tiistai 12. kesäkuuta 2012

Patterns in a Kimono; Woven patterns

So, this little information did leave behind scedule as my spring allergies finally caught up with me (dang, I thought I had evaded them!). But let's get down to bussiness.

Kimono patterns can be divided into two, the woven patterns and the dyed patterns. In terms of formality, the dyed patterns are more formal than the woven ones. Let's start with the woven patterns.

Woven patterns are symmetric and often also geometric, such as the stripes, checks and the splash pattern known as kasuri.

Kasuri is a tie-dye technique that originated in India. It is an ikat technique in which the warp threads can been dyed or solid color and the weft threads are tie-dyed in specific pattern and dyed with indigo to create a pattern once the fabric has been woven. Basic kasuri patterns are cross and parallel cross designs. The more complex are the pictorial kasuri, where pines, bamboo, plum blossoms, cranes, tortoises and so on are woven into the design.
Kasuri fabric by hillesondesigns.com

Woven patterns made in silk are usually broken down into the next categories:

Reeled silk known as meisen. Meisen has that "wind swept" look in the pattern. Meisen was first produced in the later part of the meiji period (1868-1910) through to around 1955. It's hight was in the Taisho period (1910-1926) throught to the early 1940's. They were inexpensive and first "off-the-rack" ready to wear kimono and haori. Meisen is a technique for producing kasuri (ikat) fabric cheaper, faster and in larger quantities than the traditional method allowed.

For more information and beautiful pictures, please see the Meisen Kimonos Exhibition.
Meisen silk by marcusonandhall.com

Heavy crepe silk known as omeshi. Kimono.fraise.net calls this weave the "fuzzy weave" and I have to agree on it, it does look fuzzy. Omeshi, also, is created with kasuri technique. Omeshi is a heavy crepe silk fabric with strongly twisted threads and firmer in it's texture than chirimen. Traditionally omeshi ranks highest of the woven fabrics in formality.
Omeshi silk by kimono.fraise.net

Spun silk known as tsumugi. Tsumugi originates from the farmers who wished to make use of the cocoons left over after they had shipped the best ones into the markets. They collected the floss from the left over cocoons and spin (tsumugu) it into kimonos for themselves and their families. Tsumugi as a fabric is one of the oldest, still used weaving techniques. It has a soft, but uneven texture and superficially resembles cotton.
Tsumugi silk bolt by petitjapon.com

Silk gauze known as sha. The loose weave of this fabric makes it a see-through material.
Sha kimono by KyotoAntique.

Leno weave gauze known as ro. Just as sha, ro is very light fabric an distinguishable by the horizontal "stripes" that the weave creates on the surface of the fabric.
Ro kimono bolt by KyotoAntique.

Stripe pattern is called shima.
Shima yukata by shop-kimono.com

The check or lattice pattern called koushi.
Koshi kimono by narablog.com

Linen is known as the joufu in terms of patterns, which corrects my statement that I was not sure if I have ever seen a linen kimono. Now I have.
Linen joufu patterned kimono by narablog.com

Crepe silks known as the chirimen and kinsha. They have textured surface, similar to crepe, which is achieved by twisting the threads during weaving. Chirimen is heavier and stronger than kinsha. It's also a plain weave silks and drapes exceptionally well. Kinsha is a fine weaved, light crepe like silk.
Chirimen silk by nifwlseirff in Flickr.
Kinsha silk by nifwlseirff.hubpages.com

Rinzu silk is brocade like fabric with intricate pattern. Creating this pattern requires great skill and expertise and these silks are, as you might have guessed, one of the most expensive silks in Japan. The use of different types of warp and weft threads creates a contrast in the foreground and background adding luster and texture to the fabric. Rinzu fabrics can also have a dyed pattern on top of the woven pattern. These fabrics are soft to the touch and can vary in weight from the very light into the heavy wedding kimono.
Rinzu silk by Rakuten.

