No Posts For Months, Then 3 Come Along At Once

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wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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Three posts in a row.
Suddenly there is no stopping me. It’s mostly, I suppose, that I had too much to put into a single post, so have divided it into three. I find it hard to get started again when time passes but I’m on a roll at the moment and want to add the last of my current thoughts to the blog.


Interesting shoes.
While browsing online the other day I came across these wonderful, leather shoes on a Japanese website called Sou-Sou. They are hand made to order, so the prices of about £275 to £350 ($390 to $499) per pair doesn’t seem that bad, even if a good bit higher than I pay for my shoes.







A pair of my own.
I own this pair of shoes, not actually Japanese but from Irregular Choice’s Japanese influenced range. I have only worn them once so far, though have had them for years. I so rarely wear heels nowadays but I love an unusual shoe. These ones are suede and canvas.



One of my kimonos featured in Beyond Magazine.
This is one of my antique tomesode kimonos, which was requested by Beyond Magazine for their World In Seven Objects feature. It is a lovely magazine, with beautiful photography and graphic design.

Beyond kimono

beyond cover


A bit more quilting.
My 94 year old mother owns and wears 2 boxy, quilted waistcoats she bought at a craft fair in America way back in the 80s. They are very simple in shape and comfortable to wear. She has one with poppies and wheat, a couple of butterflies and a little mouse appliqued on the back and one with a large moon, a hills and a frog. The applique is done in a mix of plain and small patterned fabrics. She is very difficult to select gifts for, so I decided to make her a new quilted waistcoat as her Christmas gift. The simple shape was easy enough to make a paper pattern from; there are no darts or sleeves or tricky bits to deal with.


I thought of something colourful, then opted for neutral, to go with almost anything, so I made the waistcoat grey and the applique black silhouettes. I chose things that relate to her own garden, her love of hollyhocks (though she only likes the single ones, not double blooms), the foxes and badgers she sees visiting her garden at night, the many, many crows of various kinds that nest in her trees and are fed by her, the owls we can hear at night (and are in the family coat of arms) and, of course, the squirrels. My mother lives in an ex-farmhouse, which has a decent sized garden and a 5 acre field. The top section of the field, visible from her kitchen window, was a solid mass of rosebay willow herb. It is a very, very tall weed with a pinkish purple spiked flower and fluffy, wind borne seeds. When it dies off in autumn, the tall, brown dead stems remain. It can be quite pretty when in flower but it is invasive and takes over and we grew to hate it. We also hated the week or so each year of the air being thick with its fluffy seeds. It is one of those opportunistic plants that grows anywhere, you see it on every piece of waste ground, every vacant lot, in every corner and crevice it can find and in roofs and drainpipes of tall, old buildings. When not in flower it is just ugly.  A few years ago my brother decided that, on his visits a couple of times each year, he would dig out the rosebay and turn that area into a wildflower field. It took him years to get rid of the stuff and the couch grass that tried o take over in its place. There are still the occasional bits of rosebay and tough grass being found and removed but in 2015 it finally came to fruition and was a mass of wildflowers for months. Mostly tall white daisies and yellow ones, with poppies, cornflowers, red campion and various others mixed through it. It was quite lovely. He and I have added loads more seeds, including hundreds of thousands of poppy seeds (I especially love poppies), so it should be even better this year. So, the cow parsley on the waistcoat represents my mother’s field because it has always grown in the field and a few bit hang on in among the wildflowers. She really doesn’t enthuse about gifts but she did enthuse about her new waistcoat, which was pleasing. She seemed to genuinely like it and its associations.

Above you can see it appliqued and layered with wadding and backing, ready to be trimmed and sewn together. It is the first time I have ever done applique.




The finished garment.


My brother at the edge of the wildflower field and my daughter in it modelling Japanese garments for my website.






Another of my kimonos.
This lovely furisode style, silk kimono has a wonderful pattern of butteries on it. It has been a very expensive kimono and they have gone to the added expense of including some butterflies on the inside of the lower fronts, even though they really aren’t seen. It is a kinsai kimono, which means it is embellished with metallic gold or silver; this one has gold lacquer work clouds. I really like the flowing water pattern in the weave.


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Finally, since David Bowie died this month, much to the surprise of most of us, I thought I’d post a photo of him wearing a Japanese yukata kimono. Sadly I was unable to find a picture of the actor Alan Rickman in a kimono, who also died this month.

bowie in yukata


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


One of my kimonos being modelled by the singer Rita Ora



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. 

Pacchiwaku – Japanese Textile Quilts

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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

1a (1)

1a (3)

2a (3)

4a (3)

5a (1)

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.

ebaysou20150109a 142

ebaysou20150109a 105

ebaysou20150109a 106

ebaysou20150109a 165


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.

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sou20160107g 280

The hexagon popular motif, based on the pattern of the turtle shell. It represents longevity.

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sou20160107g 256

sou20160107g 290

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sou20160107g 238

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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

tc zabouton cotton (6)

tc zabouton cotton (2)

tc zabouton cotton (28)

tc zabouton cotton (8)
tc zabouton cotton (21)

tc zabouton cotton (25)

tc zabouton cotton (18)

tc zabouton cotton (20)

tc zabu1


Japanese girls lying on a futon under a kakebuton (futon quilt)


Silk Bolts.
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.


sou20160108i 136







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 website, providing vintage & antique Japanese kimonos & collectables.


One of my kimonos being modelled by the singer Rita Ora



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. 

Kimonos Are Not Only For Japanese Purists

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wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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Mr Selfridge.
I was watching that television show (ITV, UK) and noticed a lovely furisode kimono in the window display. The picture is poor quality, as it is a screenshot from the ITV iPlayer and they reduce quality for streaming but it does let you see the kimono. The show stars Jeremy Piven as Mr Selfridge, the man who opened the store Selfridges that still exists in London. He is good in it, just as he was very good in his role in Entourage.



Are kimonos only for the purists?
I read a comment on Reddit the other day, in which a Japanese woman said she felt that only Japanese people should wear kimonos and only those who applied all the strict Japanese rules about how they are worn, with obi etc., and wearing the correct kimono for the occasion and person’s age. She felt that no one other than a purist/traditionalist should be allowed to wear them, particularly those wearing them as house robes; she even said it was offensive (her word) to see the pictures of Rita Ora wearing one of my kimonos or to see anyone wearing one as a robe like that. The woman who said this is the only  person I have come across to say this, all other people I have spoken with or read comments by, including many Japanese people, do not think that way at all, in fact, quite the contrary. Needless to say I did not agree with her. To me, what she said is exactly the same idea as saying that women should not wear trousers because they were originally designed only for men to wear.
I felt she should also bear in mind that haori were originally meant to be worn only  by men but, many years ago, geisha broke that rule and started wearing these men’s jackets, after which, they became popular among other women and only then did haori start to be made specifically for women, so you now get many women wearing them. If that rule had not been broken, the women of Japan would not have haori to wear over their kimonos. If that rule could be broken in Japan, there is no reason not to break other kimono wearing traditions, especially when they are worn in The West, where kimonos are not worn as day to day, outdoor clothing and haoris not worn over them.
Since kimonos are rarely worn the same way in The West as they are in Japan, with obi or as outdoor clothes, it seems very pedantic to think that they should not therefore be worn there at all or that the Japanese traditional rules, dictating the styles and patterns for certain ages or occasions, should be adhered to by absolutely everyone who chooses to own and wear one either in or out of in Japan.
As you can see in the two pictures below, this Japanese man, in Japan, wears a kimonos with braces on top, attached to the obi, giving the traditional kimono wearing a slightly more contemporary look (photos from Akira Times). If Japanese people like him may break the rules and do that, why may others not just wear a beautiful kimono as a house robe, regardless of tradition? Why restrict them to only those who wear them the traditional way, with obi, and applying the strict age, occasion and colour rules?

The woman also thought that, if worn as a robe, it was appalling that it meant that the kimono would be worn frequently and the silk would touch the skin and therefore need cleaned more frequently than one that was rarely worn and only worn the traditional way on top of a naga-juban, so not touching the skin. She seemed to insist that they only be cleaned using the araihari method, which is a traditional one of completely dismantling the garment, cleaning the individual pieces, then remaking it, traditional method that resulted in rarely cleaning them, whereas I believe that careful dry cleaning is an acceptable alternative for a kimono that is used frequently as a robe.
Most vintage kimonos would become nothing more than moth food or be cut up and destroyed or would just sit in a box and never see the light of day and be appreciated if many were not re-purposed as robes or worn in some other non traditional way. Their being worn has to be a good thing, regardless of how they are worn, rather than all of them being hidden away, unappreciated for the majority of the time simply so they don’t get worn out or dirty.

Without a doubt, that woman would not approve of haori being worn in The West over yofuku (clothing that is not traditionally Japanese), such as you can see in the picture below. What a loss that would be. The haori is such a gem when worn with western world clothing.


Even in Japan nowadays, young people are sometimes seen to be wearing kimonos in deliberately non-traditional ways. The traditional rules are fine for kimono purists but I do not believe it is fine to say that they may only be worn by the purists and in the ways the purists dictate. I am very glad the old kimono rules are still maintained in Japan by some, whom I admire for doing it and keeping those traditions alive, but that should not be allowed to stop their use by those who choose to not follow those rules. I really do admire any person who abides by all the strict kimono wearing rules in Japan but do not feel they should be reserved only for them. Kimonos are clothing, not religion, not part of only some private club, so should be worn and enjoyed whatever way one chooses, as long as they are worn and loved and their beauty seen and enjoyed.

No doubt she would be utterly horrified to see my sister wearing a girl’s kimono open over western clothes, as a pretty evening coat, or, as you can see below, my daughter wearing this child’s antique kimono as a dress.


There is room for both purists and non-purists to wear wafuku (traditional Japanese clothing). It does not matter how one chooses to enjoy wearing it, it only matters that one does choose to do it and that their beauty and the work of the skilled Japanese artisans can be seen and appreciated.



Cable companies want to slow down (and break!) your favorite sites, all so they can profit. What we have now will slow to a crawl, sites taking forever to load unless we pay a premium to get extra speed. This is what cable companies are pushing the government to give them.

FIGHT THEM now or regret it forever. It is up to US. Click here to take action.



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


One of my kimonos being modelled by the singer Rita Ora



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. 

Randoseru Schoolbags and the Met’s History of Kimono

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wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA) had an exhibition called, “Kimono – A Modern History”.
It ended on 19 January 2015 but you can read about it on their website HERE.

On that page there is a long and very interesting video, full of information about kimonos and their influence on the West. As I said, though, it is long, 1 hour and 22 minutes long, so get comfy and soak it all in. It is worth the time.

The video is full of examples of how Japanese kimono influenced western fashions, such as this coat by Worth in 1890, with its slightly westernised version of Japanese textile art.


And it mentions these clothes made from kimono textiles, from 1875 and 1880 (images from the Met’s video)

met kimono dress

There is lots more information about kimonos and their influence on the West in the video HERE.


The latter half of that video shows how the obi is tied on some different formal types of kimonos (houmongi, furisode and shiromuku – white bridal kimono). The picture below is a screenshot from the video. The camera work doesn’t show the process as clearly as one would hope but you get an idea of how to tie this style of obi.


The finished fukurizume musubi (puffed sparrow knot).

fukurizume met

She also shows one like a huge flower, a more standard square, taiko knot and a bride’s bunko style knot and accessories.

She explains why the standard obi knot is called a taiko knot (otaiko). As I mentioned a long time back in a post here, most people, including the Japanese, say it is so called because it looks like a taiko (a Japanese drum) but that has always infuriated me because it is not the reason at all. It was named after the Taiko Bridge where, at its opening ceremony, some geisha tied their obis in this brand new, never before seen style and, as was usual with anything geisha wore, it immediately became the fashion among all women, so the knot is named Taiko after the bridge, and it has remained the most popular obi knot ever since. It is really more folded than tied but we still call it a knot, the Japanese call it a musubi, so it is a taiko musubi.

The screenshot below shows the examples in that Metropolitan Museum’s video.



There is also an interesting  Metropolitan Museum of Art blog post called, “Waves, Waterfalls, and Whirling Water on Japanese Kimono”, HERE

The New York Times had an article about the Met’s kimono history exhibition, which you can see HERE

The bottom of that article has a link to a previous article they did on Kimonos, in mid 2014, mostly about Western, contemporary takes on the kimono but it also featured a photograph of Rita Ora wearing a kimono from my own website,, taken in 2014. It is the black and white image in The New York Times’ trio photo below, where Rita Ora is wearing a vintage, pure silk, Japanese kimono; it’s a furisode style kimono, with those wonderful, almost ankle deep sleeves.

It was quite a surprise to just chance upon one of my kimonos on The New York Times’ website and find that it had also been shown in the July 3, 2014, Fashion & Style section of the The New York Times print newspaper, with the headline, “For Spirits That Can Only Be Tied Down by a Sash”.


Randoseru Schoolbag
I weakened and bought myself a traditional, Japanese schoolbag backpack, known as a randoseru. Mine isn’t real leather because leather ones cost a fortune. The one I really want costs around £300, plus delivery and import tax, so this one, which was by no means cheap, will have to suffice. Randoseru have this very specific shape and are generally well made, long lasting bags. I like backpacks as my ‘handbags’, with the choice of carrying in my hand, over my shoulder or, for any long time, on my back. I haven’t seen it up close yet, it is still winging its way here from Japan.

Red is the traditional colour for girls randoseru and black for boys. Nowadays a big variety of colours and two-tones are available, though many of the more conservative Japanese schools dictate the colour to be used.

