Friday, February 20, 2009


Sorry to be so slow about this post. The last post was two days before I got quite ill and I am just now beginning to resume my life again.

I have a wonderful book called "Fashioning the Kimono: Dress and modernity in early twentieth century Japan" It was published in conjunction with an exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum. It is lavishly illustrated and a joy to own. In it there are pictures of quite a number of kimono made with a weaving technique called meisen. These were inexpensive fashion garments in the 20s through the 40s or so, bought by young women for wearing on the town for social occasions, not formal, and worn for only a year or two until the newest fashion supplanted it. For this reason they seem to have survived and show up now in flea markets in quite good condition. (Check out for a source of wonderful Japanese textiles.) I have bought as many as I could afford. At first I thought I would take them apart for reuse, but I could not bear to do it after the first two or three because they were just so beautiful.

The weaving technique is fascinating. The pattern is applied to warp or weft threads, or sometimes both, by partially weaving the fabric to stabilize the threads, then using stencils to apply dye before reweaving them. This makes an ikat type edge, just imprecise enough to be interesting. The designs are WONDERFUL - lively, influenced by the art deco and later designs of their day, and although they still use the usual floral motifs etc. they are much less staid than traditional kimono patterns for more formal wear.

Last week I took them to a local textile group to illustrate a talk and at the end of the evening there were enough for everybody in the room to try one on. We had a blast!

I thought you might like to see some of the designs close up. I am tempted to make digital prints of some of these to print onto silk and actually use them that way instead of taking them apart to use just a tidbit.