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.
Way back in 2012, I made a regular size karabitsu entirely by hand from cypress 1×12. I developed a set of ratios that enabled me to design a karabitsu based on the width of the wood. The length of the lid is twice the width of the wood, and so on down. Later, I made a small karabitsu out of cypress 1×10, using the same ratios. I decided to make a pair of even smaller karabitsu out of cypress 1×8, planing the wood down to half-inch thickness because I had purchased a planer. I cut all the pieces to length, and started cutting the joinery, but then life intervened. The pieces sat in a box next to my workbench for at least a year. Then we moved. Then the peces sat in a box on my workbench for four years. It was time to complete this project and get these dang things off my workbench.
I cut all the joinery by hand, but I quickly gave up on doing everything by hand. I used a band saw to cut the legs, a router to shape the legs, a sander to smooth out the boxes, and a drill to make holes for the pegs that secure everything. I did decide to use rice paste to assemble the boxes instead of using modern wood glue. I used more hand-mixed blonde shellac for the finish, and now finally these are done.
Here’s an image showing all four karabitsu stacked up, so you can compare sizes:
I don’t know quite what use I had in mind for these when I started them. They might be useful for carrying one person’s worth of fest gear or something. I’ll have to make some braids for them. At least with two of them, they can balance at either ends of a carrying pole.
Last Pennsic, a friend asked me if I could make a shogi for her like the ones I have made for us. I said yes, because I had some things I wanted to try. I tried out a new method for the leg joinery, and a new method for sewing the seat fabric, earlier this year. I bought some new hinge hardware back before the virus shutdown, so it was time to get cracking. I started in earnest a few days ago, and I finished it up today.
Now, if we ever have another SCA event, this stool is ready. If you zoom in on the picture, you can see that I used the same wedged through-tenons with curved shoulders that I used on the previous shogi. The only real difference is that I bought some connector bolts to use as the pivot hinges where the legs cross. There is also a bronze bushing in there to make sure the hinge works smoothly. All this special hardware was a little pricey, but I think it will be worth it in the long run, and even thought the hexagonal recesses in the bolt heads look a little modern, I think the hardware gives the completed stool a much more finished look.
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.
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.
When you are recognized for your achievements in the SCA, you are typically inducted into an order, and you receive both a scroll and a piece of regalia. Usually, the regalia is a medallion or belt favor that displays the heraldry of the order. Making belt favors is one of the main uses to which I put my embroidery machine. I’ve designed stitch patterns for most of the kingdom orders, and try to set aside some time and resources each year to make some for donation.
New for this batch is the Gage. The symbol of this order is actually a black glove, and the regalia given is often an actual glove, but I figured someone might prefer a belt favor.
I want to make a daimon hitatare to imitate one that I saw in a scroll. This will be so awesome, but I need a way to print my badge (which is a graphical device registered with the SCA’s College of Arms) dozens of times on the fabric I bought for this project. After months of noodling on the idea, and about a week of carving and re-carving, here is the block itself, ready for block printing.
I’ve tried it out on some crap fabric, and I’m pretty happy with the results of my tests. next up is to start cutting fabric into panels, and start printing with blocks. It’s interesting that although some paint does get into the detail grooves of the craving, that ink doesn’t reach the fabric.
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.