Vintage Kimono Fabric Yo-Yo Skirt

cute way to recycle vintage kimono fabric scraps

This pleated skirt was a thrift find that I couldn’t resist. The color is such a dreamy coral and accented with an unexpected wood grain pattern. It gave off a feeling of pastel mori girl the minute I saw it. The trouble? While very long it was 2 sizes too small at the waist. That didn’t put me off as the price, color and charming pleats were all too good. At the time I was very inspired by Grimoire and dolly kei style with its east-meets-west approach to reinventing vintage western clothing.  This skirt was made in Japan so I though maybe a west-meets-east concept would be fun by reversing the style using eastern pieces in dolly way. The challenge was not how to make the skirt fit a larger size but how to decorate it without losing the beautiful pleats. Then the idea came to me… a floating apron… made from kimono scraps. (more…)

Angelic Pretty Toy Fantasy Yukata Obi

angelic pretty toy fantasy and baby the stars shine bright good friend of kumya-chan

I’ve been lucky to get my hands on a couple of brand yukatas in the past few years. I admit they don’t get as much wear as I would like them too, but they are still some of my most prized possessions in my wardrobe. My love for lolita fashion is rivaled only by my love of traditional kimono. Sadly, wa lolita is usually poorly done and covered in the most awful lace; taking ita to a new level. I take this as a personal challenge to try and turn things around. While I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, I am making it a goal to put more wa into my looks this year.

One of my most popular posts of all time is a yukata blouse that I made using a rub off pattern. I never did figure out how to make a PDF pattern for it (sorry interweb friends) but it was an inspiration for this project and see what other ways I could mix both styles. Countless searches for a pre-tied or vintage obi that would match with the Baby, the Stars Shine Bright My Mate Kumya-chan yukata all ended in disappointment. Pre-tied yukata obis looked flat in their solid colors and inexpensive polyester. On the other hand, traditional obi patterns all clashed with the sweetness of the pink print. When these things happen I get stubborn, very stubborn. Time to take matters into my own hands.

DIY Sweet Lolita Obi

toy fantasy skirt border print is used to make the base of the kimono obi

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Saturday Style: Wa-Lolita in the Park

mix and match of various lolita and kimon styles

Want to treat you today with a Saturday Style post – even though it is Sunday. Surprised myself last week when I realized it was my first time attending Japan Day in Central Park. There had always been one conflict or another keeping me from it in the past. Being determined this year, the minute we confirmed attendance, I knew exactly what to wear. In another moment of realization, I was bummed out to think it has been two summers since I made it. According to the metrics for my blog it is my top project post of all time. So here it is back by popular demand – the wa lolita yukata blouse.

Many dear readers have asked for the pattern and I am sorry I’ve had to disappoint. I dream of taking classes at FIT one day to help advance my self-taught skills. Until then, if you know of anyone in the Tri-State area who knows how to create a PDF pattern from a designer’s muslin – PLEASE LET ME KNOW (∗ᵕ̴᷄◡ᵕ̴᷅∗)՞

jane marple paper doll necklace

I’ve said it before, styling wa lolita is tough. It can go really wrong really quickly. In the week before Japan Day I poured over copies of Kimono Hime and Googled Lolita Kimono variations. A Jane Marple necklace of all things was my muse for the look. It has a paper dolly and her dress. The vintage feel and color became my jumping off points. To match the yukata fabric I mixed in a neutral skirt from Fan Plus Friend and a peter pan collar blouse. The orange obi was a Kyoto find during last year’s trip. All that was missing was a statement hair piece.

Wa Lolita Straw Hat

straw boater hat remade into a kitchy kimono accessory

Its been insanely hectic at work so I didn’t really think making something was an option. But thanks to speed and efficiency of hot glue, managed to make a new straw hat to complete the look. The rule of three is something I stick to often. The obi and necklace had orange in them so this hat needed to as well. I pulled some of my favorite scraps of kimono fabric to make circular medallions instead of a traditional hat band. Backed each one using a think interfacing so that the hot glue hopefully will not damage the delicate fabric. From a preservation perspective, given more time, I probably would have sewn them directly to the hat instead of using the glue.

The yukata ume blossoms have been in a drawer for ages. Luckily, a few years back I had a spell where I made hundreds of them, which made this a huge time saver for the project. All I needed to do was add a few orange seed beads to create harmony. Mix in some laces and some faux flowers and Bob’s your uncle. Project complete.

Japan Day

A lot of people had to back out from the meet. The festival falls on Mother’s Day which I am sure was the challenge. But a few of us still found each other amongst the massive crowd. We spent a lovely afternoon chatting away about everyone’s background in the arts. It was the most relaxed afternoon I have had in ages. While I might have graduated from art school 2 decades before the rest we all had a common bond that brought the conversation together. There is even talk of getting together for a sketching meet later this summer. What a charming idea.

relaxing on the hill in central park

Top Right Photo by Adel | Bottom Photo by Lucy

P.S. Apparently my coordinate was a big hit. So many people asked for photos. Found out that a snap of it ended up in a local Japanese paper called the Daily Sun!!

DIY Upcycle: Japanese Lucky Knot Strap / Charm

good luck charm japanese knot from a dassai 23 sake cord

I love being able to make things for my friend who lives in Tokyo. She often travels to NYC on business and when she comes its fun to present her with a small gift. Its inspiring for me to think up new ideas each time; something that isn’t too big or expensive – just a little trinket. Crafter challenge accepted!

For this visit I came up with the idea of recycling the purple cord used to decorate bottles of Dassai sake. The hope was, because she works for Dassai, it would be a more personal gift. I can’t bear to throw the cords out when we open a new bottle and that means I had plenty of them tucked away to play with.

My DIY Materials

asian style knot book and swarovski crystal beads used to diy this strap

Ages ago I bought this book called Asian Knot Style {アジアンノット・スタイル} from the craft section of Kinokuniya. Sadly, every time I attempted one of the knots I failed miserably. I don’t think it has anything to do with the book being in Japanese as the pictures are very clear to follow. Apparently its just some sort of mental malfunction I have when it comes to knots. The gentleman of the house however has no such issue. Bonus prize – he can now officially say that he has “crafted” thanks to this project (*^^*)

My secret weapon for many of my DIYs, especially those with small details, is beading needles. I use them all the time and not just for bead work. They are very thin and long and for me super easy to work with. The only difficulty is threading them. Dang the eye is small!! Well and they can bend easily as another downside so you can’t be as forceful with them like a standard needle. The sharpness and length though is awesome.

japanese success and flower knots with beads on a strap

Its not uncommon to use beads with this style of decorative knots. However the beads are typically ones with large holes and the cord of the knot is slipped through the bead. The book also suggests using a touch of glue to secure the knot. Instead of all that I went for much smaller beads and the thread used to attach them acted as an alternative to the glue.

To make it even more personal I added lettering beads to spell out “Dassai” and her name “Asumi” in pastel colors. This was the big gamble for the project. Most of the other beads were more fancy, like Swarsovski crystals and Japanese glass seed beads. I feared these might look too low brow compared to the others. The use of seed beads between each letter I think helped bridge the gap so that it all harmonized after all.

Color was critical to making it come together as was scale. It took a couple of tries to get the balance right on top to counteract the weight of the beading at the bottom. All-in-all I think it turned out very nice.

Handmade: Vintage Kimono Remade Ouji Style

formal kimono remade into a ouji lolita vest

Just in time for Winter ILD, I finished my second Ouji coordinate for my friend. The first look was a soft ivory color and this is the opposite side of the spectrum in black with a print. The concept was to have something very regal for ILD and my love of kimono inspired me to use a formal kurotomesode {黒留袖} to achieve a royal look. I realize it is a women’s kimono being used for a men’s coordinate but the design and liner nature of the kimono fabric was just a perfect match for my vision and vest pattern. Was exhilarating creating a mash up of two incredible fashion styles together into one.

