Sunday 24 July 2011

Part I: Kimono Dressing, a primer inspired by Burda 124 July 2011

So Deska! This is a long post, so make yourself some green tea and order up the sushi for tomorrow's Part II.

While we're on the subject of kimono dressing, inspired by CyberDaze's full-length kimono, I was reflecting on my past with kimonos. What do we do need to know about kimono dressing and as our Sewing Objective goes, Making It Our Own?
I'm lucky enough to have been given a real antique Japanese "short" kimono by the parents of my model (literally!) god-daughter when they were posted for a few years to his branch office in Tokyo. It's made of heavy crepe, with hand-painted gold accents on the stylized flowers, has a braided and embroidered tie rotating on a little loop at the center front and contrasting silk yellow patterned lining.

In making the Burda kimono, my cherished antique served as a hands-on guide to finishing the inside (the Tokyo garment was made entirely by hand,) as well as the authentic little square jog across the side insert under the large square sleeves and open armholes, which makes the Burda 7/2011/124 model really quite authentic:
 I'll talk details with photos of the construction of this antique kimono and my blue velvet Burda project in Part II. 

But before we do any actual work, (ugh,) let's get inspired!

Obviously it's all about sleeves, this kind of dressing. Promise me that if you do follow my example and make the Burda kimono, you won't cook over a gas flame or set a candlelight dinner in this garment. (I know, I sound like Billy Connelly in Muppet Treasure Island saying, "Jimmy, Jim, Jim, beware....running with scissors or any other pointy objects," but I mean it! You can see why:

We're going for lady of leisure here, and obviously, the sleeves are the point. Notice that none of these Honourable Models is anywhere near an open flame.
Safety lesson over.
Here's an Elle styling of a Chinese dressing gown capturing the slightly louche effect one seeks. How do I know it's Chinese? The sleeves.

Different generations do this look their own way. Notice this designer pattern from the 1980's where Oscar de la Renta took the feeling and flow of a kimono but chickened out when it came to the traditional square sleeve.

Then  in the 90's the Platts gave us a wonderful pattern, in varying lengths, which I sewed up in a livid red, yellow and black Chinese silk:

Notice however that the Platt duo also chickened out when it came to the traditional Japanese rectangular closed sleeve, although they got as far as the shape. The result, open at the bottom hem, gives a fluttery butterfly effect. Also, they cheated us of the authentic square cut jog at the armhole underarm and skipped the side insert which makes it possible:

However, Vogue Patterns mag devoted an entire article to possible embellishments of the banding on this pattern.

If all of this "flow" seems a little overwhelming, there's a more slimming version of this look from across the sea. Veering away from the kimono T-shape, Marcy Tilton explored a Ching Dynasty-feeling embroidered Chinese mandarin robe on the left, with a modified kimono option on the right, (notice the difference in collar and hem treatment) inserting real feathers into boxes stitched into plain organza, which I think is pretty cool, but never had the guts to try:

I sewed the right hand version up in Jim Thompson silk brought home by my husband from an Int. Red Cross mission to South East Asia:

Mixing prints is very much in order when referencing Japanese style. Here I've belted my interpretation of the Marcy Tilton robe with a second Jim Thompson scarf of the exact same rough silk texture, echoing the darker print:
Can you mix prints like that? Look at this fabulous photo from Elle a few years back which matches the sweet pepper red in both chiffon dress and silk crepe kimono to make a wonderful combination, even adding patterned stockings with abandon.

To their credit, Burda has grabbed the kimono nettle, giving us the real deal complete with the little tie in front— just like on my authentic gem— and the box sleeves closed along the bottom hem. If you know your Lady Murasaki's Pillow Book and her lover Prince Genji lore, ladies, you know that this deep sleeve pocket is there to hold love letters, mementos and various romance toiletries on the run. I won't go into details on that last one.

Sort of the ancient Asian version of the Burda Travelling Cape with deep pockets, come to think of it!

Ready to Sew? Move right on to Part II of this Primer (next post) on construction, sayonara!

1 comment:

  1. Those sleeve pockets are so useful! Not quite sure what you mean about the jog under the sleeves though? I'll have to go have a look at my copy of that Burda pattern. Looking forward to Part 2!