Itabari (to stretch out a piece of washed, starched fabric on a board after washing) (板張り)

Itabari is one of the Arai-hari (washing and stretching out) techniques used to stretch out a piece of washed, starched fabric on a board so as to flatten out any creases and give the finished fabric a shiny appearance. This job used to be done in most individual households, but since the end of World War II growing numbers of professionals have been hired to do it. It is better not to apply Itabari to Kinu-chijimi (silk crepe), crepe Kimonos, high-class crepe, cotton crepe, etc.

A long time ago, a piece of fabric was immersed in wheat-bran water (made by boiling wheat), starch made from steamed rice or the like and then stretched out on a veranda (a narrow, wooden passageway along the edge of a house facing the garden), the Amado (a wooden shutter constructed at the various openings of a building to protect the interior), a case for Amado or the like in order to apply the finishing touches.

At the end of the Edo period, Mosuke SHIMABARA in Kyoto invented 'Hariita' (a board for adhering the starched, stretched cloth) to be used by professionals at the riverside of the Kamo-gawa River at that time. It is considered that, at the biginning of the Meiji period, Hariitas were manufactured in many places and used in Harimono (a technique used to stretch out a washed, starched fabric on a board or with the use of Shinshis to dry) in individual households.

Improved Hariitas are made of Aesculus turbinata, Magnolia hypoleuca or Japanese Judas tree and are normally about 2-2.5m long for professional use or about 2-2.2m long for home use.

Various starches are used according to the fabric, colors, etc.; historically, it was considered that rice starch or Ginnamafu (selected fresh wheat gluten) was suitable for light-colored cotton, crepe Kimono, hemp cloth, etc., and Funori (gloiopeltis glue made of seaweed), gelatin, etc., were suitable for dark-colored fabrics. The thickness of the starch also depends on the fabrics and preferences. Funori, starch paste, etc., are commonly used, with Funori being used for Meisen silk cloth, etc., and Nama-fu (a fresh gluten cake), cornstarch or rice starch being used for white fabrics, etc. By using Funori, some weight is added to the fabric, the original colors are not damaged and fabrics are less prone to staining due to the low decompositability and fermentability of Funori (salicylic acid enhances these properties). The use of starch paste can cause mold growth. Gelatin adds a shine to silk and enhances the natural softness of its texture.

For use per an approximate tan of fabric (cloth for one kimono), 4g of Funori is dissolved in 1-2 liters of water, or Nama-fu or cornstarch is simmered and 4-5g of the product is diluted in about 1 liter of water. Alternatively, (1) 2 liters of water, 5g of Funori and 5g of gelatin, (2) 2 liters of water, 3g of Ginnamafu and 10g of gelatin or (3) 2 liters of water and 10g of Funori can be used.

Funori is mainly used in the Kanto region, and Ise-nori or Nagasaki-nori, the latter of which was considered to be better in quality due to its fineness, etc., are available.

Because Funori leaves starch only on the surface and does not reach deeply into the fabric, it is often substituted by animal gelatin, which deeply penetrates the fabric so as to prevent fine creases and is diluted for use with muslin, etc.

More recently, dextrin has sometimes been used with Meisen silk cloth, etc.

The methods for stretching out fabrics are as follows: manually and upwardly stretching out a piece of starched fabric onto a board, which leaned upon an object at an inclined angle so as not to form creases; later, by professionals, manually stretching out only the first 2-3cm of a piece of well-starched fabric onto the Hariita, which is horizontally placed with a longer leg of it on the right, and then stretching out the rest of the fabric onto the board with a hard brush so as not to form fine creases.

For individual households, a technique called Jogi-bari (also called Boirimaki-bari) was invented as follows; after wrapping a piece of wet or dried fabric around a ruler bar, which exceeds the width of the fabric by 4-5cm, with the right side of the fabric facing toward the bar, stretching out the fabric onto the board while manually holding it for the first 5-6cm from the leg of the board, gradually lifting the bar toward the top of the board while keeping some tension so as to stretch out the fabric onto the board, manually setting warps and wefts right, applying starch to the surface of the fabric with a starch-soaked brush, and then flattening out the creases with an upward motion.

The fabric that becomes stiff in texture after such procedures is sometimes subjected to Uchinobashi, a technique used to roll a piece of fabric around a core and then pat it with a stick until it softens.

[Original Japanese]