A Brief History of Strawberries on Dresses

Bibliotheca November 2022 – Food: Extraordinary, Juice Like a Strawberry

This is the first lolita dress I ever bought!! ❤
And this is the most recent dress I’ve purchased! Full circle! 🙂

Welcome back to Mukashi no Sewing! This month’s theme for the Bay Area Kei Bibliotheca blog circle is “food,” and you absolutely cannot stop me from talking about strawberries.

I normally don’t like all-over prints, but this dress is perfect for occasions when a fancier border print dress might be too much.
My only mint dress! I love it so much!
A dress I actually didn’t have to work hard for – Angelic Pretty did a Made to Order release and everyone who wanted one got one!

Specifically, strawberries on dresses – I’m a big fan as you can see. I come by my love honestly; as a young girl growing up in Southern California, my birthday cake every year was a homemade strawberry shortcake and it remains one of my favorite treats. (It’s a little harder to come by good strawberries in the autumn in the Pacific Northwest, sadly…) Good, ripe strawberries are like freshly-picked tomatoes – you can’t beat the taste, and there’s something just so quintessentially summery and refreshing about them. But you’re not here just to hear me wax rhapsodic about my favorite foods; you’re here for the history! So just how long have strawberries been appearing on dresses?

Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger BRUGES 1561/2 – 1636 LONDON PORTRAIT OF FRANCES, LADY DERING (1577–1657), WEARING A WHITE DRESS RICHLY EMBROIDERED WITH STRAWBERRIES AND ACORNS WHY ARE YOU SHOUTING IN THIS CAPTION PINTEREST PERSON!?!

A long time apparently!! Frances, Lady Dering, was painted wearing the above dress embroidered with strawberries some time in the early 1600s. These embroidered dresses and jackets were extremely popular amongst a certain set of aristocratic women from around 1600-1620. But strawberries were a popular motif as far back as in ancient Rome, as a symbol of Venus (the Goddess of Love), and in the Viking age were a sacred food of Freyja who is also a love Goddess as well as mistress of magic, fertility, and war (she receives half of the souls that pass in battle as her own Valkyries, after all!) Stonemasons in Medieval Europe, however, often carved strawberries into altars and pillars of cathedrals to symbolize “perfection and righteousness.” They were also associated with the Virgin Mary due to those same traits, and gained a reputation for innocence and beauty that many women of the era appropriated to their dress. “In Othello (first staged in 1604), Desdemona’s handkerchief, embroidered with strawberries, serves as a nod to the popularity of a domestic pastime and has also been read as symbolic of her virginity.” (Jennie Youssef, 2021)

However, they also had a sensuous side that hearkened back to the Roman and Viking interpretations – for example, an awful lot of people in Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights” were pictured with strawberries, and doing quite an assortment of un-innocent deeds! And their association with the aristocracy (mostly in cooked formats such as jams and proto-shortcakes) helped create that image as well.

Day Dress, UK, circa 1837-1840
Mary Todd Lincoln, circa 1861

Although strawberries themselves have a short season, they continued to appear as perennial favorites in dress as the years wore on! They were a popular early-Victorian motif, and later in the period Mary Todd Lincoln wore a dress covered in them to a Strawberry Party during the first months of the Civil War — one of the few authenticated dresses of hers to survive. The later Victorians tended to prefer geometric patterns, although because of their love of the natural world and and the association of the berries with “Englishness” at the time, strawberries featured frequently in paintings as well as recipe books. (Strawberries marinated in curaçao served with Chantilly cream? Yes, please!!)

“Rare strawberry-like mysterious pattern” is a great selling point! 😀

Strawberries on kimono are much more recent – they’re quite a popular motif on yukata today, but the oldest one I could find was the above pre-war meisen weave kimono on Yahoo Japan Auctions. However, fruit patterns on kimono are extremely ancient! Tachibana, or mikan/satsuma, have been used on kimono as a pattern since the Heian period (794-1185), and symbolize long life and healthy offspring. Ume, a flowering stone fruit related to apricot and plum, are a symbol of enduring adversity due to flowering in the early spring when it’s still snowing, and have been used on kimono as a motif since at least the Momoyama period (1568-1582).