Urushi silks are created by weaving lacquered threads into the pattern creating an embroidery like pattern.
Urushi by Ruby Kimono.
Well, there's a few woven patterns that you might come across while searching kimonos. Ruby Kimono has a comprehensive list of kimono fabrics and patterns (and also motifs).

Reference used:
Kasuri Home - glossary
The Book of Kimono by Norio Yamanaka

And again, if you notice some obvious mistakes, please contact me. I am not perfect ;).

keskiviikko 6. kesäkuuta 2012

Kimono Fabrics

With this I'm treading on thin ice. I am not a textile historian or know textiles extensively, but I'm trying my best to open the kimono fabrics a little. Please understand this. Later today or tomorrow morning, I'll talk about kimono patterns.

Kimono Fabrics

Natural fabrics are the normally used kimono materials, but lately also synthetic materials are being used for example in odori kimonos, because they must endure lots and lots of use and washing. Silk and cotton are probably the most common ones you will come across when going kimono shopping. Wool seems to have come popular lately too.

Cotton yukata kimono.
Cotton is used solely as a yukata material. Cotton is a breezy material with a lot of use. The fibers of a cotton fabrics soak moisture well without making the fabric feel wet, which is one thing that makes cotton a nice fabric to use. The thickness of cotton fibers can diverse greatly, the thinest, longest and shiniest fibers are made into the finest cotton fabrics such as Sea Island and Egyptian. Cotton can be loosely woven, thin fabric or thick, durable material. Cotton does have bad ripping qualities, you can rip it by hand quite easilly. Taking care of cotton is also easy as you can wash it in an ordinary washing machine.

Silk iromuji kimono.
Silk is diversly used is formal wear and unformal wear depending on the pattern and the weave of the fabric. Silk fibers are gotten from the cocoon of the silkworm. Freshly made silk is very hard to rip by hand, it's only possible if the silk is sheer enough and you have the muscle of a bodybuilder. Sunlight makes silks brittle and silk curtains left in direct sunlight for a lenghty period will eventually be destroyed. Sunlight makes silks as stong as toilet paper. Silk has a nice shine in it as a fabric and it is breezy and pleasant fabric to wear. Water does not agree with silks and cleaning silks is nowadays recommended at dry cleaning. Also hard folds on silk fabrics tend to stay and are hard or even unironable from the fabric. Silk fabrics drape beautifully which is why they are used in evening dresses and blouses. Wearing silk kimono has it's drawbacks and being careful, but silk in itself has good qualities and the feeling of luxury that makes it all worth it.

Wool Kimono by Kidoraku Japan.
Wool is a natural fiber, which we get from the sheep's fur. Wool kimonos are unformal and patterns mostly geometrical. Wool is classified in terms of finest hair/fur of the animal and it's used to make mixed fabrics. Wool can be used to name other hair/fur related fabrics such as mohair, alpaca, cashmir and angora. To my knowledge, wool kimono is sheep's fur. Wool fabrics can be very diverse in terms of thickness, texture of the fabric and weave. Wool feels nice to the touch, can be a little strechy and the fibers soak moisture better than cotton. Wool also is hard to ignite, which is why it's used in interior decoration. Cleaning wool is considered easy, but washing it needs low temperatures and in fine wool fabrics dry cleaning is recommended. Wool can be cleaned by brushing the dirt of the fabric with a proper brush. Wool is sensitive to sunlight, moths and bleach.

Linen kimono from the 60s by so-meru.
Linen as a kimono material is mentioned in the Book of Kimono by Norio Yamanaka. I have to admit I have not seen a linen kimono being sold lately, but I have not been looking too closely lately. I cannot say where in formality a linen kimono would sit, but it's behind silk. As a natural fiber linen is collected from the flax plant's stem. Linen is a very breezy material and the fiber soaks moisture extremely well, so linen is a good material for warm climate. Linen has the bad quality of being easilly wrinkled, which is why there's often a bit of cottom mixed into the linen fabric to make it less easilly wrinkled. Linen is impossible to rip by hand. As a person who has tried this, I can say that my hands hurt before the fabric could rip.

