September 27, 2011

Maru kiku maru!

I've been looking for just the right maru obi for a couple of years: not a garish obi with wedding motifs, and not an older one in deep olive green and brown. And nothing super fancy and precious. I wanted wearable and versatile. Nothing wrong with those types of obi, they were just not something I wanted to wear with  my current  kimono collection. Plus also didn't want to spend too much! Maru obi can be frightfully expensive, especially the Taisho era and some of the newer designs. So I think I found one I can use for many years with many different kimono, including my kurotomosode and the iromuji in my collection.

I just love this one.
The chrysanthemum (kiku) pattern is woven and despite quite a bit of gold and some silvery-white threads, it has a subtlety to it it that doesn't shout. I especially love the bits of blue and green; the cool colors add some freshness to the feeling of this obi. The background color is a medium beige, which seems to make it more elegant rather than bland. If the background was black it would still be lovely but it would also have more contrast and be more bold. It's not shiny like some of the modern fukuro obi you sometimes see; it has the soft sheen of a well-loved obi that someone really cherished since it's in such great condition. I'm very glad to have found it!

September 26, 2011

Rebecca's Art Blog: Sewing on the sleeves

Rebecca's Art Blog: Sewing on the sleeves: I managed to cut and sew on the sleeves on the Tyvek kimono this evening. They are rolled up, otherwise not only would they get in the way, ...

September 21, 2011

Birch trees houmongi

I was going post this much earlier, but I had to wait until I had time to add this to the blog. It's a vintage houmongi with a fabulous birch tree motif on the rich tones of salmon pink and red. I have not seen a similar design before featuring birch trees. It's appears to be for the late fall or winter season since there are few leaves left on the trees and they are grey and black.  There are also some cloud-like shapes in red and yellow. What looks like greenish color or shading on the clouds is actually silver metallic paint or dyestuff. There is also some metallic silver on a few of the leaves.

The doura is bright red, indicative of a WWII-era kimono and the hakakke is a dusty salmon-rose color, slightly deeper than the peachy-pink of the kimono. I think it's a really striking design and am looking forward to wearing it one of these days!

Initially, I was thinking of a green-gold obi for this to go with the clouds; but now I think it needs a black and white hakata obi. So I will have to acquire one sometime in the near future. In the meantime, I have a lovely olive green hakata obi as well as a chuya  obi that is plain black on one side that might look really nice.

I will have to just play with the kimono sometime in the next month or so and post some pictures! The perfect obi for this kimono is out there somewhere!

These are all the seller's photos.

September 19, 2011

Tyvek kimono

I have succeeded in creating a hitoe kimono out of DuPont Tyvek! It's almost finished...90% of it is done! It's really hard to photograph since it's white and all my walls in my studio are white, so I hung it up on the balcony and got most of it in the picture.

Soon I will have photos of it on the artist. In the next 2 weeks it will become the Ultimate Furisode, with 20-foot long sleeves! The artist that commissioned this is also working on some obi concepts, so we haven't worked that out yet. It's for a performance art piece that will be performed in LA in November. It will stay white and images will be projected onto it, just like the other costume pieces I made for this same artist.
As far as actually making it, Tyvek is interesting to work with. It cuts like a dream but doesn't tear, so it's like working with very unusual paper. It looks, sounds, and crinkles like paper but it's not. You can iron it....with a very low iron. It sews like fabric but doesn't not stretch at all, so making the collar was  a pain. I used a pattern and instructions I found online....which worked really well. The Tyvek I bought comes in a 36" wide x 50-yard roll, so there is plenty to play with and more than enough for the sleeves. I ended up making it a bit larger and longer than I thought we needed; the artist came over yesterday for a fitting and we decided it should be ankle length, like a yukata. It's easy to take it in and cut some off the bottom. There will be no ohashori since folding and keeping it flat and folded under an obi was an issue, so I just cut it to length. Who knows what the obi will be made from....maybe a found object or something sculptural.
More photos soon!

September 14, 2011

More pretties...Hawk feather mon yukata p. 2

I posted a pic of it in the "All Souls Procession costume" posting a couple of days hasn't arrived yet, so I will give you all a sneak preview.
It's a very traditional, indigo and white yukata. I consider these traditional patterns and colors a bit like the "little black dress" of the yukata world. Kind of like your favorite pair of blue jeans; an indigo-dyed cotton yukata can be paired with almost any color hanhaba (half-width) or yukata obi, most any pair of geta and kinchaku (a casual drawstring purse) handbag. It's ready for Matsuri! It's also the perfect choice for the kimono newbie because of the ease in coordination.

These photos are from the seller and shows the detail of the crossed hawk feathers in the circle, surrounded by wavy lines:

I think the design of this one is fabulous... it's very graphic and the lines seem to give the whole garment lot of movement. It's almost masculine looking in it's simplicity. I can't wait to see it and try it on.
 More pretties soon!

September 11, 2011

New Yukata Store in Tokyo selling online

I found this online store by accident today. It appears to be new this year. Right now, they have yukata only, no accessories or anything else, so it is pretty bare-bones.
The nice thing is they have quite a selection of about 25 designs, all "one size" and the prints are pretty with lots of cute florals. Some designs even have glitter! These are some seriously girly yukata! I'm hoping they add some geometric designs to their selections in the near future.

