Wasai – The Art of Kimono Making

Today want to write about my obsession for wasai (和裁). 3 years ago I started to learn how to make kimono. Read all about the passion of making kimono with my own hands.

What is wasai?

When you look it up in a Japanese-English dictionary, it may be translated like “kimono-making”. As it is limited for kimono, you can’t use this vocabulary for other kinds of cloth-making.

Why did I start to learn wasai?

To learn wasai was an idea, when I was still living in Nagoya. My kimono sensei there started to learn wasai, after she had mastered kitsuke (着付け “kimono-dressing”) and gotten her teacher’s license. “If you want to know all about kimono, you should even learn about the material and how it is made”, she once told me. True words, I thought.

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Another reason why I started to learn wasai is that I hardly can find kimono in my size. A common problem, eh? In that case, you have two opportunities. It’s cheaper to make a kimono by yourself than being it to a wasaishi (和裁士 kimono taylor).

What did change since I started wasai?

A lot!! When I buy a kimono, I have become much more careful not just about stains and pleats, I even look at how it is made. If the sewing is rough or not, if the sewing will be fine for the next few years or not. You might even tell, if you can re-sew the sode to make the yuki longer, when it doesn’t fit. If the kimono doesn’t fit at all, I have become to think about what I could make of it then.

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One example, a nagabaori (長羽織) I made of an so-called araihari (洗い張り). Araihari is one method to wash a kimono. They take off all seams and bring it back to the form of a tanmono. Then, it’s washed and starched, before it is stretched on boards to dry. After an araihari is done, you have to re-sew the kimono. There are a lot of araihari which haven’t ever been re-sewn. As the former kimono seemed to be too short for me, my sensei decided to make a nagabaori of it. And it worked out pretty well, I think. 🙂

Some projects

My starter project was a yukata. It was super hard to sew straight and with even stitches. It’s not perfect, but one if my favorites.

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Another project was this cute komon hitoe. I found this lovely antique tanmono with magnolia in vintage store. As magnolias bloom from the middle of March to April I made a dōnuki (胴抜き “a hitoe which looks like an awase”) of it.

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My last project was a yukata for my husband. It was the first time I made a otokomono (男物 kimono for men) and it was really challenging.

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Picture credits: © private / All rights reserved


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Read more about kimono, Kumamoto, and me at japandigest.de

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