This is mine…


I found some information about Randoseru on Wikipedia

The use of the “randoseru” began in the Edo era. Along with a wave of western reforms in the Japanese military, the Netherlands-style rucksack called “ransel” (Japanese: ランドセル randoseru) was introduced as a new way for the foot soldiers to carry their baggage. The shape much resembled the “randoseru” bags used today. In 1885, the Japanese government, through the elementary school Gakushūin, proposed the use of a backpack as the new ideal for Japanese elementary school students. At Gakushūin, the practice of coming to school by cars and rickshaws were banned, promoting the idea that the students should carry their own equipment and come to school by their own feet. At this time, the bag looked more like normal rucksack. This changed, however, in 1887. The crown prince of the time was given a backpack upon entering elementary school (at Gakushūin). To honour the soldiers of the country, the shape of the backpack resembled the backpacks used in the military, in other words a “randoseru”. This quite immediately became the fashion, and the shape have continued to become the “randoseru” used today. However, at this time most of the Japanese people could not afford such an expensive bag. Until the dramatic rise of economy in Japan in the past-WWII period, the main school bag in Japan was simple shoulder bags and furoshiki (square folding cloths).

It is a popular saying that the metal clip on the side of the “randoseru” was used in the military to carry grenades. However, this is not true. The metal clip was introduced in the past-WWII period, as a means to carry lunch boxes, change of clothes for P.E., etc.


Most randoseru production is carried out by hand. A randoseru is constructed of a single-piece body and around 200 fittings, a combination of die-cut materials and urethane backing plates. Assembly involves crimping, machine-sewing, walnut-gluing, drilling each shoulder strap, and riveting. The bag’s materials and workmanship are designed to allow the backpack to endure the child’s entire elementary education (six years). However, the care usually given to the randoseru throughout that time and afterwards can extend its life and preserve it in near-immaculate condition long after the child has reached adulthood, a testament to its utility and the sentiment attached to it by many Japanese as symbolic of their relatively carefree childhood years.

A typical randoseru measures roughly 30 cm high by 23 cm wide by 18 cm deep, and features a softer grade of leather or other material on those surfaces which touch the body. When empty, it weighs approximately 1.2 kilograms (2.6 pounds). However, due to demand for a lighter, more robust randoseru, as of 2004 approximately 70% are made from the synthetic leather Clarino. Also, in response to Japan’s revised curriculum guidelines from the fiscal year 2011, there is a growing demand for bags large enough to hold A4 standard paper files without bending. Manufacturers are divided as to whether to support an increased bag size or not.

The randoseru’s durability and significance is reflected in its cost.

This site sells the ones I like best. I would love to own one of those, possibly the pink or a lime green one. They make them to order, out of high quality leather.

randoseru best

And their two tone Randoseru are gorgeous.




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


One of my kimonos being modelled by the singer Rita Ora



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. 

Fabulous Fabrics – I Must Learn To Love Quilting

wafuku blog aug 12 logo A

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

Welcome to my Wordpress blog


The Chore Joy of Patchwork.
Ages ago I discovered a range of fabulous fabric by Alexander Henry, with a design I particularly liked. The range is called The Ghastlies. The Ghastlies are sort of Ronald Searle style, slightly Addams Family type people, in various settings. I wanted them all and the only excuse I could think of for having them was for making a patchwork quilt. I bought the majority of them.

Here are the lovely Ghastlie fabrics.

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There are also prints made up of details from the cartoons, like the ‘bramble’ print you see below, the trees and the curly Romanesque flowers.

bramble GhastlyBrambleinsmoke

Reunion il_fullxfull.323750957

My picture isn’t clear enough to show it but the print below shows family portraits, so gives the name of each character.

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I have several of them in 3 to 5 background colour versions, as with the one below the one below.

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I rather like the various ‘wallpaper’ ones that are in the Ghastlie set. I didn’t buy all available, just a few, including these two.

ahg (1)

I like the muted colours used in them. The pattern is busy but the colours are calming.

night ahgh0640

The next is Sebastian, the Ghastlies’ cat. I love that print. The different coloured versions don’t differ in scale, that is just in my picture, the print is the same size in each colour.

Ghastlies Sebastian

I love the style of drawing. It reminds me of Ronald Searle’s work. Ronald Searle created St Trinians, with the wicked, badly behaved, raunchy schoolgirls, with stories that were eventually made into movies, my favourite being with the wonderful Alistair Sim as the headmistress.

a1 copy

Ghastlies graveyard il_fullxfull.271959092

The trees below are also in the picture above.

r forest


However, the fun was in the selecting and buying of them, making a patchwork is not my idea of fun and I have never made one before. I put it off for well over a year but recently came across the fabric again and felt guilty, especially as I didn’t stop at Ghastlies; my search for them led me to Dr Seuss fabrics and Christmas fabrics and I bought those too. Most of the Christmas fabrics I chose are ones that remind me of Christmas wrapping paper from my childhood and from my daughter’s childhood. I used to wrap her gifts in standard wrapping paper but wrap all her ‘from Santa’ gifts in cheap wrapping paper without any decorations added, so she would not think they looked like the gifts she got from me, so many of the Christmas fabrics I bought are ones that remind me of that cheap wrapping paper. I also learned that I can print my own fabric on my home printer, so I have an idea for patchwork made from printouts, though that one may have to be a panel because, due to the special fabric one prints on and the ink used, those patches will be expensive to produce and then there is the fact that you can’t wash these home printed fabrics too many times without them fading, so not ideal for bedding, better for something that won’t need washed or will only rarely need washed and can be washed by hand. However, they aren’t like the iron on tee shirt patches, which are sort of plastic in texture. If I ever do make that patchwork, I’ll show it to you but I’ll keep the subject matter of it to myself for now.

