Edo Period Coat Restoration: The Disassembly (Stage 1)

Project 9, part 2 – The Opposite of Rapid Unintended Disassembly (Part 1 here)

It’s so easy to think of antique clothes as being drab. I love the colors here!

Welcome back to the Edo period coat restoration project! My package from Japan arrived this week, and I was able to get started on the disassembly of the donor lining for my coat. I originally intended to disassemble the coat as well, but picking out all the stitches on the silk lining from the secondhand haori I acquired took much longer than anticipated.

Purchased from Shinei as usual, one of my favorite standbys for more recent used garments!

The donor haori is actually super interesting. It was listed as “vintage,” which for Shinei means typically from the 1980s onward, and was only about $10. The description said the fabric was polyester, but I had a feeling from looking at images of the lining that it, at least, was silk. I decided to take a chance on it, and had Zen Market add it to my EMS package full of obi, books, and a lolita dress. 😀

When it arrived, the outer fabric was absolutely polyester. And, look – I have plenty of clothes made of synthetic fibers, and they’re totally comfortable and pleasing to the touch. I am also really against the classism inherent in stating “natural fibers are categorically better than synthetics” – especially since cotton is a terribly unsustainable and environmentally impactful fiber despite its status as “natural.” But holy cow, this polyester was some of the worst, crinkliest, most unpleasant poly that I’ve ever had the misfortune to hold. Fortunately for me, I only wanted the lining, and extra fortunately, I was right about it being silk.

Hand-painted silk. Just look at this!!!

This begs the question – what on earth is this doing in a poly shell? It could be the case that it was originally sold this way – silk lining for comfort and artistic merit, and cheap poly outer shell to keep the cost down. I have no proof, but I really like the alternative scenario I came up with – that this lining was transplanted into the poly haori, just like I’m planning to transplant it into my traveling coat!

I picked this piece specifically because of the theme of the artwork – someone setting off on a long journey, being bid farewell at the bridge as they go. It seemed perfect for a traveling coat, and I’m so glad I correctly identified it from the online images! The silk is very soft and light, and there are two different colors – pale blue in the center for the painting, and then a deeper blue for the sleeve lining.

Pictured: the result of absolutely hours of carefully picking out stitches.

I’m going to be honest – I didn’t even consider the possibility that my donor lining wouldn’t be a perfect fit. Sleeve width and sleeve length can vary wildly from coat to coat – many pieces in my permanent collection certainly do. Lucky me again: it totally works! I left the sleeves attached to the center/back piece during my long disassembly process since sewing silk is enough of a hassle and I don’t need to inflict more reassembly on myself than absolutely necessary! 😉 The layers of cotton and padding between the coat surface and the interior should protect the silk even if I get rained on (which happens quite a bit here in the Pacific Northwest!). Additionally, I’ll be covering the sleeve hems with facings in a harder-wearing fabric, so everything should go together fairly easily once I’m ready to start that process.

The next stage of disassembly will be removing all the passementerie from the coat itself in preparation for cleaning. So join me next time to see if I can successfully find all the hidden paper in my coat before immersing it in water! 😀

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