Indigo Unraveling – Kyoto Blue 京都の藍

What is it about indigo textiles that bring up so many sensations? The depth of blue, new or faded; the stiffness of the fibers from repeated dips in the dye vat; the fuzzy nap of fabric from years of use; all of these add to indigo’s allure. It’s alchemical, magical, practical, and deeply, vividly, a part of…

Flower of the Forest – Takayama 高山市

Taking the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagoya is a thoroughly modern ride. The high-speed train glides along while the view of lush farmland interspersed with citiscapes rush past. And of course, there’s Mt. Fuji. Transferring at Nagoya to the Hida Express, the journey is somewhat different. The train chugs along, ever upward into the mountains,…

Chugata, Yukata, and Katazome videos part 1 & 2

I’ve been having fun researching and learning more about Chugata (a form of double-sided stencil dyeing) this week, and how it relates to other Japanese dyeing techniques such as katazome. While I’ve had some of these fabrics for years, I hadn’t really dug into their history too much until now. Here are the first two videos…

Sashiko boro quilt

If you’ve seen me at a show or come to the Kimonomomo studio in the last few months, you’ve probably seen the quilt I’ve been working on. Pieced from Alexander Henry, Moda, Olympus, and Kona Bay prints, plus a few 19th century katazome cottons, it’s coming together nicely. Piecing took two days using a 1959 Singer…

Ringing in the New Year with a pile of old indigo

I spent New Years Eve picking apart two vintage cotton kasuri kimono, stitch by stitch. The one on the right with the cypress fence design (numazugaki 沼津垣) was so carefully sewn that it was a terror to disassemble. However, I wasn’t the first one to have taken this kimono apart, as evidenced by how it had…

Unpacking the pretties and piecing them together

I’ve been back from Houston for a week, worked 2.5 days at another show, and now I’m settling into the happy work of sorting fabrics in the studio. My show stock arrived a few days ago and is still being unpacked. Thomas and I discussed the new shelving units he will build for me, and…

Yukata Disassembly – indigo shibori

We live in an era of mass-produced, off the shelf clothing. That which was novel a century ago is now commonplace. To make clothing by hand is no longer a necessity, but a novelty. That’s great for saving time, but where is the love? In vintage, of course. Hand sewn garments of decades past can…

Vintage Katazome Comes Clean

Meiji era katazome cottons have a special place in my heart. I started collecting them years ago, back when I could barely afford to, and now it’s become something of a joy and an obsession. The fine dots and designs that remind me of having henna painted on my hands when I was 12 years…

Nouveau Boro

I’ve brought samples of my sashiko work to various quilt guilds and fabric shops, offering to teach a class or do a talk on the vintage pieces in my collection. So far the responses have varied from the rare “We’d love to have you, how much do you charge?” to the far more common “We…

Shop news and updates for April, 2013

I have no idea what happened to March. It was here, then it was gone. April seems a little more grounded, rooted, and thriving. The shop is buzzing with sales (use the code SPRING at checkout for 15% off until May 1, 2013) and sashiko items have been flying out the door. Going through my…

Book Review: Sashiko by Agnès Delage-Calvet

Sashiko : japanisch sticken by Agnès Delage-Calvet with photographs by Frédéric Lucano 2007, Haupt Publishing. ISBN 978-3-258-07134-3 Language: German I stroll through Amazon from time to time seeking out new sashiko books to add to my library. It doesn’t matter what language they are in, all are welcome. This slim volume starts off with a…

Olympus Wagara cotton sashiko sampler project part 3

After completing the Persimmon Flower background, I felt the coat needed something. Referencing vintage firemen’s coats I decided to go with a plain stitch, echoing the technique of stitching together multiple layers of cotton to make the coats very thick. Historically, the coat would be drenched in water before the firefighter went forth to battle…