September 29, 2013

Shichi-go-san, Kimono sleeves

I have begun working on my son's kimono for Shichi-go-san! I have completed sewing the sleeves. Again, I took pictures of the progress. While I have done repairs and alterations to awase kimono, this is the first time I've completely made an awase kimono from scratch. I was concerned that it may be difficult to figure out with the lining, but the sleeves actually turned out really really well! I am pleasantly surprised that it wasn't as scary of an undertaking as feared. The only challenge I face is that I am using western fabrics that fray really badly, you will see in my pictures.

Again, this isn't much of a tutorial, but I did want to share how I did things, for any who are curious or planning to take on a similar challenge of sewing a kimono. It is a nitty-gritty description, not a full tutorial by any means. Typically, all of the markings of where to sew are done prior to sewing, using a special iron with a flat tip. I do have a Japanese iron that is used in silk flower making that has removable shaped tips which is perfect for this task, but it is in storage, so I opted for my usual method of measuring for each step and marking with pins. I will not be including measurements, sizes can vary greatly, and this is a child's kimono, so I encourage using an existing kimono for sizing reference. Okay, on to the progress photos!

1. Sode-guchi, 袖口
The sode-guchi is the wrist opening. I used a light weight polyester for the lining, since the kimono fabric is heavy. I didn't want to add too much weight. The material for the edge of the sode-guchi is a pale mustard crepe, a little longer than the intended sleeve opening. It is sewn on by hand along three sides.

Next, put the sleeve and lining pieces right sides together, and sew (I used sewing machine) the sode-guchi together, only as long as the desired sode-guchi length, backstitch the ends to secure the stitching.

Turn and press.

I love the contrast at the sleeves and hem, so I like to press with a decent amount of the lining showing.

Next, I tacked the ends of the sleeve opening together.
Fold the wrist opening, right sides together, and do a couple securing stitches in the two halves of kimono fabric, right where the end of the previous sewing ends.

Then do the same for the lining. Secure and cut the thread (unless you are sewing by hand, and plan to use the thread for the next steps).

2. Sode-shita, 袖下
Next, is sewing the front and bottom seams of the sleeves. The outer fabric and lining are sewn at the same time. To do this, the seam allowance directly below the tacked sode-guchi opening may need to be fussed with a little bit.

Sorry, blurry picture. Turn the lining out and lay it flat on top of outer half, both folding right sides together. The way it is turned now, you will have two shoulder folds, one each for outer and lining. I put temporary pins along the shoulder folds, to make sure everything stayed nice and even while I pinned the front and bottom raw edges. This is were the "fuss" part comes in - the seam allowance of one side of each lining and outer halves will be pulled back on itself directly below where the wrist opening is tacked, due to how it is folded over. It wasn't difficult for me to push as much of the seam allowance flat, and secured with a pin, but it may help to iron it if the fabric doesn't cooperate. So long as all 4 layers are sewn through, it will be okay. IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure to fold the second sleeve in the opposite direction, so that the two sleeves are mirrored. The difference may not be apparent, but when the sleeves are eventually attached to the kimono body, it is important which direction the seam allowances are pressed.

Like I said, my fabric frays A LOT! I marked my curve lightly with pencil, but you can also do your markings with a flat head iron (mine is in storage) or other marking method that doesn't leave marks. This is for personal use, so I don't mind using very light pencil.

Sew the front and bottom, minding the curve starting from the end of the stitching of the sode-guchi. I used sewing machine again for this step. Along the bottom seam, do not sew all the way to the end. Stop far enough from the end to leave room for folding in the hem of the back opening of the sleeves, and backstitch to secure those stitches (so if you fold under a 1 inch seam allowance for the back sleeve opening hem, stop at least 2 inches or more from the raw edge to accommodate the next step. Stopping halfway across the bottom seam should be a safe bet.). Then put together the remaining length of the bottom hems, lining and outer fabric separately, and sew the remaining length independently. I forgot to get a picture, but the best I can describe it is, the bottom seam will diverge, sort of like little legs, or the kanji for person, hito: 人, with lining and outer fabric being the two "legs".

Don't turn it right side out yet, but when you do, it'll look a little like this, minus the pins and turned under hem, as I was preparing for the next step in this picture.

Next, is the curve. Sew a couple of running stitches along the outside of the sewn curve, pull taught while forming over sleeve curve template (you can purchase one made of plastic, or use a cardboard cutout), and secure. Press all of the seam allowances over, 2mm past the sewing line. This will help form the kise - Kise is difficult to explain in English. If you look at a kimono, all of the seams are not pressed flat directly at the stitching, there is an extra amount of fold over, called kise. It is important as it hides the stitching and also reduces the amount of stress that is put on the stitching.

Turn everything right side out and give it a good press.

Inside of the sode-guchi. It looks really good! This is children's size, so the opening is really small.

3. Furi-guchi, 振り口
Only thing left to sew on the sleeves is the furi-guchi, the back opening. This is sewn by hand sewing.

Fold under and press the furi-guchi hems, pin and press well - I folded under the hem of the outside first, pinned and pressed just the outside, then I folded under the lining about 2mm more, pinned it to the outside and pressed lining and outside together. Mark the end of the furi-guchi, where the sleeve will eventually be attached to the body, with the last of the pins. Making sure both sides are even, sew the lining carefully. I tried to search for an explanation of the hand stitching used, but I'm not having much luck. There are tutorials of hand stitching used for kimono sewing, I will try to link to later, but the best I can describe at the moment is that you sew through the folded under seam allowance being careful to not sew through the outside layers. It does take practice! I like to begin sewing from the bottom seam and work my way up, one side at a time, that way the bottom doesn't risk coming out uneven.

Finished furi-guchi, pressed. At this point I carefully reached inside and trimmed up as much frayed threads as I could.

Two finished child kimono sleeves! My fabric is staying nicely pressed, but I will probably sew some basting threads along the seam and hems to make sure everything stays nice and flat.

Next I need to sew a kimono to attach them to! I will probably take a few days off before I start, as I'm recovering from a bad allergy attack I had yesterday (dust, I did some fall cleaning chores and ended up sneezing away my voice!). I'm impressed with how well it's turning out! I know I've always been intimidated to try sewing an awase kimono, but so far it is going great! I encourage my sewing friends to also try sewing awase kimono someday!

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