RSS Feed

Kimono Studies with MIL’s Japanese Stash and Ebay Purchases

Posted on

1st: Happy Mother’s Day! A peony for you all


Thinking about a kimono for me, I realized I hadn’t shown you some post War II Japanese fabrics from my late Mother-in-Law’s stash. My Father-in-Law had sent these home to his new bride and mother of his twin year old sons and brand new baby boy (my husband).

Obi fabric: 13.5″ wide, 116″ long


The medallions are gold, silver, maroon and pale gold machined embroidery on a textured peach-y beige faille silk


Shibori and tie-dyed silk chiffon, 23″ wide and 7 yards long. The colors run on the bias up the length of the yardage. This would make a beautiful sash or lining for the interior of the kimono.


You can’t see it so well in this photo but the fuchsia and yellow squares still show the raised bumps from having been tied to block the orange dye. It is sold this way to prove that the color block were created by shibori methods rather than printed on to the silk. I am guessing that the fuchsia and yellow areas were first painted onto the fabric, then the square shapes were tied off as was the white areas and the scarf fabric was then dyed orange, all done on carefully spaced diagonal placements.

Unfortunately it has 4 1″ long chunks cut out of it in random places and a few spots that look like machine grease or tar. I don’t even want to know the history of the damage, after all it has been 60 years and 7 kids since a Polish American sent it to Hamtramck, Michigan, from Tokyo, Japan.

This is a tiny kimono, done in a woman’s style with lining to the edge and open armscye. The off white ties were obviously added after it reached it’s American home. It’s in very poor shape. Chucky said that all the children had worn it, that might mean that all 7 rough housed and daydreamed in this tiny garment.

old child's kimono

It has originally hand stitched throughout with this carefully placed single strand hand construction. All the kimonos are stitched so beautifully by hand.


I don’t know if it was sold new as a child’s kimono (it’s not exactly the traditional style for a child’s kimono according to the Kimono book) or is perhaps an old kimono salesman’s sample???

close child's kimono

This is a kimono that I bought on ebay a few years ago. The purple silk fabric is backed by cotton batiste in 2 colors. The lighter peach is visible at the sleeve opening and the darker orange is visible at the under arm openings.

open armscye

The lighter peach is the color seen when the wearer walks

purple lining

This is another ebay kimono showing its age with well faded metallics and mildew spotted linings. It is unique because the collar is 4″ wide and it has a pieced back


The Kimono book said that the Japanese about construction was such that if basting was needed it was left in and not removed and that the selvedge labels were left to be seen in the garment, that is: the garment is what it’s construction and fabric make it, nothing should be “hidden” as we are trained to do these days. All the kimonos I have have been hand stitched throughout and where a collar needs to be pieced there is a luxurious fold rather than an attempt to hide the joining

pieced collar

The linings are often turned and “appliqued” and the hand stitches done so that they are part of the beauty of the garment


It was over a year ago that I purchased Husband’s kimono cloth at Silk Road Fabrics in Austin, Texas. I bought this Alexander Henry “Buddha Clouds” piece because I thought it might work with the Obi fabric. When I shop away from the stash I have to go with my best guess and it doesn’t always work out. As you can see from the traditional kimonos above the colors do not contrast enough to show the obi up very well.

kimono and obi

So that leaves me still puzzling through my own kimono and the old Obi nestled back in the stash, safe from the ravages of use and wear for another how many years?


About Mary Beth

I am fascinated by changing patterns and colored threads. I sew garments and am teaching myself to machine knit. Since selling the building that housed my workrooms, The Stitchery, I'm searching for a place to set up the knitting machines again. There must be room here somewhere!

7 responses »

  1. The fabric is absolutely beautiful. I can understand your apprehension to use such beautiful fabric, but just do it 🙂 You will produce something that I know will be beautiful and you can enjoy it’s beauty on you instead of nestled safely in your stash :))))

  2. You have wonderful treasures!

  3. Hi,

    I added your blog to a new sewing blog directory that sort blogs by freshness. The blogs with new posts are always moved up to the top. Please check it out and recommend it to your sewing blogger friends!

    Thank you!


  4. How lovely! I just adore that piece of shibori, yum. Thanks for sharing with us.

  5. Lovely musings. Thanks for the tour. I have to wonder about the fabric I bought from the Mother Rice Thrift Store in Honolulu when I was 15. It is 11 yards long and 12″ wide, mostly purples and oranges, a floral with a geometric background. Never had the guts to cut into it. I should check out your kimono book, maybe that will give me courage.

  6. What luscious fabrics and garment details!
    Thanks for sharing them !

  7. Thank you for sharing your lovely kimono pictures! Regarding the yellow one with metallic threads: In studying my own (mostly ebay-purchased) kimono, I’ve discovered that the sewing across the back is usually a fold and not a seam. Reading the old Immortal Geisha threads explained this–since the kimono are always cut the same with the neckline about half-way, a younger woman (who would wear her collar a little lower) would have her kimono sewn with this tuck. It pulls the neckline back while keeping the sides seams even(and the sleeves are sewn on after the tuck is put in). Sometimes it is a seam, tho, if the fabric’s print has an obvious “upside down” when it goes over the back (like some yukatas). Also, when the kimono is cut, an extra collar piece is included and sewn over the collar, to protect it from wear.


So, What Do You Think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: