It’s 30 degrees in France today and all day I’ve been wearing my new blue Sha kimono with white yabane.
This kimono cost only 99 cents on Ebay – I was the only bidder – and was described as ‘mixed fabric’. The yabane pattern is a stylised arrow fletch and is one of the most ancient patterns seen on kimono.
When it arrived, I quickly decided it was rayon. I know this partly from the feel but also because I did a burn test, cutting off the tiny scrap of fabric that is left over inside the sleeve edge gathering. This is a spare bit of kimono I’ve found quite useful for burn testing. You hold the fabric securely in tweezers, light it and check the results. In this case, no smell of burning hair (therefore not a protein fibre), no sticky black residue or plastic smell (so not synthetic), and very weak and crumbly black fibres with the surrounding fibres noticeably weakened (an indicator for rayon).
I’m not sure how old this kimono is – somewhere between the 1930s and the 1950s by the feel of it, and also judging by the long sleeves. Long sleeves are seen on girls’ kimono even now, but this is a kimono for an adult woman – hence the squared-off sleeve edge. Such long sleeves were more common on this kind of kimono in the Showa era.
This kimono is too short to fold at the waist and create an ohashori, so today I secured it with elastic and just tied a ribbon round it. Then I decided to tie the elastic over the ribbon to create a two-tone effect, like an extremely narrow obi (see below). I secured the neck shut with a brooch (left) – a measure that I find works well for me, though as a long-term solution, I think velcro might work better. I’ll also consider adding interior ties, given that an ohashori isn’t possible.
Afficionados will notice that I’ve worn this kimono without a juban, as if it was a yukata. It is a tiny bit see-through, but not too much, and the rayon fibre is very cool against the skin. Because I do wear western underwear underneath too, rather than Japanese, I also secured each open side panel with a single stitch about two inches below the sleeve join. This leaves the side body open, but stops it from gaping and showing your bra.
I’ve felt extremely comfortable all day in this kimono, which is light, airy and has cool colours with the white and blue. It also has a massive stain on one breast, but it’s not actually all that noticeable and I hope will come out in time. If it doesn’t, I’ll consider fabric painting over it or overdyeing.
The reason that kimonos are so wonderful to wear in the heat is that they protect your skin from the sun from neck to feet, but are open under the arms, which makes them very breezy items for a hot summer day like today.