Atsuki Onishi, Please Fraise Strawberry One Piece, 1993

The first example of a lolita (or lolita-adjacent) dress I could find on Lolibrary was this lovely dress by Atsuki Onishi from 1993. (There was Fruit Parfait from Shirley Temple in 1990, but that was a children’s dress. Still, it did feature strawberries!) Lolita brands didn’t stop there, though – there are SIXTEEN PAGES of berry prints from Angelic Pretty alone, fourteen from Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, and six from Metamorphose. Chinese indie brands rack up a respectable eight pages of berries, with another six pages from other indie brands! That’s a lot of berries. 😀 The Japanese site Minne (which is somewhat equivalent to Etsy) has 56 pages of strawberry-related goods, and even curated reseller sites have at least thirteen – clearly, strawberries aren’t going out of season anytime soon!

Seriously though, just look at these incredible embroidered strawberries from my new NyaNya dress. JUICY.
Stefano Pilati for Yves Saint Laurent, Spring 2010
Strawberry Midi Dress by Lirika Matoshi, 2020

Strawberry dresses have graced the catwalk and the zeitgeist as well. Dior had garments with blueberries and strawberries back in 1953! Junya Wanabe featured assorted fruits in 2003, and Stefano Pilati’s minimalist strawberries appeared in 2010. People went wild for Lirika Matoshi’s strawberry dress at the start of the pandemic in 2020, with Vogue affirming, “the dress is popular precisely because it is not practical. It’s over-the-top and fanciful. It speaks to the glamour of black-tie events—the Oscars, the Met gala—special occasions that appear like a distant memory. But more than that, that sweet strawberry print is deeply nostalgic, hearkening back to a time long before COVID-19, to a childhood innocence that feels especially soothing right now.” (By the way – if you can’t access paywalled articles like this one, I highly recommend 12ft Ladder. Also I have to say I couldn’t care less about either the Oscars or the Met gala, but hey, to each their own lol.) I guess I’m not the only one associating strawberries with summer and my childhood! ❤

I received this dress in a gift exchange from a person who understands my deep love of both strawberries and stripes!
This is the first dress I ever bought directly from the brand! It was my Winter Solstice gift to myself!
My hardworking shopping service fought in a massive bloodbath to secure not just this dress, but also the matching socks and headbow for me!

Strawberries, then, have been enchanting our tastebuds and eyes alike for centuries! Whether you love the taste or are allergic; think of them as symbols of innocence or carnal pleasures; or consider them to be allusive to countryside simplicity or Rococo indulgence, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading a little about their history as the stars of beautiful garments. If you did, 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!
Crimson Reflections One-Ups Me with an Incredible Deep-Dive into Lemon Trends in Lolita
Bay Area Kei Shares Vintage Tea Recipes
Stephano Holds a Fashion Photoshoot Inside H-Mart
Forestsandtea Cooks Up the History of Accessories Brand Q-Pot

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Velveteen JSKs Restoration: The Sewing (Neckties)

Project 13, part 5 – It’s Buttonholer Time! (Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 here)

It’s time. It’s time! IT’S BUTTONHOLER TIME!!!

Welcome back to Mukashi no Sewing! This week I was able to finish the last piece of the restoration for the Velveteen Princess JSK – the neck ties! Honestly, this was purely for my own sake – they’re removable pieces that attach inside the neck ruffle, so no one would have known they were missing. But I’d know, since I have the original photos of the dress from when it was released, and I wanted to have the option to wear them!

You can see from this brand photo how the neckties are meant to be worn.

I bought some double-sided red velvet ribbon from Mood Fabrics after trying several options for matching the velveteen itself. I couldn’t find a good color match, for one, and for two sewing velveteen is a huge hassle! So ribbon seemed like the perfect option. I have to admit it’s a little wider than I would have wanted in a perfect world, but the color and texture was spot on so I focused on those instead.

This is why we always buy extra yardage, lol 😀

It took a few tries to get the buttonhole centered on the ribbon…I don’t know what my issue was, but I literally kept putting it in the same off-center place over and over. 😀 Eventually I managed to sort myself out, and from there it was super easy to finish the buttonholes and to sew down a rolled hem on either end just in case. This ribbon is super high-quality and seemed pretty fray-proof, but, better safe than sorry!

