Artificial Intelligence, Creativity, and Intellectual Property Rights in Fashion and Art

Bibliotheca May 2023 – Royalty: The Courts of Hell Enforce Copyright Law

This is gonna be a long one, so please enjoy some fashionable suffering presided over by Enma, King of Hell (triptych “The Fever” by Yoshitoshi, one of my favorite woodblock print artists. From Wikimedia Commons.)

Welcome back to Mukashi no Sewing! This month’s theme for the Bay Area Kei Bibliotheca blog circle is “Royalty.” Originally I intended to write about how denizens of Hell were depicted in Chinese and Japanese art (with a little weirdness thrown in from medieval grimoires of the West), but I hope you don’t mind if I sidestep into “royalties” instead so I can talk about generative AI, creativity and culture, and intellectual property because – spoiler – basically infernal denizens just dress like the people depicting them. So there wasn’t much to write about there – but I promise I’ll still include some delightful Hellish artwork in this post! ❤

Like, just look at this guy. Malphas, second in command after Satan in some grimoires, and also just a regular dude who needs to get back to his gardening. (Artwork by Louis de Breton, 1863, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Let’s start off with intellectual property and counterfeiting in fashion, shall we? I live in the US, so I consulted the US Immigrations and Customs enforcement site, which states “The production and trafficking of counterfeit goods poses a significant health and safety threat to consumers. It also impacts the economic growth of legitimate businesses and consumers through lost revenue, downtime, and replacement costs.” Estimated at between 3.5 and 7% of global trade (at least $600 billion USD annually), fashion counterfeits seem harmless – a way to get luxury brand style at bargain basement prices – but not when you consider the bigger picture. Setting aside claims that counterfeiting funds terrorism (it probably contributes, but also probably that contribution is overstated to serve political ends), it’s equally as important to think about just how those low prices are achieved. Exploitative working conditions, substandard materials and construction, and environmental damage to developing nations are all standards of how both fast fashion and counterfeiting operations manufacture their goods at appealing price points.

Yue Fei and Qin Hui discussing the economic impact of counterfeiting, probably. (From Wikimedia Commons)

I’d like to argue that there’s an even bigger cost to counterfeiting fashion, however; and it’s the poisoning of the well of creative endeavor. Gucci will keep putting out bags no matter how many shady vendors on the streets of New York sell their fakes, but independent creators can’t afford the financial and emotional toll that art theft takes. Prada can afford a legal team to fight their battles, but one-person creatives often simply give up in the face of their designs being stolen.

 “I actually had to take a break… I’m not sure if I’ll ever start (my business) back up again and a very big part of that is what happened with Shein,” Florentine Röell explains. The 22-year-old, who lives between Brussels and London, started crocheting “useful items” to relax, but that changed as she began to post her creations on TikTok and gained attention…

Röell’s designs are feminine, cosy, and eclectic, a reflection of the joy that crocheting brought into her life. Though when she discovered that Shein had stolen two designs – one of which she hadn’t even had a chance herself to produce or sell – that was the last straw. “This whole thing with Shein has totally taken all my will to produce and show people my work,” she laments. “I never know if someone will just rip it off and make money off my creative abilities – I’m just so tired and so discouraged.”

From “How Shein got away with daylight robbery in 2021” by Kish Lal on Dazed
Enma, King of Hell and Jigoku Dayu almost certainly having a rational discussion about how to stay motivated at work (from Wikimedia Commons)

This corrosive aspect of intellectual property theft brings me, then, to the latest weapon in the war of capitalism versus creativity – generative AI.

If you’re not familiar with it, generative AI is an artificial intelligence that produces what looks like creative output – pictures, writing, songs, etc – based on “training” it has received. That training, currently, is based on the collective work of artists, writers, and musicians that exists on the internet. An AI is fed this data, and then given feedback from humans or software rules that tell it how to interpret it, and then how to produce its own approximations. (Here’s a really good layperson’s overview of the different types of AIs and their training methods, if you’re interested!) Does this sound a little like intellectual property theft? Yeah, that’s because it totally is.

Need a break? Here’s an exploration of one of the most incredible modern artistic creations I’ve seen in a while: a video game mod based on Mark Danielewski’s epic novel House of Leaves. This is artistic influence/derivation done in the best possible way! I know it’s nearly 2 hours long, and I’m recommending it anyway. Both PowerPak’s video and the mod itself are works of staggering genius.

The people whose work has been used to train the largest generative AI models have not been compensated for their inclusion. Even the Getty has commenced legal proceedings over their copyrighted work being stolen. And, just like with fashion counterfeiting, art theft doesn’t just impact the ability of creatives to make a living; it attacks our shared culture and the human connection created by art.

