silk

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.

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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

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A woven lattice with geisha on senmen (the paper parts of folding fans)

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The next one is a woven bamboo design.

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A shaded chainlink mesh.

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I especially like the bamboo pattern on the next bolt.

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The next one has hanabishi dotted among a grid pattern hanabishi are diamond shaped flowers

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This last bolt is rather like tatami matting.

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I have done a few quick mock ups. I really ought to leave that for later and get some other sewing done first.

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Japanese Yukata Cotton Sampler Books

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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.

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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.

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Now five for men’s wool kimonos.

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

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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

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

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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..

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Pacchiwaku
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.

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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.

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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

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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. 

Tomesode & Tiger Bags

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Coastal Scene Tomesode. I have been looking through some photos of kimonos I bought in 2012 and this is one of them. I wish I could remember which box it is in. It has fabulous textile art, displaying a coastal scene. One has to have beee rich and extravagant to have commissioned a kimono with lavish and high quality artwork like this one.

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Huge Tiger and Lion Backpacks. I fell for these huge, great, dramatic backpacks when I saw photographs of a few people in Tokyo’s Harajuko area with them. There’s a brown tiger, a white tiger and a lion. I tracked them down and got just a couple of each to make available on www.wafuku.co.uk and got a brown tiger one for myself. I might keep one of each.

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Bamboo on Purple. This is a silk Nagoya obi I recently added to my website. It is such a glorious colour and the bamboo is just lovely.

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One of my kimonos being modelled by the singer Rita Ora

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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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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. 

Rita Ora Models One Of My Kimonos In Elle Magazine

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wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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Rita Ora Models Wafuku.
The May 2014 edition of Elle Magazine (UK) features the singer, Rita Ora, whom you can see modelling one of the silk kimonos from my www.wafuku.co.uk website.

Rita Ora in a Wafuku kimono in Elle.

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Here it is in colour (not on Rita).

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In the beautiful, hand applied textile art there is this gorgeous mandarin duck. See the touches of gold Japanese lacquer  (urushi) detailing too, there is a lot of that on this kimono. A brand new silk kimono like this can cost as much as a new car, being a vast amount of silk, with hand applied textile art and being entirely hand tailored, so a vintage one is a real bargain and they are often in virtually perfect condition or, if flawed, with minor, inconspicuous flaws.

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This kimono is a furisode kimono, which is the type with these exceedingly deep sleeves. It will have cost quite a few thousands of pounds when new

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In the magazine it says, “Silk kimono from Wafuku”, which is my website at www.wafuku.co.uk, where the actual kimono that Rita’s wearing is, at time of writing, currently available

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Peony Beauty Kimono.
This is another of my many, many kimonos. At the moment a friend is trying to decide she wants this one or a girls’ one, which would require slightly less wall space, to display in a bedroom with a dark orange carpet, in her new house. If she decides on one of the smaller ones, I will make this one available on my www.wafuku.co.uk website

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The hand applied textile art is of magnificent peonies.

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Kimono silk frequently has one pattern in the weave and another printed or painted on it. The pattern in the weave of the silk of this kimono is known as cypress fence, a lattice motif that represents the woven cypress wood fences popular in Japan.

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Kabuki Kimono Dress.
The kimono in the photos below is actually a child’s one but my adult daughter wears it as a dress. It has wonderful kabuki characters on it.

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Sometimes she wears it with black trousers, which makes a gorgeous outfit.

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Sometimes she wears it open like a coat. Because kimonos are worn with a big fold-over at the waist, which shortens them a lot, and children wear them with big tucks loosely stitched onto the shoulders, they are bigger than one might expect when these tucks and folds are not in place, allowing them to be worn in a variety of ways by adults. This one is probably actually made for about a 6 year old, believe it or not.

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Another of my many Japanese Haori kimono Jackets.
This one has a beautiful design of trees. Haori are made to be worn over a Japanese kimono and are not usually worn with a sash or obi but they look fantastic with Western World clothing (known as yofuku), both belted and unbelted. This one is currently (at time of writing) on my www.wafuku.co.uk website too.

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Ran-giku Design Kimono.
Another of my website’s kimonos. I particularly love Japanese textile art incorporating ran-giku, a trailing petal chrysanthemum that is much prized in Japan, sometimes called spider chrysanthemum. This is a lovely example of a ran-giku print kimono, in lovely, soft silk crepe. A real gem.

