Episode 48. Modern Hanbok with Jeff @yang_cheon_shik

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Modern Hanbok with Jeff @yang_cheon_shik The Asian Sewist Collective Podcast

In this episode, we're chatting with Jeff van Damme (@yang_cheon_shik). Jeff is a daily traditional and Shin hanbok wearer, designer, collector and music director. We talk about wearing and creating hanbok, cultural identity and his experience as a transracial Korean adoptee.  Follow the pod at @AsianSewistCollective on Instagram. For show notes and a transcript of this episode, please visit our website: https://asiansewistcollective.com/episode-48-modern-hanbok-with-jeff-yang_cheon_shik/  If you find our podcast informative and enjoy listening, you can support us by buying our limited edition merch, joining our monthly membership or making a one-time donation via Ko-Fi: https://ko-fi.com/asiansewistcollective 

Links 

Patterns & Designers mentioned

Dog Collared Shirt by MimiAndTaraStore

Romie Top by Seamwork

Looper Quilt by Miss Make 

Range Quilt by Modern Handcraft

Jeff favorite outfit: Met-inspired Ballgown

Christine Millar: @sewstine on Instagram

Zack Pinsent: @pinsent_tailoring on Instagram

Noelle: @costuming_drama on Instagram

Show transcript

Ada

Welcome to the Asian Sewist Collective podcast. The Asian Sewist Collective is a group of Asian people from around the world brought together by our shared appreciation for fiber and textile arts, and our desire to see more Asian representation in the sewing community.

Nicole

In this podcast, we explore the intersection of our identities and our shared sewing practice as we create a space for Asian sewists and our allies.

Ada

I’m your co host, Ada Chen, and I’m recording from Denver, Colorado, Denver is a traditional territory of the Ute, Cheyenne and Arapaho peoples. I’m a Taiwanese American marketer turned entrepreneur and these days you’ll find me running my own natural skincare business called Chuan’s Promise. That’s C-H-U-A-N apostrophe S Promise in sharing my marketing tips on my blog. Most importantly, for this podcast, you can find my sewing @i.hope.sew on Instagram.

Nicole

And I’m your co host, Nicole, I’m based outside of Chicago, the original homelands of the Council of the three fires, the Ojibwe, the Potawatomi, and the Odawa people. I’m a Philippine American woman, a lawyer by day in the sewing enthusiast the rest of the time, you can find me on Instagram at @NicoleAngelineSews.

Ada   

Before we dive into this week’s episode, Nicole, can you tell us about your current sewing project?

Nicole  

Oh, you’re gonna love this. You’re gonna love this. I brought it. There’s visuals so if this is on Instagram or on YouTube. Wednesday, was my beautiful Zizou’s 15th birthday. He is you know, Ada you describe you and Mochi is like the quintessential Asian girl with small white dog. I think I’m you but like just expand it a little bit. He’s a bichon frise. So he’s like 25 pounds. I’m a little bit taller than you anyway, it’s just, we’re basically the same. And I was like, You know what? 15 is a milestone. And why not? I had a 10th birthday party that was like a pseudo housewarming as well for us. And something I’ve never done before was make matching shirts for me and my dog. So it’s happened. So okay, I’ll show you I’ll show you I finished his. Tada.

Ada   

Oh my god. It has a collar. Oh my god.

Nicole  

My mom was like it has a collar! I’m like, I know so formal.

Ada   

Button placket actually finished or did you finish it with like Velcro?

Nicole  

It’s velcro girl. I ain’t about that life. But are the seams finished inside? You will never know. Neither will He? Because he’s a dog. And then I like to put labels on things always. And I don’t know if you can read this. But it’s a inside voices labels. Jo. Yeah, Jo has a lot of really funny sewing labels. But some I don’t know what I’m going to do with but this one is perfect. Right Zizou’s tail is also where his butt is I put in intermittent hazardous odors. So that’s that’s just a that’s just a ha for me. This is a pattern I just Googled from MiMi M-I-M-I and Tara T-A-R-A store it’s just an Etsy shop of all dog clothes sewing patterns. I made them a size large. So you know sizism is real even then, like dog clothing. And this is the Ruby star society quilting cotton in an older print brought from the rise collection by designer Melody Miller. And yes, I did make a matching shirt. What’s I don’t have that here because it’s not as exciting. Honestly, let’s be real,

Ada   

Although you need to finish the seams on it.

Nicole  

I do and they are finished. The last thing I just need to set in the sleeves. Everything else is done. I’ve even hemmed the bottom and this is my shirt is also going to be a collared shirt. But because of course it’s going to be a collared shirt because everyone can imagine, but it’s a peter pan collar. Oh, it’s a new pattern coming out by Seamwork called the Seamwork Romie R-O-M-I-E. As a Seamwork ambassador, I get like advanced copies of these it’s gonna get released September 1 So by the time that this comes out, it’ll already be out. I’ve never been into Peter Pan collars you know I’m just like this is a little bit not it’s a little bit too soft for me, I suppose. But I saw some of the ambassador makes you know we’re making them ahead of time and chatting about it and I just wanted to give it a try because I’m on the quest for woven work shirts. And so tomorrow we will be wearing matching shirts. Also my mom is going all out because we’re having it at her house because she has a yard the house I grew up in has a yard with a fence And we’ve invited all our cousins with their dogs.

Ada   

This is a whole production.

Nicole  

Yeah, it was just gonna be like a small thing I was gonna order a pizza. I bake Zizou tiny cake since every year since he turned 10. And by bake, I mean it’s four ingredients, and I never bake anything ever. So I’m just going to bake some, this is not so unrelated. But hey, I’m going to make some cupcakes for for the the doggy guests. And my mom has retired. And so I think just like having something to work on has been fun for her. So I’ve been getting texts, and calls and I had to stop a call once because I was like, in the middle of something. She’s making like Zizou fans. I don’t have one from here like, like, you know, if it’s hot. I asked her to make puppy chow, I was going to for the humans, which Michael was like, We need to tell them it’s only for humans. I was like, No, we don’t. You’re the only one that doesn’t know that. She’s gonna make that. And then of course, once I once the aunties were notified, everything’s being ordered and made for food wise. So I’m like, Oh, I’m not even gonna bring pizza anymore. Because you’re bringing all this wonderful Filipino food. Anyway, dog shirt, people shirt, matching. You’ll see it on the interwebs sometime in September. What are you working on it?

Ada   

So in our time in between seasons, I guess I’m in the phase of life where everybody’s having weddings. And then like, 12 months later, they’re like, Guess what, I’m having a baby. And you’re like, Oh, my God, are we qualified humans to do that. So that happened over the break to two of my friends, not to two of my friends. I’m very happy for two of my friends who are having planned pregnancies. And as we have established on previous seasons, I like to give our friends baby quilts when they’re about to have their baby. Now, was I told about these babies? Probably six months ago? Yes. Did I start working on either of those quilts? No. One of them is due in October, and one is due in November. So the October one has, I actually gave these people a little more choice, this time and pattern because I was like, now I’ve tried all the things like you tell me and I’ll have fun figuring out the fabric. So one of them. The one due in October has chosen the Looper Quilt, which is this really cool, rainbow line basically with like a curve. So there’s curves to play with. And I think it’s like five or six different colors and a backing. She did say that a black or darker background as in the pattern photos would be pretty cool. Because light colors I believe would be terrible to work with with a baby who, you know, things come out of the baby. So our project is I have all the fabric pulled from my stash, like I have all these different colors and patterns. And it’s just to get to cutting and actually assembling it in time. I will actually be back in New York right before she’s due. But I assume at that point, she will not want to have visitors so I might just be dropping off at her apartment and then running. And the other person who is due in November has chosen the Range Quilt which I think there’s a photo of this on my Instagram where I just made the quilt I wasn’t paying attention to the measurements I was just cutting well la-la-la h like taking advantage of having space because they don’t live on a coast anymore. And then the topper came out to be literally like a full size mattress and I was like oh my god, I really messed this up. It’s a baby. Well, this baby’s taking this to college like all the way through. We’ve since backtracked and then like we’re gonna size this appropriately for our time and skills. And my friend who selected that pattern actually wanted to go with a yellow green gradient. So it’s going to be pretty cool. They, they are very upset about the baby’s gender, but they are also very open to providing the baby. We’re we’ve nicknamed it but I don’t want to share a podcast. we’ve nicknamed their baby. And we always talk about how this baby is an alpha female, and that she doesn’t want to be dressing with baby and head to toe pink and kind of conforming to gender stereotypes. So yellow and green. I don’t know gradient ish ish. I’m saying ish because I haven’t pulled the fabric yet. For this person and wish me luck. I’m finishing two baby quilts in two months.

