Octopus’ Garden

A few months ago, my father ordered this incredible octopus obi from 3Magpies Studio for me as a Christmas present. It was a pre-order and I knew it would arrive after the holidays, but I didn’t mind a bit. I knew it would be worth the wait. Also included was an incredible matching haneri, which unfortunately doesn’t seem to be available any more. I love how the tentacles just seem to be creeping in, and can’t wait to pair this with other outfits.

The obi nearly got lost in the mail – it was scanned leaving Poland and then the tracking never updated again for over a month. It finally showed up last week, much to everyone’s relief. I’m so happy it found its way home, because it’s awesome!

I really wanted to make sure the focus stayed on the fantastic obi, so I pulled out the red tones for the kimono. This one is covered in tiny ume, but from a distance they totally look like the suckers on the octopus tentacles. It’s a match made in watery, undersea heaven. I kept things simple with more white and red accessories. My initial plan was to use this rhinestone octopus obidome as well, but in the end it felt distracting and sometimes enough really is enough. One day I’ll likely pair them up, maybe with a different kimono to pull the blue colour in somewhere else and feel more cohesive.

Items used in this coordination

DIY Sanjuhimo Tutorial

While not necessary, a sanjuhimo (三重紐, triple string) is one of those tools that is an enormous help when making big ornate furisode obi-musubi. They can be a little hard to find online, especially if you’re only able to use English-language sites, although KimonoPoncho on Etsy often has them for sale.

Today was a damp, dreary day and I’m feeling a little under the weather with no energy to go out or do anything big so it was a good time to do a little crafting. I thought it would be pretty straightforward to make my own, and I was right! If you’d like to make your own, just keep reading.

You will need

  1. 2.5cm(1″) wide durable non-stretch trim – I used rug-binding tape, which works very well
  2. 2.5cm(1″) wide elastic
  3. Strong thread – I used cotton-wrapped polyester
  4. A strong sewing needle
  5. Scissors
  6. Measuring tape or guide

 

  • Measure out three pieces of elastic 25cm (10″) long, and two pieces of the non-stretch tape 60cm(24″) long.
  • Thread your needle with a doubled length of thread for extra reinforcement.
  • Overlap the three pieces of elastic and one piece of cotton tape by roughly 2.5c(1″).
  • Using small stitches, sew the pieces together using a square shape with an X in it. Since this will be pulled taut and supporting the obi, you want to make sure the tension is spread across a wider area than a single line.
  • Repeat this step with the other tape and other ends of the elastic, so you now have three strips of elastic in the centre of a long band of cotton tape.

That’s all there is to it! Simply tie the sanjuhimo around the top of your obi, like you would with an obi-makura, and have fun experimenting. For some really great video tutorials using a tool like this, check out さんさんmama on YouTube. If you make one and use it, I’d love to see!

Adjusting obi width to your proportions

Recently, a discussion on the Immortal Geisha facebook page got me thinking about folded obi width and size. Typically, a fukuro obi is folded in half before wrapping it around your torso, and for the average Japanese frame this looks balanced and proportional. However. many of us are not lucky enough to have a typically petite, slight build, and sometimes a narrower obi can make us look oddly cut-off or silly.

So what I thought I would do was take multiple pictures of the mannequin at differing heights, in the same outfit but with the obi tied at different widths. Obviously, this can only be done most easily with a full-width or unsewn obi, but the principle can be applied to tying a hanhaba or nagoya obi as well; just overlap the wraps to give the impression of a wider or narrower band.

The following two sets of photos have the mannequin set at approximately 167 cm (5’6″) and 180 cm (6′). The first obi on each is folded to roughly 12 cm (5″), the second is folded in half at roughly 16 cm (6″), and the third is folded to 20 cm (8″). As you can see, the obi width changes the overall balance of the outfit without being obviously “incorrect”. It’s a subtle difference, but if you’re very tall like I am, or very short, adjusting your obi can make a significant difference.

Love your height, be it “too tall” or “too short”! We’ve all got our challenges, and there are always tricks to making things work. 🙂

Items used in this coordination

DIY Obi Remnant Purse

Eons ago, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, a bunch of my friends and I went in on a huge obi bundle and separated it amongst ourselves. Mixed in with all the obi was this piece of lovely karabana fabric. It had a few small pleats in one end, and I suspect someone had grand plans to turn it into a pre-tied obi. However. there was just barely enough to make the otaiko and nothing that would have worked for the waist part. So for the longest time, it just sat in my to-do pile, while I pondered and waffled and tried to figure out what I could do with it.

As you can clearly see, I finally found the time and inclination to turn it into a very unique purse. The obi remnant was just about the perfect size to make a roomy satchel with a flap closure. My initial plan was to simply sew the back to the front and make a sort of a thin clutch-style bag. I searched for hardware at a few places here in town but wasn’t finding anything I liked. My next plan was to order parts online, but I figured before I did that I would hit up my favourite local thrift store and see if there were any bags I could cannibalise for parts. I found this absolutely perfect beige suede bag with soft gold trim and hardware that just happened to be an exact match to the soft gold in the obi fabric. The bag was under five dollars, which wouldn’t even have been enough to cover the shipping for buying parts online. It was meant to be!

Instead of just sewing the sides shut, I inserted panels from the exterior of the purse. This not only makes my bag look much more finished, it also makes it nice and roomy inside. There was also a rusty orange lining that matched the orange flowers on the obi fabric, so I carefully picked the inside apart and used the inside pockets to give myself a little extra storage and organisation. I also pulled the snap closure off the thrifted purse and inserted it into the fabric, adding a small filigree metal piece and a fabric flower to reinforce the snap closure a bit. The last touch was gluing on some ribbon trim along the top edge of the purse interior, because the fabric is quite old and I was worried about it fraying from the strain.

I couldn’t be happier with how this purse turned out. It’s a great size, my Surface even fits snugly into it for travel. My only concern is that since the obi fabric is quite old, I’m worried about snagging or staining it. If it weren’t for that, I’d be using this bag every day, I think.

Feeling a little Crabby…

It’s been a long week! I was called in to work for two extra days, and as much as I love my job everyone has a limit before the start getting a bit crabby, right? Thankfully today I was able to stay home and work on some things that didn’t require leaving the house, so when time came to take a little break I decided to use that time productively and work with an obi I got recently and had no idea what to do with.

Naomi found this obi on Yahoo Japan literally years ago, and it had been sitting in a box ever since, following her around as she moved. She finally found the time to mail it to me and man, was it ever worth the wait. I love crustacean motifs, and this obi is no exception. It’s a gorgeous old chuuya obi with crabs and lobsters on the purple side. The other side is more “normal”, featuring a design of flowers and drums on solid black. It’s a nice bonus, to be certain, but this obi really is all about the pinchy sea creatures! It’s in rough shape, and the design placement is very odd, which makes it hard to tie. Eventually I’m going to turn it into a reversible tsuke-obi but until then I figured I could find a way to make it work on the mannequin.

The kimono is one of the first casual-style kimono I ever purchased and to this day it remains one of my favourites it work with. It’s a thick, woven silk which makes it slightly rough and a dream to tie because it grips and stays where you put it. The pattern has always reminded me of fishing nets, so it seemed like a match made in crustacean heaven! I decided to run with orange accessories to emphasize the pattern, and realised afterwards that the shibori obiage is also vaguely reminiscent of fish roe, which was an accident but works perfectly. Unfortunately, I now have the Big Bag of Crabs song from Weebl’s Stuff stuck in my head. Things could be worse, I suppose!

Items used in this coordination