We were very fortunate to have the Buddhist Sewing Teacher, Kaaren Wiken come to the Center to teach us how to sew the traditional Buddhist robes, the Okesa and Rakusu.
For the past few years the disciples in our sangha have come together to learn the sewing practice from Kaaren. In Japan for last 400 years, it was the rule that monks wear only commercially manufactured robes. This is true even today. This tradition of sewing the Zen Buddhist robes was almost lost in Japan but fortunately was preserved over the years by small groups of Buddhist nuns and monks.
Joyfully this tradition is being passed on to Zen practitioners in America. It was Kaaren's teacher, Tomoe Katagiri, the wife of Katagiri Roshi, whose teacher, Eshun Yoshida Roshi, first brought the tradition from Japan.
Tomoe Katagiri's book and sewing instruction, "Study of the Okesa, Nyoho-e: Buddha's Robe", is available for download here: www.mnzencenter.org/tomoe_sewing_book.php
Here are images from one of the sewing retreats: