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Thread: handy with a needle and thread

  1. #1
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    handy with a needle and thread

    I don't know if this message belongs in the Zazen or the Jukai/Rakusu forum, but I'll try here:

    I have noticed that there are robes the sensei wears, but also see that there are robes required or recommended for retreats, and that meditation supply shops feature a category called "lay robes". I take that to mean it's optional clothing for any Zen practitioner. Is this correct? Are they just for retreats, or special occasions as well? Are the clothes simply plain versions of yukata/kimono, collars and hakama? Must they be hand stitched entirely?

    I'm asking for a few reasons: first, because I have a longtime personal interest in different types of ethnic clothing, and I am curious. Second, because I am reasonably skilled and experienced with sewing and other fiber arts, and am wondering if my skills could be put to good use. (Not for rakusu, as I understand y'all get to enjoy figuring that out for yourselves - which I think is a great concept. It reminds me of a craft fair I read about online recently called "Do It Your Own D*mn Self" :lol: )

    Third, if I ever would have a need for these items...they are expensive, and would rather sew them my own d*mn self. Others (particularly in Western countries) are surely in the same boat. (We are the boat, aren't we...)

    But don't worry...I won't participate in a jukai simply for the excuse to sew robes or a rakusu :wink: The rakusu look a lot like plain Korean jogakbo, so I'll sew those instead if I feel an overwhelming urge to stitch.

    Gassho
    Julia

  2. #2

    Re: handy with a needle and thread

    greetings again,

    There is no special wear for retreats vs sitting at home (or elsewhere) (that would be contrary to the everything is equal understanding in zen). Most zen centers do not require a lay sitting robe. There are no patterns that I am aware of (and I looked ALOT on line), but if you can get a look/measure of someone's, I am sure you can figure it out (just measure the pleats and their placement in the skirt and figure out how to do the wrap top part) also measure how far the collar band comes down. FYI, the "collar" strip is a rectangle, the neck hole is straight across the back of the neck (not a curve). You probably want to do a light interfacing on the collar band (I jsut laid in a second light layer of cotton). This is my experience sewing a short practice robe in the Seung Sahn Kwan Um School Korean tradition. They also have the dharma teacher robe which is close to a lay sitting robe:

    http://www.kwanumzen.com/sewing_instruc ... r-robe.pdf

    but it has more pleats and the sleeves are bigger. Lay sitting robes usually have 12 inch wide kimono sleeves. Probably the Rinzai center has people wearing lay sitting robes.

    I am curious about the lineage of the two zen centers near you (rinzai and "other"). Can I ask who the teachers/founders are?

    cheers,
    rowan

    PS a rakusu is a pieced bib about 10" by 12" (ish) and is presented in the special ceremony called Jukai when one formally becomes a zen buddhist. The FIRST EVER ONLINE!!!! Jukai ceremony (done by Treeleaf, of course) can be seen on our website.

  3. #3

    Re: handy with a needle and thread

    Thanks for that link, Rowan... been looking for a pattern like that

    Gassho

  4. #4

    Re: handy with a needle and thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobiah
    Thanks for that link, Rowan... been looking for a pattern like that

    Gassho
    Same here! Thank you for the link to that pdf Rowan!

    Gassho, Shohei -not-so-handy with a needle and thread

  5. #5
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: handy with a needle and thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Jinho
    a rakusu is a pieced bib about 10" by 12" (ish) and is presented in the special ceremony called Jukai when one formally becomes a zen buddhist. The FIRST EVER ONLINE!!!! Jukai ceremony (done by Treeleaf, of course) can be seen on our website.
    I definitely recommend watching the jukai online...just don't let Taigu hear you call it a bib!