AI generation, whether text, voice, or imagery, can produce nothing on its own; it can only take what you and countless other humans have created, and combine it all into a shape dictated by random chance. It does so without contributing a single new thing of its own to the mix, so at its core, it’s more than a form of intellectual theft; it’s the theft of intelligence and creativity itself.

Human culture, for better or worse, is something we’ve earned and have a right, as humans, to participate in and foster. But the proliferation of generative AI content will all but cut off any avenue for genuine human creativity and thought to develop in a meaningful, constructive way. 

From “Generative AI is stealing the valor of human intelligence” by John Loeffler on TechRadar

Fake creativity – whether we call it counterfeiting or artificial intelligence – is against everything we should stand for as human beings. Buying replica lolita dresses is wrong – not only because it takes money away from creators, but because it demeans the value of their original creative work and reduces it to a lowest-bidder dollar amount. Scraping Archive of Our Own to train an AI on how to write stories belittles the passion and real emotion that people in fandoms put into their work and the connections they make because of it. Using Stable Diffusion to mimic an artist’s style not only destroys their livelihood but diminishes their contribution to the record humanity’s existence. Artistic endeavor is one of the few triumphs of our species – it should be celebrated and protected, not reduced to a casualty of capitalism and technology.

Jigoku Dayu (the Hell Courtesan), making another appearance in a kimono that I would absolutely LOVE to wear. Can you even IMAGINE? (From the Met, by Utagawa Kunisada II 二代歌川国貞)

How can you help? Discontinue or avoid the use of generative AI whenever possible, don’t buy counterfeits or replicas, and support independent artists and creators as much as you can. Fund programs like Glaze that protect artists from further theft of their work and pressure lawmakers to regulate use of generative AI and to protect copyrighted works. Visit and support museums of all kinds! Create something yourself, if you’re so inclined, and share creative works you love so that others can fall in love with them too and so the creators can see that it’s worthwhile to continue creating. And of course, please do subscribe below to get a notification each week about my latest post! 🙂 Thank you so much for reading this long and heartfelt essay, and I look forward to seeing you next week here on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

Check out what other members of Bibliotheca had to say about this month’s topic!
Cupcakes and Unicorns spreads the word of Queen Cat
Kelp has a successful dessert experience with Royal Purin!
frillSquid discusses punk lolita, crowns on clothes, and the legacy of imperialism

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Yagasuri Quilt: The Cutting

Project 17, part 2 – Plural Polygons (Part 1 here)

I’m still not tired of this fabric which is good since I’ll be spending a lot of time with it in coming weeks!

Welcome back to the yagasuri quilt project! This week I managed to get all the rhombuses and triangles cut that make up the pattern. Quilting is a lot like baking – if there’s a good recipe available then anyone can do it, but you have to be willing to prep everything in advance and follow the instructions precisely. I love baking because of the precision involved, so I quickly got into the swing of things with prepping my quilt chunks!

Thank you again for the rotary cutter and the cutting square, Aunt Susie! SUPER helpful for this project! ❤

The first step was cutting shorter strips from the longer strips in the jelly roll. I’m already off-page from my recipe here because Becky’s pattern calls for wider strips, but my aunt used a jelly roll so by golly I can figure it out too. 😀

Investing in a new, big cutting mat with angled lines marked was a big brain move. Nice job, Past Self!

After that, the purple, green and white strips had to be cut into rhombuses (rhombi? rhomben? Seriously what’s the correct plural here?), which was made WAY easier by the pre-marked lines on my cutting mat.

As an aside, did you know there’s a whole Japanese quilting museum!? It’s called the Izumo Museum of Quilt Art and now I really want to go next time I’m in Japan. There is a long history of patchwork and quilting in Japan and the Japanese artists who are quilting today are doing some incredible stuff. I’m way down here in the scrub leagues (and my focus is on clothing!), but it’s super cool to see what people at the top of their game are producing!

At last! Beautiful stacks of quilt components!

I just put on some music and sliced away, and before I knew it I had a set of rhomboids ready for action! Next time I get to do the hard part…figuring out how to arrange all these in a pleasing pattern… If you enjoyed reading this please subscribe below to get a notification each week about my latest post — I look forward to seeing you next week for more fashion, history, and crafts here on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

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Yagasuri Quilt: The Beginning

Project 17, part 1 – Look I Just Really Like This Fabric, Ok??

The lens cap is there on purpose to hide the year the quilt was sewn… LOL

Welcome back to Mukashi no Sewing! This week I started a new sewing project – and it’s a quilt! I literally haven’t sewn a quilt since I was in 4-H back when I was in elementary/middle school, so I felt like I might be overdue. 😀 (Kind of amazed I still have it, though!!)

Thanks for letting me borrow this for so long, Aunt Susie! Sorry, I’ll return it soon! ❤

My Aunt Sue is a tremendous quilter, and a few months ago when I was visiting her she showed off a new quilt she’d made from Becky Goldsmith’s book called Opposites Attract.

What is WITH quilters and doing red, white, and blue?? The old quilt I made as a kid notwithstanding, my aunt and I both favor Japanese fabrics and jewel tones so I dunno.

Is that?? Yes, that is DEFINITELY yagasuri; the Japanese arrow-fletching pattern. As you may recall from my yagasuri kimono restoration project, I absolutely adore this pattern. I was also still thinking about the beautiful green and purple fabric I used for my obiage sewing project…and realized that using it to make this quilt would give me the perfect excuse to play with it some more!

Pictured: enough self-restraint to have a project planned before purchasing.
The backing fabric is actually a different brand but it’s absolutely perfect!

So I picked up a jelly roll of the Wild Iris fabric, along with some backing fabric, more purple thread, and a huge wad of batting. I also had to buy about a half-yard more of the plain cream fabric as I could already tell there wouldn’t be enough “whites” in the jelly roll to complete the quilt pattern.

I decided to just use the lighter greens and purples…so I still have a bunch of the darker toned strips awaiting a future project!

I selected the strips, ironed them out somewhat (they’ll just end up getting ironed more as I press the seams of the sewn pieces so I didn’t make myself crazy with it), and got ready for the endless cutting that is my next step. 😀 If you enjoyed reading this please subscribe below to get a notification each week about my latest post — I look forward to seeing you next week for more fashion, history, and crafts here on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

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Spotlight Series: Troll Fashion (Part 1)

Spotlight Series 2: Historical Trolling

Readers, please meet Mirinda!

Welcome to Mukashi no Sewing’s second spotlight series! My first spotlight series about storage and curation was initially conceived as a normal spotlight entry, but I’ve decided to split off long-form spotlights into their own thing to make them easier to find! (I also went back and retagged the four entries in the storage series.) So what’s going on here then?

Mirinda and Ming Shui, as they arrived in a package from my mom!


My folks recently moved overseas (hi Mom and Dad! Hope you’re having fun!), and while they were cleaning their house in preparation my mom confessed to me that she’d saved my troll dolls from when I was a kid and asked if I wanted them. After years of not thinking about them I suddenly was struck by the vivid memory of just how much time I spent not just playing with my trolls as a little girl, but also making them DOZENS of outfits.

This is a tiny fraction of the collection. It actually kind of freaked me out when I opened the bag lol!

It wasn’t just my trolls, actually. I spent what was probably hundreds of hours making clothing for various dolls and stuffed animals in my possession. I had some bipedal cow dolls that lived in a dollhouse that I made full wardrobes for, a stuffed bear that I dressed up in my old baby clothes, and so much more.

This will likely not surprise you, friends, since you’re currently reading this fashion-centric blog. But actually this memory came as a tremendous surprise to me because I spent a HUGE part of my late teens and my 20s convincing myself that fashion was stupid and that not caring about it made me super cool. 😀 So it came as a real shock to recall that my childhood passion was actually clothes – and not just clothes, but making them! ❤

You guys I even made a PATTERN. FOR MY DOLL CLOTHES.

My aunt even still has some of the troll dolls that she, my mom, and my other aunt all played with as kids! Clearly this is a weird family obsession, but I’m totally ok with it. 😀 As I sort through all of Mirinda’s belongings, I thought it would be fun to share some of the history (both commercial and personal) of my trolls, and to do some dress-up comparisons between me and Mirinda! (I think I can actually replicate a lot of her wardrobe from my own, with the exception of some of the denim and flannel pieces because I do not own those fabrics lol.) 😀

Please do subscribe below if you haven’t already, and I look forward to seeing you back here next time here on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

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Edo Period Coat Restoration: The Reveal

Project 9, part 13 – Journey’s End (Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10, part 11, part 12 here)

I don’t actually own men’s kimono! Faking the look as best I can with layers including my keikogi, hakama, and a men’s haori.

Welcome back to the Edo Coat restoration project! The calendar says it’s spring but the temperatures here in the Pacific Northwest disagreed until just last week, so I felt justified in taking this coat out for a spin and getting some thematic photos!

I got very lucky with the lack of people at the park for this photoshoot. ❤

One thing I noticed as I was looking through photos and illustrations of extant coats is that the loop I did on the side to secure the lower flap isn’t quite accurate.

Pictured: what I’m nattering on about.

It seems to be more likely that it would have been another long set of ties that would have been knotted into a bow with the opposite ones. I can fake the look by tying the remaining long cords in a bow through the loop I made, though, so I’m not too fussed by it! And of course, it’s entirely possible that someone in the Edo period would have come to the same conclusion that I did that it was nice having a loop there so there weren’t a ton of things dangling off the coat. 😀

The tie-backs on the opposite side work PERFECTLY. No interference with my sword whatsoever!

