Playing with obis

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Here are my first attempts at tying a taiko musubi. Not bad for a beginner, I think.

I don’t normally kitsuke – dress in kimono Japanese style – but on Saturday it was pouring it down with rain, so I thought I’d give it a try.

I have in a few fukuro obis, bought for display – they normally hang from a couple of short poles in the living room. So here are my first attempts at tying the classic taiko musubi (the kimono throughout is my new brown meisen with holly leaves from Kofudo).

In all the pictures on this page, the white obiage is a length of kimono lining, heat-set into shibori pleats, and my ‘makura’ throughout is a pair of balled-up socks.

Orange pine obiorange obiOrange Showa fukuro obi with pine motif. The green cord is a curtain tieback and the turquoise band is a three-colour sequin trim from the 1960s.  This silk obi is very soft and pliable and is comfortable to wear – very typical of Showa obis.

flower and stream backflower and streamCream and gold Showa flower and stream obi. The green cord is the same curtain tieback, while the obi dome is an enamelled and rhinestone 1950s brooch from my collection of vintage costume jewellery. This obi is rayon and the back section is quite slippy and soft, but the front is very stiff because of the amount of gold brocade, so overall the effect is stiffer than with the orange obi.

green obi backGreen obi with flower kikko. This stunning emerald green obi is a modern one and very stiff and bulky. Probably the most uncomfortable obi I tried on this day, paradoxically, I like its look the best, perhaps because of the bright colours.  green obiThe purple and silver braid is vintage Indian, and the obi dome is a 1950s spider brooch.

makura-less obi

Cream Showa obi with pink and jade matsu. This obi is another soft Showa one and this time I tried wearing it without a makura at all, as I wanted to keep it on for the rest of the day. The cord is another curtain tieback, the gold braid is some modern sequinned organza ribbon and the obidome is a big gold Sun brooch. I changed the white obiage, which is a bit blah, for a brown and black silk one, which matches the kimono better.

cream obi with pink matsuI kept this obi on for the rest of the day and found working in a chair wearing this surprisingly comfortable, though as I sat crossed-legged sewing, it dug into my ribs a bit at the top. Overall, though, I’ve found these obi perfectly comfortable for moving about in, bending, doing the housework, eating, etc.

They are, however, murderously difficult to tie, so I have ordered a couple of Nagoya obi in the hope that they will be easier.

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