What’s The Damage? Suspect Internment Shenanigans–The Clown House

Once again I’m over here with an item I bought exclusively because I just had to see the damn thing up close. I’m not saying I’m a glutton for punishment, but that’s because I don’t have to, you’ve been here before. Insane colors? Check. Weird ass tailoring? Check. Almost useless (for my purposes) seller photos? Check aaand check. Offer made and here she be.

Let’s just dive right on in, shall we?

If you were wondering why I called it a clown house–which you most certainly weren’t because the preview image for this entry should have made that pretty goddamn clear–now you know. Do you see the dye work going on here? They really just don’t make them like this anymore.

Oh look! Linda’s still here! She’s gonna help me point out some things, but for the most part I’ll be isolating the weirdness on my own.

Pictured: I’m not paying her enough for this.

Let’s begin with why I suspect internment shenanigans. Primarily, all of the seams are fucky. It’s not that they’re done poorly–they’re actually tailored beautifully. The problem is that the motifs don’t line up at all. Items are cut in half awkwardly, stop abruptly, and that happens pretty much everywhere. The thing to know about kimono like this is that when the bolt was dyed, the designs were made so that they line up in a way that they would appear whole and “seamless” (ba-dum-tiss) when sewn together. So basically, that means that this kimono has been rather severely resized.

You’ll notice two things here. First that yeah, those kusudama (flower balls) have been hacked basically in half. And two that I’m doing the pinchy fingers. You see, this garment was not cut, which leads me to the next oddity. A large seam has been installed across the back panels, but stops at the okumi (frontmost panels). Behold:

See that shit? There’s two interesting things about it. First is that they stopped at the okumi, presumably, because they didn’t want to hack the main skirt motif in half–and the lazy beaver inside of me thinks it would be convenient to do it that way, too, because then they woudn’t have to take the whole damn collar off.

The second thing is that this kind of seam isn’t completely unheard of. You’ll see cross seams on kimono sometimes in the back. But this one is installed upside down. Show ’em, Linda.

Pictured: She has so far failed to unionize. Take your pittance, you fucking horse demon.

The sheer amount of fabric tucked away into seams on this kimono in general is kind of insane. It makes me want to just hand you the damn thing so that you can feel how absurdly heavy it is compared to its visual sizing. You can pick this kimono the same way you pick a good watermelon: is it way too heavy for its size? It’s perfect. And that’s important because watermelons don’t continue to ripen once they’ve been harvested–they just rot.


Anyway. One of my major tasks here is that I’m going to release all of the seam allowance. Sometimes I waffle with syrup about that because I have to wonder about if there’s enough lining fabric to make up for it. When I have severe seam allowance in kimono imported direct from Japan, lining fabric tends to have been hacked–I have no idea why. But the domestic US purchases? Spin the wheel.

This one is not missing any of that sweet, delicious, precious momi (red silk lining).

Pretty much everywhere I go, there’s about 8cm/4in of seam allowance just smashed the fuck in there randomly. Especially and most importantly in the momi, but oddly enough, even on the ends of the already very long sleeves.

Apart from an insane amount of sewing and steaming to remove and replace seams, I also have some stains to remove. I’ll actually probably do that first. There aren’t many and they kinda look like food. They don’t taste like anything, though, and you know I checked.

Thank you, Linda.

Those don’t look like they’re going to give me much trouble at all.

The next thing is going to be kinsai repair because of course there is fucking kinsai repair.

I intend to do the stain removal first, the seam adjustments second, then I’ll work on the kinsai repair. This piece does also have very fine embroidery that does not appear to need repaired, from what I can see.

Now we get to why I suspect internment shenanigans. Well, you see, whenever I see bizarre tailoring choices coming out of the United States in the context of kimono, it raises a red flag. This isn’t to say that similar things wouldn’t be done in Japan right after the war–I just made a whole ass blog entry about that specifically. The thing is that the nature of garment…editing…gets weird when you’re without resources, but the nature of “without resources” changes based upon location. A Nisei Japanese American will probably know how to do a really nice running stitch, but they won’t know that the little seam allowance thingie in the back should face up, because kimono tailoring is a whole-ass thing. If you’re in Japan, even without resources because of wartime insanity, the logic dictates you can probably at least still find a tailor to ask.

And before anyone says what if they were trying to sew in an ohashori (the fold that women wear in kimono just under the obi), I submit to you that I’ve seen a good few dozen of those. They’re not this tight, this high, and if you’re going to sew in an ohashori, you’re not just going to randomly leave out the okumi on purpose. Which is why I think that this kimono was probably sized down for someone it was entirely too large for, and the best they could do was lots of thread and folding. I want to commend them for not hacking off any material.

Desperately trying to preserve what’s there while also making further use of a garment is also an abstract concept that comes out of the internment camps that gets really hard to describe until it’s in your hands enough times to feel it.

Moving on.

I think one of my favorite things about this piece is that as far as contemporary formality standards go, it doesn’t give a single solitary fuck. So knowing that modern kimono people will be wondering how to classify it gives me a special kind of doki doki in my lower kokoro.

I’ll help. As far as formality goes, this kimono is fucking awesome.

It also isn’t quite for me. So this is another piece that will be finished and then go live somewhere else with someone who will love it–unless I decide that ripping hot lines of white lightning off of a clown hooker’s ass is my new aesthetic while I’m working on it, anyway. Yes, I am the best at sentences. You’re welcome.

Let’s talk motifs because you need the whiplash. We’ve got kusudama (the flower ball/bouquets), himo (the long string things), houou (phoenix), jimon (woven pattern into silk), and a new one that is going to make another few appearances in the very near future: tsubodare! This is a fun motif. You see the purple drips going up and down? That’s tsubodare–it’s meant to be the dripping of glaze on pottery. High fucking fashion right there.

Join me in the very near future, as in I’m working on another entry literally simultaneously, that will make me froth at the goddamn mouth because you are not prepared and I was not prepared and none of us were prepared for how insane this is.


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