Work done for City and Guilds Level 3 Certificate in Embroidery with Distant Stitch.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Module 2 Chapter 12 Kimono completed!


Something approximating 140 hours in total and at last this huge but immensely enjoyable project is completed.  Apart from the writing up that is.  I have all the information on costing, time taken and so on, which I shall organise and post later, but right now I need a bit of a break!

I cannot believe how much joy this project has given me and I am delighted with the results.  The fact that I have been able to put so much of myself into the project is something that has pleased me very much and a definite sign to myself about the direction in which my work is progressing.  In other courses I’ve done, the projects have really belonged to the tutors but this is definitely my own.  Thank you Sian.  You have given me suggestions, encouragement, advice, criticism, ideas to try (and even a gentle kick up the backside when I needed it!) but without ever taking over my project.  A sign of a really gifted teacher.

I have asked my niece, a professional photographer, to take some really good photos of my kimono, but for the moment, here are my own efforts.


The back of the kimono:

2.12.KB1 overview

In the back and left front of the kimono, I used hand running stitch to secure the patches.  I used vertical stitches on the left front and horizontal stitches on the back.  In order to pursue the idea that Nanki Poo was really a rich, high status young man, who was only pretending to be a poor, ragged minstrel, a few rows of stitching at random are done in pure silk thread  (the rest is cotton).  I used machine stitching to secure the patches on both sleeves as well as on the seminole patchwork block.


2.12.KB2 left sleeve

2.12.KB2 was made by weaving strips of shibori-dyed fabric and commercially dyed dark blue fabric on a base of lightweight iron-on interfacing.  The strips were then secured by stitching lines of zigzag stitching both horizontally and vertically at each side of each strip.


2.12.KB3 detail of left shoulder

The above block (2.12.KB3) was made by ironing random strips of fabric onto lightweight iron-on interfacing.  To secure the strips, vertical rows of machine stitching were done with variegated thread, using a zigzag stitch and altering the stitch width as I sewed.

2.12.KB4 “virtual patches”

2.12.KB4 was made by printing and stitching a rectangle of commercially dyed dark blue cotton to simulate applied patches. 

2.12.KB5 Sashiko

The block in the centre right of 2.12.KB5 is a traditional Sashiko stitch.  It portrays the hemp plant, which is very hardy and grows vigorously.  It is meant to signify a long and healthy life.  It is often put onto children’s garments, in the hope that it will impart the plant’s strength and vigorous growth to the wearer.  I hope it will give me the strength and vigour to get through the other 6 modules in the Certificate!


2.12.KB6 block-printed cotton

During the course of this project, I attended a drawing workshop, where I did a detailed drawing of feathers.  Inspired by this drawing, I made a print block from Fabfoam and used it to print feathers onto plain white cotton.  2.12.KB6 shows the result.

2.12.KB7 Seminole Patchwork

Towards the right of 2.12.KB7, you can see a seminole patchwork block.  In it, long strips of fabric have been stitched together and then cut into strips at an angle before being moved around and stitched back together.  The fabrics are a mixture of block printed fabrics, shibori dyed fabrics and a commercially dyed dark blue.  I wanted a contrast for this block from the horizontal lines of shibori stitches I had used on the rest of the back.  I had a second seminole block which I used to experiment until I found something I liked.  I settled on machine stitched lines of sewing, in a fine, shiny variegated rayon thread, using a narrow zigzag with a longish stitch length, so that the stitching could seem to appear and disappear.  I didn’t want it too dominant, since the sashiko hand stitching on the rest of the back was so bold.

2.12.KB8 More Sashiko

2.12.KB8 shows a Sashiko pattern I made up, again inspired by my feather drawing.  I liked how this stitching turned out and it looked quite light and fluffy, reminding me of down feathers.  Living in the North-East of Scotland and being a cold, shivery creature, warmth and cosiness are important to me, signifying safety and protection and so this is what this Sashiko pattern signifies for me.  I hope that my kimono will give this protection and warmth to the wearer.  Just above and behind the Sashiko block is another piece of block printed cotton, this time a home-made block inspired by the birds’ footprints in the snow around my bird table.


