May 10, 2012

The Aizenkobo Workshop and Dress

What is the best souvenir for a home seamstress when she travels abroad? Fabric, of course!
So when a dream came true and I traveled to Japan last year, I brought some fabric. A very special fabric.
I visited the Aizenkobo indgo dyeing workshop in Kyoto, where Mr. Utsuki dyes mainly cotton fabrics with indigo colors. He uses traditional japanese methods to do so, and there is a lot of handwork and time involved to get those gorgeous patterns on the fabrics.

Here you can see Mr. Utsuki with his indigo barrel:




Even if you cannot see the potential when looking at those barrels, Mr. Utsuki makes the most awesome patterns on fabrics, with very detailed and small lines. The fabrics also have a typical indigo smell which is pleasant, and according to what Mr. Utsuki told me the indigo also keeps the mosquitos away in summer.

So I chose a fabric with a nice pattern, which was a tough job as they were all so beautiful. Just selecting more fabric was not an option, as this was by far the most expensive fabric I've ever bought. And by that I mean not too expensive concerning all the hard work and lots of time that are involved in making such a fabric.



What was also wonderful to see was the old japanese house where the workshop is located. I just love old japanese houses!


So, what did I make up from the precious fabric I bought?



I made a dress, of course, as dresses are my preferred sort of garment, and I made it a summer dress, because the fabric is really perfect for that (remember the mosquito thing) and it will be worn a lot.

Did you notice my japanese shoes to go with it?
Making the dress was quite a challenge, though, for two reasons. First, it was more difficult to find a style that goes well with the diagonal pattern design of the fabric. Second, the fabric is made up as a traditional kimono fabric, which means it is only 39 cm (about 15") wide.
So after lots of thinking I made the bodice with V-stripes from a self-drafted bodice pattern. The skirt is four parts of the fabric sewn together to a rectangle and gathered at the waist. The midriff was necessary because I didn't have enough fabric to cut the whole bodice parts, but I think it is also nice with the horizontal stripes. I ran quite short on fabric, though, so the stripes are not matched on the sides (but who cares?).


I am really happy with this dress, as it is comfortable, easy to wear, perfect for summer and also the best souvenir I could bring from Japan. As you can see, the dress is also great for playing with little nieces!


You can read a good article about the Aizenkobo workshop here: http://www.akasamedia.com/arts-culture/AizenKoboANA.htm. Just in case you are planning a travel to Japan, too!

12 comments:

  1. Just stunning, and such an interesting story! What a special dress.

    strugglesewsastraightseam.wordpress.com

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    1. Thank you so much! Glad you like it :)

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  2. That is a really beautiful dress! I have a couple of rolls of cotton Yukata fabric in my stash, but I never thought of using them for a dress! Hmmm... You may have started something! :)

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    1. Thank you! I was also thinking about a yukata, but it was quite clear to me that it would be rarely worn... Still have a roll of polyester kimono fabric from another shop in Kyoto in my stash and don't know exactly what to do with it (probably a dress again) :)

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  3. I love indigo fabric and this is a very clever use of an interesting print.

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    1. Thank you! I saw your skirt you made from the fabric brought from Ghana. It's even better when you know the person who made the fabric, right?

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  4. Hey thanks for telling us about these wonderful indigo fabrics, I LOVE Japan too and whenever I go there I always bring back loads of fabrics :) The placement part was particularly useful because I'd love to buy some classic yukata fabric but the small width had always prevented me from doing so... Now thanks to your dress I can picture many ways to use it!

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    1. Thank you! I find that the small width is a challenge, I still have two fabrics from Japan in my stash and don't know which pattern to use them with...

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  5. That fabric is amazing, and what a great story behind it!

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  6. great dress, wonderful fabric and well done for finding a way to make it work so well, love it!

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  7. Absolutely beautiful Marie! Oooh, you make me want to go on an exciting trip!

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