Sunday, May 12, 2013

Kimono as Canvas

Tuesday evening I am teaching a small class on the use of kimono as a canvas for fiber art. We will construct very simple kimono. Then the artists will have their way.

I have long been attracted to the kimono shape. It is easy to wear. It is easy to make. It is perhaps the original zero waste design, though the bog coat probably takes that honor. The kimono has so many more possibilities though.

If you are interested in kimono construction, you'll find an excellent pattern for it from folkwear. It contains two versions of kimono plus the very wonderful, and also zero waste, monpei (pants). I have made and continue to enjoy all three pieces in this pattern grouping called Japanese Field garments.

In preparation for teaching the class, and as part of my participation in the What-If Diaries taught by Jude of Spirit Cloth, I am working on a small white linen kimono.

After completing a pair of white linen pants, I had a nice size remnant, just enough for a child sized kimono. I drafted it proportionally to my available fabric, rather than using a pattern.

I sewed the sleeves to the body, as well as the underarm seams and the front band by machine. Then I finished all the edges, using various techniques, by hand. It is a great travel project.

The first part of the What-If Diaries is a study of white on white - using the shadows, and the slight variations in white to create texture, shape, and artistic composition. So I started the embellishment of my little kimono with a moon from one of its remnants:
Left side is needle-turn applique; right side was first stitched down the straight side, then flipped. Right curve is finished with a back stitch, then ruffled with my finger tip.

One of things that I love about linen is the way it responds to the heat in my fingers. No need to fire up the iron. Just gently fold where I want it, press firmly and stitch. And this particular piece is so soft and yet beefy. A perfect linen.

With spring appearing around every corner, I was simply unable to stay with white on white. You can probably see the vertical green stitching down the right side of the back:

It is a growing reflection of spring. As the yellow green on the flora turns to deep green in my yard, this piece acquires more and more, deeper and deeper color:


  1. Martha, I love the kimono and wish I could be a part of your class. The green is edging down the cloth like new blades of grass.

    Thank you for the link to the online classes at Spirit Cloth-I follow her but did not realize she offered classes.

  2. Hi, Martha. Love your stitching on this kimono--So hard to stick with white all by itself! Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. It motivated me to visit yours.
    best, nadia

  3. have I mentioned to you how much I enjoy your posts??? well I DO! thank you!

  4. How lovely! Isn't hand stitching such a soothing activity?

  5. What a lovely composition. This is destined to become an heirloom.