By Kate, Pick Up Sticks Vintage
Originally, “kimono” was the Japanese word for clothing. But in more recent years, the word has been used to refer specifically to the classic full-length robes worn for special occasions.
Traditionally kimonos and obi belts are made of hemp, linen, silk, silk brocade, silk crepes and satin weaves and are made from a single bolt of fabric called a tan. Tan come in standard dimensions about 36cm x 11.5m long…and the entire bolt is used to make one kimono. The finished kimono consists of four main strips of fabric, two panels covering the body and two panels forming the sleeves, with additional smaller strips forming the narrow front panels and collar.
Kimono fabrics are frequently hand-made and decorated. Techniques such as yūzen (dye resist); shibori (tie dyeing) and katazome (stencil dyeing) along with hand embroidery and hand painting are used for applying decoration and patterns to the cloth. Many techniques are very time consuming to produce and require great skill, so the textiles and garments created from them are very expensive and highly prized.
The pattern of the kimono can determine in which season it should be worn. A pattern with butterflies or cherry blossoms would be worn in spring, watery designs are common during the summer and popular autumn motifs included the russet leaf of the Japanese maple. For winter, designs included bamboo, pine trees and plum blossoms in more vibrant shades of red or black.
Most kimonos are sewn by hand; even machine-made kimonos require substantial hand-stitching and would often be entirely taken apart for washing, and then re-sewn for wearing.
Nowadays, Japanese people rarely wear kimonos in everyday life, reserving them for such occasions as weddings, funerals, tea ceremonies, or other special events, such as summer festivals.
Do you own a kimono? How do you wear yours?
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