After last week’s release, I got a lot of questions and
corrections suggestions about my kimono pattern…all before a single pattern was purchased and anyone had seen what was inside it! So instead of talking about how awesome kimono are, I’m going to go into detail about how much of a nut I am:
I love kimono. I loved the style ever since I was a little kid and my grandfather worked in Japan and came home with pictures and stories, before most of the world had no idea what “Anime” was besides stuff like Speed Racer and if you got your hands on some manga, best be learning Japanese because nobody translated that stuff. I know. I’m old.
I read Memoirs of a Geisha (and the ‘corrected’ autobiography of the lady it was based on, Mineko Iwasaki’s Geisha of Gion) when they came out and while I can barely remember the love interest bits, I can still remember all of the details about putting on and wearing kimono. You can find a billion things on the internet now about kimono and Japanese culture, but back in the 90s… not so much. In college I took intensive Japanese and the cultural classes associated with that for my language requirement and a couple more besides. I was either a credit or two short or just didn’t bother with having it added on as an official minor. Local art museums get collections of kimono and other Japanese textiles in? I go.
When I started sewing for my dolls, I made kimono. I didn’t like the fabrics I could find at fabric stores, so I went to Chinatown to see what I could find by way of imports (Chinatown in Boston is basically everything China/Japan/Korea/Malaysia etc), which was in a neighborhood so bad I had to get buzzed in the fabric store as it’s kept locked even when it’s open. See that blue dress? Actual yukata fabric. I wanted to do it properly so I imported a Japanese doll book on how to sew kimono for dolls, which included full dressing instructions right up to how to tie Obi.
At this point, I diverged from authentic. The problem with the Japanese book was that while the dolls in it were dressed in very authentic kimono, they looked awful. They did not look like they were delicate saplings wearing beautiful works of art. They looked like stuffed tubes. That’s the problem with authentic: it doesn’t scale properly. So I started experimenting until I got something that looked like it was supposed to, just smaller.
Whenever I do a cultural pattern, I research the hell out of it and try to make it as genuine as I can because I read Geisha of Gion, and thought about how I’d feel if some foreigner came to interview me about my life as a renowned artist and wrote a book that made me look like a high end whore. There is a difference between appreciation and appropriation of other cultures, and it mostly has to do with respect. I have had a few nice messages from people who are happy they can now make clothes for their dolls that reflect their own heritage, so I’m pretty happy to keep on doing that.
SO! In this pattern, you can find:
-Neckline adjustments so that if you have an especially busty doll, her boobs won’t be hanging out.
-Inward AND Outward opening sleeve options are included. Inward is the way it’s been done for the last couple of hundred years, but if you look at clothes from the 1700s or so, back when Japanese court clothes were more similar to Chinese court clothes, sleeves opened outward. A lot of modern harajuku modified kimono type fashions involve the outward opening sleeve, probably because it’s easier to show off things like trim and ruffle, and I’ve walked people through how to do this on previous kimono patterns when they asked. Structurally, they’re the same it just comes down to where you hem vs seam so why not include both?
-Short and long sleeves, with descriptions of what kind of kimono needs what kind of sleeves if you’re not sure.
-Instructions on how to pad out your super curvy dolls to make the kimono drape authentically. I am 100% not kidding about this. If you’re curvy and try to wear a kimono in Japan, you are padded out until you have a smooth line from bust to hip if you’re too curvy. Most dolls don’t need this, but some wasp-waisted gals like Fashion Royalty, or super busty dolls like Soul Kid Double and Fairyland Moe, do. You can leave it off if you want your dolls to look more curvy, and that’s fine, but it’s in here because it’s authentic.
-LOTS OF OPTIONS! The point of fashion is self expression. All the details you need to make something traditional is in here, but that’s a choice no more or less valid than adding ruffles, giving it a short skirt, and/or using modern fabrics.