Another thing I realized as I was modeling this was just how big it is on me. Without the quilted lining, it draped more from my shoulders which obscured the width. The quilting gives the coat more body; it looks ok from the front but from the back it’s clear I’m swimming in it! 😅 I generally wear oversized Western-style coats, so it’s not a deal-breaker, but if I were to go back in time I’d probably add some darts down from the shoulders to take in the width a little. 

Contemplating the ephemeral nature of this floating world and also how I might have made some slight sizing alterations.

Overall this project was what I would call a Learning Experience™. I had to make a lot of mid-stream adjustments, and there are still lots of little things I’m not perfectly satisfied with. On the other hand, I discovered a TON about Edo-period textiles and clothing construction, and I tried a lot of new-to-me techniques in restoration. Also, the pictures do not do this jacket justice with regards to just how comfortable and cozy it is! From that perspective this has been an unqualified success! As I take on more complicated and ambitious restoration projects, I’ll absolutely be bringing the lessons learned here along for the ride.

I’m already looking forward to winter; this coat is going to see SO much use!

Regardless, this has definitely been a long ride, so thank you for sticking with me on the journey! Now that it’s finished I have lots of projects to take its place, so please do subscribe below if you haven’t already, and I’ll see you here next week on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

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昔のSewing Returns Next Week!

Hi friends! I haven’t just been attending concerts for my new musical obsession! I’m attending a kendo seminar this weekend and since I’m not actually a kendoka this has meant lots of time spent practicing and not any time spent sewing. 😅 So no post this week, and I’ll see you back here next week on Mukashi no Sewing for more history, sewing, and fashion! ❤

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The Mukashi no Sewing Language of Flowers

Bibliotheca April 2023 – Florals: These are the Florals in My Clothes

This obi is absurdly useful; I can wear it with so many of my kimono!

Welcome back to Mukashi no Sewing! This month’s theme for the Bay Area Kei Bibliotheca blog circle is “Florals.” Flowers as carriers of meaning have been tremendously important in Japan throughout history, as well as in the Victorian Era. So I thought it might be fun to survey what flowers have managed to sneak into my wardrobe and examine what they meant historically as well as their meaning to me! Fun fact – the language of flowers is known as hanakotoba (花言葉) in Japanese; literally “flower words.” The Victorians knew it as “floriography.”

I’m quite fond of this obi; it goes well with everything!

Camellia – Tsubaki – 椿: The camellia in Japan generally represented either love, or a noble death. Because the flowers “behead” themselves as they die, they were an inauspicious flower to give to someone experiencing an illness. The white camellias on my obi mean “waiting.” To the Victorians, camellias were a symbol of either “perfected beauty” or of longing for someone. I never thought much about camellias until I picked this obi up, honestly, but I find them to be very elegant!

This cute “kimono poncho” (basically a modern styled dochugi) was made by Yukiko of KimonoYukiko and it’s just perfect for spring!

Cherry Blossom – Sakura – 桜: Both the Victorians and Japanese agreed that the short-lived cherry blossom represented transience and fleeting beauty! My favorite short story in Japanese by Kajii Motojiro, “Under the Cherry Trees,” makes them a little bit more sinister. 🙂 I absolutely love sakura although this is actually my only piece of clothing featuring this flower! The reason is that, traditionally, one does not wear clothing featuring a flower that’s currently in bloom so as not to compete with it. This makes the period in which I can wear cherry blossoms very short – just as the weather is warming up, but before the flowers bloom – maybe just a couple of weeks here in the Pacific Northwest. I have to admit that I’d love to have some of BtSSB’s sakura-themed lolita dresses, though… ❤

You’ll be seeing more of this yukata in the near future!

Chrysanthemum – Kiku – 菊: The Victorians associated the chrysanthemum with “hidden truths revealed,” while in Japan they are the crest of the Imperial family! Interestingly, however, they are also associated with truth, and white ones are often used in funeral bouquets. I feel like chrysanthemums automatically make clothes just a little classier because of the Imperial association – this yukata feels a little more formal, as much as that’s possible, than my other one that has Totoro and fireworks on it! It’s a very historical design without dipping into being old-fashioned, and it’s also my birth month flower. 😀

The more things on a hat, the better!

Lily – Yuri – 百合: Don’t mess up the color of lily if you’re putting them in a Japanese bouquet! White ones are for purity and chastity, orange for hatred and revenge, and tiger lilies are for wealth! Lilies can also represent romantic relationships between women. The Victorians associated them with the Virgin Mary and perfection/purity — but yellow lilies meant falsehood so there’s definitely something going on with the warmer colors of lilies! 😀 I’ve always associated them with funerals, maybe because they feature in a lot of Gothic poetry and literature such as Edgar Allen Poe’s The Sleeper? I find them to be the perfect elegiac accompaniment to wearing lots of black velvet!

Like…90% sure these are peonies. Sometimes the flowers on kimono get a little abstract!

Peony – Botan – 牡丹: I absolutely love peonies, they were my wedding flower and I adore their big fluffy blooms! In hanakotoba they’re associated with honor, bravery, and good fortune which is basically everything I need in a flower. 😀 The Victorians also read peonies as standing for prosperity, as well as happy marriages.

Also featuring more kiku! ❤

Plum Blossom – Ume – 梅: Having trouble telling a plum from a cherry blossom? You’re not alone! 😀 The easiest way to tell the difference on kimono, at least, is cherry blossoms have a notch at the end of their pointed petals, while plum blossoms are rounded with no notch. In real life you can also look at the way the flowers emerge from the branch – and you can also smell them! Ume have a beautiful fragrance while sakura tend to have little to none. They’re actually also a kind of sour apricot, if you want to get technical. Which I always do.

“In hanakotoba, plum blossoms mean loyalty and elegance. Plum trees (sometimes called Japanese apricots) blossom in the late spring and early winter. Since they sometimes even bloom during harsh, cold weather, they’re seen as a symbol of hope and a sign of winter’s end.” (Petal Republic) They’re part of the three friends of winter (shochikubai) along with pine and bamboo, and as such symbolize blooming in the coldest season. Plum didn’t appear to be particularly common in Victorian times, but wild plum could mean “independence.” I love plum blossom motifs because they’re appropriate for winter unlike most flowers, and because of their association with beauty in adversity. ❤


Rose – Bara – 薔薇: Roses, in all their myriad colors, were a mainstay of Victorian expressions of love just like they are today! They’re the same in Japan – although you want to avoid yellow roses if you can since they indicated infidelity to the Victorians and jealousy in hanakotoba! They can also represent romantic love between men. Blue roses are the hallmark of Gothic lolita brand Moi Meme Moitie, and represent mystery or the unobtainable since they are unable to be produced naturally. Roses were my late grandmother’s favorite flower (and scent), but I’ve never been the biggest fan strangely enough. I do like MMM’s blue rose motif, though, and I have a few pieces of jewelry with preserved roses in them that I love for my gothic coordinates! I recently purchased an obi covered in lush pink roses along with cranes (my favorite!), so maybe I’m starting to come around on them after all. 🙂

The only haori I own that’s actually the proper size… *wistful sigh*

Spider Lily/Amaryllis – Higanbana – 彼岸花: Red spider lilies (Lycoris radiata) are strongly associated with death in Japan. “They are associated with final goodbyes, and legend has it that these flowers grow wherever people part ways for good. In old Buddhist writings, the red spider lily is said to guide the dead through samsara, the cycle of rebirth.” (Culture Trip) I actually couldn’t turn up any evidence of their use in Victorian floriography! These mysterious and mournful flowers are a favorite of mine, and I would love to have a whole kimono featuring them to go with my haori! They’re the perfect choice for October around here (even though they’re a summer flower – which fits with the spooky summer vibes of Obon in Japan).

There’s a whole debate over whether motifs should be worn when they’re appropriate in Japan, or when they’re appropriate for where you personally are living. I don’t want to claim to be an expert on this subject! However, I’ve read a lot of books on kitsuke and tea ceremony (seasonality is really important to tea), and the consensus seems to be that the intent of seasonality is to reflect where you actually happen to be at the time. An exception that I’ve found in particularly formal tea manuals is that if you were holding a tea ceremony with visiting high-ranked Japanese guests it might well be more appropriate to match the motifs to the season and weather in Japan instead. (This comes up a lot for Southern Hemisphere folks – it’s less of an issue for me since my local patterns are darned close to those in northern Japan.)

This dress is too much in the best possible way!

Strawberry Blossom – Ichika – 苺花: Look, I wrote an entire post about strawberries, you can just go re-read that. 😀

It still counts if I added the flower on my own! 😀

Wisteria – Fuji – 藤: The Victorians read wisteria as meaning “I cling to you” because of its clinging vines! In hanakotoba they can mean “welcome” or “steadfast,” but they’re more commonly associated with nobility because commoners were forbidden from wearing purple historically – and because of the Fujiwara family that helped rule Japan for so long. And of course, because of the beautiful Murasaki in The Tale of Genji! I find their profusion of trailing flowers to be breathtakingly beautiful, and would really like to have an arbor of them in my garden one day. Failing that, I hope I can at least visit the wisteria garden in Kitakyushu at some point!

Bonus Round – flowers I like, but don’t have represented in my wardrobe currently.

I’m a simple woman. If it’s purple I’m probably into it. 😀

Iris – Hanashōbu – 花菖蒲: The Victorians used irises to communicate faith, trust, and wisdom. I’m into irises for their Japanese meaning of victory, though, which is based on the fact that the word for victory is also shōbu (勝負) – just with different kanji. It can also be read as “duel” or “warlike spirit” – again, using different characters for each. At the end of Iaidō taikai matches, the judges will shout “shōbu owari” – “the match is concluded!” And on Children’s Day (May 5) it’s customary to bathe with iris leaves as a wish for strength and victory. I think a haori with irises on it would be perfect to wear to events – let me know if you see one out in the wild! 🙂

I would LOVE to have a kimono with orchids on it!

Orchid/Ran/蘭: I’ve bid on kimono with orchids on them several times and always lost…but I’ll keep trying! I have three orchids in my house and absolutely love their year-round blooms and exotic colors. Orchids were considered exotic historically in Japan and to the Victorians, as well, and thus represented refinement and exquisite beauty. In Chinese art, orchids were one of the “Four Gentlemen” (plum blossom for winter, orchid for spring, bamboo for summer, and chrysanthemum for autumn), and were associated with seasonal painting since at least the Song dynasty. And of course, orchid (lan/兰, in Chinese) is part of the name of two of my favorite characters; Lan Wangji from Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation, and Lan Jue from A League of Gentleman! 🙂 I’m very fond of this flower so hopefully I can find something lovely featuring it soon!

I’m generally into pink flowers! 😀

Peach Blossom/Momo/桃花: Wait, another late winter/early spring pink blossom?! I know, I know! Cherry blossoms are oval/teardrop shaped with a notch, peach blossoms have a similar shape with no notch, and plum are rounded, though. “To the Victorians, peach blossoms stood for charm and generosity. Giving the gift of peach blossoms may mean that the giver feels like they’re held captive by someone’s charm. Historically, peach trees also symbolize longevity, happiness, and vitality, with ties to their early bloom season and lush fruits.” (Petal Republic)

Meanwhile “…in Japan, peach flowers are associated with girls day in March. These flowers are much more plentiful and more vibrant than the sakura blossoms. They have a cute image which fits perfectly with girls day. Throughout Japanese history, peach blossoms have been considered lucky and a symbol of being invincible.” (Wandering Tanuki) In China the blossoms are associated with romance, and peach wood is considered to be a powerful ward against evil energies and ghosts. Honestly it’s entirely possible that I have peach blossoms on some of my clothes and I just haven’t looked closely enough to distinguish them from plum or cherry! I’d definitely like to have something covered in peach blossoms for early spring wear, though.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little bit more about the different ways in which flowers have been used to convey meaning! If so, please do subscribe below to get a notification each week about my latest post, and I look forward to seeing you next week here on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

Check out what other members of Bibliotheca had to say about this month’s topic!
The Bay Area Kei blog covers – gasp! – NON-print floral options for your wardrobe.
Crimson Reflections does a deep dive on violets and pansies in lolita.
frillSquid discusses cherry blossoms, one of my favorite flowers!
Kelp makes a disappointing dessert, also from cherry blossoms.
Lovelylaceandlies proves that all lolitas can agree about florals!
Cupcakes and Unicorns has a crisis about finding the perfect floral print.

Subscribe so you never miss a post! New adventures in history and sewing every Tuesday.

Edo Period Coat Restoration: The Collar

Project 9, part 12 – Just in Time (Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10, part 11 here)

It’s done it’s done it’s done it’s done it’s done!

Welcome back to the Edo Coat restoration project! I DID IT, FRIENDS! I actually managed to finish this coat. Just in time for spring, lol… Look, if you’re here for timely completion of projects you’re definitely reading the wrong blog.  😀

It’s seen better days, but in the end I wanted to keep it!

The last bit was repairing the collar for duty, and I really waffled on it. Originally I was going to completely encase the original collar in another fabric (probably more dragonfly fabric) in order to protect it, but when I tried it on it looked…weird. The issue was that the golden silk was only in the collar and upper hem facings, and without the collar to anchor it, it looked like it didn’t belong. If I was going to go that route I really should have just pulled all the silk off and completely replaced it, but at this point that definitely wasn’t an option!

Interfacing is useful stuff! But it doesn’t make for exciting photography lol.

So I decided to instead replace the rice paper collar stiffener with some lightweight interfacing, and keep the collar as-is! The interfacing I just folded in half and steamed together, and it was a perfect replacement for the original in terms of stiffness and flexibility. I’m not a huge fan of having a hoard of unused hobby supplies just chilling in the house, but it is nice to have some basics on hand so I don’t have to always go out and buy “just one more thing” for a project!

Having a little more interfacing across the top gave the embroidery thread something to stabilize it.

Once I clipped the interfacing into the collar, I found some dark blue embroidery thread and whipstitched it across the top of the collar to repair it and secure the interfacing. The blue brings the blue of the dragonfly facing fabric up to the top of the coat, which helps tie everything together a bit more, and the tight whipstitching gives more structure and stability to the collar. Win-win!

