市松人形 Antique doll kimono – My New Year Challenge – part 3

A little background on what makes a doll an Ichimatsu ningyo… 人形 Ningyo = doll. That’s the easy part. 佐野川 市松 Sanogawa Ichimatsu (1722-1762) What have come to be called Ichimatsu dolls were first produced in the Kampô and Hôreki eras (1741 – 1764), the faces designed to resemble Sanogawa Ichimatsu, a Kabuki actor who was famous for…

Antique doll kimono – My New Year Challenge – part 2

In the West we tend to think of kimono as a static garment, always one style, one type of construction. Over the past decade I have handled a wide variety of vintage kimono, mostly from the 20th century, and the style, color, quality of weave, etc. do change the same as our own garments, although perhaps…

Product Review: KARISMA Air Fade Pen and Fujix Soie et Silk Thread

It’s a product review two-for-one! I’ve been experimenting with the KARISMA Air Fade Ink pens on silk lately and I’m quite pleased with the results. I have heard that some brands of air fade ink pens will come back if the fabric is laundered, so I decided to use them on fabrics I wasn’t planning to…

Preparing costumes for Dickens Fair 2014

I’m a little bit of a costuming nerd. Maybe an intermediate nerd. What started with historically accurate Halloween costumes in grade school turned into working at Renaissance Faire in high school, and Victorian costuming for Dickens Christmas Fair soon after that. Having a mother who could plan and sew a costume with a bit of…

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…

From Caterpillar to Kimono: a Journey in Silk, part 1

My brain is still on Tokyo time. I sit at the breakfast table with my tea and toast and contemplate the day ahead; only it’s almost noon and I’m still not really awake. Most nights I’m up until 1:00 or 2:00 AM, but I’m struggling to get back on a schedule the rest of the…

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…

Postcard from Ginza, Tokyo

It’s been a whirlwind of a tour here in Japan. From the picturesque mountain countryside of Gunma, to a lakeside hotel in view of Mt. Fuji, to the packed city streets of Tokyo, every day has been an adventure. I’ve been shopping at used kimono stores over the past few days, finding many treasures and…

Mini post from Gunma, Japan

Welcome to Silk Country. Gunma Prefecture has been famous for its silk manufacturing for more than a century. One of the largest silk mills in the world was built here in 1872, which took silk textiles out of the realm of the rich and put them into the reach of the masses for the first…

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,…