It's about exploring and sharing my creative adventures (mostly sewing these days) ~
~those activities that sometimes obsess, usually inspire, occasionally frustrate
~and always provide a delightful maze to wander through.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Tilton Top #2 and the Vintage Kimono

My previous post showed the toile-cum-finished-jacket (V8088) that was originally meant to be the fitting practice for Jacket #2, detailed here.

The starting point was a fabulous fabric that began its life as a kimono.  This one was gifted to me many years ago, but as much as I loved it, it just wasn't a piece I wore.   For years I kept wondering how to make it wearable, and finally this pattern filled the inspirational void :).   I ripped apart all of the kimono panels without taking pictures of the original, but here's a bit that survived:
This lovely bit of embroidery was at the top back of the original kimono, applied after the two back pieces were sewn together.  I left the two pieces sewn together in order to preserve the embroidery, and it ended up in the same spot on my new piece.   Perfect!  :)
(Aside:  does anyone know if this symbol has any particular meaning?)  Update:  Louisa has identified this as a "Mon", or family crest.  This one may be the "Paulonia", a plant.   Absolutely fascinating topic - the things you learn in this multi-talented world of sewists!

A note about vintage kimonos (the real deal):  good heavens do those simple looking designs take a LOT of intricate folding and sewing!!!   This one was made from a number of panels, about 12-18" wide, and the sleeves alone took me a couple of hours to unpick!  I wonder how long it took to sew in the first place?  (all hand sewn of course).

After I had it all apart I hand washed it, and I have NEVER washed such stinky fabric!  I did some research on silk, and discovered that the stinkiest stuff comes from silk that has been processed very little.   So, although this fabric uses incredibly fine (but very strong!) threads, it clearly did not go through much processing.   You can see here just how fine the finished fabric is:

This was SUCH a pleasure to work with!  The fabric feels a little crepe-y, not silky-slippery at all, and in spite of the delicate look, it's so strong that it just laughed at me through my un-picking (which there was a lot of)  :(

After un-stitching the kimono, I laid out all of the pieces and figured out how to piece them back together to fit all of my pattern pieces on - no small feat here!   Then I stitched the pieces back together (using silk thread on Penelope, my beloved Singer 201), cut them out, and packed them up for a weekend of sewing with a few friends (a HIGHLY recommended way of taking a sewcation!)   I brought a Featherweight, and discovered a valuable lesson about testing threads in different machines - my Feather HATED sewing with silk thread!   I don't even want to admit how may hours I spent trying to figure out how to adjust the tension, the pressure, the way I was feeding the fabric.....all to no avail!   Finally I stole some Gutterman from one of my well-stocked friends, and wouldn't you know it....smooth sailing after that!

Once that was out of the way, and since I already had the fit figured out (see previous post for details), it went together beautifully.   I did add interfacing to the neckline and front edges, inside the hem (which is deep).   And I finished all of the hems with a straight stitch, instead of the zig-zag or deco stitch that's called for.

I wanted to add some embellishment touches (but not too much!....y'all know I can sometimes go a bit over the top....), and it took me awhile to ponder and play, but I'm happy with the end results.   Actually, very happy.  :)

Front View:

Close-up, showing trim details:

There were 3 embroidered symbols in the original kimono - the one at center back, and one on each sleeve.   Figuring out the placement of the other two was a bit of a challenge (given the size of the panels), and a bit limiting.   Then, when the piece was done, the folds tended to fall in such a way that the embroidery disappeared.   My solution was to sew a box pleat around each one, which makes the embroidery more likely to show up while wearing.   The trim is a fairly thick "faux braid", and some petersham that matches the braid perfectly.    

Back View:

Side View:

Close up of embellishments on sleeve ends and triangle point:

After trips to 3 different stores, which ended in buying a new wireless controller for my camera, I decided it was worth it to change clothes and do a photo shoot, so here I am, in my Spring Garden,  in the outfit I wore to a party last weekend:



Using the Flash shows the sheer aspect of the fabric:


Although I suspect that Version #1 will get  more wear than this one, I love this one just as much (if not more....)   It's positively yummy to wear, but a bit dressier, so will likely be worn more for semi-special occasions.   Anyone want to go out to dinner at a nice restaurant?  ;-D

28 comments:

  1. Your new jacket with the details you saved and showcased from the kimono is wonderful. All your creations reflect your sense of style and originality. I can relate to your picking apart and washing that kimono.