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There are some very tiny, inconspicuous marks on this kimono; nothing terribly noticeable. It is a very old one and in wonderful condition, the fabric strong and bright, with many, many years of life in it. Kimonos are so expensive that the Japanese take exquisite care of them.

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One of the antique Japanese haoris on my website.
Haori of this age tend to be made of extremely soft, supple silk, are extra long and have extra deep sleeves. They frequently have red linings too, as do many antique kimonos. Tis one is a glorious purple, which the camera would not do justice to, and is in wonderful condition. You’d never realise from the condition that it is an antique and it has many years of wear in it.


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One my favourites of the haori on my website.
The hand applied (yuzen) textile art is a delight of flowers, on a thick, high quality black silk. It is fully lined and, like all line haori, the seams are hidden, so you don’t see any raw edges or such if you turn it inside out. It is, like most kimonos and haori, entirely hand sewn by the kimono tailor.

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The big white stitches you see on the edge of the sleeve are only temporary. It is called shitsuke and is put in to keep the edges neat during long term storage. These garments are so expensive when new that they are carefully cared for, so they last for generations. The are often more expensive than haute couture equivalents.

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The textile art is exquisite. Many traditional Japanese garments are wearable works of art.

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In the picture below, you can see it worn open.

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Finally, more girls’ kimonos worn by an adult.
This kimono is a synthetic textile one, intended for a 7 year old girl to wear at shichi-go-san (7-5-3), celebration held annually in Japan, when boys of three and five and girls of three and seven, celebrate childhood and a Shinto shrine. Although most of this type of girls’ kimono is made of synthetic textile, they are nonetheless very, very expensive, so parents tend to hire them for the day, rather than pay hundreds or even well over a thousand pounds to buy one. Nowadays this is the case with most kimonos worn in Japan, they are so expensive to buy that many just hire one for a special occasion.

These kimonos are worn by girls with the kimono length shortened by a big fold-over at the waist and narrowed at the shoulders by big, loosely stitched tucks. With no tucks or fold-over, it is this size on this petite adult. The woman in these photos is a petite 5’1″ and a size 8UK, so these kimonos would be shorter on someone taller. My taller sister wears them as ornate, summer coats, usually wearing them open.

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Teal above, pink below.

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Red with flowers, Imperial carriages and lots of gold

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Pretty plum blossom detail on the red kimono.

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Burgundy with masses of gold flowers and big, colourful good fortune wheels.

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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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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 its being there does not mean that I back or recommend it. 

Spotty Dotty, Trompe-L’œil & Kimono Cleaning

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Cotton Kimonos.
Here are two of my cotton kimonos. The first is one with a slightly op-art spotty pattern that I love, with kanzemizu (swirling water) in the large, grey spots, and the second kimono is an odori yukata, a cotton kimono that would be worn at an odori matsuri (dance festival), with a motif of traditional Japanese 3 stringed instruments called shamisen and some bachi, which are the huge plectrums used to play shamisen.

The spotty cotton kimono.

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The shamisen motif cotton kimono.

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Hand Washable Kimono.
The next kimono is made of synthetic textile and is hand washable. It is unlined and probably made for dance, as traditional Japanese dancers often wear synthetic kimonos because they can be washed and unlined ones to keep them cooler as they dance.  It is a nice bright green and a very painterly design. Green is a colour that relatively few kimonos come in; you do get green ones but there seem to be fewer of those than most other colours.

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I have just added these three kimonos and several more to my website.

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More haori.
Here are three haori that I added to my wafuku.co.uk website this week.

The first has a nice trompe-l’œil print that looks like red lace on a light blue ground. It is silk but, surprisingly, is of a weave that feels rather like cotton. Silk, of course, can be woven into many textures and feels. This haori also has cute little Daruma on the silk upper lining.

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The next haori has houndstooth check (sometimes called dogtooth) made up of stylised cranes. 

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The third haori has  a kanzemizu (swirling water) design on a bokashi (shaded) background.

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Cleaning kimonos, haoris and obis.
The traditional method of cleaning a kimono is called Araihari. It involves unpicking all the stitches and taking the kimono apart entirely. Each piece of kimono fabric is then stretched out and cleaned, then slightly starched and allowed to dry. Once dry, the kimono has to be sewn back together again. Obviously this is a very time consuming and very, very expensive cleaning method but if your kimono or haori has cost thousands of pounds, as silk ones tend to, or even tens of thousands of pounds, which is not unusual, it is a wise and worthwhile investment. Araihari is still done but many people nowadays have their precious kimonos cleaned instead by specialist dry cleaners.

To have a kimono cleaned by arhairi, if one does not want to do it oneself, one uses a shikkai. Shikkai is a place where they do a variety of kimono aftercare things, such as araihari (dismantling and washing), maruarai (washing a kimono just as it is, not first disassembles), shiminuki (stain removal) and kakehagi (invisible mending), sumpo naoshi (alterations), somekae (re-dyeing) and mon-ire (applying a crest or family crest -kamon).

After araihari cleaning, as it dries, the kimono fabric has to be stretched to keep its shape and to smooth it. You can see, in the pictures below, how flexible rods called Shinshibari (a type of bamboo needle)  are used to do this. The fabric is held by wooden clamps at each end. Araihari requires a lot of space too. I was given the pictures by a friend, with no details of whom to attribute them to, so, if you know, please let me know.

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Sometimes the textile is stretched out on very long boards (note, from the front hem all the way up and over the shoulder, then back down to the back hem is one very long piece of fabric, as kimonos have no shoulder seams).

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Here are the required tools.

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Here is a large art installation, called Obi, by Yanda, which is a huge screen, with its design based on an obi being cleaned using araihari, for the exhibition of AODJ, which sends Japanese creativity worldwide. You can see the giant shinshibari (stretching rods) clearly.

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You can also see shinshibari (stretching rods) used here to keep a length of silk taut while a textile artist paints a design on it for a yuzen kimono.

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Here is a woodblock print by Katsushika Hokusai (1760 – 1849), called Two Beauties of Spring. The women are cleaning a kimono using the araihari method. Katsushika Hokusai’s best known work, which you will have seen, is  The Great Wave off Kanagawa.

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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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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 its being there does not mean that I back or recommend it. 

Origami & Miniature Wafuku

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I found some nice origami online.
It is by Sipho Mabona, from Switzerland. He has plans to fold a life sized elephant but, in the meantime, there is some of his work from here. I especially like the spectrum of carp.

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And here is a quite different style of paper folding.
These are by Kota Hiratsuka. I’m not so fond of these works but it is interesting to see a different style of paper folding.

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Next we have folded metal, rather than paper.
This work is by Joel Cooper. You can see more  here.

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I recently watched the television series M*A*S*H again, having previously seen it in the 70s.
It took me way back. I am still fond of the character Radar O’Reilly and, when that character left the series, it brought a tear to my eye.  The characters in that show sometimes went on leave to Japan, so, now and then, kimonos or happi were seen on them. I grabbed some pictures…

I do love purple kimonos.

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A burgundy beauty.

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Even Corporal Klinger couldn’t resist.

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Hotlips in a happi.

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The Major, in striped silk.

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I thought I would show you one of my many, many obis.
This one, a Nagoya obi, is made of a beautiful, rich red, rinzu silk. It has a lovely sheen and a woven design of grapes and vines.

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You can see the fabric in detail here.

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Below is one of my silk kimonos.
This is a komon kimono, which means it has an all-over, repeat pattern and is intended for everyday wear. From afar, it looks quite unassuming but, close up, it has a delightful pattern of interiors and nobles.

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Japanese textiles.
I have quite a lot of Japanese textiles. The first one below is a bolt (tan) of very fine wool textile, for making a woman’s kimono. It has a lovely, simple but striking design of pines, a very popular motif in Japan.

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This next one is a bolt of silk, for making a naga-juban (underwear kimono). The painterly print of blue pandas is very sweet.

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Miniature hifu.
This is a miniature hifu that I have. I don’t know if it is a tailor’s sample or made for a doll. It is only 26cm from top to bottom. It is beautifully made, complete with lining. This miniature garment is very old, though I don’t know an exact date. Its two press studs are rather tarnished and some of the thread has perished on each press stud, though the hifu  itself and its stitching shows no signs of perishing.

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A hifu is a garment of the type a young girl would wear over her deep sleeved kimono. You can tell it would be worn by  a young girl because they wear kimonos with extra deep sleeves and they have tucks stitched into the shoulders of their garments. Many modern hifu are sleeveless. You see them on 3 year old girls the Shichi-Go-San celebration each year, a celebration of girls aged 3 and 7 and boys aged 3 and 5.

