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.
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.
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.
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.
You can also check out my www.wafuku.co.uk website, providing vintage & antique Japanese kimonos & collectables.
One of my kimonos being modelled by the singer Rita Ora
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