Did I measure the placement in advance? I absolutely did not. Lucky for me I have a good eye for measurements thanks to years of wargaming!

And just like that, I was done! The buttonholes are a bit larger than my buttons – my buttonholer attachment didn’t have a guide for the size of buttons on the dress, annoyingly. But because they’ll always be under tension due to the nature of the ties, it really doesn’t matter!

One of the cool little things I like about this dress is that the neck ties just attach to the neck ruffle buttons, so I could change the placement to change the look!
She’s complete once more! ❤

I’m SO happy I could return this dress to its former glory! Especially since the weather where I lived skipped straight from summer to winter almost overnight, so velveteen is feeling like a pretty attractive option suddenly. 🙂 There might even be some snow in the works for a photoshoot…fingers crossed! No matter the weather, I look forward to sharing the final reveal with you soon here on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

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Spotlight: Storage and Curation (Part 4)

Spotlight 11-4: Small But Mighty (Part 1, part 2, part 3 here)

I swear one day I’m going to finish this coat…LOL.

Welcome to the fourth and final (for now, at least!) part of Mukashi no Sewing’s eleventh spotlight! As I mentioned previously, the original curation post ended up being SUPER long, so I’ve split it into three sections. This is the third curation post, covering my antique garment collection!

Still happy with this kimono after all this time! 🙂

Of my “alternative” clothing collections, my antique garment one is by far the smallest. One of the main reasons for this is the huge amount of space these clothes take up compared to other clothes. I can fit all my kimono folded flat in one storage box (well, one storage box plus just a tiny bit of overflow into another one!), and all of my lolita dresses squish into the closet together. But my Victorian nightgown takes up almost an entire box on its own! I have very limited space in my house at this point, so I have to be ruthless when it comes to curating my antique garments.

Totally worth the space it takes up, though! ❤

Like with my kimono and lolita collections, fit is one of the biggest considerations for me. I would love to be like Abby Cox and keep a reference collection for sewing my own! However, not only do I not have the space, I don’t wear enough historical clothing to justify a stash of reference clothes plus modern reproductions! So the clothes I do have, have to fit me. They also need to be in good enough shape for me to wear. I’ve talked about this a little before, but I firmly believe that if a garment isn’t of historical significance or extreme value, it should be worn if possible! A gown with terrible silk shatter isn’t going to cut it for me, since wearing it would destroy it.

I don’t wear historical garments nearly as often as I do lolita or kimono, is the truth – I love the Victorian era, but wearing Victorian clothes definitely falls onto the “cosplay” style of “costume” for me. I feel totally normal wearing kimono, but a ballgown…not so much! So the final consideration for me is that my antique garments need to have some kind of personal significance. My Edo coat started as a transaction, but I’m completely making it over into my own, including my own crest! My Victorian nightgown was a gift from a cherished friend, and can be worn as an overdress as well, making it surprisingly versatile. And that same friend happened to give me a gown too… Here’s a little sneak peek for you!

There’s a lot of work to be done…but isn’t she swoon-worthy?!

I KNOW RIGHT?!?! It barely falls into the category of “wearable,” and is going to need some substantial restoration work…but you can look forward to seeing much more of this dress in months to come here! As a family heirloom it’s obviously worth the effort to me, in both repairing and storing it (it takes up three boxes!), so in the collection it stays!

Luckily since these boxes contain only 1-2 pieces of a garment plus lots of acid-free tissue paper, they’re pretty light!

Two of my kimono are technically antique garments as well – my Meiji era kimono that was my very first project here, and a Taisho one (~1920s) that I’ll be featuring soon as well! I don’t think I’m likely to buy many more antique kimono, as they are difficult to wear and tend to be too short for me in both mitake and yuki (length and sleeve length). I actually may be returning to my Meiji kimono here on the blog, as I have learned some new techniques that might be able to clean it up even further! And my Taisho one I bought because of its incredible embroidery – it’s a wearable garment that can also serve as a reference piece for future projects. 🙂

It’s hard to see from this picture, but there’s some incredible gold accents on here in addition to the regular satin stitch embroidery.

