Bold, Bright, Beautiful

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Yesterday I got two obi in the mail that I wasn’t expecting until at least a few weeks from now. It was a lovely surprise! Of course, I knew I’d want to coordinate them soon, so I asked you guys on Facebook and Instagram which of the two I should coordinate. This bold black and red tsubaki nagoya won by a landslide, so here we go.

I couldn’t decide if I wanted to go with a very subdued kimono to really show off the obi, or something a bit more bright to try to balance it out visually. Then I remembered that this giant poly komon (one of two kimono I own that currently fit my fat butt) has accents of pretty much the exact same colours – red, cream, and yellow/gold. Loud and busy won the day, as it often does in my life lately!

Because the pattern on the obi is so large and graphic it almost reads as quiet next to the busy quality of the kimono. I think that rather than competing for attention they complement each other beautifully. I went with a solid yellow haneri because I figured there was enough going on with the two main pieces that I didn’t want to introduce yet another pattern or visual element. As for the obiage and obijime, I know I use these so often but they just work with so many of my things. I still don’t quite understand how such obnoxious, lemon-yellow accessories match basically everything, but they do. Kimono sorcery!

The finishing touch was a brooch that belonged to my grandmother. I’m not sure what the stone in the centre is, but it’s a perfect match to the kimono, and brings just the right pop of teal in to break up the obi slightly.

Items used in this coordination

Say Hello to Akane!

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Everyone, please say hello to Akane!

I found this little lady on a shelf at my favourite vintage shop. She’s not particularly old; she’s made of a sort of soft vinyl instead of ceramic and gofun, and seems relatively mass-produced. Nonetheless I was utterly charmed by her and knew I had to bring her home. I was drawn immediately by her bright red kimono, which inspired me to name her Akane (茜), which means deep red and is a traditional girls’ name.

Unfortunately that kimono was pretty much all she had! There was a piece of cardboard wrapped in pink satin tied around her waist like a sort of obi, and a scraggly little piece of twine in her hair, but she had no real accessories or anything, so I decided to make her some custom pieces as well as give her a bit of a glow-up. I did take photos of the whole process, but since it was done more to relax and unwind I took the photos on my phone, wherever I happened to be working so I apologise for the quality and messy background of some of these.

Her face shape is adorable, but it felt very flat due to a lack of shading. She did have some pink blush on her cheeks but aside from that, she honestly looked like a cute potato. She also had lower eyelashes but no upper ones, and nearly invisible eyebrows. Using a combination of actual cosmetics and chalk pastels I gave her some shadows and contouring, deepened the flush on her cheeks, and gave her eyelashes and more defined eyebrows. It’s a subtle change, but she’s gone from a potato to a peach. You can also see the false eri I sewed for her to give the impression of a proper under-layer.

Next up was fixing her hair. Her bangs were quite uneven, but much worse was her hair in the back. I’m not sure if someone tried to trim her hair at some point or if she was made this way, but her hair was very lopsided in the back! I straightened it out and snipped away any broken or kinked hairs I could find. Then I tucked these cute little plum blossoms Kansai_gal sent me. They’re actually from packaging or something but I like that I’ve given them a second life. Since her head is vinyl I was able to just push a straight pin through them and they’re very solidly anchored in there.

With the cosmetic aspects taken care of, I got to work giving her a proper obi. I used some scrap kimono fabric and sewed a cute little tsuke-obi, and used some of the same textured white fabric from the eri to make an obiage. The whole thing attaches with a magnet and then a length of gold cord works as an obijime. Her socks are a bit of a cheat – they’re simply two fingers off a pair of white cotton polishing gloves! They fit her more perfectly than anything I could have sewn.

I’ve never named a doll I’ve fixed up before, but none of them have captivated me nearly as much as this little girl has. All the others reside in a display cabinet but she lives on my bedside table. Maybe I should sew a little zabuton for her to sit on. XD

Pastel Pearl-fection!

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I bought this pearl ribbon thing a while back with the intention of using it in kitsuke and somehow never got around to it. When I was looking for an inspirational jumping-off point for today’s outfit I remembered I still had them and decided to work off that.

Pearls, to me, needed a really sweet and feminine outfit, so it was time to bust out this gorgeous blue furisode with pink accents again.  I went with the solid deep rose side of my sakura chuuya obi, and decided to use the pearls as something between an obijime and a pattern itself. I really like how this looks! I also covered up a pink embroidered haneri with more pearls because sometimes more is more. The obi provides a bit of visual weight to an otherwise very light and airy kimono. Previously, all the coordinations I’ve done with this piece have been with white or silver based obi, and it’s pretty cool to see how different it feels with something richer and more colourful.

I also had fun improvising the obi musubi, it sort of looks like a cross between a fukura suzume and a han-darari. It feels very sweet and youthful, and took advantage of this soft, floppy obi well I think. A few more rose and white accessories just pulled the whole thing into a really pretty, girly, cohesive outfit.

Items used in this coordination

Scarves in Solidarity

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Today I am participating in the Scarves in Solidarity project, which aims to show support for the Muslim community in NZ by wearing a head scarf. It’s a small gesture, but one that helps show that we’re all united in the face of terror and white supremacy. Several years ago, Quebec had a much smaller but similarly motivated attack, so the attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, last Friday hit especially close to home here.

Personally, I am an atheist. However, I firmly believe that a place of worship (be it a mosque, church, synagogue, temple, shrine, or any other) should always be a place of hope, faith, and safety. To attack people in during their prayers is the height of cowardice. I wanted to do something to show my support for the survivors of this attack and their families.

Of course, I had to wear my beautiful mosque houmongi for this project; I could think of no more appropriate piece in my collection. I could barely get it around my hips, but I was determined to make it work.

I wore a light blue-green buff underneath to tame my unruly blue hair, and then this beautiful green and gold scarf over top, which ties in to the green and gold tones in the hem of the kimono. I think it looks perfect together. Gold obi and accessories finished off the outfit well.

Whatever your view on religion in general, or religious head-coverings may be, I think we can all agree that nobody deserves to be targeted for their beliefs. People of Christchurch, NZ, and Muslims around the world, we are with you.

Items used in this coordination

By Any Other Name

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This ikebana was a bit of an unplanned surprise. Alex, the great guy who runs my favourite local flower shop, occasionally holds little contests on their Facebook page. They had one on Monday, and whoever guessed the correct number of roses in this enormous bouquet would win a single rose. My father snagged it, so here we are!

I’m leaving for California in under a week, and I’m really trying to save all my money for that, so I decided to stay thrifty with this arrangement and use things I had in the house to complement it. The curly willow is leftover from previous ikebana, and the long green leaves were “borrowed” from a houseplant (Sorry mum!).

This is a really clean, simple piece that makes sure all the focus remains on the beautiful red rose, and I’m very pleased with it. It will give me something bright and lovely to look at until I leave for warmer pastures next Tuesday.