  6. #6

    Re: handy with a needle and thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    Quote Originally Posted by Jinho
    a rakusu is a pieced bib about 10" by 12" (ish) and is presented in the special ceremony called Jukai when one formally becomes a zen buddhist. The FIRST EVER ONLINE!!!! Jukai ceremony (done by Treeleaf, of course) can be seen on our website.
    I definitely recommend watching the jukai online...just don't let Taigu hear you call it a bib!
    And to show you how silly zen people are, they make you take your bib off when you eat! (or am I remembering this wrong? ops:

    Sorry!!!!!!!!!!! :wink: I forgot, here at Treeleaf it is OFFICIALLY known as a Dishcloth of Enlightenment (really, Julia, I am not kidding).

    gassho,
    rowan

  7. #7

    Re: handy with a needle and thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobiah
    Thanks for that link, Rowan... been looking for a pattern like that

    Gassho
    Hi Tobiah and Shohei!

    I am glad you fond the link useful.

    A couple of notes, the picture is misleading. The pleats in the skirt are actually quite wide and evenly spaced around the the skirt. I am thinking of going to the Berkeley Zen Center and wrangling someone to measure their lay sitting robe to get an exact placement/number/size of the pleats, sleeves, etc.

    Also, I just thought of a cheap way to make a mock-up of the robe so you can see if it all fits together ok. Buy a couple of flat sheets at the thrift/charity shop (sheets are always your best value in cotton-type material) quickly cut and sew together with big one-inch stitches (or on the biggest stitch you have on your sewing machine - the "basting" stitch which is usually about 6 to the inch - this stitch is easy to rip out).

    There really is a gap in the market! Somebody should come out with a layperson sitting robe pattern. (One site that sells robes specifically says not to ask them about patterns, that they don't sell them).

    cheers,
    rowan

  8. #8

    Re: handy with a needle and thread

    Hi,

    I second what Jinho said. No lay robes are required here, and while some Zen Sangha in the west have their members dress like that ... well, I often think it a little silly. There is no reason modern westerners have to dress like Japanese people of 200 years ago. IN FACT, I have rarely if ever seen Japanese people dress like that for Zazen in Japan!! Zen is not about having to pretend you are a Japanese samurai as if at a costume party!

    For Zazen, you should wear lose fitting clothing that does not pinch the circulation. In Japan, the lay folks do wear a kind of ankle length skirt for Zazen (both male and female ... like in the follow picture), but even a jogging suit is fine (even in Japan). Avoid sitting in bluejeans, as it constricts.




    The color should be dark brown, black or the like, without busy patterns, so as not to distract others (we don't go in for all the fancy reds and yellows like the Tibetans).

    That being said, there is nothing wrong with some Japanese-y clothes either. Samue can be very nice and comfortable to sit in (again, go for the dark colors) ...

    http://www.shop-japan.co.jp/english-bok ... ear5-s.htm

    As a priest, I dress in robes because ... tradition. You want a Catholic Priest to have a white collar, and a Zen teacher has his robes and Kesa. But there is no such custom or requirement for lay folks.

    The Rakusu (the bib-like object, as mentioned) is customarily for people who have received the Precepts in Jukai(an Undertaking the Precepts ceremony).

    Gassho, Jundo

  9. #9

    Re: handy with a needle and thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Hi,

    I second what Jinho said. No lay robes are required here, and while some Zen Sangha in the west have their members dress like that ... well, there is no reason you have to dress like Japanese people of 200 years ago. IN FACT, I have rarely if ever seen Japanese people dress like that for Zazen in Japan!! Zen is not about having to pretend you are a Japanese samurai as if at a costume party!

    For Zazen, you should wear lose fitting clothing that does not pinch the circulation. In Japan, the lay folks do wear a kind of ankle length skirt for Zazen (both male and female ... like in the follow picture), but even a jogging suit is fine. Avoid sitting in bluejeans, as it constricts.




    The color should be dark brown, black or the like, without busy patterns, so as not to distract others (we don't go in for all the fancy reds and yellows like the Tibetans).

    That being said, there is nothing wrong with some Japanese-y clothes either. Samue can be very nice ...

    http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl= ... G%26um%3D1

    As a priest, I dress in robes because ... tradition. You want a Catholic Priest to have a white collar, and a Zen teacher has his robes and Kesa. But there is no such custom or requirement for lay folks.

    The Rakusu (the bib-like object, as mentioned) is customarily for people who have received the Precepts in Jukai(an Undertaking the Precepts ceremony).

    Gassho, Jundo

    But I want to dress like a samurai! (it is soooooooooo pretty).

    Actually the illustration looks like hakama (loose fitting over pants). Folkwear patterns carries it:

    http://www.folkwear.com/asian.html

    Please scroll down to the hakama pattern at the bottom of the page.

    Also, on one clothing site, hakama is listed as a standard rinzai underlayer.

    happy sewing,
    rowan

  10. #10
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: handy with a needle and thread

    But I want to dress like a samurai! (it is soooooooooo pretty).
    Yeah, Jundo, you're no fun :lol:

    When I sit at home, inevitably I'm in leggings and an oversized t-shirt -- for me, the ultimate in comfort. I wouldn't go out to any zendo looking like that, though. Last time I went out to the zendo, I wore loose cargo pants and a cotton top. Comfy enough, but I didn't realize until during kinhin that the fabric of the pants was very rustly and noisy ops: (swoosh...swoosh...swoosh...)

    The samue tops look easy to make -- like a half-yukata with a tie closure.

    Rowan -- Another Folkwear fan, high five 8)

    gassho
    Julia

  11. #11

    Re: handy with a needle and thread

    Hi everybody,

    I don't really want to ad anything to what people have already said. I wear my long priest black robes less and less and prefer to go samue with rakusu or kesa. Like Jundo I wear the full gear at special times, for ceremonies, doing takuhatsu (begging).The kolomo and other stuff are historical or ethnic byproducts. The kesa is not. This is a very important point. You can ditch pretty much everything but you can't get rid of the rakusu or kesa. And although I could try to explain why, I won't. Better to let you figure it all out.

    You could read the following chapters of Shobogenzo for a start, kesa kudoku and Den e:

    http://www.numatacenter.com/digital/dBE ... 1_2007.pdf







    gassho


    Taigu

    Attached files

  12. #12

    Re: handy with a needle and thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu



    gassho

    Taigu
    Hi Wonderful big Bear,

    So where is this illustration from? How do I get a copy? And MOST IMPORTANT what are the measurements!? :mrgreen:

    gassho,
    jinho

  13. #13

    Re: handy with a needle and thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Jinho
    Hi Wonderful big Bear,

    So where is this illustration from? How do I get a copy? And MOST IMPORTANT what are the measurements!? :mrgreen:

    gassho,
    jinho
    http://nyohoekesa.blogspot.com/2006_02_01_archive.html
    There^^ a wonderful start the measurements you must work out for yourself because the Kesa is to fit the wearer. but its helped me immensely - Just gotta start sewing earlier in the evening and allotting the time to do so ops:

    FWIW i sit @ home and otherwise wearing rakusu, in a pair of black nurses scrubs (picked up at any family clothing store I think) because they are very loose, tie up not to slippery. Shirt i wear w/e usually a black or blue tee.

    Gassho
    Shohei

  14. #14

    Re: handy with a needle and thread

    I never really bothered getting anything like a Koromo to wear as I have yet to find a reason,

    though I admit I love seeing the wear of the komuso monks.