Here are my Christmas fabrics. I warn you, there are a lot of them.








This next one is my favourite Christmas fabric. It makes me feel about 4 years old.

£14.68 yd etsy

The one below, with the penguins and the tree one below it actually has glitter in it. Glitter, I tell you! It may only last a handful of washes but that will do me. I got those because I remember as a child in the 60s having Christmas wrapping paper with glitter on it that I really loved and made me excited about Christmas and thrilled by that pretty wrapping paper. Back then, paper was carefully removed from packages and saved to be re-used year after year and I cherished the glitter papers. Each year the saved wrapping papers got a little smaller, as the damaged edges were trimmed off, ready for re-use.



This red one with snow people reminds me so much of cheap and cheerful wrapping paper.


I was born in the 50s, so had to have this next one.


My daughter liked this next one a lot, it took her back to her childhood.


Nice touches of gold on this poinsettia one.



I really like rodents and my daughter went mushy over the next two because the mouse reminded her of one of her favourite childhood books, Santa Mouse, where a mouse helped Santa and was eventually given a little Santa suit by him.



Festive, fun loving dogs.


Snowmen printed to look as though they are cut out of newspaper.


The floating Santa heads are, again, like cheap Xmas paper


I grew up in the time of individually hand blown glass baubles. They were expensive, precious and each year a few would smash and a few new ones would be bought. One didn’t have the option to buy unbreakable and very cheap ones like one can nowadays, so they were very special, treasured items.

bonefulllcfabricsboutique ebay

This next two, with strings of lights, are actually a Peanuts/Charlie Brown one.


christaquilts  ebay


Can’t have too many baubles!

DesignsByDona etsy 1yd

More cute little rodents. I’m a sucker for those.


Of course, there are a couple of Grinch Who Stole Christmas fabrics in my collection. They will also go in the Seuss patchwork.
fabric-angel ebay

Flower Fairies. Had to have those.


I find this snow scene very charming


firesidefabrics co uk 1

firesidefabrics co uk 2


Any nativity ones and angel ones I have are to remind me of typical Christmas cards and especially of ones we used to get at primary school at Christmas that were just outlines that we could then colour in. I can remember them surprisingly clearly and seeing one in my mind momentarily makes me feel exactly as I did when I was given a pristine, uncoloured one in class.

fq B £3.75 inc the_royal_bengal_tiger

Some rather odd, scrawny, little Christmas trees, each with a big red light bulb.


fq£3.75 inc the_royal_bengal_tiger

Something about tin soldiers just says, “Christmas”.


The soldier in this next one is a bit creepy, though. His mouth reminds me of those scary, biting dolls in Barbarella. I didn’t notice before I purchased it.


A cute little Santa, unusually, not in red clothing, in three versions, each with a different coloured background.

The red and green gifts is another that reminds me of 1950s-early 60s magazine artwork. It has the style of a graphic in an old Homes and Gardens type magazine. It is both the colours and the style of drawing that evokes that.


I especially like the style of the next two.






Time for some more baubles.


I remember lights just like these one when I was little. They never worked two years in a row and it was murder to find the dud bulb. Bulbs were glass and really expensive. In this print, I especially like that you can see the filament inside each bulb


I live in a house that has a garden and, around one side and along the bottom, a 5 acre field. My father, who was a teacher,  planted pine trees to sell each Christmas, digging them up to order and selling them complete with roots. He died in 1973 and the trees were then left to their own devices. They are now huge and locally it gets called ‘the forest’, though is actually no more than a tiny wood, so this fabric and one other are to represent that.





This next one makes me think of 1950s and early 60s women’s magazines around Christmas time. This is the style of illustration one might see decorating their baking pages or their crafts page.




Another to remind me of ‘the forest’ and my daughter whose name means small star. I find it a little odd that the trunks look sort of threaded through the branches.


Another two Grinch prints.



These faces in the next two turned out to be huge, which I didn’t realise until the fabric arrived. A 9.5 inch square is almost filled by one face.


