26 December 2011

Finished Kimono - Part Two

Day Six - 24th December

After yesterdays challenge, I was confident I could get the collar done quickly.  Opps!

First step was attaching the first layer of collar to the kimono body.  In the DVD, the seamstress was able to lie her kimono flat but I had real trouble here.  Then there was the markings that I was suppose to follow, they didn't go as according to plan.  For example, the hemmed edge of the okumi panel was not high enough to be covered by the collar so there is some raw edge poking out.  Not that you will see it because it is on the inside but something to remember!

There was a lot of small things that make attaching the collar tricky but now I have done it, I know how to improve.

First the positioning of the reinforcements needed for the collar.  I sewed them too far away from the seam which means you can see a line of stitching on the outside.

I going to blame this on the book because in the DVD the lady didn't sew them on like the book show me!  

Second more dodgy stitching but this time blind stitch.

Day Seven - 25 December

Nothing!  It was Christmas Day and I wanted to spend the day eating, drinking and watching my husband play games.

Day Eight - 26 December

Finally the sleeves are being attached.  I am not sure if I have followed the markings that I made but did follow the method of sewing so it is accurate enough with construction.

And here is the result.

Fortunately from a distance you can not see the mistakes I made.

And from this distance, the collar looks quite good.

Now I need to buy more fabric and wear this one.

Finished Kimono - Part One

What have I been doing since my last post since 15th December?  Well the fabric that I brought arrived on 19th December and since then I have been busy making my kimono.

This was how the week progressed for me.

Day One - 19th December

Received fabric only to find that they sent me 5 yds rather then 5 ms of fabric.  Lucky I only needed 4.4 metres but it was annoying to receive goods that were not what you paid for.  Anyway there was no point in complaining but the next time I order from them which I might I will mention it.

All I did that day was go through the measurements, cut the fabric into 36 cms wide pieces and marked the body panels ready for sewing.

Day Two - 20th December

Got up a bit late and since I had a Christmas lunch to attend I only managed to sew the two rows of stitching for the back seam.

I said I was going to part machine and part hand sew this kimono but in the end I choose to sew it all by hand because I need the practice and to see how long it would take.

I tell you something, it is not easy sewing long straight and even running stitches.  I tried my method but it takes a long time to sew.  However when I tried the Japanese method it was quicker but harder to create even stitches.  I suppose with a bit more practice I will get the hang of it.

Day Three - 21th December

Taking things slowly, I sewed the horizontal back seams and for some reason I decided to make the sleeves.

The sleeves themselves were easy to make and the only thing that is complicated is the armhole.  I made a template for the kimono curve which was just the curve of a 8cm in diameter circle.  Not the correct curve but I had a used cardboard cylinder that was at hand so I thought why not use this cylinder to create the curve.  Later I will make proper card templates.

Again the problem of sewing straight and even running stitch is still troubling me and it is a running theme.

Day Four - 22th December

Now to tackle the side seams and arm holes on body panel.  

The challenge here was the arm holes because they needed to be as flat as possible to prevent any bulk fabric from showing.  

Also that night I cut out the okumi and collar panels and marked up the okumi panel ready for tomorrow works.

Day Five - 23rd December

I have heard attaching the okumi panels was tricky and although the first part of sewing the hem wasn't too bad, the rest of it was a bit of a pain.

There was a lot of fudging here because I wasn't sure what the diagrams were trying to say and how the markings I made earlier were used.  All I knew was the overall look that needed to be achieved so I went with my intuition here.

I hope it was good though.

Here is some dodgy sewing!

15 December 2011

DIY kimono time!

You may have guessed that I am a kimono fan/addict but I have reached a stalling point in my collection.

In the past I would go onto ebay and find many kimono that I would love to wear however now it is completely different.  Although I am still finding kimono that I would like to own, none of them are ones that I would like to wear.  I do not know what has brought this on but it is for the best because it was a huge drain on my finance.

So how am I am going to resolve this?  Well it is time to complete one of my things on my To-Do list, make a kimono!

I have been talking about this for ages and I have reached the point that I am tired of hearing myself saying it so when my friend went to Japan I asked her to buy me a kimono making book and some kimono making tools.  

This is the book that she got for me.

I have already had the chance to look at this book so I know it contains detailed instructions in constructing a kimono if you can decipher the Japanese measurements.  Which is what I did for the last two days!

I literally I spent the 2 days studying the pictures and re-drawing some of the diagrams so I understood what the markings and measurements are needed.  It appears that there is a lot of preparation in making a kimono because when I watched the DVD, the lady didn't do a lot of measurements once she began to put the kimono together.

However now I am confident that I have all the measurements in my head and I have brought my fabric.  Nothing exciting, just some green polycotton which will make a perfect summer kimono.

Although I think I can wear it if I make a nice warm juban.

Well wish me luck and I will keep you posted!

12 December 2011

Snowflake Kanzashi

A couple of months ago I attended the Something Old Vintage wedding fair in Sheffield and Ruth Coe from Sweet Words Stationary said she would love to have some of my kanzashi in her winter themed photoshoot.

Unfortunately, the photoshoot was on the same day as my exam so I was unable to attend but I sent some winter themed kanzashi for her to use and here is the result!

They are gorgeous are they not?

You can see the rest of the wonderful photographs on Sweet Words blog here.

Kimono de Jack UK meetup in Birmingahm.

Well it is the end of another year and my Kimono de Jack UK friends could not end 2011 without another Christmas meetup in Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas market.

Full of Christmas food, drink and gifts, you can't help but feel festive.

We started off our celebration with a nice mug of hot wine (or hot chocolate).

Well it was a cold day and the drinks certainly helped with the cold.

So bottoms up!

After our little tipple, it was time for a little lunch before heading indoors to the Lost in Lace exhibition at Gas  Hall in Birmingham.

It was full of lovely examples of modern interpretation of lace which was not what I was expecting but none the less very interesting.  Also it was the perfect place to take photos.

Just look at this crystal structure, it looks absolutely stunning and does remind me of a mathematical model but I can't put a name to it at the moment.

Anyway we couldn't stay in there all the time because some of us wanted some desserts.  So off to the Christmas market again.

I have waited a whole year for this treat and being lactose intolerant, I am going to suffer but I can't resist!

Yep it was good!  Really good!  In fact, plate licking good!

But April and I were not the only ones enjoying dessert.  Here is Liz enjoying some healthy fruit.

By this time, our feet were telling us to give them a little break so we stopped off in a coffee shop to relax and look at the latest Kera magazine that Liz brought back from Japan.  I wish I could get these sort of magazines in the UK.

A completely enjoyable day, which I hope we carry on into the future because it is a lot of fun!

Roll on 2012 and next meetup which is planned in Oxford.

1 December 2011

What have I been up to for the last couple of days?

You may be wondering why I have not posted something on my blog?

Well here is the reason!

My friend and I have finally got moving and made our first kimono videos where we show you how to wear kimono on your own.

There is plenty of kitsuke videos but they are either they are in Japanese or do not show you clearly how to do things.  In our videos, we intend to address these two issues.

The first two videos are just plain videos with no subtitles or voices because it seem perfectly clear what we are doing!  They are video on how to tie there Kamifusen or "Paper Balloon" musubi on your own and it is a very cute and comfortable musubi to wear.

Kamifusen Musubi Obi Part One

Kamifusen Musubi Obi Part 2

I hope you enjoy them!

29 November 2011

If I had the opportunity.

On the 23 November at 11.00 GMT, I tuned in to listen to a BBC Four broadcast on "Mastering the Art of Kimono".

The programme is about how the art of making kimono is dying because the artisans who make these wonderful garments do not have anyone to pass on their knowledge and skills and the market for kimono is also shrinking as the younger generation are more attracted to the western fashion.

Kihachi Tabata's family scrapbooks of kimono samples date back five generations. Photo credit: Pam Skinner.
Although I know about the plight that Japan is facing with their kimono and obi industry, it was still interesting to hear the artisans point of view.

And it then got me thinking.................

If I had the time, money and opportunity, would I devote my life to learning one of the many kimono techniques for the sake of it.

My creative side is telling me yes since I love learning new things and if it involves textiles then even better!  Something about learning and developing a particular knowledge set which you love is very appealing.  You are studying the area for the sake of learning and in doing so, you are enriching the lives of people.  This is the reason why we have art and music.  Can you imagine a world where there is nothing creative?  And I do not mean finding tax loopholes for help rich individuals or company to avoid tax.

Unfortunately one has to listen to their sensible side because there are many issues to consider.  First and foremost, my partner, I can't bear the thought of leaving him in the UK all on his own.  I maybe a modern woman and he himself would tell me to pursue my ambitions but we are old fashion when it comes to our relationships.  Wherever one goes, the other follows, that is what we are like so going to Japan on my own would break my heart.

However if money was not the problem then this would not be an issue.  My partner is happily devoting his life to maths and so long as he has maths (and the internet) he is happy.

Then there is the language barrier.  I have never been good at learning new languages, or at least I am good at one element but not the others.  Take French, when I was learning it at secondary school, I wasn't not good at listening or writing it however reading seem to be fine.  I have a feeling with Japanese, I will have the same issue.

All of these things do make me wonder because I love blogging, making kanzashi and kimono dressing.  I really do wake up sometimes like my husband and think "can I do such and such?".  Maybe one day I will be able to realise my dream.

If you are interested in the radio programme and here is the link to the page.


I know if you are in the UK, you can listen to this programme over the internet so if you have the chance please do.

27 November 2011

How to Plan a Wedding - Part Eight - Dear Diary......

Actually come to think about it, this should have been Part Five but my brain was a little tired.

So you thought about the time and venue for ceremony and reception (see what I mean about lists becoming lists!), time to think about what time of the year you want to get married.

Autumn, Spring, Summer or Winter?  What is the best season to get married in?  Is there a best time of year?

Unless your country experiences bad weather at certain time of the year, any time of the year is perfectly fine.  It all depends on what you want to do on your wedding.

Normally spring or summer is associated with outdoor weddings because the days are long and the weather is nice and warm.  Whereas autumn and winter are general considered suitable for indoor weddings.

However this is not a hard and fast rule!

So long as you have suitable clothing and heating, no one said you can't have an outdoor wedding in winter.  Just imagine having a wedding when there is snow on the ground or when the leaves are falling off the trees.  It will make wonderful photos!

Then again, if summer for you and the guest is just too hot to handle but you still want the long days to party then having an indoor wedding would be refreshing indeed.  And if any of your guests wish to enjoy the sun then they can venture out while you keep your cool in the venue.

I think technically, I had an autumn wedding but for some reason (maybe global warming) the weather in October was really nice.  In fact on the actual day, we had lovely sunshine and it was nice and warm throughout the day so I didn't have to worry about getting cold.

26 November 2011

How to Plan a Wedding - Part Seven - Location, Location, Location (Reception)

Hopefully you have an idea of where you would like to have your ceremony and now it is time to think about reception.

Here are a few things that went through my head when I was brainstorming for ideas.

  1. How far away from the ceremony should I go?
  2. What is the maximum and minimum number of guests?
  3. What is the food and drink like?
  4. Is it children friendly?
  5. Are there any local hotels in the vicinity for guests to stay?
  6. Is there adequate parking?
When you are answering these questions, think about the guests you are likely to invite.  It maybe your big day but considering the needs of your guest will make all the difference in how your wedding will be remembered.

Choosing a remote reception where the guests have to drive 20 minutes before trekking another 20 minutes may give you a unique reception but leaving your guest high and dry in the middle of nowhere and with little to eat or drink will not go down well.

This is far too remote!
I remember my mother complaining about one wedding where she really wanted a cup of tea but when she asked for one the staff didn't give her one because the bride and groom didn't think about refreshments after the wedding breakfast.  She does not have a positive memory of this wedding.

25 November 2011

How to Plan a Wedding - Part Six - Location, Location, Location (again)

So we talked about registry offices but if you are planning a non-religious wedding then that is not your only choice.  You can also get married at "Approved Premises" as they are called.

Approved Premises are places that have been granted a licence by the council to hold a marriage ceremony.  Normally these premises are stately homes, hotels or restaurants and most of the time the local council will have a list of such premises.

Here is the list for Southend on Sea


and this one is for Solihull.


As you can see the council website ends up being your friend here.

Then last but not least there are the religious ceremony.

If both of you wish to get married in a place of worship then you probably already have an idea of where you would like to get married.  However if you are like my friend who was a Catholic, she found two Catholic churches she would like to get married in and it was only after a conversation with the Father that she finally made her choice.

When it comes to getting married at a place of worship, it is best to contact the person in charge of marriages at the religious building to see what needs to be done.  The reason for this is that not all places of worship have a licence to hold a marriage and if the place has a licence then they may not have an incumbent (or official) who is able to register the marriage.  For the latter, this is normally resolved by booking a registrar and they will attend your marriage which will be conducted by the minster.

For certain Asian marriages, they would go to the registry office to get their marriage recognise by law and then hold a separate religious ceremony at the place of worship so that their marriage is recognise by their religion.

Remember if you don't understand something.  Don't be afraid to ask or it could end in heart ache.

Tomorrow we will look at receptions!

24 November 2011

How to Plan a Wedding - Part Five - Location, Location, Location.

Now it is time to consider your location.

Do you have an idea of where you would like to get married?

Are you going to have your ceremony and reception in different places or are you opting to have them in the same place?

Now for us we wanted the ceremony and reception at the same place because we didn't like the idea of up-heaving 55 people from one place to another.  Therefore it was logically sound to have them in the same place.  Not to mention the registry office wasn't the most photogenic place to have photos taken and although we had the whole of Essex to choose from, it seemed only appropriate to get married in Southend on Sea because that is where most of our family live.

However that isn't to say all registry offices are ugly.  Here are some example of registry office that will give you the perfect setting for your wedding.

Weybridge Register Office

Langtons Register Office

Dunoon’s Registry Office
I actually can't believe how stunning Dunoon Registry Office looks but this one is in Scotland so I would expect some amazing buildings and landscape.

The most easiest way to find a list of registry offices is to search the Directgov site here.


It not the best but it is a good starting point.

However registry offices are not the only places to get married which you will find out tomorrow!

23 November 2011

How to Plan a Wedding - Part Four - What's the time Mr Wolf?

This can be a tricky question because there are a lot of factors that could affect your decision for the ceremony time.

From Black Country Metalworks 
You can get married anytime in the UK so long as the registrar or the religious official is free but when should you get married.

A morning wedding would suit a couple who are planning a small wedding where it is just you, your partner and some close family members and friends. The advantage of this is that when your ceremony is over, you can head straight to a reception for lunch and them spend the afternoon relaxing. However it does mean you have little time to get ready hence why I said it is suitable for a small wedding.

Then there is the afternoon wedding, this gives you plenty of time to round up your wedding party and get ready in relatively good time. Also if there is any issue that needs to be resolved, at least you have the time to get someone to sort it out. However should you get married before or after lunchtime? Before lunchtime then you will need to organise some sort of light refreshment while the photographs are being taken. Whereas after lunchtime then this is not an issue but then when do you want to serve the wedding breakfast?

Finally the evening wedding or at least before 17.00. This overcomes many of the issues raised in the previous paragraphs however do not be fooled. Even though your wedding is late afternoon, you will not be able to do anything in the morning because you will be preoccupied with you wedding.

Another thing to consider is how long you want your special day to last? If you want to go the whole hog and have the ceremony, wedding breakfast and evening disco then you will probably want to have an early afternoon wedding so you have time for your day to unravel. However this means your guest will have a long day and if you are like me and your guest list is mainly elderly relatives, having such a wedding would be too tiring.

So to summaries!

  • Think what wedding elements you want.
  • Choose a time for the ceremony which will allow you to fulfil your plans.
  • Consider the guests needs.

22 November 2011

How to Plan a Wedding - Part Three - Lists, Lists and Lists!

Now you know what you and your partner wants and also your parents.

Time to pull all this information together and create your first list which will detail what you need for this wedding to become a reality!

Things to think about : -
  1. Ceremony time
  2. Venue
  3. Formality
  4. Budget
  5. Potential guest list
  6. Legal details like marriage notices
Such a small list you may say but believe me from these 6 things you will be potentially creating another list for each one!

Tomorrow I will discuss ceremony time!

Kimono de Jack UK: 19 days left till December meetup at Birmingham!

If any of my followers like kimono then why not meet us up in Birmingham? Register your interest on the facebook event page and we will see you there.

Kimono de Jack UK: 19 days left till December meetup at Birmingham!: Only 19 more sleeps till that last KDJ UK meetup of 2011 so lets make it a fun one! Like last year, we will be visiting Birmingham Chri...

21 November 2011

How to Plan a Wedding - Part Two - Discussion with the parents.

So you both know what you want from the wedding.

I suppose now you need to discuss it with your parents.

Now most parents are more then happy with whatever you want to do for the wedding but this is not always the case.  Maybe your parents would like it to be held at a particular location or maybe they would like to include an activity which is customary in their culture.  For example, my parents wanted a tea ceremony to be performed at the wedding.

Not the set that was used at my wedding but I don't have a picture of it.

Don't get upset by this and don't feel like they are going to take over your day.  It just means you have to accommodate their expectations.

And don't be afraid to mix cultures if you are in an inter-racial relationship.  There is always a way to add elements of one's culture in the big day, whether it is the way the venue is decorated or the food served.  These elements should be embraced on your big day because they will only make it more special and memorable.

So remember listen to what your parents have to say and make a note of what they would like you to do.

20 November 2011

How to plan a Wedding - Part One - Decision making

So what is the secret to planning a stress-free wedding?

Did we follow a magically book which told us how to plan the wedding?

Did we hire a wedding planner?

Maybe I had a moogle to magic me the day?

(Unfortunately the final option was not possible but if only it was, wouldn't it be great!)

Nope the secret is planning.  No really, I'm not joking, if you want anything to go well then planning is the secret and don't be fooled by other people who say it was stressful.  Once you have planned and put everything in place, it should all fall into place.

And despite what people keep throwing at us, never did we panic or worry about our wedding.  In fact, we managed to annoyed people with our relaxed attitude.  However we could afforded to be relaxed because we had planned it to be this way.

Now no matter how spontaneous your wedding is, a degree of planning is needed and before we began to make any lists, budgets or announcing our engagement to our parents, we did the most important thing an engaged couple should do.

We both discussed what we want for the big day!

Yes we sat down and talked about what we would like.  No paper, no computer, nothing!  We just talked about how we both wanted a calm and relaxing day without too much pomp and for the ceremony itself to be as simple as possible.

This discussion proved to us that we both wanted the same thing out of our wedding and setup a nice solid foundation for all our plans.

So why not do the same?  It can be as formal as you want or you can just keep it casual.  How you do it isn't important but rather the outcome of the conversation that is key.

19 November 2011

Wedding all over and finished!

I just looked at the date today and I have already been married a month and still haven't blogged about it.

How forgetful I have been these days.

It was a lovely day and apart from one slight hiccup, everything went according to plan!

The ceremony went smoothly and before my partner and I knew it, we were married!

If you are wondering what I am doing with my hand, I'm doing a maneki neko pose for my kimono friends.

And here we have my lovely husband walking me down the aisle as his wife.  We joked that we should running out of the hotel and hopping onto the first bus into town to avoid socialising but that would have been cruel.

The rest of the day was taking up by a tea ceremony.

and generally mingling around with the guest to make sure they got a chance to talk to us before having a nice three course lunch.

Yes it was a day to remember and now it is all over, it is time to return back into reality.

6 November 2011

Strawberry Kimono: Lyuba's Guide to Starting a Kimono de Jack

As you may have noticed that I am a kimono fan or addict depending on how you see it and part of a kimono group where we create events to wear kimono at and we have lots of fun!

