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.
Kingdom coronation was held virtually this weekend, so we got dressed up at home for the teleconference. Here’s a comparison of the gentleman in the “Nenbutsu Gathering” scroll with me in my daimon hitatare.
The scroll doesn’t show them, but most hitatare I have seen are embellished with little knots called kotsuyu . I’ve made these in the past for my green hitatare and for Sir Morgen’s daimon hitatare. I want to get some pictures of me wearing the daimon before I add braids, so that it matches the scroll, but I do eventually want to add braids. To that end, I spent a few days making braids.
All of the braids are made from sixteen ends on black laceweight silk yarn per tama, and are simple 8-tama round edo yatsu braids. The pile at the bottom is 9 15-inch braids to make the kotsuyu knots, 5 for the hitatare and 4 for the hakama. The 2 braids with looped ends are for the munahimo chest ties at the front of the hitatare. The two very small knots are for the vestigal sodetsuyu sleeve knots at the bottom of the sleeve ends.
A while back (more than a year ago, probably) I was browsing the online collections of the Metropolitan Museum of art, and I found a hanging scroll called “A Nenbutsu Gathering at Ichiya, Kyoto“, which is an excerpt from the “Illustrated Biography of the Monk Ippen and His Disciple Ta’a”.
Now, I am not a big fan of the Pure Land Buddhism favored by Ippen, but I was instantly drawn to a figure in the middle foreground. Not only is he wearing a bright-colored hitatare, it’s a daimon hitatare decorated with a triple-hexagon motif (my registered badge is hexagonal), and I look kind of like him with a beard and narrow stature.
This has been the reason for me buying bright orange linen at Pennsic, me learning to carve wooden printing blocks, and me spending hours practicing printing and actually printing yards and yards of fabric.
Behold, my daimon hitatare:
The outfit still needs some finishing touches, but I am so happy with the way main construction went on this garment that I thought I would post some photos. I still need to make a samurai eboshi hat, and a fan if I want to complete my recreation of this guy from the painting. I am torn about adding the kotsuyu and sodetsuyu knots to the garment. I know they should be there to make a proper daimon hitatare, but they are not visible in the painting.
Spent the last two days prepping fabric and planning, and spent the whole morning block-printing some fabric.
Now, every available surface in my office is draped with fabric. There’s very little bleed through the fabric, and the printing is actually thin enough that it does not run or drip, and dries quickly. I used Jacquard “Textile Color” with “Air Fix” additive. Even so, I will probably spend tomorrow heat setting with an iron just in case.
All in all, I did almost 100 impressions of the badge today, and another dozen or so impressions while testing. This is all from just one of those little 2.25 fluid ounce jars of paint. There’s still some paint left, too.
First complete garment from block-printed fabric is this kataginu vest. I have a much larger project I’m working on, but this garment enabled me to do a batch of test prints like the one I posted the other day. Later, I was able to make a garment from some of the tests.
It’s really super difficult to get all the wrinkles out of linen this thick. It’s great stuff, going to make awesome garb, but wrinkly. The printing came out good. I had to print back mon on both pieces before sewing, because printing across the seam with allowances on the inside would not have worked as smoothly.
Recent experiments applying the mon of Clan Yama Kaminari to fabric have demonstrated to me that I am most happy with machine embroidered versions. They are durable, attractive, and can be made by a robot. This last is handiest because I want to embark on a project to make probably several dozen of these so that when we do something like march in a festival parade or rocess into court as a group, we can have a uniform look. Here are two prototypes I made over the last few days.
Even with a robot to do all of the embellishment work, it’s still labor intensive to get the fabric loaded onto the machine just right to get good results exactly where you want them. It also takes about ten minutes to complete each mon, so that’s going to be a lot of time if we make a whole bunch of these.
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.