Working with the kimono silk took some getting used to. This particular one is a stiff silk but it still had a bit of wiggle to it when sewing that I had to watch out for. Definitely a departure from the woven and knits I am used to working with.

details of pocket, tie and rosette from kurutomesode

I am torn between the tricorn hat and the sash as my favorite of the accessories. The lace on the sash was not cheap, but what a dramatic statement it makes. The look wouldn’t be the same without it. To secure the sash I made a rosette from another kimono fabric scrap. In fact I used the reverse side of the fabric since it featured more of the metallic thread for extra sparkle. Conceptually the sash also plays the role that an obi would from kimono fashion. Even thought about using an obi fabric for the sash originally, but this gold lace just was too gorgeous to pass up. And the obi fabric might of been too much kimono reference so probably better this way.

For the shirt and tie I bought two of the same shirts from a discount clothing store. I used the second shirt to make the matching tie. I also hope to alter the shirt cuffs to be more dramatic with the remaining fabric and some lace. Just wasn’t able to finish that in time before the holiday.

The pants are from Fan Plus Friend but I did find an amazing black, cotton twill fabric that I would like to make a similar pair of pants/breeches out of. That way I can match the buttons from the vest on the pants. The FPF version has snaps so I couldn’t swap them out.

japanese sacred treasure award badge on ouji tricorn hat

I bought the tricorn hat from the same company as I did before. The quality is amazing and the fit is perfect. For this one I wanted all the details to be monochromatic except for the medallion. The feathers do have some purple in them but it is subtle. I found a ribbon that has sheer stripes which I though was really pretty to use for the detailing and to compliment the cascade of the feathers.

To pull another Japanese element into the look I found this embroidered medallion on eBay. Its a replica of a Meiji era Sacred Treasure Award. The gold couching in the medallion was a nice match for the gold thread on the kimono print and created continuity.

Well, I hope you like my Kimono Prince coordinate as much as I do!!
Hugs,
Sheri

Geisha Performance @ J-Collabo in Brooklyn

rare chance to see a geisha perform in NY

Finally getting around to catching up on the whirlwind of activity the past 2 months. Today I want to fill you in on a cool Japan culture find in NY. We stumbled upon a brochure for a Geisha performance at J-Collabo in Brooklyn and went to check it out back in early September. So worth it!!

The dance performance was incredible. Geisha Kikuno is simply perfection. Her performance was accompanied by a violinist and a koto player in the rustic converted space of a Brooklyn brownstone basement. Her movements were so soft and fluid. What really left an impression was her mask. She has that way of looking directly at you, eye-to-eye, but it is up to you to read her expression. She looks at you but almost as if through dolls eyes. The dance alone was worth the $20 admission hands down.

traditional japanese craftsman and demonstratons at j-collabo

We also got to enjoy a lovely tea ceremony. Hoping my buddy posts his videos of the dance and tea one of these days! I was asked to join the ceremony as a “guest” on the tatami “room” which made the tea all the more special. The tea master handmade the delicate gelatin-like sweets made to look like flowing water. It was delicious!! Seriously I could have ate everyone’s helping. A thin crunchy exterior and melt in your mouth sweetness just beneath.

handmade wagashi made in seasonal theme for tea ceremony

There were also several vendors from Ishikawa showcasing traditional arts such as kimono yuzen dying and maki-e as well as a modern dance performance and what J-event would be complete without some sake and beer refreshments…

put together a wa lolita yukata coordinate for the event

Summer was drawing to a close but gave us a lovely warm day. That inspired me to try a casual lolita coordinate using accessories made from traditional yukata fabric for a pseudo wa-lolita look. I made the peasant style yukata blouse and cuff bracelet ages ago. The black dress is Baby, the Stars Shine Bright and I reused the ribbons from my previous summer yukata on the dress and in my hair to complete the look.