Have you always looks on with envy and wish you had a group nearby?  Well why not start one yourself?  My friend who started the one in UK has written up a guide for starting your very own Kimono de Jack.  It isn't hard at all and all you need is some kimono fans who are interested.

If you are interested then have a read below!

Strawberry Kimono: Lyuba's Guide to Starting a Kimono de Jack: Hello Everyone, Kimono de Jack is taking the world by storm. Well, at least the kimono world. Either way, when it started back in 2010, on...

30 October 2011

Kimono de Jack UK Anniversary

It has been a year already since KDJ UK began!

Where did the time go?  Whatever the time there was only one way to celebrate and that is to visit the same location as we did one year ago which was Trafalgar Square.

Weather prediction said it was going to be a good weather for kimono which is under 20 Celsius and slightly overcast.  However you can never be too careful so we planned for the worse case scenario.

I arrived around noon due to my train and greeting me was the kimono de jack group with a new attendee! Her name is Stephanie and she happen to be visiting London at the same time as our anniversary and couldn't believe her luck that she was able to attend our Kimono de Jack.

After a few photos around Trafalgar Square we got on the bus to Nizumi. We got a little bit confused by the building numbers but we got there and had a lovely lunch!

I had a lovely Tendon.....

while the others had chicken katsu curry, teriyaki salmon, 

teriyaki beef bento box and fried chicken udon noodles.

All our lunches where very nice by the way.

After lunch we slowly walked back to Piccadilly Circus to look at the shops along the way.  We went into the M&M world but was disappointed by the lack of M&M!  :(  However they did have a nice elevator which we had to take a picture of.

After our disappointing discovery we went to our favourite wagashi shop, Minamoto Kitchoan!


They were holding a tea ceremony so we all had tea serve to us.  The lady was quite stern with us but liked the fact that we wore kimono.  She pointed out my mofuku obi but I explained that I understood what the black symbolised but I was dressed for Halloween.

Then off to japan centre so I could buy some onigiri for the journey home.  It was very busy but we fought our way round to get what we wanted.

It was only 16.30 and although my train didn't depart until 18.55, I wanted to get to the station because my feet were tired.  Also everybody else was tired after walking around London.

Our next planned kdj is in December at the Birmingham Christmas Market! November hasn't been scheduled because a lot of us are busy and need to save our pennies for Christmas time but we might organise some local meetups around where we live.  So keep following our facebook or tweets to see what is happening.

7 October 2011

10 days left!

Yep you heard it only 10 days left of being a single girl and the final element of my wedding has arrived in the post.

My purple wedding dress is just as I imagine and when I put it on it was just what I wanted.  Part of me feels that I missed out on the whole wedding dress experience because although I visited a couple of bridal shops, I didn't try on any wedding dresses.  However I think I made the right choice and all that needs to be done now is get it the reception without any incident.  That should be fun!

29 September 2011

Obi for sale

After my little triumphant making of my first tsuke obi I thought wouldn't it be a good idea to make another one for someone else to enjoy!

Well here it is!

Like before it is reversible so you can alternate how you wish to wear the colours and at the front you can twist your obi to create interesting contrasts.

As it is a tsuke obi, it has been designed for the single fold otaiko.

However I have made it long enough so you actually create a double fold otaiko as well.

And if that is not enough, you can even tie tsunodashi musubi for a more casual look.

You can even create otaiko variations if you like.  As I have only used a heavy weight interface to line the obi, you can tuck the tesaki part towards to back and create a different otaiko musubi look.

This wonderful handmade obi can be yours for £30 (not including postage).

I hope to find other materials to make more obi because they are a lot of fun to make.

28 September 2011

Custom kanzashi order.

There is nothing better then creating a kanzashi for a bride and last week a bride contacted me to ask me to create a kanzashi for her special day!

Cherry Blossom was her chosen kanzashi however she wanted it completely white!

I couldn't disappoint her so here is the same kanzashi in white.

I have to say it is lovely but I'm bias ;)