2.12.KB9 back of right sleeve

This is a quieter part, still with random applied blocks, but with less contrast of tone as a rest for the eye from the busy-ness of the rest of the pattern.  Dyed and monoprinted fabrics are used, secured by quietly regular lines of straight machine stitching.


The front of the kimono:

2.12.KF1 overview of kimono front

The left front of the kimono is formed from random patches of fabrics: shibori dyed, monoprinted and block printed.  Vertical rows of hand running stitch secure the patches.  There is quite a bit of contrast within the left front although the overall tone (half closing the eyes) is fairly light.  To add variety, I made the right front darker and quieter, formed from strips of hand and commercially dyed fabrics woven together and secured by machine stitching in the same way as the left sleeve.  There is less contrast between the two fabrics in the right front than in the left sleeve and the resulting squares are smaller in the right front.  I wanted the left sleeve and right front to reflect each other but not be identical (the same but different).  The same is true of the left front and right sleeve.  I hoped thereby to give a rhythm going through the kimono, reflecting the rhythms in the minstrel’s “ballads, songs and snatches”.  I also tried to achieve this rhythm in the placing of the patches on each part of the garment.  I made the collar plain dark blue to be a quieter contrast.


2.12.KF2 front of right sleeve

As can be seen above in 2.12.KF2, the front of the right sleeve is a bit busier and more colourful than the back, while still being light enough to give a contrast in tone with the right front.  Fabrics used are dyed and monoprinted fabrics as well as one piece of Sashiko stitching.  It came from a drawing of the way the feathers sit in layers on top of one another on a bird.  I was able to get a close-up photograph of a swift which had stunned itself by flying into a window.  Just after I took the photograph, it flew off, quite recovered.  To me then, this Sashiko block represents the freedom to fly, to express what is in my nature, without restrictions.


2.12.KF3 detail of left front

2.12.KF3 above and 2.12.KF4 below show some of the patches used in the left front.  Some are shibori-dyed, some printed from home-made print blocks, some are monoprints, one is a print from a real feather, one is a lino-print and one is formed by dipping a feather in white paint (acrylic mixed with fabric medium) and flicking it at random over a piece of dark blue cotton.

2.12.KF4 detail of front


Finally, above, an overview of the kimono, laid out with the back uppermost, to show how the pattern flows from the back to the two fronts.  I was particularly careful to try to balance the pattern when one pattern piece joined another, so as to have the rhythm continue over all parts of the garment.  I am pleased with how it has worked out.


Details of costings, health and safety measures observed, etc., to follow soon, along with more photos.


  1. Well done Catherine - what a marathon. You must be delighted. I can't wait to see it at Summer School!

  2. Catherine, its gorgeous! I love the hand stitching and the 'virtual patches'. The whole kimono looks like an antique patchwork, pieced and patched together with love over many years. The attention to detail is amazing!

  3. Catherine let congratulate you. You have done something wonderful. The kimono is a valuable manual work and you can wear it with pride. It absolutely corresponds to your style and your personality.

  4. What a great achievement! Any chance of a private viewing!!!
    All the best, put your feet up and enjoy your pause, think you could be building snowmen in next couple of days. Cheers, lifting a wee dram to your success.

  5. Many congratulations on finishing your kimono, Catherine. Having followed your progress and seen you prepare and stitch the individual pieces it is fantastic to look at the final garment. I hope Siân will include a catwalk session in the Summer School timetable :-)

  6. Congratulations Catherine. Your kimono is absolutely superb. I particularly love the sashiko stitching and your printed feathers fabrics. I look forward to seeing what you will do in the next module

  7. Well done on achieving such a beautiful piece.

  8. Your kimono is gorgeous and so worth your effort - well done.

  9. well worth all the effort Catherine it's fabulous

  10. This is such a lovely piece, full of detail. I love your virtual patches in particular. Wonderful to have made something that gives you such pleasure.

  11. Well done Catherine, this is such a beautiful piece of work and I'll look forward to seeing you and the kimono it at summer school

  12. Excellent - looking forward to seeing it too!!