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Washing the Hakama
Before you wear your new hakama it will need to be washed and the dye set unless you like to have blue skin. There are different methods for washing the hakama. Here is one washing method for an indigo dyed cotton hakama.
Setting the Dye
The first step to washing a new hakama is to set the dye. Using a small rectangular plastic tub with a cover makes the job easy and keeps the odors from the vinegar you use to a minimum. Opinions will differ on the amount of vinegar to use and how long to soak the hakama. A ratio of 1 part vinegar to about 2 parts water works well. Less vinegar will work fine but you will want to soak the hakama longer. Soaking the hakama for several hours sets the dye well. Some people will tell you 30 minutes is sufficient. I, personally, like to soak mine overnight and have found that the dye sets well and will bleed very little on you when you first wear the hakama. Place the hakama in the tub still folded. Make sure that it is thoroughly saturated with the vinegar solution, otherwise you may have areas where the dye has not been set.
After soaking, take the hakama directly from the soaking tub and place it in the bathtub and unfold it. If you like, use a mild soap such as Woolite. Some people prefer to use no soap at all. Partially fill the tub with cool water and grape stomp it, like the creation of a fine wine. After stomping, drain the tub and rinse out the hakama. For rinsing, I find it is easier to use a sprayer head on a flexible hose. This enables you to hold up the hakama while rinsing out any remaining soap.
At the first washing, the hakama will bleed dye. Using a collapsible wood drying rack in the bathtub keeps the dye from dripping onto the floor. Hang the hakama up using the himo (ties) or with some heavy duty clothes pins to clip it to the rack. Some prefer to hang the hakama upside down by clipping it to the rack. In this method you carefully wash the the hakama while still folded and laying flat. As the hakama dries, press the pleats back into the hakama. I take the hakama down when it is about half dry and fold the pleats in and hang up to finish drying. The weight of the wet hakama also helps to remove wrinkles. After drying, fold the hakama and you can think about the meaning of the pleats as you fold it. Generally, it will not need ironing if you do the previous steps. Ironing can cause the fabric to look shiny.
Note: The dye will also turn you and the bathtub blue. Wash tub with a tub cleaning product and the dye will be removed easier. If your bathtub is other than a enameled tub such as an acrylic finish then the dye may stain your finish.
This page by Curtis Marsten
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