Thursday 20 June 2019

The Sencha Kimono is on sale, bom de booom...the Sencha Kimono PDF sewing pattern has just been published!!!

Is this the worlds first political sewing pattern?

The pattern is discounted to $1 for 10 days, until Sunday June 30th 2019, then it will revert to the normal retail price of $14.

It is World Refugee Day today and I will donate every dollar paid for the discounted pattern to a charity I already make a regular monthly donation to...

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

Please note the discount for the Sencha Kimono and 10% off all other Boho Banjo PDF patterns is available ONLY in my Shopify internet store.

Boho Banjo Shopify Store

The discount code below needs to be applied at checkout to purchase the Sencha Kimono for $1


For the same period of time I'm also offering 10% off any other PDF sewing pattern in my store, and this is the code below to apply at checkout for that


The discount codes are only valid for one use per customer

The Sencha Kimono is also listed for sale in my Etsy store, but it is at the full price of $14. So if you want to support the starving artist by paying full price, that will be appreciated!

Tuesday 18 June 2019

more double plus ungood

A fun Instagram hashtag to follow, while they can still get away with it! 

I posted this link a few days ago but if you didn’t read it and are interested in how “cultural appropriation” could be deemed in the naming of a sewing pattern I urge you to read Joanna Blakleys Tedtalk youtube video where she talks about the lack of protections within the fashion industry for designers. 

Her talk more broadly discusses how fashion doesn’t have the same sort of protections that are often given in other fields of the arts, like Visual Art and Music. It is clear with music and representational art that sometimes forms are “appropriated” by individuals or businesses and this is recognised and does bring deserved censure. In recent decades some European countries have been able to protect the use of words like "Champagne" and "Dorset Blue Cheese" for foodstuffs, but these are special niche protections specific to produce of the geographical areas where they were developed.

Regrettably there is often virtually nothing the offended cultures can do to protect words or imagery that they feel is owned by them, as in the case with the embroideries that were used in the clothing collection for Carolina Herrera. Some things can be registered to individuals and businesses for a limited period of time (Ugg Boots!), usually 70-90 years but after that they become public domain. Copyright can only be owned by companies or individuals not cultures.  

Two or three years ago there was a lot of controversy about the fabric designer Tula Pink using American Indian images as prints in her fabric collection. When I looked at what she was making at the time I agreed that the images seemed wrongly appropriated, especially the ones of young females wearing feathered war bonnets. I just searched her fabric range now on the internet to see if I could show an example here, but I can’t find any of the prints that were criticised back then. Perhaps she has removed them? However, during the fierce internet debate that went on over weeks I was amazed that about 80% of the contributors thought it was fine for her to use these images and didn’t seem to understand what constituted the definition of “cultural appropriation”. At some point after the debate started Ms Pink claimed she had native American ancestry which may have given her some entitlement.

Sometimes things like brands, trade names and symbols can get legal protection under copyright law, in the same way as I pointed out with the Ugg Boots situation. However, in the case of non Japanese people using the generic description “kimono” there is no case for legal protection of the word. Even when it gets applied to an item of apparel that Japanese wouldn’t generally regard as a kimono, for example if it is used to describe a jacket length robe rather than a full length coat, this may seem irritating, amusing or even insulting to Japanese but it doesn’t constitute any sort of behaviour that can be corrected.

Above is a picture of a genuine Japanese silk  kimono I own. I bought it about 4 years ago from a lady who imports used kimonos from Japan to resell in Australia. She buys bales of second hand kimonos by weight (not item) to import to Australia. She also gets obi, haori, pieces of boro and all sorts of other traditional garments. Surely this suggests Japanese don't regard their old kimonos as any more precious than the old used clothes westerners donate to charity shops?

It is a misapprehension, a misunderstanding of what appropriation is to say kimono should not be used by non Japanese in the name of a sewing pattern.

In their email to me the CSC said:
We are not trying to police how you, or any other designers, name patterns, but as we're not part of the culture those terms are borrowing from, we happily bow to the expertise of people from those cultures, when they express concern over the use of those terms.

I don't know how I can see it in any other way than I am being policed when the CSC say they won't allow any sewing pattern with the name kimono to be shown or discussed in their groups because it's become a concern to Japanese....?

And the second sentence doesn’t make sense to me either - why are they prepared to accept Ms Itos "expertise" about using the word kimono is representative of what the majority of Japanese people think? She was born in America so is American for a start. If I said it was hurtful to me that someone called a skirt pattern a “kilt” would it be accepted I represented the views of Scots people because I have Scots ancestry? I think it would be quite right if some people suggested I had identity issues if I went around making claims like that!

In Emi Itos PomPom interview she also referred to this powerful statement by Ijeoma Oluo. Ito actually refers to it as a definition but I think that’s too subjective.

“So that brings us to what it is that makes cultural appropriation, appropriation. It really is systems of power. We live in a society where dominant cultures have been able to come and take what they want from oppressed cultures and use it however they want, change it, and then discard the rest, even degrade the rest that they don’t like, that doesn’t suit them in the way that they want to use… And they will take what they want for their own purpose. They will then say, “That’s what this is. It’s what it has always been.” And they will further remove it from the culture that developed it and depends on it. They may even profit off of it while the people who developed this piece of culture themselves are still being degraded and oppressed and sometimes mocked for those very same things.”

I think this statement is too extreme to suggest this is what is really happening to Japanese culture and that stopping non-Japanese from using kimono will somehow prevent the degradation, oppression and mockery of Japan.

I always think of Japanese culture as being incredibly strong and not under any threat at all. I’m trying to understand why Emily Ito would suggest Japan is facing such a dramatic and awful attack from “dominant cultures”. She does strongly identify with the American BIPOC community – Black, Indigenous and People of Colour. It disturbs me that Ms Ito feels so alienated from being an American that she feels her life experience is more on a parallel to those of black and indigenous Americans. 

Sunday 16 June 2019

Newspeak: the new inclusiveness means you're out


The Appendix of 1984 stands as Orwell's explanation of New-speak, the official language of Oceania. ...Newspeak contains no negative terms. For example, the only way to express the meaning of “bad” is through the word “ungood.” Something extremely bad is called “doubleplus ungood.”

I have heard back from the moderators of the Curvy Sewing Collective.

Hi Pearl, 

Once again, I'm sorry for the delay in addressing your email. As you said, we're all quite busy and the CSC remains an entirely volunteer not-for-profit organization. I shared your email with the rest of our editorial team and we've discussed the issue. As of today, we will no longer be accepting "kimono" named patterns for review, inclusion in our round-ups, or in any other formal way on the CSC's main site. We are not trying to police how you, or any other designers, name patterns, but as we're not part of the culture those terms are borrowing from, we happily bow to the expertise of people from those cultures, when they express concern over the use of those terms. This new policy (which includes "kimono," among other words) will also be added to our review guidelines and we will be re-visiting old posts with an addendum about this change. 

We fully believe that people, and therefore organizations, deserve to grow and change how they consider various issues. We therefore reserve the right to correct our own views on cultural appropriation and change the way the CSC deals with such things. Our goal, as always, is inclusion not exclusion. We are a safe virtual place for body positivity, thoughtful discussion, and community building. Any rhetoric that actively hurts people in our community goes against that mission. 

Thank you for understanding our position. 


Mary Danielson-Perry

My response:

Hi Mary, thanks to you and the CSC editors for taking the time to answer my query by outlining your thoughts and position on using the description kimono. When I publish the Sencha Kimono next week I understand that you won’t promote it or the makes of any sewists who make it and send you pictures.
I have no idea if you’ve been aware of my one woman campaign of resistance I’ve been running on my blog for the last 3 weeks where I’ve been arguing against the contention that using kimono in a pattern name is a disrespectful appropriation. In case you didn’t know and to save the many hours it would take to read all I’ve written I’ll sum up the main points here…
1)    The issue has been advocated by essentially one woman of Japanese-American heritage, Emily Ito. In Japan, where I have contacts with expatriots and Japanese textile artists going back decades it has no traction as a serious issue at all. In fact Japanese citizens are completely baffled why Americans would take this point of view. The kimono is not a sacred or special garment, in their culture kimono is an ordinary, everyday word used to describe a coat like garment.
2)    Throughout Japan in their fast fashion outlets coats and robes that have only the slightest resemblance to the traditional style kimono are advertised and sold as “kimonos”. These garments are mass manufactured in Thailand, Vietnam, Bangladesh and other third world countries. Japanese citizens have no concern about this and there is no confusion what is the traditional garment and what is a generic modern robe similar to a kimono.
3)    If you are arguing from the position of “cultural appropriation” then it would be equally relevant to point out the kimono was a style of robe adopted from China by Japan in the 18th C.
4)    My most significant problem with this contention about kimono is that the term “cultural appropriation” has been wrongfully applied in this case. As a 60 year old professional artist I am aware it has been borrowed from the field of Fine Art where this is an issue seriously discussed for at least 4 decades so there is a great body of understanding exactly what it means and where it applies. “Cultural appropriation” is a thing that does happen and should be called out and condemned when it happens. Mostly this applies to the hijacking of imagery and icons from tribal and indigenous groups. It hardly ever applies to the use of a wordespecially when that word has been used internationally for probably 200 years.
I have been troubled that Emily Ito has embarked on this campaign and that a number of small independent designers have been caught up in it and wrongfully criticised. Mrs Itos idea is specious, when she says giving a sewing pattern the name kimono is wrong and hurtful that is her personal opinion describing her emotional response, but simply stating her opinion and feelings does not make it a fact.
I have worked in the areas of fashion, textile art and as a patternmaker since I was trained in 1984. My open admiration and acknowledgement of Japanese design goes right back to the 80s. Today I was teaching a class at a local gallery in sashiko stitching and stenciling, the combination of which is known in the Japanese tradition as Katazome. I know a lot about art, fashion and the sociology of art. I know Emily Ito probably doesn’t or she would never have started this kimono campaign because it simply doesn’t stack up and ultimately her campaign will fail because 90% of the rest of the world will completely ignore her. But my concern is that in the meantime she is causing a great deal of unnecessary angst and strife in the sewist community.
I understand that the CSC moderators would rather stay out of any awkward debates and be friends with everybody and that you will very likely prefer to side with Emily Ito, especially as she is an acknowledged influencer with a big following, rather than my insignificant self who comes from an academic understanding.
Lastly (because I’m a pedantic pain in the arse who just can’t help herself) I want to point out contradictions in the last three sentences of your email to me:
Our goal, as always, is inclusion not exclusion. The CSC is in fact excluding me and the many people who agree with my point of view…so who in fact are you “including”?

We are a safe virtual place for body positivity, thoughtful discussion, and community building. Do you propose having a “thoughtful” discussion on CSC about the use of kimono? My own experience in the last month of trying to have just such a discussion is being deleted and blocked from following Instagram individuals and groups and FB groups. My submissions to blogs discussing this issue don’t get published, the censoring is so ridiculous they publish only comments which are flattering and in agreement. My public calls for the advocates on the kimono issue to discuss with me have been totally ignored. How can the advocates claim they have a good argument for their position when they refuse to discuss publicly, with transparency and actively shut down any of my contributions to supposedly public platforms?  Do you demand I respect the opinions of people who behave in that way?

Any rhetoric that actively hurts people in our community goes against that mission. Implicit in this statement is that calling a sewing pattern a kimono causes “hurt”. Until just a week or 2 ago CSC was apparently oblivious to this. It was only in February this year that one woman said she was hurt. I think if you take the position that you must stop using any word that “hurts” even one person you will soon find yourself severely restricting your vocabulary.

Obviously, I disagree with the position CSC will be taking in regard to using kimono. However, I do respect that that is your prerogative and I’ll continue to enjoy being a part of the CSC community (though I am effectively being condoned and silenced for the principles I’m sticking up for) I want to assure you that I won’t try to instigate any discussion on CSC forums, but if it does arise from other sources I hope I’ll be allowed to contribute.

In August I’ll be publishing another PDF pattern - that won’t be called a kimono! – so I hope you won’t bear me any ill will for my position and will allow the design to be featured in your monthly round-up.

Sincerely and all the best
Pearl Moon

 Be warned - "kimono" has been subtracted from usage by nice caring people...