A Stitch in time
My sewing background
Hello, I'm Kyle Whittington and I've been sewing pretty much most of my life, my earliest piece being a dress for my sister when I was just 4 years old. A prize winning waistcoat with pockets and hand-stitched button holes at 14 and at 17 I was making neck-ties to fundraise for my gap year in Japan with The Project Trust. Over the last 15 years I've variously worked in Fashion and Interiors; making cushions, entirely hand-stitched curtains, hand-stretched silk lampshades and the occasional upholstery piece. So I know a thing or two about fabric, how it falls and turning the perfect corner!
My Practice now
An alchemy of Tea & Textiles
In 2018 my teacher, Adam Sōmu Wojciński of the Ueda Sōko tradition of Cha-no-yu, asked me if I'd have a go at making a shifuku. And so I turned my considerable sewing experience to unravelling the secrets of the shifuku. And I was hooked! I'd found my calling in these intricate, complex and beautiful pieces. Each one a tiny, individual work of art in its own right. I now focus my work on creating fabric goods for the tea ceremony. I bring a contemporary approach to this traditional sphere with the fabrics I use and am continuously experimenting with ideas in decoration and construction. I work with clients around the world and from all schools of tea.
In 2019 I set up my studio and in 2021-22 built my textile themed chashitsu alongside in my Hampshire (UK) home. I mostly work to commission though there is a small stock of items on my Etsy shop and in 2023 I have launched my first collection: "Cloud-Gire".
I make all the himo (cords) and tsubari (gathering stitch cords) myself, specifically for each shifuku, using colour, pattern and texture to express a theme or idea or simply to harmonise and tell a story with the fabric and/or the item it's made for. With over 300 colour shades to choose from I am able to mix, match, harmonise or contrast both himo and tsubari to suit each piece and each clients taste.
I have amassed a unique collection of beautiful fabrics, drawn from the worlds of fashion and interior design as well as collected items from my travels and fabrics donated to the collection by clients. From African Chitenge to Versace Couture, leather and vintage Kimono (which beautifully bridge the contemporary-traditional), there is something for every occasion. I also have a small but growing collection of "Meibutsu-Gire" textiles and can source specific named fabrics from Japan when needed.
Shifuku sit at the core of my practice but of course I make all and any fabric goods associated with the Japanese Tea Ceremony and am always open to creating something new and unique. Explore my work on Instagram or Patreon or get in touch to arrange a design consultation.