Here's why I'm going to seriously consider this seller next time I am looking for a new yukata for myself or for a friend:
  • An obi of your color choice comes with the yukata and it's not pre-tied
  • They ship free to most countries, including the United States and Canada!
  • Sold through Amazon and accept PayPal
  • All of these yukata are $74.95- an excellent price if you consider the free obi and free shipping

Of course, you should also need a couple of  koshihimo, a hadajuban and susoyoke (Or slip and camisole), and geta to complete your outfit. This would be a great place to buy if you are a kimono newbie: a gorgeous, washable yukata and obi with no mysterious shipping price headaches you sometimes get buying from other online sellers on eBay.

This one is my favorite and looks most modern; I love the bold red flowers. They appear to be peonies. The blue-grey leaves in this design add some sophistication to the color scheme. I would probably choose the red and black obi though- the light pink one is a bit predicable.

Ideally, I would probably combine it with something bold and geometric, like grey and black checks or something with a bit of a goth vibe to it. Maybe something like this would be fun:

Or you could overlay that plain pink obi with black lace....add a shiny red vinyl obijime and a cool obidome and you'd look pretty amazing! Now that is seriously stylin'.

September 7, 2011

Costume ideas for All Souls Procession-if you want to dance with Odaiko Sonora!


The other kimono bloggers are doing it, so I have jumped on the bandwagon! Well, kind of.

This post is a bit different though: they are talking about Halloween and cosplay ideas; so I will add a twist and post some ideas about what to wear while participating in the All Souls Procession on November 6th with the folks from Odaiko Sonora! First, read up on the All Souls Procession here. (I've posted about it before, so I don't want to repeat myself). It's a very big deal and a huge event in Tucson. My taiko group teaches an "Obon" dance in October (It's too hot in June and July for Obon) so you can learn it and dance in a large group with the urn cart!

Our costumes for this event tend to be simple and Japanese-inspired, either DYI white tops with contrasting obi and white pants, and/or yukata, hakama, and costume bits form past years events, including some white happi coats one of our taiko players made for us a couple of years ago. There is usually a group of 10-15 people, so we try for some uniformity, and all white plus a colored obi usually works well. This is usually the outfit of choice for last-minute dancers, friends, and out-of-town guests. Sometimes we try for a very stylized look, including special make-up or more elaborate costumes, so if you have received the e-mail about the upcoming free dance workshops last week, you will find out about this year's costume specifics during workshop.

This year's color is violet, so almost anything purple, violet, or white with violet obi is appropriate.
Here is a diagram I have created to show you how to make your own, super easy, DYI sleeveless "happi" from a white pillow case that you can wear over pants or a skirt. Just add purple and you are ready to go!

**Disclaimer! Pillow cases come in a few different sizes and mainly will fit people that are on thin to average size and work great for kids and teens, so choose the size accordingly. If you are a larger than average-size person, you can just get a large rectangle of fabric and do a similar design yourself.

And if you want to go all out, add birds! This years All Souls Procession theme includes a bird motif, so feel free to paint (Use fabric paints or acrylics) a dove in flight on the back of your white top; a hawk, or even a chain of purple paper cranes. Be creative! (I will be posting more on the bird design in a couple of weeks, so stay tuned).

Of course, if you have a happi coat, yukata (casual cotton summer kimono) or even a komon kimono in white, purple, a pastel color or even white with an indigo print, you can just add a purple obi!  If you would like to buy your own yukata, Ichiroya is a good place to start, it's one of my favorite sellers. As of this evening, they have two light-colored yukata for $28 each plus shipping from Japan.
Ebay is also a great place to find yukata or if you are lucky enough, a dance kimono. Dance kimono are in bright colors and graphic designs, usually unlined and are almost always synthetic and hence, washable. A very good idea when you are wearing one as a costume. Dance kimonos are not unisex though, but I have seen men's yukata and dance kimono on Ebay, so it's worth taking a look.

For example, I found this lovely yukata with a hawk-feather mon design on Ebay for $5.50, it's in "mint" condition. Of course the shipping is about $25 or so depending on the seller, and that can be typical of items form Japan. Here is an example of an odori or dance kimono selling right now through Ebay: Antique Ryu Japan is the seller and no one has bid on it. Synthetic fiber (polyester), excellent condition, and a nice design of waves on a blue ground. Of course it's blue rather than purple, but you get the idea. You just have to look around!
And last but not least, I may be wearing this polyester komon, with a design of hail or arare, in the procession. It's about as purple as you can get.


September 2, 2011

New tabi socks and more

Nothing super duper special today, just the rest of the stuff I got in San Jose, CA. A new, bright orange obijime and a chirimen obiage in a color I have been looking for for quite a while: turquoise!
And of course, tabi socks! I'm always looking for new ones, and fun patterns are even better. This trip I found black and white striped and a nice deep eggplant purple!
I will post more cool stuff soon-- a  blue and white yukata with a hawk feather mon design and maybe ?? The rest is a mystery!
Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!