It took me a couple of hours of sitting on the couch with a greyhound and carefully placing stitches, but at long last I was done! Even if I can’t wear this coat out and about for a few more months, I’m SO happy to be able to to check it off my project list. 🥰 I have a lot of fun things I want to get started on so this clears space for them – and clears space in my sewing room, lol.

Pictured: an epic journey. 🙂

I hope you’ve enjoyed going on this epic journey with me! 😂 Join me next time for a photoshoot with this fabulous coat, please do subscribe below if you haven’t already, and I’ll see you next Tuesday here on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

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BtSSB Blouse Restoration: The Patterning

Project 16, part 2 – I Actually Patterned This Time (Part 1 here)

I don’t want to oversell it. But I did make my own pattern!

Welcome back to Mukashi no Sewing! This week I got the patterning done for the sleeves on my blouse from Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, and it was not as hard as I feared! 🙂 I started by tracing one of the sleeves from my donor blouse onto folded paper. I already knew that these sleeves were much wider at the top than the armholes for the BtSSB blouse, but I wanted to start from the baseline. I included the lace in my trace because I can hem up to whatever length I want later.

You can see here how crunched up the white sleeve is inside the black armhole.

I measured the width of the MAM sleeve at the cuff point, and then the diameter of my armhole – precisely a 1″ difference! So I took a half inch off either side at the top and just freehand graded the difference down until it met the original width at about the halfway point.

I really like the bottom width of these sleeves so I didn’t want to grade the difference all the way down.

I cut out the paper pattern, and – just to be on the safe side – I checked to make sure my math wasn’t off and that it would in fact fit in the black armhole. 😀

It did! Hooray!

Next, I grabbed my trusty bolt of muslin and cut out a cloth mockup. I stitched both sides closed, and then pinned the test sleeve into the BtSSB blouse to see how it looked!

Nailed it!

Whoa! Basically got it in one. 😀 I want the sleeve a little straighter as it emerges from the armhole so I’ll grade that in a bit more toward the top. I think the length is about right – with hemming the sleeve will hit around the middle of my hand, and then the added lace will take it back to the knuckles or fingertips which is the look I’m going for.

I’ll, uh, need to iron this though. LOL.

I partially disassembled the sleeve, leaving the seam that was at the top of my arm intact so that when I cut from the actual fabric it will be one solid piece with a single seam on the underside. I did forget to add allowance at the top, so there will be another two inches of fabric there in the final version. This will allow me to enclose the top in a wide French seam which will make it sturdier for the buttonholes. I’m not entirely sure what the easiest way to do those will be – I would love to be able to make them with the fabric flat like this, but I have a sneaking suspicion I’ll have to assemble the sleeve so I can accurately mark their locations. We shall see! 😀

If you enjoyed reading this please subscribe below to get a notification each week about my latest post — I look forward to seeing you next week for more fashion, history, and crafts here on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

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Futou (幞头) and Kanmuri (冠) – Black Gauze Caps from Ancient China and Japan

Bibliotheca March 2023 – Hats & Headwear: Bring Me a Hat, the More Obscure the Better

Look at these goofy hats! And also the attractive men wearing them! Picture from

Welcome back to Mukashi no Sewing! This month’s theme for the Bay Area Kei Bibliotheca blog circle is “hats and headwear.” I haven’t watched the X-Files in a SUPER long time, but do you remember that episode where it shows the same scene from both Mulder and Scully’s perspectives, and it shows what each of them are hearing the other say? There’s a bit in Scully’s perspective when Mulder says to her something like “Find me a graveyard, the spookier the better.” This is me, but with obscure clothing from antiquity. 😀

Jenna from Lovelylaceandlies tracked down the episode! It’s Bad Blood, from Season 5! What a hero. ❤

I have been absolutely obsessed with Chinese xianxia dramas lately; I finished The Untamed (aka Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation) in January and then tore through A League of Nobleman (yes, singular; no, I don’t know why; aka Society of Four Leaves) last month, and I’m planning on starting Word of Honor (Faraway Wanderers) this week. If Eternal Faith (Heaven Official’s Blessing) and Winner is King (Stars of Chaos) are ever released from the depths of censorship/production hell, I’ll be dropping the rest of my obligations to watch those, too. (Bad news for my dogs as well as my faithful readers here, but Huā Chéng and Xiè Lián take precedence and I hope you can understand.) 😀 Technically A League of Nobleman might not be xianxia, as it doesn’t feature Taoist immortals, but it does have a lot of magic and alchemy mixed in with what is otherwise a delightful ancient Chinese Sherlock Holmes homage. And also dudes who be wearing some funny hats.