My coordinate was pretty auspicious it turns out. I had no idea that I would bump into designer Hiromi Onuma who was showcasing her brand Hiro. You may or may not have already come across her work if you follow the international lolita scene. She is part of a long line of kimono fabric manufactures and was recently behind the kaga-loli contest with BSSB and Midori! Midori loved it so much she asked Hiromi to make her a custom kaga dress!

Hiromi is super cute and bubbly to speak with. She was so excited that I wore lolita to the event that she ran to get her laptop and show me all sorts of videos from the Baby fashion show. I really really want to visit her in Japan one day so am adding Ishikawa to my must visit list.

Summary: if you get a chance do, check out one of J-Collabo’s events. They are laid back, culture packed, and at a hip artsy space in Brooklyn. What’s not to love about it.

Fashion Show: Acryl agitt with Matenrou Opera bassist yo

My taste swings to the sweet side of things, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate other J-Fashion styles. Former h.NAOTO chief designer, Daisuke Ichikawa, put on a superb show at AnimeNEXT. Distressed fabrics and tough attitudes along side neko mimi and pearls combined to make what I can only describe as fancy punk. The coordinates for the girls were both pretty and edgy. The guys sported jackets that were tailored perfectly for country club life were it not for the bold spray painted stencil details.

acryl agitt fashion show animenext 2014

acryl agitt matenrou opera yo

Bassist Yo of the visual kei band Matenrou Opera modeled along with many local amateurs. Yo has modeled for Acryl agitt in the past in Japan however this was his first apperance modeling in the US.

acryl agitt runway mens fashion

acryl agitt mens fashion animenext

kitsy acryl agitt fashion show animenext 2014

THE Greatfull Flat Duel Jewel Natsuki

stephanie modeling in acryl agitt fashion show

acryl agitt punk street visual kei fashion

visual kei opera yo bassist acryl agitt

acryl agitt designer daisuke ichikawa

I couldn’t keep count how many coordinates made their way down the catwalk. Truly an impressive number of pieces and models. Not only did the clothing make an impression but the make up was delectable.

Fashion Show: Galaxxxy with Kimura U

AnimeNEXT might be tiny by con standards, but it brings in the talent when it comes to J-Fashion. The convention wasn’t very good at organizing the line to get in or at being prompt about starting on time, but the show was awesome. I debated not going this year but then they announced that Kimura U was going to be the guest model and that sealed the deal.

My beau and I were able to snag not just front row seats, but the two seats right at the end of the catwalk. Couldn’t have been better! So without further ado here are some of the snaps I captured from the show. Hope you enjoy it.

galaxxxy rocks fashion show 2014-summer

kimura u modeling galaxxxy watermelon skirt at animenext

creamy mami papillon rose galaxxxy fashion

galaxxxy star brat see through one piece pastel

Have to pause here. This was my favorite コデ (coordinate.) I love her hair and the pastels. But what I like is that somehow this look is posh, cute, and quirky all at the same time. The silver high heal necklace gives elegance to the look while the high top trainers make it casual. And the Wonder Woman cuff bracelets – awesome!!!

jurassic panic X galaxxxy collaboration 80's pastel

galaxxxy bitchie barbie shorts and sweatshirt

space sick chameleon jacket by galaxxxy

neon duck tank top by galaxxxy tokyo fashion

kimura u kokokim galaxxxy poodle gangs

I love that these shows give local fashion fans the chance to model. At the same time it must be so hard for them. They have little-to-no time to prep and rehearse. I think everyone did a really great job! My only critique is that the amateurs need to take more time in their poses. Its probably just nerves getting the best of them, I did a lot of theater in my youth so know how your heart goes doki-doki on stage. But some of the girls were so fast all I could get was blurs.  Squirel

Remake: Pastel Sailor Moon Luna Jean Jacket

diy sailor moon jean jacket remake

I like so many other die hard fans am jumping for joy at the release of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal this July. Sailor Moon got me through the tedious last days of college and gave me strength when first setting out on my career. While I had seen other anime from Japan this was the first to steal my heart. To celebrate the new release I wanted to make something – anything – to show my support. I opened up my box of Moonie goodies collected over the years and had a brainstorm. What about a decorated jean jacket?

