Papercut Kochi Kimono
We talk a lot about fabric shopping in this little corner of the world. What we’ve bought, what we want, what we need, what’s in our stash…. Like so many makers out there I’ve been trying lately to be more mindful with my fabric habit – to buy less, to focus on quality, to use what I’ve got before I hit the Fabric Store for another fix. But for me, it’s not just fabric shopping that’s a problem. I’ve got some pretty dodgy general shopping habits as well. Lots of late night online ‘browsing’, lots of sale stalking, lots of ducking into my favourite shops with a credit card and five minutes to decide, lots of buying things that aren’t quite right…but will do for now. Lots of wanting new stuff. That’s me.
Then a while ago my office had a major renovation and my team had to temporarily relocate. To a little suburb on the other side of town that just happened to be packed with the best op shops I’ve ever encountered. Five shops, all awesome, all within a quick lunchtime walk. I’ve always dabbled in op shops but during the time I worked across town I don’t think I bought a single item of new clothing, and since then I’ve turned my clothes shopping habit almost exclusively into an op-shopping habit. Slightly better?
Treasures I’ve found recently include a Chanel silk shirt, a made-in-Paris oxblood belted wool coat, an 80s trench from Japan and a brand new Isabel Marant cashmere cardigan with the $800 price tag still attached (WHO DOES THAT? My kids swear Beyonce dropped it off at a charity bin last time she was in town). I’ve found a couple of great vintage skirts, a pink 80s boxy short-sleeved sweatshirt with mesh panels on the sides, cashmere and merino jumpers for the whole family, linen shirts for the fella, shiny almost-new leather school shoes to replace the shiny new leather school shoes the puppy chewed to pieces, and enough discarded fast fashion to keep the Sportsgirl-obsessed teen and tween off my back. It’s been a bonanza I tell you, and has made giving up buying new clothes no sacrifice at all.
I’d love to say this second-hand smugness extends to sewing supplies. But sadly, no. Finding vintage sewing patterns is never a problem, but fabric is another story. I’ve had limited luck diving into those musty old fabric bins up the back of most op shops. The occasional small square of sweet cotton floral or an almost-metre of half-decent knit have popped up, but mostly it’s ugly, scratchy, sheeny-shiny poly disappointment. I suspect there’s no nice fabric in secondhand shops because we sewists are such great stashers. We don’t let the good shit out of our sights for a second.
So after many fruitless fabric hunts, my heart literally skipped a few beats when I stumbled on an almost perfect piece of vintage floral barkcloth late year. Not in an op shop (but Kennebec American Vintage is a small local business, almost as good), and definitely not charity store priced, but gorgeous old fabric loveliness that I had to have. A teeny piece of American history, all the way from 1940s New England, which had probably been hanging in someone’s window or protecting their kitchen table for many years. I put it on lay-by (another vintage habit I can’t shake) and pretty soon it was all mine.
Of course all that history weighs heavily when you go to chop into a piece of old cloth. I felt really responsible for making this fabric into something worthwhile. Something that would last and be enjoyed for more than a season. I considered making cushions or a quilt (to sit quietly on a bed, well away from the puppy). But I so love the colours and weight and floppiness of the barkcloth, I really wanted to wear it. I decided a jacket would be best as it wouldn’t need regular washing. And a kimono jacket would make the most of the drape.
After a brief toss-up between the Papercut Kochi and the Wiksten Kimono, the Kochi won – I wanted a simple cut without a collar/shawl piece, and I needed lining because the back of the barkcloth was a little stained in parts. I went for version 2, inspired by this one from Julie at Jolies Bobines.
The Kochi is a really simple, fun sew – a few straight seams and it feels almost finished. For my lining I used some pale pink silky cotton from Clear It, leftover from a dress I made for the teen. Once the fear and procrastination of cutting the pieces was done, this jacket came together in a couple of hours. I chose the size S and I’m very glad I didn’t go bigger – I always find Papercut patterns really large for size and this one’s no exception. Luckily with a kimono a perfect fit isn’t make or break, and I quite like the roominess of this one.
Speaking of vintage, I feel a bit like late 90s Madonna in her Geisha phase when I wear this jacket. I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing but I hope I’ve done the fabric proud. At the very least, I’ve given it one last chapter.