Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ema's Baby Quilt

Pram Quilt With Kimono Fabric

Some time ago Paul, son and KimoYes webmaster, asked me to make a small quilt incorporating kimono fabric for his friend, Ema. Ema lives in the US and is expecting her first baby to be born some time this month. As usual, I've left this project to the last minute and spent some time last night thinking about what Ema might like. I can't image Ema going for fuzzy animals in pastel colours, so decided to try something a bit different.


I remembered a pile of 8 x 8 inch black and white cottons that I've been hoarding for a few years with the intention of experimenting with these in combination with Japanese kimono fabrics. The time seemed right!


I know that black and white are not traditional colours for a baby quilt, so decided to incorporate colourful circles of fabric from children's kimono. I had a few "special" pieces put away as these fabrics are becoming very difficult to buy. Out with the freezer paper, CD as a template and needle and thread. I hand appliqued a few of the circles last night and look forward to finishing the quilt this week.

The quilt will be 3 x 4 squares with a border. Any suggestions about a good colour for the border would be appreciated! 


Friday, February 26, 2010

Yukata Cottons

Casual Cottons

Yukata not only refers to Japanese stenciled and dyed cotton fabrics, but also to the cotton kimono worn after a bath or when relaxing at home. These fabrics are great for quilting as they are colourfast and soften with age. Traditionally yukata fabrics are blue and white but occasionally you come across some real stunners.

Yesterday this gorgeous yukata fabric arrived in a KimoYes shipment. After resisting the temptation to put it aside for that special "one day" quilt,  I reluctantly handed it over to my husband to be photographed and admired by many!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sample Book

Fabric Samples for the Royal Court

One of the many joys of collecting and buying lots of vintage Japanese fabric from lots of sources is the opportunity to pick up some really interesting related objects along the way. One of my treasured  "pick ups" is a large book containing Japanese fabric samples.  These fabric samples were randomly cut and pasted in this book by a fabric merchant or factory owner and presented to the royal Japanese court for its consideration and selection. I've been told that the sample book dates back to the late 1800s.

All up, the book contains about 150 fabric samples and the variety and intricacy never fails to amaze me. 



Some of the samples have a definite French influence, especially the fine silk brocades.

One of my favourite pieces, however, is this gorgeous piece with a traditional Japanese design.


If you ever get the chance to visit the KimoYes studio and workroom, ask me about it. I'd love to show it to you.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Antique Japanese Fabrics

Historical Materials Room at the Nishijin Textile Centre

The Nishijin Mill in historic Kyoto is well known and more information can be found on the centre's website. One of the more interesting features of the centre is the Historical Materials Room. This is a mini museum which traces the development of Kyoto textiles over the past few hundred years. These two kimono were especially impressive examples local weaving  and dying processes.

As a quilter,  the wall hangings around the centre were also of special interest.  The fine weaves and sublte colours of modern Nishijin fabrics lend themselves well to these exquisite pieces





I can't wait until my box of Nishijin silks arrive from Kyoto!

Friday, February 12, 2010


One Size Fits All

Obi fascinate me. No matter how hard I try, I cannot master, or even come close to, tying an obi. I've attended demonstrations, watched DVDs and have even had one fitted on me, but it still remains as one of life's mysteries. It wasn't until I went along to a kimono fashion parade at the Nishijin Textile Centre in Kyoto that I appreciated the range and complexities of this art.




 See what I mean?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Silk Threads

600 Threads

I love obi - those wide "sashes" that secure Japanese kimono. The designs and colours are exquisite and they can be used for all sorts of things. Diane and Ann Wiltshire's "Design With Japanese Obi" is very inspiring.

I have just acquired a book containing 600 Japanese obi silk thread samples which I believe is probably from the 30-40s. The amazing thing is that the samples are all different colours and tones which explains how the Obi makers were able to achieve such subtle, yet spectacular, designs. Here are a few pages from the sample book.


Which explains how these were achieved...



Simply gorgeous.