One of our friends in the SCA, Oribe Tsukime, received a writ for elevation to the Order of the Laurel. The writ was issued back in the Spring, but she was not able to have her actual elevation until this past weekend. This gave me plenty of time to make these white silk tabi for her to wear as part of her elevation garb.
This was the first time I had ever made tabifor another person, the first time I had made tabi in a few years, and the process was complicated by Tsukime living somewhat far from my home. Footwear is always difficult to fit, and trying to do it by sending prototypes back and forth in the mail took a few months.
I was able to complete this project with days to spare, however, and she wore them during her vigil and elevation ceremony. They are all fine silk left over from the uenohakama project, sewn by hand with white silk thread. I don’t know how long they will last, and they probably never can be washed, but I was asked to make them and they were ready in time, so I am happy.
It’s not even half-way through the year, and I already have this year’s tabi foot coverings finished.
For those of my readers who are not familiar with this tradition, I started sewing my own tabi a few years ago to go with my Japanese garb. They are usually made from leftover fabric from garb projects, but it’s just regular fabric, so they tend to wear out pretty quickly. I found that if I make a pair a year, I can keep ahead of the curve and always have at least a few pairs of tabi that are not worn out and shabby looking. Usually, I wind up finishing a year’s tabi in January or February of the following year. Not this year! Free time and your wife hosting local sewing circles can do that.
These are made from the blue linen I used for the hippari top I made for the field clothing outfit from this past December. They’re sewn entirely by hand, including attaching the himo ties, which I normally do by machine. This was not a decision to be a stickler about it, just that I was sewing these to have some sewing to do while being social, so why not stretch it out a little bit?
These are apparently the eleventh or twelfth pair of tabi I have made for myself. Scary. Maybe the next pair will be impractically fancy. We still have some really nice silk brocade sitting around.
I didn’t manage to get my tabi for last year finished until February of this year, but i’m now way ahead of last year when I didn’t finish my 2018 tabi until more than half way through the year.
The uppers and soles of these tabi are made from the same raw silk I used for this suoh. The ties are made from some green linen I had left over from this hapi that I made so long ago. I did save some time making this pair by just overcasting all four layers (two layers of upper, two layers of sole) together at once instead of sewing the inner and outer layers together separately and then joining them with the himo ties. This leaves a raw edge rubbing against the feet, but hiding this edge between layers is bulkier and actually less traditional. Anyway, as you can see in the photo, I usually wear socks inside my tabi.
Just in case you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about here, tabi aretraditional Japanese footwear. Common tabi are made of two layers of fabric. Modern tabi have closures at the back, but historical tabi close in front and either tie at the top or are tall enough to be held shut by the kyahan. Since they are fabric and you walk on them, they tend to wear out pretty quickly. I try to make a new pair every year so that as old ones fall apart or get too dirty I have new clean ones to take their place. Since they don’t need very much fabric, I usually piece them together from bits of surplus fabric left over from other projects.
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.