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:
(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. :)
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.
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