Kimono Tuesdays

For some reason rainy spring days make me want to wear kimono. I wore kimono more frequently when I lived in Oregon (mostly in the high desert, not the rainy valley), but since moving back to California several years ago I haven’t put in the effort. On Monday, while rain clouds moved in over the…

Washing shibori yukata cotton

Textile junkies love color and texture, and shibori has both in spades. When it comes to using these fabrics and not just collecting them (as my mother so often did), we take a step back and ask, “What is going to happen if I wash this? What if I don’t wash it? Will washing make…

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…

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…

Kimono Disassembly

I’ll be back to posting the Caterpillar to Kimono series very soon. In the meantime I’ve been taking apart several kimono I picked up on the Japan trip, and it’s been an interesting experience. Back when I first opened KimonoMomo in 2005 I spent a lot of time taking things apart. I am fairly adept at…

From Caterpillar to Kimono: a Journey in Silk, part 2

From careful handwork to heavy machinery, there are many ways to unreel a silk cocoon. Gunma Prefecture, north of Tokyo, is famous for silk production. In the 19th century Japan produced far more of the world’s silk than it does today (China has taken the title of world silk producer, much as it has taken…

Home again, with an extra suitcase or two

I left California two weeks ago with a half-filled medium-sized suitcase and a nearly empty duffel bag. I returned from Japan two days ago with those bags packed to bursting and added even more; a new, larger suitcase and a box, both filled with kimono, haori, obi, raw silk, furoshiki, books, obijime, yukata, and other…

Karinui Comparisons, part 2

In part 1 I disassembled an inexpensive kurotomesode (high formal women’s kimono) and gave you a peek at the inner workings, so to speak. This time we’ll be looking at a more expensive kimono and seeing how different the two can be. Part 2: The Hot Date Unlike the pretty, fast, and easy Cheap Date,…

Karinui Comparisons, part 1

I am a fan of karinui, those incomplete kimono that require expert tailoring skills to make wearable. Why? Because when it comes to disassembling a kimono, it doesn’t get any easier than tearing apart basted-together karinui. When purchased new, kimono are made to order. The weave, design, dyes, and family crests (depending on the formality…

Defining styles: Arabesque

I had one of those slap-upside-the-head moments a few days ago while reading through a magazine on mid-century architecture. Looking at a page of beautiful gardens, there was an ornament described as being “Arabesque” and resembling something distinctly Arabic in design. Entirely logical, you might say, but to me, “Arabesque” has always meant either a…

Hidden gems in your local library

Two of my absolute favorite books for kimono and kimono-related research are The Traditional Crafts of Japan, volumes 1 and 2 of an eight volume series on traditional Japanese crafts published by Diamond, Inc. in 1992. The volumes are rich with historical background and gorgeous color photos, and are eye-catching in their brick red slip…

Where did the time go?!

Is it really June already? I’ve been avoiding this blog for a while. Nothing personal, just been busy working on two different businesses; KimonoMomo, and The Word Sniper, my writing/editing business. Letting go of KimonoMomo has been my intention for quite some time now, but it’s an ornery process, one that keeps dragging me back…