What’s in Your Stash?

Silk kimono jacket

My friend, Kathleen Blohm is an accomplished artist.

Her usual attire is t-shirt and jeans spattered with paint, clay and related artistic mediums. When she must appear at a show featuring her work, Kathleen’s in a panic. She has nothing to wear.

For years, Kathleen’s been storing an amazing piece of ikat silk bought in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Kathleen traveled there with her mother on the Trans-Siberian Railway in 1988 and bought this special fabric at a street market.

This beautiful piece of silk should be worn and enjoyed.

What better place to wear it than at an art show.

Online resources offer examples of traditional and contemporary fashion showing how designers present bright and colorful ikat designs.

We decided to make a simple kimono-style topper jacket. From our pattern line, we chose Zip Front Jacket #201.

This jacket pattern is easy to sew and its straight lines won’t compete with a vibrant ikat.

zip front jacket pattern
Kimono style jacket pattern can be made with or without zipper.

Who doesn’t mind not inserting a zipper!

For Kathleen’s kimono jacket, the sleeve length was extended for a turn-back cuff and the zipper option was omitted. Easy tweaks.

Often, special fabrics are narrow.

The ikat silk was only 24 inches wide and we were short on fabric for patch pockets and facings. The solution was found in a pair of embroidered pantaloons included in the original purchase. These embroidered pantaloons are typically worn under mid-length tunics. The part that sits hidden beneath the tunic is made of plain cotton muslin, while the part that shows from the knees down is made of silk.

Ikat and embroidered silk fabric
Fabric from embroidered silk pantaloons will be used for facings and patch pockets on ikat jacket.

By taking apart the pantaloons, I found enough fabric to cut patch pockets and facings. Also, to best feature the horizontal embroidery, I cut a square pocket, instead of the angled pocket from the original pattern #201 design.

I like how this embroidery offers a soft variation on the ikat’s strong vertical design.

Tweaks to sleeves and pockets.
Sleeves were lengthened for turn-back cuff. Pockets were cut from embroidered silk.

We think she looks quite radiant!

Kathleen Blohm loves her ikat silk jacket because it instantly dresses up a simple black top and pant. An added benefit to wearing this special fabric is how it opens conversations with prospective clients.

More on Ikat

Ikat (pronounced EE-kaht) is a textile design created by resist dyeing the yarns prior to the cloth being woven.

This YouTube film on producing ikat silk in Uzbekistan shows the process using both modern and traditional techniques. It begins with the silk cocoons and continues with weaving & finishing of the beautiful silk yardage.

Have you been saving a wonderful piece of fabric?

Perhaps you bought it on a memorable vacation. What’s stopping you from using it? Maybe you want your garment to be as special as the moment when you bought the fabric.

Consider looking for inspiration.

There are many online resources available for sewers to develop their style ideas.

This page offers gorgeous examples of traditional and contemporary Uzbek fashions, including ikat designs.

Read more on the history of Samarkand clothing.

Get going on your special fabric and remember, we’d love to see photos of your memorable garment!

2 thoughts on “What’s in Your Stash?

  1. Sue Ness says:

    Great blog, Kathleen. Kathleen B. will never be able to enter a room wearing that jacket without getting the attention and admiration of everyone. Isn’t it wonderful that a garment has such a wonderful story to tell?

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