Sewing in Meiji women's education - missionary influences?

Post Reply
User avatar
IG Team
Administration Team
Administration Team
Posts: 3290
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2016 2:53 pm

Sewing in Meiji women's education - missionary influences?

Post by IG Team » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:35 pm

Takenoko

This may seem like a really obscure thread! I am trying to work out what the non-Japanese influences are, if any, for the making of those little chirimen patchwork bags. As a patchworker, as well as a kimono lover, I'm trying to find out more, but so far am not getting anywhere. So wonder if anyone here can help out.

The precise geometric patchwork used for these little bags (which mostly seem to be early 20th century) plus the patchwork method (seamed rather than whip stitched) points to American patchwork as a possible influence. They are unlike komebukuo (rice bag) patchwork, hanui (Nishionmonai) kimono, hyakutoku kimono (kid's patchwork kimono) in that the patchwork is quite complicated (the others are usually straight strips/pieces) and more like the kind of parlour needlecrafts of late C19th USA and UK (although the sewing method looks more American). Sometimes they include applique flowers or animals.

Since there were missionary schools in Japan from the 1860s and many focussed on educating girls, it would follow (as my guess) that part of the school curriculum would have covered needlework, which might just have included patchwork - as being thrifty and a good way to learn how to sew. It would have been on the curriculum in any private British girls school of that time, along with stitching samplers etc. (we are pre modern education reforms, Miss Buss and others here!)

Can anyone confirm that needlework taught by foreigners would have been on the curriculum at a missionary school? Or point me in any relevant directions?

I mean a bag like these -
Image
Image
Image

As a patchwork teacher & designer, I'm often looking for missing links like these... :? Hope someone can help! :)

User avatar
IG Team
Administration Team
Administration Team
Posts: 3290
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2016 2:53 pm

Re: Sewing in Meiji women's education - missionary influences?

Post by IG Team » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:36 pm

Kotone

I don't think so... I think many young girls were taught to sew from a young age for the practical reason of repairing theirs, their future husband's and their future children's clothes. You know... like MOST young girls used to be taught.
It was a staple in colonial life in America too. Young girls were taught to sew, reguarless of their social status. For the exact reasons I mentioned :)

User avatar
IG Team
Administration Team
Administration Team
Posts: 3290
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2016 2:53 pm

Re: Sewing in Meiji women's education - missionary influences?

Post by IG Team » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:36 pm

Takenoko

Point taken, but I don't mean everyday sewing - its the origins of the patchwork technique on the bags I'm after. The "tumbling block" style patchwork patterns of several of the bags don't resemble traditional Japanese patchwork (think of those patchwork donuki, ranru etc).

If bags like the ones shown had been made in the UK at that time, the patchwork would have been English paper piecing - each piece tacked around stiff paper and whipstitched. American patchwork is seamed with running stitch - no papers - which is how these were made.

(Info for non quilters) - The popularity of patchwork and quilting in Japan in modern times started after an exhibition of American quilts in Japan in the mid 70s - more or less parallel with the quilting revival in the UK and USA. There are lots of quilts made blending features of all quilting cultures now - some, like quilts made in the "Japanese taupe" fabrics, and all the repro kimono fabrics for quilters, are now huge influences on Western quilting (all those repro kimono fabrics are fantastic - I've got a pair of tabi made from patchwork "kimono" fabric - the fabrics used for those gothic lolita hakama dresses on YJA). I'm wondering if there was a crossover influence long before that (seems to have been in embroidery - I've got an early Showa embroidery book full of very Western designs).

Design and technique origins of pre WWII Japanese patchwork bags as a topic are a bit obscure, but there's more likely to be someone with info on this forum than on a quilting forum! If I could just find out if any American women were passing on patchwork skills... the most likely situation seemed to be via women's education... Since the patterns resemble some patchwork done in the UK and USA (in private schools in the UK, and shown in late Victorian magazines - as a parlour hobby rather than necessity - think of those silk & velvet patchworks with tiny pieces) I would love to know if one influenced the other, West to East. :? Certainly the influence worked in the opposite direction. Here's an early example of East to West -Western "Crazy Patchwork" was sometimes described as "Oriental" - Perterson's magazine in the mid 1860s used this term - and the style received a boost and a specifically Japanese association after the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition where a Japanese screen with the same kind of pattern was exhibited. Of course the end results didn't look remotely Japanese (nor do most of the "Japanese" themed quilts at today's national UK quilt shows :wink: - I cringe when I'm judging and am confronted by one of these - there is one we called "the pink noshi from hell"... :x )

Sorry if I've rambled on a bit there!

Thanks for your thoughts on this! I just love pondering things sometimes... and trying to work out where designs come from. Maybe Japanese Meiji patchworkers just got a bit more technically adventurous and tried out some more complicated traditional patterns!

I recently finished designing/writing a Japanese patchwork/applique/sashiko block book - published in March. There are quite a few kikkÃ…Â

User avatar
IG Team
Administration Team
Administration Team
Posts: 3290
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2016 2:53 pm

Re: Sewing in Meiji women's education - missionary influences?

Post by IG Team » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:37 pm

Mizuhana

I don't know much about quilting (though I should probably get into it ans use up all my fabric leftovers!), but this question makes me think of a few I've asked myself in the past. For example, how come botha the Japanese and the Scotts came up with plaid? It's not like they were in contact around 1000 CE! And have you ever noticed how a scottish great kilt is wrapped in a similar fashion to a Sari? And dumb question, but how come everywhere you go in the world, every culture knows how to braid hair (even whe America was "discovered" by Europeans)? I know this has nothing to do with the original post, but my point is, we're all human and it is understandable that we react similarly to situations. Patchwork was probably first developped everywhere because of need i.e lack of fabric and poor? Use patchwork! As for some of the other things I mentioned, I guess some may come from before written history too.

P.S. Very interesting researh subject Takenoko :)

User avatar
IG Team
Administration Team
Administration Team
Posts: 3290
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2016 2:53 pm

Re: Sewing in Meiji women's education - missionary influences?

Post by IG Team » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:38 pm

Takenoko

Mizuhana, exactly, it is fascinating. Some things must go back to the dawn of civilisation. Plaid for instance - when all weaving yarn is hand dyed and handspun, so colour is hard to control over batches of yarn, people in different places and without any contact would probably spot the potential for making a pattern... But other things do show cross cultural influences - an example would be the Ainu patterns chain stitched around early C20th aprons in Shonai, Yamagata. I found out that local fishermen working for the Aoyama fishing business brought back a few Ainu items from fishing trips around Hokkaido, so that's where those patterns came from. They are too complicated to have evolved independently yet be identical. Other patterns came to the area via the Kitamabune trading route from Osaka, where they were used alongside local patterns.

Going right off on a tangent now, one fascinating design link is Japanese design influencing Art Nouveau, which in turn influenced Taisho "Roman" meisen designs. Or the introduction of the Jacquard loom to Japan in the late 1870s - leading to all those late Meji maru obi with the tiny repeat patterns that would have been nigh on impossible (or wildly expensive) to weave traditionally. Little twists in textile history that have a knock on effect. There are probably plenty going on right now!

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest