Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Some time ago, my mother sent me a package (as she so sweetly does from time to time) of bits of fabric. This package was a little different from the usual. It contained several pieces of vintage Japanese Yukata cottons.
The word "Yukata" not only refers to the cotton fabric, but it is also the name of the kimono shaped robe worn at home after bath; and as a cool, colorful kimono worn by young women at summer festivals.
Traditional Japanese Indigo - The use of the print patterns cut from tanned paper was devised in the EDO period (1600-1868). First a design was cut onto a print pattern made of tanned paper. The pattern was then placed on a sheet of cotton cloth and a paste of glutinous rice was spread over it. The paste covered the parts of cloth where the patterns were cut out. Once the cloth was dipped in the Japanese indigo dye, the parts not covered with the rice paste were dyed a deep blue. The tanned paper used for making the pattern consists of many layers of Japanese paper, glued together with persimmon tannin.
Traditionally these fabrics were dyed with indigo in deep blues. More recently, other bright and rich colors have been added. Yukata fabric comes in rolls approximately 14" wide and 13 yards long. One roll traditionally makes one Yukata kimono. The process of creating the beautifully hand stenciled and dyed cotton fabric is a complex and disappearing art. Yukata is colorfast, has no right or wrong side (the design is equally vibrant on both sides) and only improves with repeated washings, becoming softer and more comfortable.

These pictures don't do them justice, they are so intricate and vibrant. I am fascinated by the process used in the hand dying and stenciling. All of these pieces range from the 1960s through the 1970s.
This piece is my favorite, isn't it stunning?

I still don't know what I will end up making with these amazing fabrics, I know that one day it will just come to me. I think the last piece may end up stretched on a frame and hung as art, for that is what it is indeed.

These fabrics were purchased from Patricia Belyea at Yukata Craze. You could also do an internet search for Vintage Yukata Fabric if you are interested in purchasing some of this beautiful fabric for yourself! I think it would be wonderful used in quilts.

Thanks mom!


Rachelle Blondel said...

They are so lovely I was hoping for such a garment to be brought back from Japan by a certain husband but alas I got chopsticks :)

Sherri B. said...

Those are luscious fabrics and a great history lesson to go along with it. My favorite is the top and bottom photos, love the vibrant red...All of them would make a very special quilt indeed! xo

charlotte said...

wow what a lovely selection of beautiful printed fabric! Anyone would love them just to stare at and stroke!

dear olive said...

They are amazing! I adore that blue with the pinky flowers in the squares in the second photo. Thanks Mum! Kellie xx

greenrabbitdesigns said...

Absolutely beautiful fabric. :)
Thank you for a really interesting post!

Jennie said...

Wow wow wow!!!
I love the flowers on the dark backgrounds!

teddybearswednesday said...

these are absolutely stunning! I love the variety of prints and colours, strong and simple. I also love reading about the dyeing process and the history. xo

Sabrina said...

So interesting, I hadn't know anything about these fabrics before. My favorite is the indigo with chrysanthemums! Can't wait to see you use these one day!

june at noon said...

So gorgeous! Your mom sure has an eye for pretty finds for you!

Flaming Nora said...

Lucky lucky you, your Mom has a very good eye!

harmony and rosie said...

I think I would like to get to know your mum, especially since she sends such lovely parcels. They are gorgeous and thank you for sharing the link, I shall have to pop on over!
Happy weekend x