No Posts For Months, Then 3 Come Along At Once

wafuku blog aug 12 logo A

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



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Ichimatsu & More

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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From tan to kimono

One of my customers, Ms Walker, bought some tan (bolts of textile specifically woven for kimonos, also called tanmomo) and had a kimono maker tailor them up for her. Her kimonos are beautiful and I am very grateful that she allowed me to post photos of them here.

The first shows a grey one,  a wool kimono, very simple and elegant. I like her choice of obi, with its broad, black band, echoing the bands on the kimono.

isolde kimono 2

The second shows a wonderful ichimatsu kimono. Ms Walker looks absolutely stunning. Her obi is a lovely choiceof both colour and design to go with the bold, geometric design of the kimono.

isolde kimono 2013

Ichimatsu is a popular design on traditional Japanese clothing; it is a checkerboard pattern, named after the kabuki actor, Ichimatsu Sanogawa, from the Edo era. When he wore hakama with thchecked design, it quickly became a fashionable pattern. It then became his trademark pattern. There is a type of doll named after Ichimatsu too, they were originally dolls that looked like him but eventually evolved into dolls of children, so we no longer think of an ichimatsu doll being one that is modelled on that actor.
Many patterns that became fashionable among the general public came from kabuki actors.
The photo below shows one of the  geisha’s obi from my website, with black and silver ichimatsu pattern.


This spectacular kimono, with forest and mountain design, is a wonderful example of Japanese textile art.

misty forest kimono


Talking of Japanese textile art

Check out this amazing bolt of silk, with huge fish (perhaps red snapper) on it. Woven to make a naga- juban, underwear kimono.

purp red snapper bolt womens juban or haori


Skate Booties

My daughter bought herself some of these Jeffrey Campbell skate booties, which are particularly popular in Japan.

skatebooties  jeffreycampbell


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

My Irregular Choice Boots with Geisha

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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With my love of wafuku (Japanese traditional clothing) and my weakness for Irregular Choice shoes, it was inevitable that I bought myself these Irregular Choice geisha image boots. I also have the geisha image shoes, in brown, though I don’t have photos of those right now. If I take some, I’ll add them here too.

As you can see below, they have very weird heels. I really love the quirkiness of Irregular Choice shoes and own many, many pairs, but I have to admit, they are rarely comfortable. These boots, however, are actually fairly comfortable to wear and easy to walk in, thankfully… well, compared to much of their footwear

Below is a close up of the geisha printed on the front of each boot. In the white areas, such as her face, the camera’s flash obscured a little of the detail, but you get a pretty good idea of how it looks.