Monday, September 29, 2008

More on kimono

Well. Yesterday, when I said "I wanna make kimono" I meant more 'Japanese clothing in general, probably a yukata or haori to start' not 'full-blown insane formal uchikake with the elaborate lining'. I didn't think my readers would know what I meant by all those terms, and I don't know why I was thinking that way, 'cause my readers are a smart bunch.

So, to quickly summarize, I am told 'kimono' is sort of the Japanese equivalent of clothing and generally means 'something you put on so you don't get cold or arrested'. By that definition, yes. I wanna make me some kickass kimono.

However.

This is a formal uchikake, which would likely be worn by a woman for her wedding, a state affair, or something else seriously big-deal formal.

Those sleeves? Called furisode, which means 'flutter sleeves' or possibly 'butterfly sleeves'. I've seen it defined both ways. Totally impractical. These are usually made with silk, fully lined (and when I say lined, I mean put together in such a way all raw seams are sealed inside and you can wear them inside out - clueless westerners often DO wear them inside out). Maybe, twenty years from now, when I'm really skilled, I'll make one of these. If someone pays me enough. 'Cause I've sure as hell got nowhere to wear one. Here's another 'cause they really are amazing.

Truly amazing. Every possible form of weaving, painting, dyeing, embroidery, and other surface decoration you can possibly think of has been used to make these over the last couple thousand years.

The tsukesage is the less formal version:

Also could be called the old lady version (shorter sleeves, less elaborate decoration) which would be appropriate for me. I aspire to these. If we move somewhere really north (and cold), I may make one of these of silk (lining too) with wool batting between the two layers. Kimono used to be quilted for cold weather. I bet they're damn warm; it'd be like wearing a blanket. I'm already imagining wearing something like this (possibly more subtle, but it is ME we're talking about) to watch Friday night football games in the freezing cold.

These days, the short overcoat/jacket shorter kimono is known as a haori. This is sort of like our version of putting on a skirt to look kind of dressy. Usually when you see Japanese folk on TV or in books wearing kimono, it's one of these.

If I ever get good enough to be making kimono out of silk, I'll probably wind up making these. Sometimes they're made of cotton, and I'm considering rayon as a fallback. (Hey. They made kimono out of bamboo and birch bark, they better not quibble over some rayon.)

This is a yukata, which is the everyday wear of traditional Japan. This is what you put on to go hang at your best friend's house, or whatever. Our version would be slacks (jeans) and a sweater or casually nice shirt. Often they were dyed with indigo.


The short version of this is the hanten, which I have heard described as the t-shirt of Japan:

These are often made of cotton, and either half-lined or not lined. Likely they will be my first endeavor. I'll be working with cotton.

And the male version of the everyday kimono is known as the nagajuban (which I just looked up on another web site and it told me nagajuban or juban are undershirt kimono, so you be the judge). Formal male outfits are known as kamishimo, but I don't think this one is formal enough to be part of one.
Generally, men's clothing is darker, less elaborate, and with shorter sleeves than women's clothing.

For those of you remotely familiar with Japanese culture (I'm not claiming to be fluent at the language, the culture, the symbolism, or much of anything; I just like their clothing), you know they have a specific word for EVERYTHING. Short cotton kimono for spring, long quilted kimono for winter, 'undershirt' kimono, girls' kimono, old lady kimono, all have their own separate terms and names. I'm only hitting the high points because I don't want to be here all day, and again, I'm not fluent. I'm sure I've generalized too much already and one of the uchikake is really a kosode, or whatever. There is a lovely dictionary here you can read over, for educational purposes. (And you'll really see what I mean by 'a name for everything'.) At any rate, you got to look at some purty pictures this morning and read more of my insane babbling.

So, for now, my plan hasn't really altered from what it was: Buy some cotton/rayon dyes and scarves, and experiment with batik printing on them for Christmas and possible Etsy shop sale. That really was a plan before last night's brain wave (which I really did have while writing this last blog post and being smacked in the face with my other posts about human creativity). All that has changed is the end goal. Before, it was to make a buck (never a bad thing). Now... NOW, I wanna MAKE COOL STUFF. Which of course speaks to the human soul, from what I've seen.

Anyone got ideas on symbolism for a kamon? I think the family needs one. German/Irish heritage folks with a Japanese family crest. Yup. Sounds like my house.

9 comments:

NeedleTart said...

Several years ago I taught summer school and we spent one day "in" Japan. Being nearly as crazy as you I made a Hapi coat from an old Folkways pattern. I used a rayon printed with blue water patterns. It turned out very well and the directions are great. Much of the construction was machine with a whole bunch of hand finishing (no, I didn't embroider it, though I have done embroidery since I was.....let's just say for the last 45 years or so).

Bells said...

do you think they'd be good for fat days? Because I'm having my umpteenth fat and bloated day and I could use something comfy. :-)

Louiz said...

How about a kitsune (Japanese trickster figure, fox), 4 leaf clover and... black forest gateaux?

Louiz said...

oh, and all I can say is: I'll sit back, take notes and be impressed as hell.

Roxie said...

Family crest? How about a cat with a flame-thrower and a curly-haired fairy princess with an AK47?

Donna Lee said...

I have a daughter who is obsessed with all things japanese (she is studying the language and knows a surprising amount). She has a cotton kimono with the obi and all the bits and pieces. It is a truly graceful and feminine garment, even if it is more for everyday wear being cotton and not silk. She would like me to make her a fancy one but I'm not sure I can justify the expense although it would be fun....I haven't sewn anything big in ages and it could be considered a learning experience and i'm all about the learning so maybe it's a project for the future.

Alwen said...

A name for everything - except for maybe crochet & knitting.

Long story short, Japanese knitting books that turn out to be pure solid crochet. Lovely stuff in the OCD way that only the Japanese can do . . . but not knitting.

And speaking of OMG, have you seen those Japanese manhole covers? Gwan off and google 'em, you know you want to.

Amy Lane said...

Just don't look up your coat of arms on the internet--I did, and it really SUCKED. I love the idea that they have a word for everything--the English language is SO slippery! Communication by chaotic phonemes. I wouldn't mind some specificity.

FKV said...

Hi. Do you have (or have access) to a copy of Knit Kimono?

Knit Kimono: 18 Designs with Simple Shapes by Vicki Square

Sounds like it might be up your alley.

--FKV