embellish the back with lace and seed beads

sailor moon stars handkerchief diy

Yes, I cut up one of my many Sailor Moon handkerchiefs. I have some fabric but the print just wasn’t right. So I took a very deep breath, placed my ruler carefully following a pattern I made and put the rotary blade down. Swoosh, no going back. Which I am totally cool with because the end result is awesome. The back had such a strong impact with the color of the Luna backpack that the front needed something punchy to create balance.

sailor moon luna stick pin and stars patch

luna cat pink and purple jacket

I think the jacket is still missing something. Have been debating making the sleeves shorter, adding a small red bow below Sailor Moon on the front, and maybe mixing in more beads here and there. I don’t want it to go over the top, but want to push it a little more.

What do you think?

Hello Spring – もしもし春

I'm Back & Inspired

Took the month of March to regroup and to chill. I took a vacation both figuratively and literally. Its been on my mind for awhile about how to better focus my ramblings here. What is this little blog all about? Well, I have some fresh new ideas about that. But before I spill the beans I am going to put my concept through the paces on paper and see if it sticks.

If budget permits, this refresh hopefully will also include a redesign. There is a new WordPress template that has caught my eye but would need a designer’s finishing touches to really make it shine and bring my vision to life. So in the meantime, while those gears continue to turn behind the scenes, makes sense to keep on keeping on.

Inspired in Shibuya

Two glorious weeks in Japan will inspire anyone. However, it only takes one afternoon in Shibuya to get up to speed on what is hot in Tokyo right now. Even just riding the escalator up and down Shibuya 109 will fill you up with more ideas than you can imagine. Saw some perennial spring trends and a few new twists, as well as fresh updates to a few styles popular in recent years.

Zipper’s May edition hit all the highlights I encountered, but to really sink in what piqued my interest sketching seemed the best way to cement things in my memory. I haven’t sketched in years! And to be frank, was never great at it back in Art School {he he he.} Putting pencil to paper takes energy, far more than flipping the pages of a magazine, and so its a great way to capture a moment as well as allow for personal interpretation to sneak in. Regardless, here is what I saw popping on the streets of Tokyo today.

puffy tote bags, petit usagi hairbands, and candy necklaces

Puffy Tote Bags | Cropped Sweatshirts | Sheer Details | Fabric Candy Necklaces

full circle skirts, cherries and floral headbands

Floral Alice Bands | Short Full Circle Skirts | Cherries, Cherries, Cherries

varsity jackets, sailor collars, and gingham everything

Varsity Jackets | Chenille Patches | Sailor Collars | Winged Backpacks |Gingham Everything

floral neko mimi, cardigans with lace, ribbons and cutouts

Cardigans with Lace, Ribbons & Cutouts | Cat Ears Stuffed with Fake Flowers & Lace | Sheer Details

wide suspenders on salopettes and ribbon badges as accessories

Pleated Skirts with Wide Suspenders | Badges Trimmed in Ribbon and Lace

This year’s big surprise was SHORTS! And it is Shibuya, so when I say shorts I mean shorts. Short shorts. The more leg you can show the better. For my own personal taste there was another option.  Shorts that were fuller, that could almost be mistaken for a skirt, and with peak-a-boo lace showing at the hem. OH, and there was lots of denim and overalls too.  Overalls are so much fun. Not the most flattering if you are not a twig, but still so comfy and cute!! Then there are the ski caps. Everywhere and everyone has them. Making them spring worthy the fabric and colors are adapted to give them a lighter feel.

OK, so I didn’t actually see anyone wearing the neko mimi. But there was no way for me to take a picture and I just wish you could have seen it. There was this one shop where the girls deco anything and everything. Hot glue heaven. The mimi were amazing with tulle covering tightly packed roses trimmed out with more flowers and lace. Hu hu. So cute.

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