I don’t see myself acquiring too many more antique garments unless they’re heirlooms/gifts, to be honest, but I deeply cherish the ones I own! I hope you’ve enjoyed this extended spotlight, and I look forward to seeing you back here next time here on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

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Mukashi no Sewing & Bay Area Kei Gramarye Present “The Afterlife of Clothes”

Hi friends! I’ve been working super hard on my presentation all week, and the time is nearly here! My presentation “The Afterlife of Clothes: Cleaning and Restoring Secondhand and Antique Clothes” will be live to watch on the Bay Area Kei Twitch Channel this Saturday, November 5th from 7:30-8:30pm Pacific Time. You don’t have to have a Twitch account to watch it, although you’ll need to make one if you want to interact/ask questions at the end. After the fact it will be uploaded to the Bay Area Kei YouTube Channel and I’ll be sure to link it on my blog as well so you can watch the replay!

There are a whole bunch of other amazing panels as well, and I hope you’ll support some of my fellow presenters! I’m particularly excited about FloatAwayLilly’s interactive panel “Rating the Anatomical Accuracy of Halloween Decor (and Lolita Pieces)” – I even submitted an image from one of my dresses for it. 🙂

I was recently out of state visiting my Aunt Sue and we hit an awesome fabric sale at her local store, so I’ve got some positively gorgeous new fabric and some really neat projects in the works. I hope to see you Saturday at my panel, and I look forward to seeing you here next week on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

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The Magic of Alternative Fashion

Bibliotheca October 2022 – Magic: Community Through Dressing Weird

Obtaining this dress was a magical little story all on its own – it came to me all the way from a girl in China! ❤

Welcome back to Mukashi no Sewing! This month’s theme for the Bay Area Kei Bibliotheca blog circle is “magic,” and my original plan was to talk about magical themes in lolita dresses and kimono that I own. I’m sure I’ll go down that path at some point (and I figured I could at least tantalize you with my Night Parade of 100 Demons dress above), but I wanted to talk about something else today so I hope you don’t mind! ❤

I have believed my whole life that clothes are magic, and wearing alternative fashion has only confirmed my initial hypothesis. When I was younger, they were a way to change who I was. I wanted to be braver, bolder, more interesting, more independent — and wearing alternative fashions (mostly Western Gothic styles) helped me transform into the person I hoped to become. Now that I am that person no matter what I’m wearing, I’ve found another magic to alternative fashion – connection.

Behind me: Finn. Off to my left somewhere: Ashleigh. 😀

I often wear lolita fashion for trips on our local ferry system. I wore this particular coordinate last month, and on the ride over it caught the attention of a couple out for a trip with their teenaged kids. We ended up talking for the entire ferry ride. He was also a martial artist, while she was fascinated by my clothes. Her son was really interested in Japan and I told him I studied Japanese in college and to follow his dreams. Her daughter loved our dogs and wanted to know all about greyhounds. Magic.

I can’t express enough how obsessed with ladies’ hakama I am now. SO COMFY.

At the Japanese Gardens with my parents, I met several people who were drawn in by my purple and white kimono and hakama. I made friends with a GORGEOUS lady who was also wearing J-fashion, and we exchanged Discord handles. An older docent at the garden asked if I had just graduated (I told her I just passed my black belt test, which felt like graduation enough to me!), and told me how happy she was to see someone wearing hakama as just wearing kimono was more common. A kind pair of folks started talking to me while I waited in line for tickets, and they ended up taking some really nice pictures of me with my family for us. Magic.

I dressed in only 30 minutes after a 12-hour day at an Iaido seminar including a four-round tournament. Please don’t hate on my ohashori! ❤

I have been taking kimono dressing lessons from Sparrow Sensei for several months, and what prompted me initially to start was knowing that there would be a banquet at the Iaido seminar in October of this year. I wanted to be able to wear kimono properly, and Sparrow worked patiently with me to help me get a handle on the process. My Iaido Sensei’s wife event lent me her gorgeous obi! And there’s no other word for how the night went than “magical.” I had so many people come up to me to tell me stories of their mothers’ kimono, or their wife’s, or their own. I’m quite low-rank still so it can be hard for me to approach higher-ranked people, but my kimono broke down those barriers and allowed us to connect just as fellow humans. Magic.