    My attire is as follows:

    White Juban

    Black swordsman yukata

    white obi

    black Hakama ( pant or skirt style)

    white stretch tabi socks

    White Rika Tabi

    and SOMETIMES I wear waraji when I'm out and about and dont want to get my rika tabi dirty

    Waraji are a lesson on their own....Never get them too wet or you get grass stains your tabi and they take days to dry, they break easily, so it's best to carry a second pair if needed....and Cats LOVE to eat them....

    and the rakusu at times, mostly at home ( the sitting/discussion group Jen and I started has me dressed as I'm the semi-doshi and the group made it clear that it helps set an easier mood for them to unwind instantly when they walk into the room)



    but then again, I dress like a samurai often as well for alot of the martial arts I do, ( My friends on both sides of the pacific jokingly to me as S?hei gaijin...without the corruption that comes with it :wink: ) and that makes me smile alittle

    and also just the comfort in general



    Most of what I have I buy from a shop in Osaka that ships them out quite swiftly ( about a week max from japan, to Washington state) though my " sitting" hakama I tend to get from local martial arts stores, or order them from other shops, as a half decent cotton hakama tends to run pretty cheep " and they do get the traditional pleats properly done"

    Im picky about pleats, be it my Hakama or my Kilts....they need to be correct * lol

  15. #15

    Re: handy with a needle and thread

    Hi Jinho,

    As Shohei wisely advised, you may peep on my kesa blog :lol: . There are many ways to find out about the measurements and they are all explained there.

    And this is what i wrote three years ago as an introduction to the blog. The story bettween Ananda and Shakyamuni will help you to understand the true meaning of measurement:

    The kesa is the Buddha’s robe. The robe of Zazen. In Japanese, it is called Nyoho-e, the robe-garment of as it-is-ness. Thanks to the work and life of the Shingon teacher Kaiju Jiun Sonja (1718-1804) who loved being grasped by the still state, to the dedication of Mokishutsu Zenji and later, to Eko Hashimoto and Kodo Sawaki, we have now the opportunity to study, sew and wear the Buddhist robe.

    I started to sew the robe 25 years ago and I would say that I am still very ignorant and unexperienced. As a monk, I consider myself as a student of the kesa. I know very little but would like to share it with whoever want to sew a kesa and sit. My intention is to offer a simple, clear sewing guide as well as the opportunity for everybody to contribute to this blog. All suggestions and observations are welcome.


    Originally, it is said that one day the Buddha was peacefully walking in the country with Ananda. All around them were valleys and fields, clouds and sky, air and mists, and birds, and beasts. Ananda asked the Buddha : “ we need a special garment that will show to the rest of the world that we are your disciples”. With a wave of his hand, Buddha indicated nature all around them and said : “Our garment will be like this”. Buddha was just pointing to the paddy fields, so Ananda thought that he meant the paddy fields, the rice fields. Buddha was just pointing to the whole universe, formless, ever changing. Ananda thought he meant the kesa should look like the paddy fields. Shakyamuni Buddha had a complete free mind, an open mind. He could embrace the whole view with a single glance, he did not choose, did not fix any boundaries, a consciousness without a single choice, no judgement, just the recognition of things as they are. It is said that when Shakyamuni saw the first robe, he was filled with joy and asked every single monk to wear it.
    :wink:


    gassho

    Taigu

    Attached files

  16. #16
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: handy with a needle and thread

    The form of the kesa appears to have commonality with the sari (saree). I am somewhat of a collector of sari, and I know something about their history. In Hindu culture, piercing clothes with needles was considered "impure", so clothes were unstitched and draped. (The choli, or blouse, is a stitched item worn with the sari but was invented later when Muslim and British influences demanded more modesty.) Could this possibly have carried over into Buddhism?
    gassho
    Julia

  17. #17
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    Re: handy with a needle and thread

    I just bought a sewing machine and was searching around for samue patterns. Look what an interesting thread Google came back with
    The Kwan Um link has moved and is now at
    http://www.kwanumzen.org/wp-content/...acher-robe.pdf

  18. #18

    Re: handy with a needle and thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Nindo
    I just bought a sewing machine and was searching around for samue patterns. Look what an interesting thread Google came back with
    The Kwan Um link has moved and is now at
    http://www.kwanumzen.org/wp-content/...acher-robe.pdf
    Just a comment that the link is not to a Samue, but to a Dharma Teacher's robe in Korean style. Samue literally means "work clothes", and are usually pants to do physical labor around the temple (sweeping, cooking) ... not really for sitting, although many people in the West sit in them.



    But the usage has changed in the West, so I sometimes sit in a kind of Samue for Zazen too.

    Whether one should sit in a Korean Teacher's robe? ... well, hmmm. As a priest, I sit in Japanese Soto style robes simply out of respect for roots and tradition. Sometimes at home I sit in a t-shirt and shorts. Nothing important, though, about whether one's robes are from Tokyo, Seoul or a polyester skirt from New Jersey! In our Sangha, one does not need to dress like an ancient Asian person to sit Zazen. Any loose fitting, dark colored clothing is fine. (That's why blue jeans and tight slacks should be avoided, as they can constrict the legs. However, no reason one has to dress in "Zen Robes").

    Heck, the Buddha originally said that we should just grab some old rags from the dump, wash em and sew em together!

    The Kesa/Rakusu is another story, as we place significance on that for what it represents. However, the clothing worn under it ... well, no need to "dress Zen" to Practice Zen. It is not about appearances on the outside, and nothing about needing to "dress for success". 8)

    Gassho, J

  19. #19

    Re: handy with a needle and thread

    Does anyone have a good source to buy samue? I've looked at them online but they all seem so expensive.

    Edit: Also, just bought some black scrubs for this purpose and they seem like a good, inexpensive alternative.

  20. #20

    Re: handy with a needle and thread

    Some of us wear robes; some don't. It's considered a matter of personal preference, and elicits very little comment. I prefer to, for the following reasons. When in kinhin, it's a courtesy to the person walking behind me; I offer nothing visually for the mind to grasp hold of (outside of the zendo, I'm a big fan of tie-dye and Hawaiian shirts). When I remove my street clothes and don my robe & rakuzu, it ritually reflects (and in my experience, assists) my renunciation of distractions and attachments; as my lay clothing falls away, I'm mindful of my sincere desire for the falling away of body and mind. When donning my robe and rakuzu, I'm mindful of being an integral part of a lineage tradition stretching back not only to the Clear Water, Wind Horse, and Rochester Zen Centers of roshi Philip Kapleau, but also Yasutani roshi's San-un Zendo, D?gens Eiheiji temple, and beyond; in my rakuzu, I see Ananda walking the dikes of the rice paddies. Donning my rakuzu and reciting the Verse of the Kesa, once again I take refuge; I am home.

    Oh yeah; it's also quite comfortable for sitting for long stretches; it doesn't bind anywhere.
    I wear the same robe as everyone else, in the "Rochester Zen Center style" from Endless Knot. I'd like to make my own some day, but currently simply don't have time.

  21. #21

    Re: handy with a needle and thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Shinkai
    Does anyone have a good source to buy samue? I've looked at them online but they all seem so expensive.

    Edit: Also, just bought some black scrubs for this purpose and they seem like a good, inexpensive alternative.
    Did you ever find anything for this Shinkai? I just bought one from Ziji.com for $150...I'm hoping my wife (who is a wiz with the sewing machine) can maybe copy the pattern.

    Been scouring the internet looking for a pattern.

    Gassho,

    Dokan

  22. #22

    Re: handy with a needle and thread

    Hello,

    I bought a more or less traditional samue outfit...and was shocked to see that it was 90% the same as a standard Karate Gi (which are very light in comparison to a Judo Gi). So unless you are planning on living at Eiheiji for a few months, my advice would be to find a decent cotton Karate Gi and just order it in a traditional colour. That will save you loads of money. Just my two cents.

    All the best and Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen

  23. #23

    Re: handy with a needle and thread

    Wow yes, I just noticed that they have some very light ones (7oz/200g) for only $16!.

    Well I have one on the way so I'll see if Mrsedwards can copy cat it...then we will open a storefront on Amazon. Don't worry though, we'll give Treeleafers a 5% discount. :twisted:

    Gassho,

    Dokan

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