Synthetic odori kimono.

 Synthetic materials are slowly gaining a foothold in kimonos, but they are considered unformal wear. Most synthetic kimonos are polyester mixed with some other fabric to give it little shine without losing the easiness of cleaning and maintenance. Komon kimono and odori kimono are the ones I've seen use synthetic fabrics. Depending on the weave of the fabric and the materials used to make the fabric, the breathability of the fabric can differ.

Other materials used in kimonos and traditional japanese clothes are bast, hemp and ramie.

Reference used:
ImmortalGeisha Forum
The Book of Kimono by Norio Yamanaka
Otavan Suuri Ompelukirja

Kimono Style Book #3

And as always, I did not scan the whole book, just selected bits and pieces. Unlike the first two books, this one had DUDES, in kimono.

OK, enough with the yammering, onto the scans.
Most can be found in my Flickr Photostream.

Cover image.
Lovely black an red kimono.
Beautiful thin striped kimono.
All the books have furisode beauty.
Styles for one kimono for a week.
Manly styles.
Hakama style.
Lovely tartan patterned yukata.

tiistai 5. kesäkuuta 2012

Kimono Style Book 3

I got the part 3 of the Kimono Style Book yesterday in the mail and probably tomorrow (unless I find time today) I'll be taking a few scans from it, so stay tuned!

maanantai 4. kesäkuuta 2012

Kimono Challenge pt.3 & 4

Original challenge was made by Kira Kira Kimono.

1. How did I hear about kimonos& first kitsuke toughts and stuff
2. My dearest kimono item(s)
3. My most used kimono item(s) (not counting jubans, datejimes etc.)
4. My least used kimono item(s)

5. My favourite coordination(s) so far
6. What things I like and what not in kimonos(&why)
7. Kimono confessions. Did you know that...
8. The massive want-to-buy-list(or in this situation what-I-would-like-to-buy-but-don't-have-enought-money-or-any-occassion-to-wear-it-list)
9. My biggest fears&wishes what comes to kimonos
10. My biggest inspirations in kimonos
11. My kimono collection
12. The evolution of my kitsuke

3. My most used kimono item(s) (not counting jubans, datejimes etc.)

My most used kimonos are probably my beige houmongi and violet houmongi. The most times I wear kimono are in the winter and these two are my warmest kimono's. Even if they are silk, but they are thick and keep the wind off. For some reason they are also the two kimono's that I have the least kitsuke images, but these are the favourite combos I usually wear them with. Except that I have changed the white obiage to a purple one with the violet kimono.
Beige houmongi.
Violet houmongi.
 When it comes to obis, I try to use them all equally. I only have 7 obis (which means that I should buy only obis for a while, but I don't seem to find ones that I like). But I think I use the silver from the last entry and the purple obi, you can see in the violet houmongi picture, the most. They are the easiest to tie and rarely fight back. The orange in the beige houmongi image is a bother to tie, it keep wrinkling and fighting until it's tied. But I still love that arabesque pattern on it!

My most used obijime and obiage is my purple combo. I only have 2 sets of obiage/obijime and I really should get more. Sometimes I use scarfs as obiage.

4. My least used kimono item(s)

I realized that I have quite a lot of items I have not used more than once.
White odori kimono.
I have not worn this kimono myself even once. I've used it 3 times to demonstrate (on someone else) how to dress in kimono. I really should do a photoshoot, but I still need to find just the perfect obi for it.
Black ro kimono.
I have worn this twice. It's too small for me and rather fragile. It's old, so everytime I have worn this I have been scared that something will rip. I still love that pale flowers on black background pattern, but I'm afraid to wear this piece.
Another black ro kimono.
This one is also a little small, but this one has the seam threads broken in some pieces and I should repair them before wearing this again. This too feel very fragile when you handle it and wearing this would be very careful job.
White-orange hakata.
This was sold to me as a nagoya obi, but when it came I realized that it had not been finished. So I should finish this obi before I can wear it properly.