finished – sari silk kimono

so the most troublesome part of this kimono has been the sleeve. i have no use for traditional kimono sleeves, because they catch on kitchen drawers, etc. and the one i liked the best was a simple wrapped sleeve, taking the whole lower body and folding it up on a diagonal, then sewing the flap down to the sleeve front.

below you can see the sleeve as it starts out, traditional japanese style. it’s got a shelfy kind of pouch at the bottom, under the armhole, and i want to retain that as a pocket and maybe make a secondary pocket from the fold.


this is what it looks like inside out. the lower right edge has been gathered the traditional way, but now it just makes for more bulk under the arm, because it’s this edge that gets folded up.


there is another problem with the sleeve, and that is that i managed not to attach it fully to the body at the armhole.  i don’t believe traditional japanese kimono for women are attached, either, something about letting the undergarments show thru on purpose (because they’re gorgeous). but i wanted more garment security, and decided not to leave any gaping holes or flapping edges, and this is the other one of those.

what you’re looking at is the gusset below (the rectangular stitching – the middle rectangle is the actual seam, and the outer one is stitching the entirety of the gusset to the body), and the insides of the back and front pieces to each side of that. the purple stuff is the outside of the sleeve from the seam line to the edge of the fabric. and the surrounding fabric, crisscrossed with lines, is the inside of the sleeve.

it’s difficult to understand this visually. the sleeve, being turned inside out and flattened on the surface, has been sewn all the way along the bottom, with a 90-degree turn, and sewing to the point where it should have been stitched to the body.  the peak of the purple fabric is actually the bottom edge of the seam at the edge of the fabric.  i have put the tip of my finger in the hole where i neglected to sew the sleeve to the body, and i’m afraid the whole thing looks rather vulval, but hey.


here is where i attach the side sleeve seam – where my thumb is – to the body (the yellow silk). basically i’m just going to force a stitch attaching the two seams.


then, below that, i have used red thread to angle the side seam of the sleeve. that makes for a less severe angle, and so less bunching of fabric, less bulk.


and when i turn it right side out, there’s a nice angled edge.


now to get rid of the bulk.  i came along with pinking shears and trimmed to a comfortable 1/4″ from the sleeve, cutting off all that gathering, and the old side seam. then turn it right side out again and press.


then the only thing left to do is quilt the thin, old, ripe silk down to the lining of nice new strong raw silk, so that it won’t just completely come apart. because the silk is so old and ripe, i wanted to use as little quilting as possible, so i followed lines in the silk pattern and quilted gentle waves about 3″ apart. this may not be enough, but i’m going to leave it like that.


and this is why. for the second machine in a row, the bottom tension is all fucked up. i think it’s bobbin tension, but i have no idea how to fix it, and these are both cheap machines. for xmas i’m going to take my sister’s old machine to the repair shop and get it fixed, whatever’s wrong with it. then i’m going to put both the cheap machines (brothers, and electronic, both of which are bad in my estimation) into the attic.

the stitching is only approximate on the quilting, because of this problem. it’s enough to hold it together, but it’s lousy stitching, and good only for art pieces, which this was not meant to be.

so the instructions include advice to go over with a decent machine anything that looks horrible or insecure.

and when i held the kimono to the light, i could see many places where the silk was holey, or thin, and where mending will need to be done before too many wearings tears the fabric. which then can be mended, until the whole kimono is embroidered.


so, anyway, this is what it looks like finished. i ironed it all out, but then the cat had a nap on it, so it’s a little crumply, but i smoothed all that out before folding.


kimono get folded up into small packages in japan, so i did the same. sleeves folded into body folded over on itself, and wrapped with the obi.


then into a ziplock and into a mailer, and away.  i sent a bunch of instructions with it (cold water hand wash only, no dryer, mend mend mend), and the rest is up to the recipient.

i hope she enjoys it.


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