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    1. Thank you Terri - coming from you, that means a lot; I'm so in awe of your elegant creativity :)

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  2. A friend of mine dealt in antique kimonos for many years. This little bit of embroidery may have been the "signature" of the person who put this piece together. I have a few kimonos that my friend gave me and one has a bit of embroidery similar to yours and she told me that it was the signature of the person who made the kimono.
    I love what you did with yours, especially the trim. Beautiful!

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    1. Thank You! That's so interesting about the "signature" - what a wonderfully special way to sign a piece; it really makes this kimono & fabric even more special :).

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    2. Actually it's a "mon" - a family crest. The kimono maker wouldn't put their own design on it. It would be for the family of the owner. I have a book of Mon and will try to look it up for you.

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    3. OK, there are several very similar crests but I think this is Paulownia, empress tree or "kiri" in Japanese. You've done a lovely job with the refashioning, Jilly!

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    4. Thank you SO much Louisa! I did a bit of research on this - fascinating subject, and how fun to have a book of Mon. I think you're right that it is Paulownia.

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  3. Super idea to recreate this kimono - and now you will wear it, showcasing not only the beautiful fabric and embroidery motifs, but also your designer flair! You have excelled yourself on this one ... J

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  4. This is fantastic! So chic, and such a sensitive reworking of fine materials. Bravo!

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    1. Thanks Karin - I really appreciate the "sensitive reworking" comment - I did try to respect the original maker :)

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  5. There you go again, making another one of the artsy type patterns that you do so well. Very nice.

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  6. How wonderful! The original signature of the Kimono maker makes this very special, a blending of the old and new. Its lovely Jilly.

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  7. What a great way to solve the "hidden motif" problem! It looks fabulous!

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  8. Such a great way to repurpose the kimono into a more wearable garment. Beautiful and special!

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  9. Wow, Jilly, this is simply amazing. I hope to see it in person soon!

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  10. You are so artsy. I love it ! You did a marvelous job.

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  11. What a special piece of clothing you now have! Patience and perseverance on this one for sure - so glad it all led to a beautiful garment.

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  12. Lovely! The fabric is perfect for the project.

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  13. You are an inspiration/enabler!!! I have four elderly silk kimono and have taken one of them apart. Like you I was shocked at the number of pieces and the tiny folds and the strips of delicate lining. And the hand stitching. And the general toughness of the original garment. Now I am going to be obsessed with taking the others apart.

    What a lovely gorgeous elegant garment!!! You're a genius! thanks for showing it to us!

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    1. FOUR silk kimono! How lucky are you? Can I admit to being a bit jealous? ;-)

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  14. Just beautiful! As Louisa said, it is a family crest. My aunts in Japan have these black kimonos with the family crest on them (made after they married) and wear them to formal events such as weddings and funerals. You are brave to take apart a kimono -- I don't have the heart to take apart my grandmother's old kimonos yet, so they are just folded up and stored away.

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    1. Thanks for confirming Jean :) I don't know if I would be able to take apart a kimono that was from my own family either - the threads holding this one together were literally disintegrating, so it almost made the decision for me!

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  15. I love this kimono, and thoroughly enjoy your blog. I have recently started a blog, as I love sewing and have been at it since I was eight years old. I truly don't know what I am doing as a blogger, and would appreciate any comments and/or advice I can get.

    jenedesign.blogspot.com

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  16. This is a beautiful new look, and I really how you have been very respectful of the precious item given to you :) Fantastic job.

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  17. Your new jacket is beautiful, and shows the care you took with the original garment. How lovely to make something spectacular from this piece so that it can have its time in real life again, rather than hiding away in storage where nobody can admire it.

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