Planning the kimono

Now that I’ve gotten obsessive jam-making out of my system, it’s time to get back to work, this time on the phoenix kimono. I’ve still got five months before the Convergence Fashion Show entry deadline, which is probably (barely) enough time to get it done.

As you may recall, my working design looked like this:

Phoenix Rising kimono, back

Phoenix Rising kimono, back

…and I have no clue what to do with the front. I’m also not sure exactly how a kimono is shaped – I know it’s mostly rectangular bits, but there is probably some more complicated stuff at the neckline. And then I need to figure out the correct width for the panels.

After that, I need to think about the patterning for the garment. The phoenixes feel stiff and regimented, and I’d like to have more movement in the piece. John Marshall showed me some Japanese embroidery techniques that may help with that, and I’m considering beading it as well. That way there will be some glitter as the wearer walks.

So here are my outstanding design questions at the moment:

  • How is the garment cut? What are the dimensions of the panels?
  • How is the garment constructed? What will be visible in the front/back?
  • Can I  get the visual design to work?
    • Can I get the intense color contrast I’m after at the top, given that I’ll be crossing yellow with scarlet?
    • Can I add enough motion to the phoenixes to make them interesting, even though they are in rigid order?

These are non-trivial questions and I expect the answers to require significant work. I think the first order of business is to establish the basic cut of the garment, because it has such a profound impact on the visual design. Which means making a muslin.

Simultaneously, I can start weaving some samples to answer the simplest of the design questions. This will require considerable planning. I need to answer these questions before I can make the sample:

  • What materials do I want to use to make the cloth? (I plan to try at least four or five yarns.)
  • Which of my seven or eight drafts do I want to use?
  • Do I want to test the use of color gradients as well as the cloth construction?
  • How wide and how long should I make the sample warp?
  • …and many more.

I’m percolating the ideas through my head –  there are a lot of questions to answer, so I need to give them a day or two to settle. Then I’ll be better able to design an efficient sample. Hopefully it will answer my questions!

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  1. l h brandt
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    John Marshall has a great book on making your own Japanese Clothing – will answer your construction questions; he’s the best!

  2. Posted September 4, 2013 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Tien, I think you said in an earlier post that you got the book from John Marshall. It can give you the answers to your construction questions. I have not made the garment yet, but I found the instructions quite clear, especially how to shape the neckline

  3. Sharon
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    A kimono should be a good fit for your loom, since they are made from narrow widths of fabric. I made one years ago, by copying a kimono I’d been given from Japan. One thing to watch for is how thick and stiff the colar is. Enough but not too much. You will probably have to sample that. The red stripes look good in your plan, but I wonder if they will fall correctly on your shoulders.

  4. Posted September 4, 2013 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    How would your planned fabric hang on the bias? Just wondering if bias shaping, along with some creative angles, could give you the motion you are after.

    Another idea might be to add the beading at random or semi-random (rather than in an obvious order) so that it gets movement with walking.

  5. Marta
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Your design looks good and I like the previous comments. Probably you should make a muslin and try it on. I guess that you are going to do that without my suggestion. The red stripes should be included in the muslin.

  6. Posted September 4, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the comments, everyone! I do have a copy of John Marshall’s book (John was generous enough to gift me with a copy), so I will consult that before proceeding.

    And I had not thought of setting the fabric on the bias! I would need to underline it with silk organza to prevent stretching (need to check whether that would work), but it’s an idea worth pursuing. I may incorporate the idea into some early muslins/simulations. It would definitely add motion to the piece.

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