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I wish I could read the text on that label but I cannot read Japanese, however, a Japanese lady translated it for me, saying, “Girl use, Yotsum (how to make), Hifu (over coat). It also has the name of the Japanease dressmaker, Masako Ito,  and a mark of inspection proof to show it is a garment that has passed inspection”. The lady who translated it for me says she believes it is a hifu for a high quality ichimatsu doll, which seems very likely.

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I also have some some tiny hakama. I have two red hakama, in woman’s style…

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and a few in men’s style too.

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I also have some miniature, cute, ornate, girl’s pokkuri geta.

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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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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 its being there does not mean that I back or recommend it. 

Ichimatsu & More

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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.

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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.

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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 www.wafuku.co.uk website, with black and silver ichimatsu pattern.

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

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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.

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Skate Booties

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

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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

Get Creative – Dress Up Your Obi

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Dress up your obi.

The traditional styles of wearing obis will always be correct but nowadays some kimono wearers are adding a touch of their own style to their obi wearing. They are varying the rear knots more but here I will concentrate on just the fronts. This first picture, of three women, shows the most traditional way to wear one’s obi, obiage and obijime.

The obijime (central cord) and obiage (obi scarf around the top of the obi sash) are not only decorative, they help hold the rear obi knot in place. Until recently, really the only way this look was decorated was by the addition of an obidome, a piece of jewellery that the obijime was threaded through and which sat at the centre front (or slightly off centre front) of the obi sash, instead of a knot in the obijime; the obijime knot is hidden inside the rear obi’s rear knot when an obidome is worn. See an example below.

Modern variations can be seen in the photo below, where the left image shows a little doll and the right shows customised buttons on the obijime.

Over recent years I have seen variations on how the obiage (the soft obi scarf tied round the top of the obi sash) is worn; sometimes tucked into the collar edges of the kimono, instead of tied in the customary centre knot, and, more recently, with a shaped board behind the obi sash, showing above it, with the obiage placed over it to take on the board’s shape, as you can see in the photo below. The three images show, left – folded & tucked obiage instead of tied, middle – obiage shaped over a board and, right – an obiage tucked into the kimono collar edges.

Obijime (obi cord) are usually tied at centre front, in a single knot, with the ends pulled round to the sides and tucked in. Double knots have also become popular, as you can see in two in the picture above, but some women are being much more adventurous with their obijime, obiage and obidome. See a selection of creative examples below.
The girl in pink has various modern twists to her obi wearing; she wears two obijime, one twisted around the other, her obiage is half one colour and half another and not tied at the ends, just tucked in, and above it she has a band of green fabric with two rows of ric-rac braid on top of  it.

The next one has the obiage tied in an offset bow and pearls wound around the obijime, which is worn without the customary knot at the front.

Next shows another with a bow tied obiage and a variation on the obijime positioning.

The girl, below, in the cream kimono has fastened her obiage rather differently and her obijime is tied in an ornate, loopy knot at one side.

This next young lady (kimono styling by Yumi Yamamoto) is wearing a lovely antique kimono, with a flower in the centre of her obi and a band of lace below the obi sash. Lace around obis has become very popular these days. She has another touch that is seen more and more these days, a band of stiffened fabric showing above the obi sash, below the obiage. Note too the lace edge to her han eri (juban under-kimono’s collar), showing at the neck, another recent fad.

The girl below is wearing a katamigawari kimono (meaning half and half, as it is half green floral and half red, like halves of two different kimonos), over which she has an obi with two added bands of lace, a belt with a bow around the centre instead of an obijime and a decorative tassel. (kimono styling by Yumi Yamamoto)

The following picture below shows the use of lace to cover the ohashori (the length shortening fold-over at the waist of the kimono), which may be done if the kimono is too short to allow the ohashidori to show the correct amount below the obi. The obiage hasn’t been tied around the top of the obi yet. The obi looks a touch pulled in by the obijime round it, this can be solved by putting an obi ita (a special stiffening board, sometimes called a mae ita) behind the sash to keep it rigid.

The obis below have, on the left, a belt with a little bow as the obijime and, on the right, a chain with little trinkets as the obijime. I absolutely love that cherries kimono and the haori worn over it is quite unusual, being knitted and lacy. I would just about give my right arm to have one of those mannequins. (kimono styling by Yumi Yamamoto)

The obi below has lace representing the obiage.

