November 18, 2010 § 2 Comments
Earlier this year, I made these costumes for my daughters to wear to their International Friendship day program at school. I made a blue and white floral ‘Kimona and Patadyong’ for Daughter #2, while Daughter #3 wore her big sister’s old pair. A Kimona and Patadyong is a blouse and skirt pair that is a traditional Filipino costume. The blouse, which is usually adorned with embroidery and comes with a sash (for wiping your brows with, i think) pinned on the garment’s shoulder, is paired with a simple skirt that was wrapped around the waist. This combination was worn before by our females while working on their farmlands, planting rice.
The ‘Kimona’ is a blouse traditionally made of fine Pineapple Jusi or fiber, but since I can’t/couldn’t get my hands on Pineapple fiber as it is also quite expensive, I made my Kimona out of tulle and decorated it with fabric yoyo’s. I hand stitched the side seams together and it just goes over on top of a simple tank top or like we call it back home, ‘sando’. I also made another traditional blouse for her to wear alternatively (for when she was feeling more modest than usual) – a ‘camisa‘, a blouse with bell sleeves. My version though, was made in lightweight plain white cotton which I also adorned with fabric yoyos (made out of the fabric for the skirt) and pre-made little blue flowers I also bought from my favorite notions store in Chinatown.
As for Daughter #1, who is a big fan of anything Japanese (from the food, manga, drama to boy bands and Matsumoto Jun), requested that I sew her a Yukata, a Japanese summer dress made of cotton. It is shorter than a traditional Kimono and is usually worn by the Japanese during summer festivities. (Am I right, Taeco?) Which, after much researching and googling, I happily obliged to make her.
I bought the Japanese quilting fabric at Chinatown, and I didn’t really have to look further because when I saw it right away, I knew it would be just the perfect thing for a child’s Yukata. If you look closely at the fabric, you’ll see little demure Japanese girls wearing Yukatas, some with opened umbrellas and some with little fans on their hands. The print also has gold detailing, making it all the more pretty special and perfect for the project. So, in spite of my husband’s horror, I bought four yards of it despite its hefty price tag of 48 SGD (12 SGD per yard).
I got my pattern from Otsukaya, a Japanese sewing site online that offers free patterns in PDF format. Although it is in Japanese,you can use Google translate to read the page in English. It is not a complete pattern though, and the instructions are in Japanese, but it’s not really very hard to decipher the instructions even if you can’t read the language. There are drawn instructions on how to draft the Yukata with numbers in centimeters and a complete step by step sewing instruction on how to put it all together.
Can you tell from their picture that they’re loving the clothes I made for them? Even though it’s 5:30 in the morning, they’re grinning from ear to ear. I am really happy they like it. What is more is that it’s really pretty neat what I learned through sewing my children’s costumes. I learned a lot! Even though as a child this should not be new to me, for I too wore my own share of traditional clothing for school programs and events, more when I was in high school as a member of the ‘Rondalla’ group. I learned about the types of costumes during Primary and Secondary school but this time I got to read and learn about how to draft the patterns for the costumes the traditional way and finding out a way to do it my own way using limited textile resources, alternating the materials used traditionally to make them with what is on hand from where I am.
As an Anthropology student back in college, I took integrated beginner to advance Japanese as a language elective and had an amazing Japanese Sensei who told us a lot about her culture. From her lectures I found out more about what a Kimono was, what it looked like, and how it was worn, but I didn’t know what a Yukata was even if my life depended on it. So it was like, “Mommy, prepare to be educated by an 11 year old…” LOL.
So, it is just amazing how this craft, sewing, crosses cultural boundaries and it is amazing what life lessons it can teach you (for me is that an 11 year old can know more than you in a lot of things…duhhh!) and how it can surprise you everyday in your journey to being wise. All you have to do is not be afraid and be prepared to do some learning, even if is going to be a lot, and you won’t leave empty headed, errr…handed. Hahaha!
The book to read if you want to know more about traditional Filipino costumes and dresses:
Patterns for the Filipino Dress (From the Traje de Mestiza to the Terno 1890s-1960s) by Salvador F. Bernal and Georgina Encanto (c1992 CCP, Manila) – http://www.amazon.com/Patterns-Filipino-dress-Mestiza-1890s-1960s/dp/971854612X
If you want/need to know more, here are related sewing links to making your own Yukata and other stuff for costume sewing:
How to make a Yukata by Amparo Bertram: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~weyrbrat/Japan/yukata/index.html
Cosplay free patterns and tutorials: http://www.cosplay.com/showthread.php?t=121627 –> This is where I got the easy tutorial I used to make my Obi belt to wear with the Yukata.
Another link how to draft and sew your own Yukata: http://www.gofuku-sugano.co.jp/kimono/nuiage.html