I couldn’t resist showing off another magical-themed dress. This one is literally called Magical Horoscope! 😀

No matter where I go I make connections with people thanks to wearing kimono, lolita, or historical fashion. The magic of beautiful and interesting clothes transcends culture, language, background, and rank. It makes little girls shout “She’s a princess!” and elderly ladies tell me how they love to see clothes from their childhood again. It’s made me friends from all over the world, and it’s even made this blog happen! So thank you for joining me on this magical journey, and I’ll see you next week here on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

Check out what other members of Bibliotheca had to say about this month’s topic!
Dear Gabriella Marie Helps You Dress Like a Magical Girl
Dearie Dawn Casts a J-Fashion Spell
Forestsandtea Discusses the Magic of Mori

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Special Announcement, Plus 昔のSewing Returns Next Week!

I just learned how to properly wear women’s hakama from Sparrow-Sensei, and I’m obsessed.

Hi friends! My parents came to visit me this week, which has meant some absolutely delightful strolls at the local Japanese Gardens plus a lot of very tasty food…but not much sewing! 🙂 Your regular scheduled programming will return next week, but I did want to make a very exciting announcement! I’ve been accepted as a panelist at the virtual Japanese fashion event “Gramarye: Afterlife,” put on by Bay Area Kei. ❤ My panel will be on Saturday, November 5th from 7:30-8:30pm, and is called “The Afterlife of Clothes: Cleaning and Restoring Secondhand & Antique Clothes.” I’ll be talking about how to evaluate damaged or dirty secondhand/antique clothes, and tips and tricks on restoring and cleaning them based on some of the projects here on the blog (and some you haven’t seen!). There will even be a Q&A section at the end! You can watch the broadcast live on the Bay Area Kei Twitch channel, and it will also be posted afterwards to YouTube – I’ll be sure to link it when it’s up there. I hope you’ll join me there, and I will see you next week here on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

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Velveteen JSKs Restoration: The Sewing (Headdress)

Project 13, part 4 – The Best Form of Flattery (Part 1, part 2, part 3 here)

Muslin is just so dang useful. Why waste paper when I’ve got scraps of fabric laying around?

Welcome back to Mukashi no Sewing! With my dresses cleaned, it was time to turn my attention to crafting a headdress to match the red velveteen dress. (I already have an ADORABLE black velveteen headdress with white lace from the incomparable Summertales Boutique to match the black dress!) Originally I was going to use a pattern from a Gothic and Lolita Bible based on a Metamorphose headdress, since my dress is by Meta. However, I’m quite picky with how my headdresses look, and I decided to ensure I liked the look of it by copying my favorite rectangle headdress from Baby, the Stars Shine Bright.

Ladder Lace Spin Doll Headdress by BtSSB (2021).

The nice thing about using an existing headdress for inspiration was not having to innovate on what trimmings to buy. Etsy shops Kabooco, One Stop Stitched, and HairBowCenter provided the crochet laces and grosgrain ribbon (and very quick shipping, I might add!). The cotton velveteen is what REALLY held up the process. It turns out not many fabric stores carry velveteen that isn’t for upholstery. Upholstery-weight velveteen has a very short pile and is nowhere near as luxurious as I was hoping for, and also doesn’t seem to come in the color I needed. Sigh. I went pretty far afield locally too, but finally ended up having to take a few tries on online orders. After some misses in terms of color/quality, I finally found a cabernet cotton velveteen from Robert Kaufman that was a pretty close match. It’s not quite as ruby red, but considering it will be separated from the dress by being on top of my head, I felt like it was close enough!

I don’t know why the insertion lace I ordered came with ivory ribbon already in it, but I replaced it with the burgundy ribbon I bought!

Assembly/sewing was a bit of a puzzle at first – I had to reverse-engineer my existing headdress and figure out what order everything needed to go down in! Originally I intended to use my sewing machine, but I quickly realized that to get everything to lay correctly I would need to hand-sew the entire piece.

I bought new pins! These pins from Clover are SO much nicer than my old ones.

I’m really glad I bought two yards of the cluny lace. I originally thought I would only need a little over a yard, but I ALWAYS forget how much extra yardage pleating takes up!

OK, I lied, I did use my sewing machine once – just to create the loops for the bows!

