A few weeks ago, Sharon hosted an indigo dyeing activity at our home. Some people came over and we spent all day dunking fabric in dye pots. I did some small test pieces for various techniques, but I also twisted up some big pieces of silk broadcloth, and then I made this kosode from that fabric.
It looks kind of like an accident in a bleach factory, but closer up the indigo patterns are very organic and Rorshach-inkblot fascinating.
Basically as soon as Sweetie and I had reached full immunity following our second COVID-19 inoculations (it’s not really a vaccine, you know), we went and visited my parents in NJ. They still live where I grew up in NJ, and although we did not want to go into NYC to visit fabric stores, I decided to search around the area to see what might have become available in the 30+ years since I left. Sure enough, the large presence of immigrants from Southeast Asia in my home town had resulted in some great fabric stores catering to their tastes, including one just 15 minutes from my parents’ house, called “Fabric Guy“. I was looking for some figured white silk for another project, but also wound up buying some of this lovely medium-weight silk brocade.
I suddenly decided that I needed a fancy kosode, because who doesn’t need a new fancy kosode every once in a while? One difficulty with the project is that the gold metallic threads for the flower buds (or whatever they are) are pretty much just behind those graphics. Cutting the fabric released hundreds of little whiskers, and I realized that wearing the kosode would break off more of those and they would get into everything else. The solution was to add a lining to the plan.
I had some light-weight habotai silk in my stash, so I used that. I’ve madelinedgarmentsbefore, so this was not alien territory for me, but it has been a while. The trick, for those who don’t know it, is to leave closing the neckband for the very last step. That enables you to attach the sleeve linings to the body lining easily by pulling those seams to the outside of the garment. This silk was so light that keeping it still enough to sew was something of a challenge, but it came out OK, I think.
When I was in the fabric store to buy the flannel for the new pajamas, I took a browse through the selection of “Asian”-themed cotton prints, and found this colorful “koi in water” fabric. I don’t really need another kosode, but I need to make something out of this.
Here are some details that will mean nothing unless you are a kosode geek: The fabric was a little narrow, but I can still get away with wearing 14-inch wide panels, and I had gotten enough fabric to make it knee-length like I like them now. The sleeves are almost fully attached to the body, but I still like to give them a little flappy bit at the bottom. The sleeves themselves are about 18-inches tall, and the opening is half of that. It has a 3-layer neckband that is only about 2 inches wide.
Here is a close up of the fabric so that you might appreciate how pretty it is:
I had meant to leave this year’s white kosode half-finished, so I could use it as a demonstrator for a class I was going to teach at Pennsic on kosode construction. Instead of leaving it to fester while we’re waiting to see if there will be a Pennsic next year, I decided to complete it so that I could wear it if we ever happen to have an SCA event ever again.
Gosh that all sounds pessimistic, I know, but there it is. Really, I’m much more optimistic about the future of the SCA than that. I think we will have to reconsider what makes an event and how we run them, but I’m sure we will have events in the future. They might just be very different from the kind of events we’ve had in the past, though.
Anyway, this year’s kosode, in white ramie. I’ve already made two kosode from the white ramie I ordered a couple of years ago. When it became time to make my 2020 kosode, I thought about getting some new fabric, but I realized I still had plenty of this terrific 150 gram ramie linen from Morex Fabrics, so why not use it? The pattern is my standard men’s kosode method, starting from 14.5″ panels. For my technically-minded friends, I continue to use half-panel overlaps and three-layer collars.
Here’s a picture of me from our Baronial 12th Night event wearing a Kataginu Kamishimo of mostly new-for-2020 garb.
I’m wearing a kataginu vest and hakama pants in matching blue linen, printed cotton kosode, white linen kosode, white linen kyahan shin covers, black linen tate eboshi hat, and purchased jika tabi shoes. Sagemono belt-hangers are a belt favor of the three baronial orders to which I have been inducted (Order of Copernicus, Order of the Blue/Silver Comet, Order of the Gold Comet) and a kinchaku made from the same black silk brocade as my elevation garb which has been machine embroidered with a Laurel wreath.