Peafowl In Courtship Dance On Bright Red Silk With Peonies And Butterflies.
This restoration was pretty much the smoothest, least complicated restoration I’ve ever done. The stains were mostly things that could be scraped off with a fingernail, and what couldn’t be was wiped away pretty easily. The fabric is in excellent shape, so re-sewing the sleeves back on was a breeze.
Do you ever sew vintage silk while bouncing around in your seat (hahaha it was the floor, I was sitting on the floor) to music, which is my version of dancing? That’s my useless talent! I can do precision work with my hands while moving the rest of me frantically.
Possibly the most obnoxious part of the whole experience was how badly wrinkled this piece was. There are still a few interior places that are a bit crinkly, especially in the lining. I like to try to be very gentle with my steam ironing. Often what I do is I’ll get the hard wrinkles out and then let the kimono hang for a little while. Typically, that’s all that’s needed to handle it, and it’s less risk of any heat damage to the fabric. That said; there’s generally very little risk to the fabric at all as long as you’re not too aggressive with it. Don’t crank the iron to ten, and you’re probably fine. This isn’t a silk barbecue!
Oh yeah, one very…interesting…thing about this restoration is that I started some work while mentally exhausted. As I’ve mentioned in previous entries, I have previously been known to touch my tongue to certain stains to see if I could tell what it was. But this isn’t the year to be doing that, for reasons.
So I broke my temporary “don’t put your tongue on that stain because we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, you goddamn idiot” rule. There was a stain in the inside sleeve that wasn’t responding to treatment. And because I was exhausted and just got over being sick, I took a nice, hydrating swig of Big Dumb Idiot Juice and tapped it on my tongue.
HAHAHA, IT’S OKAY GUYS. IT’S JUST BLOOD.
Knowing that helped me remove it, of course. But seriously, don’t do this. Please don’t lick stains on your kimonos. DO NOT. DO THIS. I attacked it with hydrogen peroxide and micellar water. Boom. Gone. That doesn’t always work with blood, though, so do not take that as a tutorial. Also be very careful about using those two items on bright colours to begin with–always test in an inconspicuous area! Or you’ll be very sad.
Aside from that, it was a lot of mud. Or something kind of like mud. All I needed to do was scrape it off with a fingernail and then kind of collect it up with masking tape and a kneaded eraser. No problem. From there, it was a lot of sewing. If you’ll recall from the introduction blog entry on this piece, both sleeves were hanging off by safety pins and yellow thread.
Since I am the World’s Okayest Seamstress, it’s all better now.
The only place here where I can honestly say I showcased any technical skill, aside from aforementioned flailing, was repairing the fabric wear down at the hem. It wasn’t particularly fragile to handle, meaning the damage was stable. It didn’t crumble in my hands or threaten to widen every time I touched it, so I don’t think it’s technically shattering; I think someone dragged this across the ground one too many times, or otherwise took some sandpaper to it. I don’t know, man. People are weird.
The fabric around the holes was good and sturdy. So I pulled some fabric from deep inside of the seam allowance. Then I popped the seam nearest to the damage and tacked it from behind to reinforce and patch the hole. Stitch her back up, and make some very tiny tacking stitches with identically coloured thread, and you’re golden.
It’s still visible if you’re looking for it. I’ve been able to pull off a near invisible patch here and there in the past, but every situation is different. The difficulty here is that the tone of the silk inside of the seam allowance is a bit brighter than the silk at the hem. It’s not so much dirt as it is exposure, so it’s whatever. I’m not particularly worried about it. But that about covers the restoration bits.
Now let’s talk about the kimono! This is a Taisho era furisode, and it’s a perfect, flaming red. It bears five tsuta (ivy) kamon (family crests) and a gently padded hem, making it highly formal. I suspect, because of the construction, that this is an example of san-mai-gasane, which is a set of three furisode that all have very close to the same pattern, except there is one black, white, and red. So that suggests that somewhere out there, this piece has two sisters.
The sleeves and hem are decorated with big, fluffy botan (peony), and two of the sassiest, angriest looking peafowl you’ve ever seen. I’ve said it before, and I am saying it again: I love how fucking mad they are to be here. Look how PISSED they are. Is there anything more perfect on a wedding dress?