The bows on the end were super simple – just loops of ribbon secured in the center with a few stitches, then covered with another folded cut of ribbon. I heat-sealed the edges of all the ribbon as well before I sewed everything down. Then I added a layer of interfacing to the bottom piece of velveteen before whip-stitching the raw edges inside.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAH!! It looks so professional!

I am SOOOOOOOOOOO happy with how this turned out! It will match really well with my Velveteen Princess JSK, of course, but it’s also going to be exceptionally versatile with the rest of my wardrobe as I have several dresses with a base color of bordeaux or ivory that will look tremendous with it.

I don’t have clothing labels, so I decided to embroider the “mukashi” from “Mukashi no Sewing” as my mark!

I’ve always been a little worried about sewing my own lolita accessories, as getting the “vibe” right can be very tricky. Using an existing piece as my guide helped quite a bit, and although the construction is similar I think I really made it my own! Now I just need to create some neckties for my dress to complete the project, so join me next time here on Mukashi no Sewing to see how it turns out! ❤

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Velveteen JSKs Restoration: The Cleaning (Black Dress)

Project 13, part 3 – Actual Stain Removal This Time (Part 1, part 2 here)

The buttons down the front of this dress make it super versatile!

Welcome back to Mukashi no Sewing! Last time I found that on the red dress the ivory lace was always intended to be ivory, but this time there were actual stains on the lace of the black dress that needed cleaning. 😀

See!? They’re real!!

I wasn’t as worried about the black dye of this dress running, but I still wanted to spot test to ensure I wouldn’t have any issues.

All good! Whew!

I really didn’t want to immerse the entire dress in water, so I decided to try a new technique for spot-cleaning! I’d heard about “Nellie’s WOW Stick” from some fellow lolitas on Discord (who saw it on TikTok), and I picked it up along with a new spray bottle so I didn’t risk any contamination from prior solutions in the bottle.

A steady supply of old towels is critical to my fashion game.

I saturated the lace with water, then scrubbed it with the WOW Stick, and then headed over to the sink…

The yellow in the basin is from the lace!! ACK! Gross!

…where I spent just AGES rinsing it out. The sensation was awful. It was slimy…but not like soap? Just…weird? It is utterly impossible to overstate how stressful this process was for me. I literally had to stop multiple times, go to another sink, wash and dry my hands, and then return to the rinsing. I felt crazier than usual because my hands were already wet and soapy, but at the same time, I absolutely needed the mental relief of cleaning them properly. I wouldn’t really want to do this again if I could help it, at least for as long as this took me.

Worth. Barely.

But…it worked! Regrettably, I had to actually do the process twice because the first time I didn’t rinse it out enough, and the tips of the lace ended up yellow while the rest was white. By the second round (and with me completely out of sanity points), though, the lace was clean! Who knows how long those stains had been there – this dress is over 20 years old – but they either came out entirely or were lightened to the point that they weren’t visible at arm’s length which is my general requirement. 🙂

I’m really pleased that this worked so well, and now that both dresses are clean I can turn my attention to replacing the neck ties and sewing a headdress to complete the set for my red velvet dress! So join me next time to find out just how hard it can be to find matching velveteen here on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

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Seasonal Dress Changes for Autumn/Winter in the Victorian and Meiji Eras

Bibliotheca September 2022 – Preparation: Here We Come to the Turning of the Seasons

I’m SO ready for autumn! ❤

Welcome back to Mukashi no Sewing! This month’s theme for the Bay Area Kei Bibliotheca blog circle was suggested by the fabulous Cupcake Kamisama: “preparation.” And what perfect timing! Last week (at the time of writing) was the Autumn Equinox here in the Northern Hemisphere which is when I traditionally prepare for the cooler weather by putting away my summer blouses and unboxing long-sleeved blouses, capes, and cloaks. I only have two boxes of seasonal clothing to swap out, but what about my Victorian and Edo-period sisters? 😀

Girl on the Right looks SO over this party.

What women wore in the winter in Victorian England and America varied based on where they lived, of course, but much like in Japan Victorian houses were much colder than modern ones. It may surprise you that often summer and winter clothes alike were made of wool, but it breathes and wears well, so often women of smaller means would wear dresses (technically a two-piece ensemble) and gowns (one-piece garments) of wool in both summer and winter. Wealthier women might have whole wardrobes just for the summer, of course, and cotton and linen were very popular for that season for those with the means. In that case, they would definitely transition to wool or silk come autumn, however!

