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Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Japanese Kimono Stitching

by Conservation


behind the scenes , conservation , textile conservation , textiles , Japan

textile conservation


A skilled craftsperson requires the best tools, and here you can see some of the textile conservator’s best tools at work: both hands, a set of precision flat-headed tweezers, and a fine curved needle. Part of the padded orange silk hem of this kimono was in poor condition, so a patch of silk fabric was dyed to match the part that was in good condition.  The patch was then stitched over the damaged section of the original, with the top edge sewn as close as possible to the original stitch line which is hidden under a narrow fold of the upper, purple silk fabric.  To get up as close as possible to the original stitch line (without handling the kimono, which lays flat on the table during treatment), the textile conservator used flat-headed tweezers in her left hand to hold the purple edge out of the way, while she stitched with her right hand, using a fine curved needle. You can see this kimono on display in the Asian Art Gallery in July, but you won’t see these tiny, hidden stitches tucked under the purple silk’s bottom edge. 


Image Credit: Kimono, 19th century, Japan, 68 ½ x 48 7/8 in (174 x 124.1 cm), Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John J. Emery, 1964.780.