Loading... Please wait...



Here's the part 1 of how I made the kimono silk bag-Gold Trimmed Mums

They say there are two different ways to determine which side of the sleeves of a kimono should have the best (the largest or the brightest) part of the pattern.

I know this probably made you think "Huh???" :-) 

But kimono is a part of the Japanese aesthetic tradition, and they work very carefully on how the artwork is presented.


Some people believe that the left-front sleeve should get the best part because when you wear kimono, the front-left side goes on top of the right side (the left side is called 'uwa-mae' in Japanese) so left side is visible, thus more 'important'.  And they apply the same principle to the sleeves, even though both sleeves are visible.

Other people believe the best part should come on the right-back side of the sleeve. When I read the reason why, I thought, "How thoughtful," because it said, " When people look at a kimono to marvel, they don't do it by facing right up front with the person who is wearing it, but most often view it from the side or from the back." To me this is a reflection of the culture of sensitivity.    


Traditional Japanese culture is also heavily 'right-handed'. When using a brush to write a Japanese character, there's a strict rule about the order of each stroke to keep the flow to look good. And also the traditional way to write sentences starts from the right. (A sentence goes down vertically, and it continues to the left, if that makes any sense to you :-) ) The right side gets attention first, thus bring the best to the right-back of the sleeve.

If you look at the picture of the yuzen haori with gold trimmed mums in my first blog post, you see that the sleeve on the right side, which is the left sleeve of the haori, has a large area of orange right next to the shoulder seam. So I think this haori is made according to the first principle.




I decided to make two bags from the left haori sleeve.  When it's flipped inside out, you see the white silk lining with the trim around the edge of the sleeve opening. I want to preserve any parts with original stitches as much as possible, so I cut the sleeve right at the bottom of the sleeve-opening trim.

The sleeves of kimono and haori are rounded on one corner. I wanted to make the same curve on the other corner for a bag, so I traced the curve on a paper and used it to mark.

When I started taking kimono and haori apart by undoing the hand-sewn stitches, I was amazed by their strength, especially the ones for the corners and some points that needed to be secured tightly.

I'll post some pictures later when I write about the lavender purple kimono and the bags and scarves I made from it, but I was using a seam ripper and had to try VERY hard to undo the one tiny, poppy-seed-size stitch which was securing the corner of the collar.  I mean, it's just one single stitch!  That was the moment I started to understand the art of kimono hand sewing, which seemed at first a gentle and subtly beautiful way of silk thread stitching, but actually contained an amazing level of strength.

When you pull the thread hard to make the stitch very tight, I would think the fabric around the stitch would become puffy.  But well-sewn kimono has nothing but a beautiful, smooth surface, and those tightly secured stitches are all hidden in there.  I would never have had a chance to discover the hidden strength of kimono if I hadn't taken it apart!


Depending on how round the corner of the sleeve is, there are a couple of ways to make the shape of the corner.

Usually one or two lines of short running stitches around the corner to make small curve like this one, but for the larger, rounder corner, up to 4 lines of running stitches are done and pulled together to make the gathering.

I looked at the corner of the haori to check how it's made and found it was gathered very tightly. I did my best pulling the threads as tightly as possible, but it still felt a lot looser than the original one. Nonetheless, there are now two corners of the bag!

Sign up to our newsletter

Recent Updates