Nicole  

Good luck. I’ve done three baby quilts. They’ve all been wholecloth and they’ve all been done in like, the weekend before. But that’s different. You’re like, you’re piecing it. I don’t give nobody a choice. 

Ada   

I’m giving them a choice because these are two really good friends. Is who I’ve known for like, a decade plus.

Nicole  

Oh, I still didn’t give him I just kind of was like this. Is this your aesthetic? Yep. Mmm Is it? It’s easy, and one of my cousins is obsessed with hedgehogs. Anyway, it doesn’t matter not talking about me. But yes, good luck. I’m familiar with both patterns. I have the Looper pattern when I when I went through this phase where like, I’m gonna be a quilter. So I’ve got this box of things that are specifically meant for quilting blankets or like even panels like there’s a box. There’s a box.

Ada   

Look, have I also made a bunch of clothes in the time it should have been working on these schools. Yes.

Nicole  

It’s fine. It’s fine. The baby will be a baby for at least a little bit. And then they can use it for as long as they need to. Baby in a pantsuit is what what I was thinking when you said alpha female. We’re doing this new thing where we are doing credits at the top of the episodes so you know who worked on it before it gets started. This episode was produced by me with editing help from Shilyn Joy.

Ada   

So today, we are happy to welcome Jeff who is at yang_cheon_shik on Instagram. That is Y-A-N-G underscore C-H-E-O-N underscore S-H-I-K. And Jeff is a daily hanbok designer and collector of hanbok Welcome, Jeff.

Jeff  

Hello, hello. I’m so pleased and grateful to be here. Speaking with y’all.

Nicole  

Thank you so much for joining us. I’m very excited to chat with you. We had a good pre recording, you know, chat, and I’m like wait, let’s save it for when we talk. So I want to start with something that I saw immediately when I first found your Instagram account and you identify as quote, “aggressively Korean”. Can you say more about that and how it relates to your sewing craft?

Jeff

Sure. I am a transracial Korean adoptee which means I was adopted from Korea and I was raised by a white family in a predominantly white town at a time before the internet so I had little to no accessibility to Korean culture, language, anything. I believe that’s very informative, generally in the way of Korean adoptees as we get older, the yearning to know more about ourselves where we come from birth search. And I’ve always been quite 110% person, I never shied away from a strong look sort of a theatricality about fashion. But coming down to wanting to avoid the fast fashion industry and making a decision of well what clothing do I want to make. And this has come sort of at a time where I’m doing a little bit more language immersion doing more cooking just general Korean culture and history. And the aggressively Korean. I just I feel so strongly about almost reclaiming. I hate to say what I’ve lost, but the things that I may have missed out on without the accessibility to Korean culture growing up. I don’t always see it as extravagant as I know I am. But it has been pointed out. Wow. And I go well. Okay, I guess when I take a step back, quite so. But the term aggressively Korean. Someone I hold very close and dear to my heart, my quote unquote, hanbok twin. They’re on my Instagram, hand. But they also wear hanbok on a daily basis modern interpretations and the way we use hanbok as a way to inform our pride in our culture and identity, especially here in the West, where we are not the homogenous culture dominating everywhere. I do think it is, I guess, viewed as quite aggressive and full. 17-1800s Joseon wear. But I wear that with a badge of pride, especially here in New York.

