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My indigo-dyed kimono and the ritual of loving my clothes - part 2


It's a hassle, but hey - what pretty thing isn't?
We all have that "WTF you go through all that trouble?" thing in our lives, here's mine:

1. Tools and ingredients

Back in my martial arts days, I read somewhere that the best way to wash hakama trousers was in a bathtub - so you could lay it flat and not disturb all the pleats, filled with cold water and lots of salt.

Washing a vintage indigo kimono - tools

I don't have a bathtub, which doesn't make a difference in this case, and I still need to check the science behind adding salt to prevent colour fading. But I guess it doesn't damage the fabric.

In theory, the best cleaning agent for clothes is water, lots of it. Soap helps with greasy stains, in this case old makeup. Or is it? I haven't worn foundation in years, so could be just my own skin oils...

Vintage kimono - stains and wash

I use the gentlest soap bar available: in Brazil, it'd be coconut soap. In Europe, it's usually Marseille soap but any other soap bar made of saponified pure olive oil will do (like Aleppo soap).

I avoid most things scented, and I got used to the smell of Marseille soap. If it's your first time using it... spoiler alert: it's stinky!

If you absolutely hate the smell, Aleppo soap ain't that bad. Smells kinda like a river rock.

Important: I absolutely do NOT rub & scrub this ancient fabric dyed with one of the trickiest natural dyes there is!

I gently rub the slippery wet soap bar in the problem areas, think there's nothing smoother than that. 

Washing indigo-dyed fabric: green water
The water will get soapy just with that, then I gently press the kimono all over with my hands. It's a legit technique, at least for the Japanese, who even gave it a name (押洗い = oshi-arai = press wash).
By the way: with or without soap, the water will turn yellow-greenish.

2. Rinsing and drying

I came this far, not gonna shove it into the washing machine for a rinse and spin cycle.

No pictures of me rinsing the kimono because I needed both my hands, and c'mon... you can do that.

Now hanging to dry: do NOT hang delicate fabrics!

That goes for anything in danger of ripping or stretching from its own hanging weight. So when in doubt, always lay it flat. 

I placed it over a clean white towel to absorb excess water first.

Vintage indigo kimono: flat dry with towel

3. Mending

The collar has many layers in the original fabric, so I followed the original technique and just tucked in the frayed edges:  

Vintage indigo kimono - mending 1
Small holes and threadbare areas were harder to repair, since I'm not the best at satin stitch embroidery (which I still prefer compared to the original sashiko on the left):
Vintage indigo kimono - mending 2
The centre back collar had the biggest gaping hole, so I fixed it Boro style. This separate patch of fabric covers the original and keeps it safe from further damage.
I can always change it in the future, even make it bigger and easier to remove and wash separately - that's actually a common technique in kimono and Haute Couture.
Vintage indigo kimono - neck patch
Last detail was the patch pocket: I got tired of the giant one I'd attached back when I bought this kimono, and cut it in half-ish.
I attach pockets to kimono... then avoid using them because I'm afraid to damage the fabric.
But these add a nice contrast to an otherwise quite plain cotton kimono, and I wanted to showcase my sashiko technique of doing random stitches over padded textiles.
They feel really nice and special, even though the stitching inside doesn't look as straight and even as I wanted:
Vintage indigo kimono - sashiko pocket
I'm not fully sold on the pockets placement, but I don't wanna waste days on this project. Instead, I think it's better to commit to doing this maintenance routine more regularly, and I'll see what I'm in the mood for next time.
I'll probably have to repair the cuffs like I did with the back collar:
Vintage indigo kimono - after

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