Lan Jue in red, on the right, played by Jing Boran wearing a funny hat

So naturally I had to investigate (just like Zhang Ping!) because I’ve actually seen these types of hats before…

More attractive men in flowy robes and weird hats. I may have a type!
The sequel is actually really good too. It’s got a great role-reversal from the first movie!

…in the 2003 Japanese movie masterpiece Onmyoji! (And its excellent sequel.) So, wait, what? These hats were worn in Japan too? All righty then, let’s dive in.

Hanfu Gallery shows how to wear a futou with no jinzi – originally found through My Hanfu Favorites

Futou (simplified Chinese: 幞头; traditional Chinese: 襆頭/幞頭), also known as Wu Sha Mao (乌纱帽, black gauze cap) were worn starting around the Eastern Jin Dynasty (approximately 317-420 CE). From approximately 614 CE (possibly in the reign of the Emperor Wu), stiffening/shaping layers called jīnzi (巾子) were added to the inside of the futou. According to ancient texts, Emperor Wu created the futou to protect the hair of his generals and soldiers in battles, and it became the default for court officials. By the Song Dynasty (~960-1279 CE) the futou with jīnzi was worn by most males from commoners to Emperors and continued to be popular until the Ming Dynasty (which ended in 1644; approximately when the Edo period began in Japan). (Although there was a resurgence in modern China in an elementary school that used them to help kids understand social distancing!)

Futou with jinzi…
…vs kanmuri!

It was in the Nara and Heian eras in Japan (~710-794, 794-1195) that the Japanese versions (kanmuri [冠] and eboshi [烏帽子]) took off. It took a hundred years or so for the Japanese to check out the futou craze in China and decide they wanted in on that. 😀 Kanmuri were more closely related to futou, and had a stiffener (usually lacquered paper over a wooden form) to give them their distinctive shape. They were flatter than the Chinese version because the Japanese male hairstyle was a topknot folded flat onto the crown of the head whereas the Chinese style pulled all the hair up into a bun on top that was secured with a guan. Kanmuri are still a feature of extremely formal court styles in Japan.

Kanmuri on Minamoto no Hiromasa on the left, eboshi on Abe no Seimei on the right!

Eboshi on the other hand was a tall cap still seen on Shinto priests today (and what Abe no Seimei is wearing in Onmyoji in the picture above), but still made with black silk gauze and meant to be worn over hair that was piled and secured underneath.

How are these sweet hats made? Joshua over at Sengoku Daimyo says of kanmuri, “modern kanmuri generally made-to-order, primarily by four families in Japan. They vary slightly in the slope of the top, the size of the koji and the placement of the ei-tsubo. It is traditionally made by creating a skeleton, or harinuki, of paper on a wooden form. The outside of the hari-nuki is lacquered so as to keep its shape, and then the body of ra silk is layered on top. The entire thing is lacquered stiff.” They could also have hairbands of leather or more stiffened cloth to help the hat keep its shape better or to fit more comfortably.

Ok but seriously go check out this guy’s photoshoot. It’s MIND-BLOWING.

With regards to futou and jinzi, the futou was traditionally a muslin fabric, usually of flax or raimie, but silk was possible for higher ranked wearers. The jinzi could be made of flax, ramie, or silk as well, painted with carbon black, and stiffened with animal glue and paper. They could also have wire or silk threads added to the draping ribbons (aka “feet”) for further poseability. Yes I read an entire academic paper analyzing the components of jinzi found in tombs. You should be used to this by now. 😀

Look I’m just gonna put the first episode here for you ok? I’ll talk to you in 29 episodes. 🙂

I am exceptionally terrible at trivia games/pub quizzes, as they mostly feature pop culture questions that I am utterly unqualified to even guess at. However, even a stopped clock shows the correct time twice a day, and even I have had a moment of glory at a pub quiz. The final round at the event in question was a series of questions themed around the premise: “Is it a hat, or a creature from the Jabberwocky?” My friends, I am not too humble to say that thanks to my friend Mike and me our team absolutely aced that round and enjoyed an unprecedented and glorious victory thanks to our combined knowledge of Lewis Carroll and unusual hats. I hope that this post has laid the groundwork for a comeback trivia night victory of your own! Even if not, please subscribe below to get a notification each week about my latest post, and I look forward to seeing you next week here on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

Check out what other members of Bibliotheca had to say about this month’s topic!
Jenna from Lovelylaceandlies helps your headwear stay put!
Kelp ranks iconic lolita headwear…sort of!
Josine Maaike shows off some beautiful obscure old lolita headwear!
Crimson Reflections shares trends in headwear…from the 1990s
Cupcakes and Unicorns looks amazing in any hat she wears
Frillsquid has some delightful hot takes
Wear Your Bows wears lots of cute bows!

Subscribe so you never miss a post! New adventures in history and sewing every Tuesday.