More in cheap wrapping paper style.

il_fullxfull.382850084_6ue5 etsy MySewingNook

There is something pleasing about old style caravans in the snow.





mac8097  ebay






This pine cone and branch one is exquisite up close. I had to buy a yard because that was all that was on offer and they only had one. It reminds me of Japanese designs as well as evoking thoughts of ‘the forest’ in our field. It would make a fabulous dirndl skirt

Over the raibow on Etsy £10.32 17 dec 14

The next four are more delightful Peanuts ones.



I have the Peanuts nativity in these two colours.




the_royal_bengal_tiger ebay

This holly one is especially effective. It wows me each time I see it.

thefabricfrieze  ebay 3

More baubles but nicely stylised.

thefabricfrieze ebay

Juicy looking little lights.

thefabricpalette ebay  1

thefabricpalette ebay 2

A very 60s feel to this next one.

thefabricpalette ebay 3

This next one, with Santa Claus, reminds me of Christmas cards.

thefabricpalette ebay 4

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It looks as though someone shook up and poured out a container of elves.

thewonkystitch ebay

Just in case I need some small baubles…


WhimbrellasAttic etsy

wist2006 ebay


and just in case I don’t have enough baubles after all…


That is most of the Christmas fabrics, around 100 there, though I have a handful more still to arrive from the USA, part of my gift from my daughter, so I don’t yet know which ones.

Anyway, one thing that put me off, after I cut out loads of squares of the lovely, printed fabrics, was the thought of cutting all the strips that go round them as an outline, called sashing. Over Christmas, my daughter borrowed a pair of cordless, electric scissors from the wardrobe department at her work and cut the plain black fabric for the Ghastlie patchwork’s sashing into lots and lots of strips for me. The navy blue strips for the Dr Seuss quilt are cut too but the plain, bottle green fabric for around the Christmas quilt is not yet cut at all. I then went on the hunt for good, electric, cordless scissors. I did very well, I got a pair of Black and Decker ones quite cheaply. The ones my daughter brought home cost about £115 and that would have been out of the question.
I’d worked out the size of sashing strips needed for my patchworks, which have 9.5 inch squares (giving 9 inch squares when sewn), so it all got cut into 2.5 inch wide strips of two lengths. I started sewing the sashing around the top and two sides the Ghastlie print squares but, after I’d used up all 141 strips, I realised that not only should I have only sewn them onto the top and one side of each square, not both sides, I also had a size wrong. I now have to unpick 94 side strips and do it without damaging the very expensive fabric used for the squares. Because I back-and-forth stitched about half an inch at each end, to make it extra secure, it means that about half a cm at each end of each strip an utter nightmare to unpick. On top of that, it is black stitching on black fabric, so my 58 year old eyes don’t like it and struggle to see it with any ease and the patterned side has too much black in it to make it easy.
Of course, I have now gone and looked online at sites and videos about making patchwork. I know I should have done it before starting. Before buying too, I suppose. This woman, from New Zealand ‘s, is particularly good and I am now going to do the sashing like she does in this video tutorial, with the separate squares in the corners (called sashing posts), though my sashing and posts will be all one colour. Using corner posts is how it is generally advised to do sashing, for beginners especially, because, when sewing strips of sashed squares together, lining up the seams on those little corner posts helps ensure the correct positioning, so all squares line up, which can otherwise be rather trickier than one might expect. This video she did about sashing is one I find very helpful.

Making a patchwork quilt is certainly not quite the quick and easy thing I thought it would be, not even when using big, 9.5 inch squares. By the way, I am using inches in my quilt making, instead of centimetres, because some of the templates I am using came with just inches on them, probably because that is all they use in the USA and the templates I have are mostly aimed at that country’s quilters.
It is rather a labour of love and very time consuming, even if sewn by machine. Sewing is just one part of it, there is so much more to it. It is brain melting to try to calculate how many pieces are needed, it takes a lot of careful planning, a ton cutting , sewing and ironing and that is just the patchwork layer. I have to add a layer of batting (wadding) and a cotton backing layer, then cut and sew binding all around the edge and a king size quilt has a long, long edge, then I need to actually quilt the darned thing.
I knew it would need a backing, I vaguely had an idea that it might need a layer of something in the middle, I had not for the life of me thought it would need a bound edge or that I’d have to quilt all over the thing to hold the layers together and that job is something I am dreading on king sized quilts.
I also didn’t think about the stuff I’d need to buy; that batting is horribly expensive and, of course, I want to make king sized quilts (which I actually have no real use for), not dinky little wall panels or bags or ornamental fancies, which are not my kind of thing at all.
I’ve also had to buy a new cutting mat, a rotary cutter, quilting pins, lots of thread, the metres of cotton sashing fabric, the expanse of cotton for the backing, acrylic templates and rulers, scissors sharpener, seam ripper, £50 worth of thread (5 colours) etc. Luckily, my daughter is going to make me a neat, square, table top ironing mat, so I only need to buy a heat reflective cover for that, and she will cut me a few acrylic templates so I can eventually cut smaller squares from the left over fabric, for other quilts.

