Thursday, January 5, 2012

Kimono shirts

A few days someone asked to see the kimono shirt that I was wearing. I have a feeling I wrote about each of the shirts I made back in 2007 but I can't find all the posts so you'll have to read it all here again if you are a long time visitor.

This post about cutting up the black and white kimono is sort of interesting... You can see the original kimono jacket that Tetsu's aunt was wearing at our engagement ceremony. Go check it out and have a laugh!

Kimonos are fantastically expensive things, all hand made. Most are made of silk though winter ones will be made of wool. The simple cotton summer kimonos are called yukata, not kimono. When I say fantastically expensive, I'm talking about hundredS of dollars. Hundreds and hundreds! A kimono is a lifetime purchase, something that will be worn for generations and generations, passed down and cherished.

Except if you have a foreign daughter-in-law... Well, actually very few young women wear kimono nowadays, except for an entrance ceremony or graduation. It is no longer considered everyday wear. Until the year that Tetsu and I were married (not long after his father passed away) Tetsu's mother still wore kimono daily. She said that Tetsu's father didn't like her wearing western clothes.

When Tetsu's mother gave me a box of her old kimono I knew I would never wear them as is and so I chose a few I especially liked, borrowed a sewing book from the library and started cutting and sewing. This is a great act of courage to cut up a kimono!!!!

I have made two shirts and two vests.

One thing about sewing with kimono is that since it is so expensive you want to get the most out of the cloth. Another thing is that the designs are overall and it is nice to leave the fabric in as big a piece as possible to show of the original design. For that reason, my shirts are just long straight, square blocks with similar block sleeves. I liked the overlapping collar just because it reminds me of the original kimono.

Now, these could be said to look like a sack I'd thrown over my head... No form, no body fitting darts and curves. Just straight. Well that is good for hiding extra flab... and the shirts are comfortable. Most people just notice that I'm wearing a remade kimono and will comment on that. I get a lot of comments when I wear my kimono shirts and I know it is not because of my great sewing, nor how fantastic I look in them. It is because this foreigner has cut up an expensive kimono!!!

A couple of other interesting things I've noticed about my kimono shirts is that when I wore them in America not one person commented nor asked about them. I felt very out of place like I was wearing a Halloween costume or something. What I wear in Japan does not always go over so well in the States (and vice versa). So I don't take my kimono shirts with me to the States when I visit anymore.

Another thing about kimono shirts is that I know that they will remain in my closet for the rest of my life. Just like Tetsu's mother wouldn't consider throwing away a kimono (give them to Tanya) I will never be able to throw them away or take them to a recycle shop. They are valuable pieces of attire (whether they look good or not). For that reason, I hesitate to make more... I already have too many clothes in my closet! I don't need another kimono shirt that will live there forever!

Still.... I have some beautiful kimonos that could turn into great kimono shirts... Maybe I'll go take them out of the box and look at them again...

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