MFAM Week 8: Kimono Dragon

MFAM header copy

Week eight of the My Favorite Art Museum series is here, and it’s late again! Who would have guessed? I know I was surprised. (Or maybe not.)

This week’s project is inspired by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art’s Japanese collection. While smaller than the Chinese and Indian collections, the Japanese collection includes a variety of beautiful kimonos, screens, pottery, household objects, and other works. Unfortunately, the Japanese gallery was closed on the day I was there to take photos, so you’ll have to settle for these photos I found online.



Obviously, I can’t wear the tiger and dragon screens, but the kimono is something I can work with. I was able to find a few more examples of kimonos while browsing the Nelson’s online catalog

Kimono - no dateKimono, no date
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

woman's kimono - 1908Woman’s Kimono, 1908
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

… as well as a painting from the American collection that features a woman wearing a kimono.

b0b959dd03041d30fd281a95811f2467At the Window, Richard Edward Miller, c. 1910-1912
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

With a plan in mind, I dug into my stash to find a silk robe my granny sent me earlier this year.

beforeWith love from Granny.

She had picked it up at a thrift store because she loved the colorful prints (Can you blame her??) but the robe never hung comfortably, so she passed it on to me thinking I could give it a new life.

silks copyGot to love these prints.

Not wanting to let Granny down, I got to work. The robe was a bit too long for my short legs, so I chopped about 11 inches off the outer and inner (This thing was also lined in silk.) silk panels, folded over the edges and sewed a new hem.

1Shorten and sew.

I also altered the decorative edging.

IMG_4780Finishing the edging.

Then I moved on to the arms, unstitching the seams of the sleeves.

2Undone sleeves.

It was at this point I learned that I hate working with silk. Hate it with the passion that only 1,000 scowly faces can accurately portray.

scowlThis times 1,000.

I originally planned on repurposing the 11 inch wide strips I had removed before to lengthen the kimono’s sleeves, but the sleeves had other plans. After much frustration, I decided the long, billowy sleeves weren’t worth it crucial to this project, and went with wide, straight sleeves instead.

IMG_4786Redone sleeves.

With this week’s project finally complete, it was time for some much deserved coffee.

IMG_2040c - drybrushAt the Window (A Watched Pot Never Brews)

afterMFAM Week 8: Japanese Art

There are only a couple weeks left of the series, and I’m going to try to avoid sleeves if at all possible. Don’t forget to tune in next week, and remember, please don’t touch the art.

Image credits:
Japanese Collection, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Japanese Collection, Wikipedia
KimonoThe Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
KimonoThe Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
At the Window, ChasinTailfeathers


  • Love the ‘recreation of the painting’ photo!
    Sorry you didn’t like the silk. It is actually lovely to work with if you can limit the shredding. Perhaps stitch a line before cutting, which will mean the shredding can only go so far.
    Sandy in the UK

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thank you! I’m happy with how it turned out too. I think I was a little too impatient with this project. Thanks for the advice! I may give silk another chance later.

      - Elizabeth
      aka The Hungry Octopus

  • Elaine says:

    I love that your grandmother sent you this robe! It’s fabulous. I haven’t worked with silk yet, though.

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