A few of the purchases can be seen in this photo. On the bottom row you can see a double cone thread holder, this is required because thread is cheaper bought on cones and I will need a lot of each colour but cones don’t fit on the sewing machine, so a cone holder is required. Luckily, this one was surprisingly cheap. I saw many at 5 times the price. The last thing in that picture is a tiny ironing mat that one threads strips of binding fabric through, which helps one iron them accurately folded. I will need to make miles of binding, so it seemed worth buying.

stuff bought

Bear in mind as well that almost all these printed fabrics had to be purchased from America and I am in the UK, so shipping was very, very costly, sometimes more than doubling the cost of the fabric in the package and often I got hit with import tax too and, on top of each import tax bill, there was the delivery company’s £8 fee for passing my payment to the Customs’ payment department for each package requiring customs duty payment and it amounts to quite a few packages, to say the least. Annoyingly, the Customs charge is not calculated just on the value of the contents of each package but also on the cost of the postage, which is the bit that really cheeses me off. Anyway, this all made the fabrics exceedingly costly. These are going to be very, very, very expensive quilts.

Before I continue, I may as well show you the Dr Seuss fabrics I have. Not nearly as many as the Christmas ones, of course, though there are about 6 more I’d like to get. Fortunately, unlike Christmas ones, there is a limit to the number of Dr Suess ones available. These fabrics are often produced in relatively short runs, not made year after year, so you there are never all that many of this theme around and some are no longer available anywhere.




























StitchStashDiva etsy



On top of that, I have more fabric than I need, a lot more. A fat quarter is a sort of quarter yard in that it is a half yard that is then cut in half width-wise, so, rather than being a narrow strip that is a quarter of a yard in length, it is a more squat rectangle of fabric. A fat quarter will give me two of the big, 9.5 inch squares I want for my quilts and leave enough for two smaller ones as well, but several of the fabrics could only be found in half yards or metres and some in full yards, so I have enough to make more than one quilt of each range of fabrics. Since the subject of the fabrics and the need to get around to getting these patchworks made, came up a couple of weeks before Christmas, my daughter asked if I’d like a few more fabrics as one of my Christmas gifts. I immediately went looking for ones for her to get me and, of course, not only found some for her to buy, I also ended up buying many more myself, mostly Christmas ones, an absurd amount of Christmas ones. Way too many for one quilt. I think I could easily make two King size quilts without even repeating any of the Christmas ones. I will certainly have enough to make several Christmas quilts.

This means I really have to make more than one and try to sell the extras to recoup some of the money that I spent and have been too scared to work out the total of. I don’t even want to make my own quilts, let alone extra ones. I am hoping that once I make one I will have got the hang of it and it will have become quick and easy, so I won’t object to doing the extra ones.

I now underestimated the knowledge required, so realise that I have not planned well. Actually, have not planned at all, so now that I have learned more about it, I have to unpick all those flipping strips, iron all the pieces flat again, carefully work out sizes and numbers and start again properly but I must not use that as an excuse to put it off for another year or two. I MUST get these quilts done.

Now, while my daughter told me, “Don’t by any more fabrics!”, when selecting a few for a Christmas gift for me, she found herself sucked in by the Peanuts character ones she kept coming across and then she ended up buying herself a big selection of those,so that I can make her a quilt out of them (I offered, she didn’t just presume). Like mother, like daughter.

So here are my daughter’s Peanuts fabrics.

A Wee Bit Irish St. Patrick's Snoopy Woodstock Doghouse

christaquilts  ebay



Happiness is Peanuts Characters Marbled Green

Happiness is Peanuts Snoopy and Woodstock Red


Hugs for Heroes Peanuts Snoopy Squares Green

Hugs for Heroes Peanuts Snoopy Stars Grass Beige

Nativity Scene Peanuts Gang Charlie Brown Snoopy Lucy Christmas Program Blue


Peanuts Gang Easter Fabric Snoopy Colorful Eggs


This aloha one was especially expensive, I guess because it is out of print now.


peanuts gang



There isn’t a season, a festival or celebration that isn’t portrayed in a Peanuts fabric.

purple halloween

snoopy autumn

Now, my guilty secret is that during my most recent browsing, when both my daughter and I selected and bought more Christmas fabrics for me, I also bought six with a Japanese theme to them, which means that, eventually, I will have to buy several more so that I can make a Japanese themed quilt.

I get somewhat obsessive when it comes to things like this, I lose all self control and common sense. This is why I went from wanting a kimono, to obsessing about them to having so many that I simply had to go into the business of selling them.

