Meiji Era Kimono Restoration: The Mending

Project 1, part 3 – Pinning, Mending, and Musing (part 1, part 2 here)

The tanchozuru, or red-crowned crane, is a symbol of longevity. The pines symbolize vitality and strength.

I’m back for part 3 of the Meiji Era kimono restoration project to cover the actual mending process! I spent approximately 1 hour pinning things into place in advance of sewing – I’ve found that I am far more excited to sit down to a project if it’s in a “ready to go” state as opposed to having to start my sewing session by cutting patterns, pinning, or other “prep” work. I had already pinned all the loose seams, and just had to add the cut and pressed piece of replacement silk lining.

I’ve not yet joined the cult of basting, so for now pinning does just fine for me!
Securing the lining to the outer sleeve material without it showing on the front took a lot of patience!
The original lining was also loose inside, and needed to be repaired as well as attached to the outer sleeve material.
No one is perfect…I failed to catch the outer sleeve fabric, and had to remove and redo a solid 8″ of stitching. Oops!
Finally, the entire outer seam of the damaged sleeve was repaired!

This part of the mending process took approximately four hours; it was very relaxing! I’ve found that I love taking photographs during my sewing time – it keeps me from crunching up too long in the same position, as I have to stand to get my camera, so I take the opportunity to stretch, drink water, and change podcasts if need be. I do need to remember to keep my notebook nearby to jot down notes, however!

The replacement lining silk definitely isn’t a perfect match. The weave is smoother (possibly machine-woven, as opposed to hand-woven?), and finer, and the color is more toward the red end of the spectrum whereas the original lining has a more orange tint. It’s possible that I will keep searching for either loose antique fabric, or a damaged kimono of the same era that could provide “donor” lining, but for me it’s more crucial that I get this garment structurally sound and wearable than that I get a perfect color match or exact historical authenticity. That’s a personal decision – every person who does historical costuming or restoration has to make their own! This is the right choice for me, as someone who aims to wear all their vintage/antique clothes, but I would never judge someone who preferred a different mode of restoration. I hope all types of sewers and historical enthusiasts feel welcome here!

One last bout of pinning…

After four hours I was starting to lose focus, so I decided to call it a day once I finished mending the outer edges of the sleeve. I pinned the replacement lining fully into place so that I’ll be all ready to go – I just need to sew that, mend the hem and collar, and sew some snaps into the collar to make it easier to secure the eri-shin (collar stiffener) when dressing. So join me next time when I will finish the project and preview the beautiful antique obi I’ve chosen to pair with this for the full outfit!

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