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From Kimonos to Upcycled Creations

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

I gather pre-loved kimonos from friends and family in Japan to give them new life; my current collection is upcycled kimonos reimagined in a modern light. I specialize in the processing of vintage kimonos dated between the 1930s and 1950s. This means some of the fabrics are pre-WWII, which makes them both interesting and historical.

Learning by doing

I got my first kimonos in December during covid. I wanted to work with some new and interesting fabrics. In the beginning, I was quite lost on how to handle and care for these special silk fabrics, and some of the fabric ended up getting destroyed. The hardest part was getting rid of the mothball smell. I tried everything and realized I had a lot to learn. But with experience comes knowledge.

Kimono process step-by-step

Due to the delicate nature of the kimonos, a multiple-step process is used:

A woman who is working on breaking down a kimono.
Break down of a kimono
Colorful kimonos hanging on a clothesline to air out
Aring out kimonos
  • First the kimonos are aired out for 1-2 weeks to remove lingering mothball odors

  • Then I break them down into individual components

  • Finally the fabric gets steamed and pressed flat

The entire process can take up to a month depending on the weather and the strength of the odor, but after this process, the fabric is finally ready for me to make something out of them. If you want to have a look at my upcycled vintage kimono products, such as pillowcases, kanzashi (hair clips), and key fobs, take a look at my Gallery.

Traditional washing process

Vintage kimonos are typically overdyed and thus not washed as a part of the process. Traditionally, kimonos were broken down, hung on a rod, and placed in the river which would then carry the excess dye down the river. Once washed, the kimonos would be dried and then overdyed.

A pink vintage silk kimono
Vintage silk kimono

Due to the high risk of accidentally dyeing and destroying the kimono in the process, I do not wash the kimonos before use. If you've already purchased from my vintage kimono line and want to know how to care for the garment, you can find some tips here or you can send me a message.

Thank you for reading my blog post, I hope you enjoyed learning more about the kimono process. Feel free to leave a comment and follow me on social media, Instagram, Facebook and X or subscribe to my newsletter to stay up to date with my latest posts.

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