If any of these ladies want to sell me their coats, they know where to find me. 😀

Victorian women of all classes tended to prepare for winter chiefly with accessories, particularly coats, wrappers, and cloaks. Fur and feather trims were added for those who could afford them, but everyone had something to drape over their dress. Full-length coats were more common in the Natural Form era of the 1870s, whereas in the second Bustle Era of the 1880s dolmans were more common. (A dolman is a coat with draping sleeves that either stops at the waist in back but drapes in front, or is cut/pleated in back to accommodate the bustle.) Cloaks and capes were popular throughout the era in different cuts and styles, and remain one of my favorite types of winter garment! (Just wait until you see the tartan and velvet cloak I have for this autumn…) 🙂

I’m SO glad I bought these boots when they released; I’ve never seen anything like them since. Image from American Duchess.

As far as additional accessories, the sky was the limit! Fur muffs were very popular for warming the hands, and might even have a hot water bottle tucked inside! Fur-lined carriage boots could be laced over normal shoes for additional warmth and to protect them against the cold, and warmer hats or even veils against the snow and wind were common as well. Women also doubled up on their undergarments – adding flannel petticoats or drawers, or additional layers of silk ones under their skirts for more warmth. In short, just like today, women layered up, added winter-specific accessories, and changed the fabric of their garments when practical to stay cozy all winter long!

All right, buckle up. Image from The Kimono Lady.

A lot of what we know about seasonal kimono changes in the Edo period in Japan is preserved in rules governing appropriate kimono wear for tea ceremony practitioners today. There are a lot of little micro-rules for modern folks as you can see above, but the average woman in the later part of the Edo period would likely have owned three types of kimono – cotton (for the absolute heat of summer – in the earlier period it would have been a bast fiber like hemp), unlined silk for the spring and autumn shoulder seasons, and lined silk for the depth of winter.

Traditionally awase kimono were worn for about eight months out of the year, so it’s the most common type. Image from PrintsOfJapan.

While the dates for changing clothes for tea ceremony are quite strict (yes the book I linked is nearly 800 pages long, and yes I own it), kimono in the Edo period (and for fashion today) was dictated by the actual local weather conditions. Japan covers over 2000 miles north to south, after all! Typically by October, though, most Edo-period women would have switched to lined kimono to ward off the cold.

Edo-period hanten, from Wikimedia Commons

Just like ladies in Victorian England/America, Japanese women in the Edo period would start piling on the accessories as it got colder! Hanten, or thigh-length padded jackets, were the most common, and upper class women might wear a full-length padded over-kimono called an uchikake. Under-layers might include warmer juban (under-kimono), or even pants to keep warm. They also often wore scarves over their hair and face to keep out the wind and snow. Upper-class women (who took their fashion cues from the courtesans of Yoshiwara during the Edo period) might wear long-toothed geta, or sandals, to keep their feet out of snowdrifts and puddles, as well! They also huddled under kotatsu (tables with a brazier underneath, covered by a quilt) when inside for additional coziness.

“Can I stop posing now please!?” Image from the 1890s, so technically Meiji!

Honestly, I’m already looking forward to wearing both my capes and my lined kimono! 😀 No matter where you live, there are probably some seasonal changes in your climate that need preparing for – when I lived in Southern California, this was about when I gritted my teeth and braced for the Santa Ana winds – and the need to stay comfortable in one’s clothes hasn’t changed much over the centuries! I hope you’ve enjoyed learning how women in the Victorian and Edo periods prepared their autumn and winter wardrobes, and I look forward to seeing you back here next week on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

Check out what other members of Bibliotheca had to say about this month’s topic!
Cupcakes and Unicorns Plans Her Outfits in Advance
Mahou Queen Prepares to Attend Meetups

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Spotlight: Storage and Curation (Part 3)

Spotlight 11-3: I Had to Take a Lot of Photos (Part 1, part 2 here)

This fukuro obi is one of my favorite new acquisitions! Just look at it!

