Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Countdown to Christmas in my internet shop - yukata panels!


I have started the long, long job of listing my cotton yukata fabric panels in my online shop, putting up one new fabric a day as my 'Countdown to Christmas' - an Advent calendar of yukata fabrics - although, I have so many in stock, I can probably keep going well into 2020 with a new fabric a day!  Just like the old fashioned Advent calendars we had in the 1960s and 70s, the new fabric 'picture' I'll 'open' every day is quite at random, and there will be many different patterns and colours listed.

These fabulous chusen hand stencil dyed fabrics are some of my favourite kimono fabrics, as they display such a variety of motifs and patterns, often in quite an innovative way. The wonderful shading effects are unique to this kind of dyeing, where the colours are pooled onto the stencils and pulled through the folded fabric by a vacuum.


Here are the first eight... Although as it it only December 4th today, they aren't all live on the site just yet. 


The dyeing process means these narrow 36 - 39cm wide fabrics have a repeat of 98 - 105cm, and the patterns mirror image alternately. The earliest ones I have are from c1960 and the most recent date from the early 2000s. The fabric has a similar handle to patchwork cottons, are machine washable, and are ideal for patchwork, quilting, home dec and dressmaking projects where a large scale pattern is required.


Chusen dyeing is an expensive process, and these fabrics originally retailed for around £150 and upwards for a bolt.  As I look out for them in sales, I am able to sell the panels for just £12 per piece, less than the original retail price in Japan.  If you order more than one panel of the same fabric, it will come as a continuous length.


Sadly, chusen isn't as fashionable for yukata nowadays as it used to be, and many dyers have switched production to tenugui hand towels, which are having a big revival at the moment. So yukata fabrics like these are becoming harder to find.  I've built up a collection of several hundred bolts over the last few years, and will gradually add them to my site.





Here's a set of quilt blocks I made for a remake of my 'Maru' quilt (above), combining cotton yukata fabrics with tsumugi cotton stripes. By fussy cutting many yukata fabrics, it is possible to get 'plain' fabrics out of some of the background areas where the motifs are more sparse. The smaller cushion panel below was made by improvisational piecing using up the scraps!


The panels are suited to making up as long scroll-like wallhangings, but they also look gorgeous in quilts.  I used them for several projects in my 'Japanese Quilt Inspirations' book. If you are familiar with Kitty Pippen's books, 'Quilting with Japanese Fabrics' and 'Asian Elegance', she used a lot of yukata cottons for her stunning quilts.  Patricia Belyea, in 'East Meets West Quilts', also makes beautiful quilts of yukata cottons, in a more improvisational, contemporary style.


Because these are vintage fabrics, they are not repeatable, and because yukata bolts are rarely more than 11.6m long, they are quite rare fabrics.  I won't be able to get the same ones again (although there are one or two where I have managed to buy duplicate bolts!) so if you see one you like, buy it now!

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