The obijime below is done in a very creative way. It’s simple but very effective.

The following two pictures show 4 kimonos worn very stylishly. The red furisode kimono, emblazoned with cranes, has a pretty white shigoki worn below the obi and the blue one, with the stylised pine pattern, has a red, smooth obiage worn below the obi sash, as well as a black obiage at the top of it.

The purple one shown below has a half collar of lace plus a nice bow and drop on the obijime. The red kimono is worn with a lovely striped shigoki below the obi.

The strip of photos below isn’t as clear as I’d have liked but you can see the obi arrangement and the lace jabot at the neck of the kimono. The frilly jabot is simply tied round the neck of the kimono with a thin, white cord. She also has an interesting, very contemporary, felt hat.

Here’s a nice one, from Tokyo Fashion. See how ornate that obijime is.

Here is an obi with a black taffeta ruffle and a band of maribu feather on an antique kimono. I love the black and white striped han-eri on the juban beneath the kimono and the red and black date-eri on the kimono’s collar edge.

Next, two obiage tied in bows above the sash, an obidome on the obijime and a pink shigoki below the obi.

Another view of the one above, without the blue tint to the photo.

Ok, the next one is not a human but this cat is rather cute and the bunny obidome on the obijime is delightul.

The next two photos, from a designer in Japan, show kimonos that have been shortened, with the cut off fabric made into a skirt and lots of lace and ruffle edges added to the outfit plus an obi with a chiffon band around it and an informally bowed pair of obijime, giving a young, stylish look that is unmistakenly Japanese, with lots of tradition in a very contemporary style outfit. Note, in the first of the photos,  the use of Doc Martin style boots along with a very traditional, white fur kimono shawl on a stand at the bottom.

Next you can see a similar kimono outfit to the black floral kimono above, worn with a organdie sash, with a big flower at the front of the obi and a pretty organdie creation at the back.

Another way to be creative with your obi is to customise the obi itself. This is not a new idea. Below you can see three antique obis that have been customised. The one on the left has hand embroidered kotoji (the bridges that hold up the strings on a Japanese harp called a koto) and the other two are hand painted in oil paints, the purple one with exquisite roses (which are not native to Japan and considered exotic) and the black one with a vase of roses and two cats.

This tradition of customising obis continues and you can see some excellent examples below, with contemporary designs. This black one, by Yield-For-Kimono, is beautifully stencilled with a pair of headphones on the rear and a boombox on the front, both joined by a cable. I especially like the unexpected choice of image for an obi. Brilliant! It turns a mofuku (mourning) obi into one that can now be worn anytime and is no longer confined to use when in mourning.

She is auctioning this wonderful obi and some kimonos on eBay, with all the money going to the Japan relief fund! You can see the kimonos modelled at Yield-For-Kimono and bid for each ensemble on eBay at Red Kimono Ensemble and at Black & Beige Kimono Ensemble (those eBay links may be gone now)

The red obi has appliqued cats on the front of the sash and on the centre of the rear bow knot. Tying the obijime in a casual bow is unusual too.

The obi in the next photo is worn with the obijime and obiage the traditional way but the addition of a red shigoki sash below the obi is particularly pretty.

So, when wearing your kimono outfit, you can bend the rules if you are brave and strict tradition isn’t required. Consider being creative and original and dress up your obi in any way you desire.

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Where Did The Time Go?

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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Another Christmas approaches.

I don’t know where the year went; suddenly the end of it is upon us. The past few weeks have been rather hectic. After years of feezing my rear off in my little cottage each winter, I had a new and more efficient boiler put in three weeks ago, when my old one died, and had three big windows double glazed to try to keep  some of the heat in. Both jobs caused much upheavel so my house has been a complete mess, with stuff stacked all over the place to allow the workmen to lift floorboards, rip out windows etc. and the house ended up with a thick layer of dust covering everything inside. Having failed to expect this, I hadn’t covered much, so everything has needed washed and I’m far from finished that task.

I have also, thankfully, been very busy with Christmas orders. It was ‘fun’ getting through the snow to the Post Office with heaps of packages, some of which sat in the Post Office for days as this little town was snow bound.

I’ve also been helping my daughter and her fiancé to lag under the floorboards of their new flat in Glasgow and will be helping with that again this weekend, weather permitting. Talking of which, I really hope the snow doesn’t block the roads this coming week, so my daughter can be here for Christmas.

Above, you can see a photo I took of a lovely uchikake that my daughter has hung in her bedroom. It’s an odd one, a child’s uchikake. An uchikake is a wedding kimono, worn by a bride, rather like a trailing coat, open over a kimono, so it is somewhat strange to have a child’s one. I haven’t been able to find out why such a thing exists. It would fit a girl of about 7-10 uears old but girls of that age do not marry in Japan and it is not an antique or anything, so not from a time when children might marry. Someone suggestied it might be for a play or something like that but it is a very high quality garment and must have cost a huge amount originally. I can’t make sense of it but it is a beautiful thing and much easier to display than an adult’s uchikake, being much smaller. Below, you can see the faric close up. The entire backgound of the fabric has gold woven through it, so, when the light hits it a certain way, the entire kimono shines gold. The bouquets of flowers and the trailing cords are embroidered.

The picture below shows it closed, as it hangs on my daughter’s bedroom wall, above the bed, though the photo isn’t very good quality and does not do it justice at all.

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This is Vicky Barton, telling me that she loved the kimono she got from me. She sent me the photo you see below, of her wearing it. Vicky kindly said I may add the photo to my blog, so you can see her below in a very Japanese style garden, holding a very menacing Japanese katana (sword). The kimono Vicky is weraing has lucky mallets and lines of kanji (Japanese text) all over it.

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This summer there were some Japanese people visiting my mother. In the next photo, taken that evening, we are holding an embroidered obi. I am very petite, just under 5′ 2″, although my tabi boots do have 2 inch heels, but you can see how petite the Japanese lady is; it’s quite a novelty to me to stand beside an adult who is smaller than I am. The kimono she is wearing is a cotton yukata kimono. Yukata kimonos are casual kimonos, worn in summer, particularly as robes at home and at summer festivals; any time in summer when one wants to dress casually. The obi worn with a yukata is called a hanhaba obi and is narrower than the more formal obis and much easier to tie. When wearing geta or zori shoes with a yukata, one wears them with bare feet, not with tabi socks. With more formal kimonos, one would always wear tabi.

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A tomesode kimono, with fishing village scene.

A girls’ red kimono, for Shichigosan celebrations. (Update – this is the one they chose for the article)

A ko-furisode kimono, with sakura fubuki (shower of cherry blossoms; as they fall from the tree), with gold lacquer detailing

A black silk haori, with a striking, red itogiku (spider chrysanthemum, also called rangiku).

A black, silk haori, with stunning, metallic urushi (lacquer coated silk thread) mountains and mist.

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I wish you all a happy Yuletide.


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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Textile Art To Die For – Or Wed For

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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My latest uchikake kimono

I know I must not buy more kimonos, I can’t move for the things and my home is now a warehouse with them crowding me out of every room but I could not resist the exquisite uchikake kimono you see below. It was expensive, as was the shipping from Japan, since it weighs about 6 kilos, so I can’t keep it and it will end up for sale on my website but I get to own it briefly, at least, and that will do. I have nowhere to display it anyway and it does not deserve to be hidden away in a box. It hasn’t arrived from Japan yet but I am quite excited about seeing it up close.

An uchikake is worn by a bride in Japan, part of one of many outfits she wears on her wedding day. They are not worn with an obi, they are worn open, rather like a coat, over her kimono and obi.

Uchikake are worn trailing on the ground, the bride stands with the hem laid out around her and the padded hem makes the bottom lie beautifully

It has magnificent aranami (wild waves), flying tsuru (cranes) and kumo (clouds). Cranes are a popular motif on wedding kimonos, as they are symbols of longevity, fidelity and loyalty. The Japanese believed cranes live for one thousand years. They mate for life.

On the front and on the back of one sleeve are red botan (peonies), symbolising happiness, wealth, and honour.

This uchikake is pure silk and has yuzen textile art, which means it was hand painted on the bolt of fabric used to make it. It will have cost ten to twenty thousand pounds, easily. In Japan, brides usually hire the uchikake for the wedding day, which will still cost a couple of thousand for the day’s hire. This makes buying a vintage one, for wear or display, a real bargain, as it will only cost a few hundred pounds and you get to keep it.