I will finish this blog post with the three Japanese ones I have so far. I really ought to be making practise pieces, instead of blogging, so I can get all these made into big patchwork quilts. Maybe tomorrow evening.

Etsy Fabrics4Kids 1yd Fuji Afternoon 01 jan 2015

Etsy Fabrics4Kids half yd Oriental Traditions  01 jan 2015





Oh, and just before I go, a rather random one, a cotton print of potatoes. Who wouldn’t want fabric with a potatoes on it? Not what usually springs to mind when one hears talk of a potato print. I’ll tuck it away and, if I do get into making quilts and not hating it, I may make a fruit and vegetable based one, as there are lots of fruit and vegetable prints like this one.



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


One of my kimonos being modelled by the singer Rita Ora



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. 

Happy 2015 + Cool Cushions & Kimono Artisans

wafuku blog aug 12 logo A

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

Welcome to my Wordpress blog


 Happy New Year.

2015 is the year of the sheep. It is also called year of the ram and, sometimes, year of the goat. I guess I should really have given my sheep some horns.

waf new year2015


I lost the login details for my Wafuku Facebook page, so I have just started another called Wafuku Kimonos, you will find it here.



Cushions I covet.
I found these great cushions on Etsy.

I love this Astro Boy one from the seller Morondanga.


and these great ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ cushions, including a delightful soot sprite, from Homderful.


and this No Face one, also from Morondanga.


Morondanga also offer this nice geisha cushion


An onigiri one


and, away from the Japanese theme, this Lieutenant Uhura cushion that I rather like, though I do feel it should have her ear-piece. Did you know that the word uhura is Swahili for freedom?



Yuzen kimonos are ones with hand painted textile art. They are, not surprisingly and quite justifiably, vastly expensive. Here are some pictures showing yuzen work in progress, by Takesi Goto. He has drawn the colour sketches, applied the outlines to the silk and tacked the pieces together to check the alignment. The next stage is to paint the design with textile dyes and touches of gold, all expertly done by hand, of course.

uri5vgxg copy

Outlines on the tacked together pieces of the kimono



The colour sketches of the artwork for the kimono


yuzen art

Another kimono he has outlined ready for painting. I don’t have colour sketches for this one.


Here are some fantastic stage costumes also done by Takesi Goto.


Check out the sketches on the wall behind them too. Stunning work by a great master.


Ypu can see some more of his work on his website here


and more here


and more here



I came across this cover of Tokyo Journal magazine, with a photo of Gene Simmons, of Kiss, wearing a kimono.  He is actually wearing a women’s kimono. You can tell by the sleeves. It also looks like it may be a female’s odori kimono (a traditional dancer’s kimono). I think the lightning strike was probably appliqued onto it for the photo shoot, as it looks added.



There is a kimono tailor in Japan, by the name of Lyuta, who is making lovely, contemporary kimonos and haoris. His website is here and he is also on Facebook as ‘Kimono tailor LYUTA’.
I’ve added some photos of his garments below. A few are for women but most seem to be men’s garments.


Reversible, men’s kimono



A men’s kimono made of Marimekko fabric



I think this is my favourite of his garments.



A women’s kimono with pairs of cats
on an ichimatsu (checkerboard) and bokashi (shaded) background.



Multi-tone, men’s hansome ensemble



Pigs & Polkadots


Note the contemporary detail of a mobile phone pocket.
Traditionally, kimonos have no pockets. Inro and  kinchaku (drawstring)
pouches held by the obi, with the help of netsuke, were used instead, with
small, light things also carried in the sleeves, now and then. Nowadays the
mobile phone demands a pocket.



Cat-tastic Men’s Kimono



A two tone denim, katamigawari, men’s kimono.
Katamigawari means half-and-half.



Samurai motifs


Close up of the haori fabric.



Big dots on bold, bright green



Oatmeal denim men’s kimono
another with the unusual addition of pockets for that ubiquitous phone, tablet etc.
Notice that, like most good quality kimonos, these appear to be hand stitched.



A denim kimono for a young girl
who chose these fabrics for her kimono



Arabesque pattern, above and below.


The tailor himself.
I think that is in his shop



Reversible- Pinstripes & Polkadots.


The spotty side, for those less subdued moods



Heart Fancy, men’s kimono



Lots of labels



Military style kimono for a man.



Delightful daisies haori

An old murayama-(oshima-)tsumugi with red lining, as a male kimono.

 An old Oshima tsumugi kimono relined in red textile.
More often than not, these Oshima tsumugi kimonos are lined in
indigo dyed cotton. I really like the red replacement in this one.

Those are just some examples of Kimono tailor Lyuta’s creations. I love his style


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


One of my kimonos being modelled by the singer Rita Ora



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.