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Rescued Embroidery

Bring new life to vintage kimono details.

Threads #201, Feb./Mar. 2019
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The allure of vintage kimono embroidery is reborn when the embellishment is appliquéd onto a contemporary garment. I lived in Japan for a time and fell in love with the aesthetic, salvaging kimono embroideries. This blend of old and new, delicate and sturdy produces clothes of unusual beauty. Embellish handmade garments or use a suitable ready-to-wear “blank” garment. The main requirements for using this technique are: Choose a piece that is simple, stylish, and flattering; and avoid fussy details and prominent darts, which can affect the shaping of the embroidery. Most medium-weight fabrics are suitable choices, even stable double knits. I’ll describe some kimono types and typical embroidery motifs, then explain how to harvest embroideries. The most difficult part of designing may be taking the kimono apart and cutting out the embroideries. It may feel disrespectful, but designing with vintage kimono has a long history. Renowned Japanese fashion designer Hanae Mori began her international career by repurposing kimono after World War II. You are giving vintage kimono new life instead of leaving them to age in storage. With this project comes an appreciation of the extraordinary quality of kimono—to create with, to wear, and to love.  

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