Thursday, 10 January 2008

How to cut out kimono and other things

Today we had several groups of visitors who are all very interested in textile design, so it was really enjoyable to show them around. I hope everyone drew some inspiration from the displays.

At the end of the afternoon, the lady above (Hilary?) arrived with her husband and several very lovely kimono bolts she had been sent by a Japanese friend. She is wearing one of my sale wool kimono above. Her friend obviously has very good taste, as the bolts included a pretty silk tsumugi (pongee) bolt with a rather 1930s feel to the design, a chirimen (crepe) komon (allover small pattern) bolt that almost glowed with rich gold and green tones and a nikko nikko kasuri (print kasuri, or double ikat) bolt for yukata (summer cotton) kimono. I explained how to cut them out - if you have a real kimono bolt or tanmono, it will measure about 14 - 141/2in wide and cutting out is quite easy. You need to know only one basic measurement - your height.

First cut off the label section at the end of the bolt. Assuming you are going to wear the kimono in a conventional women's style, with the ohashori fold at the waist, lay the fabric on a flat surface and run out a length that is the same as your height measurement plus 8 cm (2cm for the hem, an extra 4cm to get a decent length for your height and an extra 2cm - to allow for the horizontal sewn tuck across the back). Fold the fabric back on itself, pinning at the fold, and run it up to the cut end, and pin again. Repeat. You have set out the two body panels. Now set out the piece for the collar, collar cover and okumi overlap panels, by running out another length, 15cm shorter than the body, doing the fold again, and back to the cut end. Pin this too. The remaining fabric will make the sleeves - run it out on top of the body panels and fold it back on itself, so almost no fabric remains, to find out the maximum sleeve measurements that you can use, marking the fold with a pin, then use that pin marker to run out the two sleeves like you did for the body panel. You will have 10 layer of fabric set out at one end of the roll, and four at the other. Cut across the fabric at the end with the original cut end, and you have the main pieces for your kimono. Of course, you will need to cut the length for the collar, collar cover and okumi in half lengthwise (if you are making a larger width kimono you might want to cut the collar part slightly narrower), but basically the kimono is now cut out.

It is a good idea to check the length before you start - some older bolts are only about 11.5 metres long, whereas modern bolts are typically about 12metres. I cut out a pink komon asa (hemp) and polyester summer bolt on Sunday, which measured 12 metres, and have managed to make the sleeves around 60cm long, more like Taisho kimono than modern komon length - the body panels were 162cm long for me.

The sleeves will be more like those on the yellow and purple 1920s komon kimono (left in last photo & detail below) - longer length.

No comments: