The Journey of Japanese Textiles

There is a mystery and magic behind vintage textiles. What were their past lives? What secrets do they hold? Join us for our next workshop, where we will explore the history and process of using Japanese textiles. Learn the ancient technique of boro patching with Dawn Yanagihara, co-founder of Kiriko, as you repair and patch your own garments with pieces of beautiful vintage textiles.

I think boro textiles have such a unique beauty that comes from the fact that many of the pieces have lived many lives. They could’ve started as a jacket, then once that jacket became too worn, they were used to patch a pair of pants. When the pants started to wear it then was sewn into a blanket. Nothing is wasted.
— Dawn Yanagihara
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Dawn Yanagihara is the co-founder of the Portland-based company, Kiriko. She shared with us about her journey and passion working with vintage Japanese fabrics.

I’m a fifth generation Japanese American. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. Growing up in Hawaii there is such an active Japanese community and the influence of Japanese culture is very apparent. I grew up seeing a lot of Japanese textiles and  was reintroduced to the materials again when I lived in northern Japan after college.   It was a more rural part of Japan and there was a lot more traditional pieces than what you see in larger cities.  Having that experience of growing up around something, then later learning about the the processes and the history behind them, it becomes even more significant."

"When my business partner, Katsu Tanaka, started bringing in these traditional kasuri fabrics, they represented so many memories and parts of my life. When he shared his vision to do something else with them, it became so obvious to us that we also needed to share the story and history behind the patterns and processes used to create them. The collection started with a few scarves.

During this workshop we’ll be learning about boro patching. What is this technique and how was it traditionally used?  

In Japanese there is a term called, “mottainai” or “waste nothing.” It’s the value of boro, or japanese indigo patchwork fabric. The boro pieces we use are like pieces of history, many date back at least 50-100 years. Boro refers to fabric that is used and reused until it falls apart. 

Boro literally translates to “rags,” in Hawaii we call your “junk” clothes (you know, what you wear to clean the house or work in the yard) your “boro boros.” I think boro textiles have such a unique beauty that comes from the fact that many of the pieces have lived many lives, they could’ve started as a jacket, then once that jacket became too worn, they were used to patch a pair of pants, when the pants started to wear it then was sewn into a blanket. Nothing is wasted.

One of Kiriko's mottos is, “Fabric is everything.” What is it about textiles, especially Japanese fabrics, that you find so inspiring?

Working with such amazing textiles from generations old manufacturers who have dedicated their lives to creating these textiles, we want to do everything we can to use every piece of fabric. A lot of our design is directed by how we can save and reuse our material. Our belts are inset with pieces of fabric that are left over from our scarf, bandana and pocket square production. The leather tabs on our knit caps use the cut out leather pieces from the belt. Our modern quilts use the left over pieces of fabric from well, everything. It’s a tradition and mindset we’re doing our best to uphold in our pieces; it’s a constant challenge and inspiration to create with these values.

Please join us for this inspirational, hands-on workshop. Bring your own piece of clothing, from a pair of jeans or a hat, to a messenger bag, or a jacket that you would like to patch with vintage textile pieces from the Kiriko collection. 

DATE: Friday, May 8th
TIME: 6:00-9:00pm
COST: $35
PLACE: Kiriko, 107 NW 5th Ave. Portland, OR 97209

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