i set out to make two japanese kimono for a wedding, starting from individual measurements. these measurements late r proved to be wrong. i’ll get to that later.
i used silk fabric for the robes and cotton for the lining and hand died and hand painted and cut and pieced and sewed everything. did i mention i designed it? because i didn’t. my husband jim drew the designs for the paintings, i used a make your own japanese clothes book to construct the costumes, and i took it from there.
it’s for my sister’s wedding. i told her i was going to make her something special, and she immediately guessed, so i hemmed and hawed and told her that no, i was actually making them a pair of matching silk ba…twings. batwings.
and ever since i’ve been telling her little details of what i’ve been up to, without describing the article of clothing i was making. or completely lying, things like ‘i’m working on your little claw right now, and i had a hell of a time getting the wing struts the right tightness.’ but in the meantime, i took pictures, and i’m glad i have, because this simple task, which balooned all out of proportion, ended up producing not just two elegant matching garments of surpasing softness and exquisitely decorated by myself, but also a pair of silk pillow sheets made from the cuttings, as well as what has become a production line of silk scarves, all of which aare drawn from two sketches that my husband jim, also an artist, provided me with.
Design ideas started with my sister’s, ‘well, i hope my batwing has a dragon on it, right?’ because i’m always making dragons on silk. something my husband jim has helped with, because i take such bad care of the patterns that he keeps having to make me new scarf sized dragons that i use in making one of my favorite scarves. i make loads of them, and they end up selling pretty well, but i don’t keep track.
my sister gets the dragon ‘batwings’. her hussband is not ldragonlike, but softer and more of a watery disposition. so we ran thru all our japanese art books in our shelves and then went to the library and google images. and he designed me a lovely flowing stream with a crane and a bunch of irises. very nice.
so i got her to measure herself nad her husband, -to-be, of course, and sent me all the measurements. really strange things like the distance from your neck to your belly button. but i feaar she wasn’t paying attention, because her husband’s arms end up being 80 inches long by her measurements, and that just won’ work. anyway, i finally got measurements off an actual bathrobe that fits him well, and i ended up adjusting the size of his batwing accordingly. which means i end up with scraps off a mostly-completed garment that i get to make pillows with.
anyway, i got the fabric, a nice silk noil and the heaviest habotai i ccould find, and i made measurements and cut stuff out and pieced it together and didn’t start sewing. i took the body of the clothing dwon to the studio where i stretched it, traced jim’s drawings on, and then painted with silk dyes, actually acid dyes (i’m not up on the chemistry). then i steam set them, and then i fit them together and sewed them. but not without trepidation. both of the linings started out way too bright. this is a middle aged couple here, don’t want to expose them to bright colors first thing in the morning, especially with hangovers. so my sister’s lining, which started out irish-tourist green, and my brother in law’s lining, which was fuscia red, got sewn, then folded up and stuck in a plastic tub, weighted by bricks, and a mess of black die went all over them. thus the richly textured patterns, see below.
i thought sewing it was going to be easy. it’s such a straightforward pattern – attach the sleeves to the body. attach the sides below the sleeves. that’s it, you’re ready to sew in the lining.
but every time i sewed something, i sewed it wrong, and i had to rip stitches out of half of my seams and start over again.
when i sewed the lining in, it didn’t fit the garment, even tho the lining was exactly the same size and shape as the garment. so i had to tear out the stitching on the red lining and completely redo it, and i had to remove the stitching on the dragon kimono and redo the shoulder seams to fit the lining.
things like that. very frustrating. and i was doing both sets of batwings at the same time, so i repeated a lot of my mistakes twice.
and in the meantime i took jim’s patterns and traced them out on silk scarves, and made silk paintings of them. theyy were exquiisite. and then someone at choir asked if i was doing any silk painting, because sometimes i bring my stuff in and fire-sale it to the girls, and it turns out she needs something special for some family members who are recovering frmo surgery, so okay, i’ll do a bunch of dragon and water scarves.
and you know, i haven’t gotten to the symbolism behind the two designs and what i did with them.
but never mind that, i’m going to upload a bunch of photos of the work in process.