Welcome to the third part of Mukashi no Sewing’s eleventh spotlight! As I mentioned last time, the original post ended up being SUPER long, so I’ve split it into three sections. This is the second curation post, covering my kimono collection!

Kimono are the next level up in pickiness with regards to curation of what I choose to own. I wear kimono approximately once a month, so I have decided to keep a mere 13 kimono in my collection as of the original writing of this post. They’re evenly split between formal and informal kimono, and between lined/unlined kimono. This gives me a surprisingly good selection for each season and for formality levels within those seasons. For example, in summer I could wear my Totoro yukata for informal occasions/festivals, or my open weave lavender Edokomon with one crest for a formal occasion! (As a side note, formality is determined by many things in kimono, such as the fabric, type and placement of the design, and number of crests. Factors affecting seasonality include fabric, lining, and motifs within the design!)

Totoro yukata from Acorn Republic. Try and tell me this isn’t incredible!
The little “modesty triangle” covering the crest is to prevent dye transfer during storage. (The crest portion is undyed silk.)

Just like with lolita, I’m very picky about fit. For lolita clothes, the relevant measurements are bust and waist. With kimono, the most important ones for me are the mitake – the length of the kimono (measured from the center back at the base of the collar to the hem) and the yuki – how far the sleeves extend from the center back toward the wrist. The ideal length is the same as your height, +/- 10 cm. So for me that means between 157-177 cm, although I really prefer 160-165 cm. The only exceptions in my collection are my two antique kimono (at 144 and 150 cm) and my vintage purple yagasuri kimono at 154 cm. (As a side note, I’ve been reading a really great book called Rethinking Fashion Globalization, and the editors pointed out that italicizing non-English words contributes to the “othering” of those cultures and languages. So I’ve made the decision to follow their lead with words in Japanese that I use here on the blog!)

Spoiler alert: you can expect to see a post sometime soon about this antique beauty that I just acquired! 😀

As my kimono collection is much more limited in scope than my lolita wardrobe, I’ve been correspondingly more restricted with the colors in it. I’ve chosen to keep my palette to shades of purples, reds, black/grey, white/cream, and a bit of green. There are occasional accents of pink and blue, especially amongst my haori, but mostly I’ve stuck to that set of colors. (This doesn’t include accessories such as obiage and obijime, which allow me for a very low price to splash in some fun colors like yellow or navy to change up the look of a coordinate!) Being strict about this keeps me from buying new kimono that would also require a whole new assortment of obi and accessories to wear properly – I can admire a lovely piece from afar without feeling the need to purchase it. It also keeps my collection trim by helping me let go of pieces that are too similar to one another – for example, I kept my wool yagasuri kimono (on the left below), and chose to sell the purple striped tsumugi one on the right as they essentially fulfilled the same function (very casual & season-agnostic) and had exactly the same color as well.

1960s purple yagasuri wool kimono in my personal collection.
Purple striped tsumugi silk kimono, sold to Discord community member.

The final thing I consider with regards to my kimono is the balance of modern vs traditional patterns/designs. Nine of my thirteen kimono are more traditional patterns, and of the four modern ones two of them can actually pass for traditional with the right styling. I’m not sure this is the right balance currently, to be honest. When I need a more traditional kimono, I REALLY need it to be right for the Time/Place/Occasion (such as for an upcoming Iaido banquet I’ll be attending), and I also really adore arrow fletching (yabane/yagasuri) and crane designs, so my collection has trended more traditional. However, I find it a little difficult to wear those more formal kimono out and about, so I wouldn’t mind a couple more modern designs (in washable fabrics!) to round out my wardrobe.

You can view my whole kimono collection here on Pinterest if you’re interested! I had to take a LOT of photographs…

A bonus consideration for me is things that my kitsuke teacher, Sparrow, recommends to me. Thus far this has mostly been undergarments and dressing accessories, but they also recently suggested that I should add to my collection of obiage and obijime so I did so immediately! They also did mention that I will never need more than one kurotomesode so with some relief I stopped looking at pretty ones on Yahoo Japan Auctions. 😀

Please follow Sparrow-Sensei’s YouTube channel! Their videos are incredibly informative and so relaxing to listen to as well!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the second installment of how I curate my various garment collections! The third and final post will cover my antique clothing collection. I look forward to seeing you back here next time here on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

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