Ada   

I love that. I’m curious. So you shared a bit about your experience growing up, was it moving to New York that kind of opened up the possibility of exploring your Heritage more or like what kind of catalyzed that in your life? Was it like a slower kind of burn.

Jeff  

I initially moved here to New York as a pianist accompanist for musical theater. So I stumbled across the Asian musical theater community. And for the first time, you know, a Korea Town having this is how you eat Korean food, or this is, this is what we do. This is what we eat. This is Korean skincare. Welcome to the terrifying world of K beauty. But through my very close, dear friends in that group, just immersing myself more I wasn’t. I grew up you know, you can’t hide that you’re different in a transracial adoptee relationship. So I always knew I wasn’t ashamed of it. And it wasn’t like an disassociative identity. But more of I had no idea. There was nothing to see of it. But upon you know, college moving to New York, to me, not only Koreans from the peninsula, but Korean Americans, other Korean adoptees that really just isn’t increasing. And not that it became more of an insular community. But you meet this Asian and that Asian and this group of Asians and then you’re like, Oh, my entire friend group is Asian. So it’s been an ever evolving, increasing this leads to this leads to this leads to this kind of ramping up of Asian Pride.

Nicole  

That’s a really beautiful, I think about my own experience. And actually, yesterday, I had a moment where I was on a call and there was another Filipino person, this is at work. And then I realized that this is the first time I’ve encountered another Filipino person in any realm in the work that I do. And I was a little sad, I was like, oh, you know, I have a lot of great friends and family but that I don’t get to immerse myself and have those commonalities, just being able to reference something like food and not have to explain what it is to other people. And I think that finding that community sounds like a really wonderful experience and I think it’s amazing how we are fully fledged and ever changing human beings and I love hearing how your journey to New York really changed the way that you see yourself and maybe the way that you see you know your culture and aggressive ain’t a bad thing. I adore that. So you’d mentioned that you were in your a piano accompanist in theater. Yeah, that’s incredible. And so I know that your your day job is also involved in theater. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Jeff  

Sure. I like I said I was a pianist accompanist. So like I growing up I always was around hand sewing like so this button up so this tear up dye this that’s fashion garment a different color like being crafty budget friendly. Reuse, reuse, reuse. I recently, since discovering and teaching myself hanbok and traditional Korean sewing craft, I transitioned to working at costume studios here in New York. So I work as a hand stitcher or at a studio. So you know, hardware buttons, fine finishing crafts, beads and gemstones and such. So that is what I do. And then I come home and sew some more.

Ada   

I feel like that means you really must enjoy at least some part of it.

Jeff  

Oh, yeah, it’s, it’s finding a balance now to where it went. It wasn’t my nine to five, you know, I would grab a fabric in the morning, come home and finish it, you know, one in the morning and just go I’m very impatient when it comes to my own creations. But this it’s more of, okay, I have a weekend I have fabric. Let’s be sensible about this. Drink water during this process. Eating would be a lovely thing to happen during this process. So I am trying to temper the creativity and hand longevity. I have a

Ada   

hand in I mean, I I don’t even sew hanbok and I will we’re gonna get into what goes into the garment. I’m sewing like basics and dresses and baby quilts apparently now and even I need to do that. Set the timer to get up and stretch and drink water, maybe go to the bathroom, see some light for a bit. All those things got to be balanced to get it. Listen to your body and listen to what you need. We want to be doing this craft for a very long time. For our listeners who might not know can you tell us you are wearing a hanbok today? I believe so can you share what a hanbok is for those who might not know?

Jeff  

Sure, hanbok is the term referring to traditional Korean clothing very much in the way of kimono before Western influence, clothing was just clothing. There was no need for a term for what we wore. So like you know, it existed like tops, bottoms, coats, dresses, that kind of term but hanbok in the advent of Western influence in Korea, is traditional Korean clothing, you’ll see most of its representation now in traditional historical Korean dramas, movies, TV shows, there quite a good number of modern hanbok on KPop groups, you know, every lunar new year they will come out with a photo shoot with some lovely modern interpretations. What you’ll see on like special holidays and such, but hanbok traditional Korean clothing,

Nicole  

okay, I think I came into this conversation thinking that it was like a specific garment, but it’s it’s just it is traditional clothing.

Jeff  

Yeah, it’s ok is the Korean word for clothing. So it’s just close. And then Western word came in and there was a need to have a different term. And, you know, war and war and such, bringing more influence and changing sort of the scale of who was in western where and whatnot. That term sort of became more well used. 1900 and beyond.

Nicole  

So you indicated that there are a lot of folks out there who make modern hanbok? Am I pronouncing that right?

Jeff  

Yeah, it’s always almost like a it’s like a rounder, oh, hanbok, bok, like hanbok. Yeah, but not like, you don’t have to overthink it. But it’s like hanbok. So it’s a little more rounder. Oh sound.

Nicole  

Okay, I will try. We like to try to honor pronunciations as best we can on the podcast. So sounds like you’re in this vibrant community of folks who make modern hanbok, what is your definition? Or how do you conceptualize modern hanbok?

Jeff  

Looking back at everything I’ve made, I don’t use traditional Korean fabrics. I have researched and drafted my own patterns based upon museum exhibits and measurements and doing the horrible dreadful math of scaling everything to my own sizing. But I tend to stick within 1700s 1800s Korean pattern and sort of waist and sizing. But I’ll use Western fabrics, modern Western fabrics, the way that hanbok salons in both Korea and worldwide. We’ve all adapted to you know, the sins of polyester and such. But that kind of using silk organza instead of a historically printed embossed silk gauze that kind of modernizing of hanbok, I guess is common between what I do personally. And what you’ll see in like a Kdrama or something but modern hanbok I guess in a more general term, it’s you know, the skirts are shorter the women’s jeogori tops are a little bit more cropped though historically. Around the late 1800s 1900s It did not even cover the chest for women. 

Ada   

Oh, and the full skirt was out?

Jeff  

Yeah, the skirt was under bust and the jeogori top was over so it was full chest exposed and these historical photos and you know to be such a conservative modern Korea now but you’ll see royal motifs, crafts that were designated only for the royal family such as the gold leafing the silver leafing that kind of decorative trim used all over modern hanbok around rounder petticoat skirt for women. Like the kinds you’ll see the rental places when you go to Korea and you go do the palaces and such that petticoat silhouette is you know, a heavy Western influence of that Princess full skirt. So there’s certain trademarks that you’ll see when you look at a historical photo from like 1890s of Korea, and that silhouette, and you can see how they layer and pack things differently. And sort of how modern tastes evolve.

Ada   

That’s so interesting, because I do think I noticed that there was more of like a fairy tale vibe going on, probably in the last decade, decade plus or so. And I do have a friend who did she recently go to Korea and live her Kdrama dream she did the whole rental, you know, photos and everything. There were aunties who were like, Oh, you’re solo traveling, let me take your photo for you. And she sent them to me, and they’re, they’re adorable. I like I was like, I cannot. These are so cute. But these are this is not actually a hanbok. This is a costume. Because I’m like, there’s like, extra stuff on your sleeves. And there’s lots of petticoat going on, like what is happening here? And how did you go to the bathroom? was like kind of what was going through my brain. But you did mention, Jeff, that there’s studios that create hanbok now. And then there’s places that you can rent them from for special occasions or photos. I’m really curious because you make your hanbok did you start by making or did you buy one? Where did your first hanbok come from?

Jeff  

My first step into the hanbok waters. In many Asian cultures, you know, a baby’s first birthday marks one of the days in modern culture, you’d be dressed in traditional clothing. So as a adoptee there’s, you know, certain milestones that I knew I was, quote, unquote, missing, that I wanted to experience still, I eventually scoured eBay and found a vintage, hanbok look that and blessedly of being a tiny size. I can cram myself into a lot. But putting that first hanbok on, and it was for my birthday. And, you know, I’m projecting a lot onto this experience. But that first hanbok, and realizing I knew the power of fashion, the power of clothes and how it reflects you. But how much that impacted me at a time where I was making a little bit more sewing wise finding that out. But from that first hanbok, I did a rub off pattern of that made a I honestly, confess, I do not make mock ups. I make living mockups where I’ll cram it out and go, Wow, that was wrong. So I’ll know for the next time, but you still wear it. But yeah, I’ll still wear it with pride and bless all my friends who were blind to the sins that I was flaunting around for the first few months, thank you. But from that sort of experimenting, then watching a more accurate if there is such a word, movie or drama, seeing the proportion, looking up how tall that actor is where things hit on his body, doing the math to translate to me to make the adjustments to my pattern. blessedly, no shade on our cultures. But Asian garments tend to be fairly easy to draft being all fairly much geometry, the drafting process for hanbok and figuring out different garments from I guess I call it my block was fairly easy once I got a first few drafts out into making my own sizing what I prefer and you know, it’s an evolving for us all as we make our own clothing. But you finding that sort of ideal fit, what kind of fabrics I want, what silhouette really works. For me, that has all just been a process since that very first one.

Ada   

Wow. So that’s like serious skills.

Jeff  

Just a lot of time on my hands. A lot of time.  

Nicole

Do you love this podcast? Do you like personalizing your sewing projects with sewing labels? Do you know someone who loves personalizing their projects with these labels? Or do you know someone who just loves sewing? If the answer is yes to any of those questions, please check out the Asian Sewist Collective’s Sewing Label Collection. New for this season is a sustainability set. Our very own producer and artist Mariko Abe, designed these just for you with sayings like, “Lovingly Rescued Fibers” and “I’m thrifty and I know it”. These labels would be a perfect gift for your sewing friends and family, and of course for you. We also have our original collection of labels up on our Ko-fi page. To purchase, please go to ko-fi.com/asiansewistcollective. Your purchase goes toward helping this all volunteer podcast keep going by helping with things like editing, transcripts, and publishing. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Nicole  

It’s interesting, you point out that a lot of the silhouettes are simple to draft and edit. And of course, this is just how my brain works and thinking about what I’ve read and learned about precolonial Filipino history and same it because it was more about using what you had, you know, not cutting complex that you can’t afford scraps, you know, back in the day, you just cover it, there was definitely some bare chesting happening and for both you for everybody. Back then it was just a lot more practical, which makes it nice for replicating now, except for the bare chest thing for women because that’s not something that is encouraged and anywhere anymore. But that being aside it’s so interesting to hear how you took something that was pre made and how you learned and grew and started making your own things that are just perfect for you and like Yes, perfect is not a great word, but I love all your stuff. It’s so great. So can you describe your creative process for making new hanbok? When when you instead of the I buy in the morning and finish it at night, like what does that look like for you? Now? You know, where do you get your materials, I’d love to know all of it.

Jeff  

So nowadays, I’ll happily take a few days upon it. I get all my fabric for the most part, I think I might have one hanbok. It’s like a accurate traditional counselors robe. And SewStine dear Christine embroidery Sewer maker Goddess. I commissioned an embroidery rank badge patch set from them to complete it. But that is the only thing I’ve gotten like Korean fabric. I’ve now know where to outsource if I need patterns or really specific Korean motifs, but I’ll go down to the garment district here in New York. Plentiful beautiful, smelly awful Garment District New York City but all stopped down. I now know I am a silky taffeta boy. And organza, that is where I sit happily right now. I think in my Instagram, you may see a little bit more experimental in the previous bits. I’m thinking practically on budget now where whatever I make, I need to ensure that it’s not a one time deal, being a little bit more cautious, but I’ll get my fabrics from the garment district or I might get some garbage castoffs from work blessedly. So there are some beautiful things to be had from many different sources. But the process is now having such a solid base of wardrobe where I have one could say too many options to choose from. But I’ll pick out maybe it’s seasonal, the most recent are organza as I luckily came into many yards of organza, but I figured for summer, traditionally historically, it would have been a transparent silk gauze in hanbok history. And for summer, it’s just lovely for a no ventilation subway ride. For instance, with this am I layering this as a top piece, then I’ll want to make sure my sleeves are as deep as can be. In this point, if I’m very inspired by a specific garment in a certain manner, then of course I’ll have a clearer idea but in the instance that I go to the garment district, I’ll find a fabric and go this is it is this swish a little bit more if so then it will become a cheollik which is the pleated skirt garment that I am more prone to wearing nowadays because I love a princess silhouette.

Ada   

Also the breeze of that Subway, great earrings,

Jeff  

oh, God, just the hot urine smell. For myself. It’s beautiful,

Ada   

rat girl summer rat girls.

Jeff  

All the time, it’s my life. Depending on what the fabric, how that sort of reacts and moves, that might dictate. But Once Upon choosing the garment, come home, I don’t have a pattern anymore. I know how things hit and how things lay. For the most part, the hanbok that I also make for customers for clients. Coincidentally, we have all been the same size, where Eastern patterns will treasure more of the fabric itself. You know, it may not necessarily be a skin tight. So there is some liberty with sizing. So where we may not be the exact Western measurements, bare skin, we can wear the same hanbok and create the same silhouette. So drafting my patterns come out of my head, I know this size rectangle makes XYZ. So I might go four days taking my time with like a Saturday, get the fabric, make a first cut, go for my walk, go on whatever adventure I need to have Sunday maybe come up and seem shell and lining and then join it together over the next two nights. So I’ll try and really take my time so I’m very fearful of pressuring what I love about sewing. And what I love and I’m passionate about hanbok that business mentality harming that. So I’m very, take a step back. Enjoy every moment if you don’t feel in the mood, don’t push it. Because I will not sew hatred into my own garments especially. So I try my hardest to be in the best mental state as I can sewing things now.

Nicole  

I have sewn hatred into my garments for sure.

Jeff  

And it is a valid, wonderful tool. I have a great amount of hate garments hanging in my closet right now.

Ada   

Sometimes you just need to like, you know, pedal down and because you’re having a bad day, and that seams just gonna be an angry seam.

Jeff  

No, it’s a rage sewing incident. And I am not victimless of that rage sewing. But I try my hardest now to be as calm and relaxed as can be.

Nicole  

No, I love that I when you said I don’t want to sew hate into my garments. I was like, Man, I saw a lot of hate in my garments. And I think doing it with love would be a lot more enjoyable. It’s not that it’s not enjoyable. But yeah, no, I think being more mindful about the energy that you put in. And I’ve gotten better about that. I think at the beginning, I used to see everything and everything had to be perfect. And now it’s like, this is fun. Look, I made a dog shirt or the seams finished. No, it’s all good. 

Jeff  

Who cares? You’re not looking? 

Nicole  

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And this is a silly question. Well, maybe it’s not silly. But how many yards do you typically buy when you’re ready to make new hanbok because I think my standard is like a yard and a half for shirt. I don’t make dresses anymore. But like three yard for a dress, it seems like you’re you’re just swaddled in fabric is it as much as I think it is?

Jeff  

drowning everyday. I mean, I’m a little bit more extravagant, you know, the highest upon the highest of society would have, you know, an X amount of layers on I layer not historically accurate, because I like a little bit more of a poof, especially in the toilet pleated one, historically, that was a military garment. It was drafted. So when you sit on a horse, the skirts sort of flutter and you can move and have accessibility and, you know, throughout every culture is historical, it became more of a societal thing and evolved to what it is now today. But the most extravagant for that cheollik garment, I like to have maybe around four and a half for the outer fashion fabric. And then you know, lining is a different matter. Like I said, I’ve been inspired by the 18th maybe specific silhouette. But like my skirts, I’ll overlap the pleating. So it’s not just seam seam my side panels will overlap almost to a quarter into my back panel. So when I sit down, or whatnot, nobody can get a glimpse of anything on a windy day. I know I’m extravagant already, but there are days when I just want to be left alone, discreet. But I have beautiful organza yards just trailing and fluttering behind me and I’m like, stop it. So about four and a half is where I’m laying out now. And then maybe the little top bottom sets, jeogori top baji pants, I could get away with like two yards each year so maybe I can really nest it if it’s not a pattern and like sacrifice an inch here. They’re like it’s I work very much with whatever the fabric is, especially if I inherit it from places and this is what you get, you don’t get upset then I’ll you know adjust accordingly. But in a perfect undiluted world, a really wide bolt four and a half, maybe five if I really want an extravagant sleeve or something.

Ada   

I love that because I think we did a few episodes on you know zero waste sewing sustainability with sewing and in a lot of our research it was like, Well, yeah, we have these patterns now that are telling us these cutting layouts, but really like that’s not anything new because a lot of the historical garments if we look at how much money it cost and how much time it cost for an artisan to produce a silk, for example of that level, like you weren’t wasting any of it.

Jeff  

Like deeply inspired by historical practice of textile preservation. I mean universally but especially Asian countries, like when you have a museum is shot of for say one of these see through coats. Traditionally they would never cut away the seam allowance, like the preservation of that beautiful beautiful rectangle would be held on to. So when it becomes Sun faded or laundering, you’d un-baste everything, wash it. If like I said Sun faded, you’d flip the textile inside out for refreshed unbleached color and sew it back up. The preservation that aspect an idea has come into handy now when I’m going back to adjust something or alter or gift to a friend who needs maybe bigger arm scye It’s Oh, thank goodness, I didn’t cut away three inches of seam allowance.

Ada   

That literally happened to me not on a hanbok but on a sorry. Now, it was technically not the sorry, it was the cropped off that I had bought with the sorry. And I was going to a friend’s wedding. And I bought this for another wedding pre pandemic so maybe we gained an inch or on the bust. And I had I had put on the top before we left for this wedding like I knew it fit but it was tight. And when I put it on again before we were going I was like I really can’t breathe. And then I looked I didn’t it didn’t never occur to me when I was before I was packing to look at the side seams. And lo and behold a genius person who had made this top had actually they had actually three rows of stitching on both sides seams. And so I just sat there and I didn’t have my seam ripper I had nail clippers and thank God it was basted it though and I was like I don’t know how I missed this. Before I’ve had this for a while I just don’t wear it that often. And so here I am in my in laws bathroom like nail clipping the basics. And it was it was perfect. So the same thing like don’t cut away your seam allowance but I do have a practical question. You live in New York City as a past New York City girly Jersey girl, I got to ask I was the person who would practically you know go in on the New Jersey Transit and path in my flats or my flip flops and then change into my work shoes or change into my work outfit right? Where like you know not wear my full blazer and whatever until I got to the building had to be in because subway air like you said some cars are not air conditioned. How does one practically live in New York City? And not? I guess damage or soil your beautiful hanbok especially the taffeta or are you constantly cleaning like can you please explain to my poor brain that cannot figure out how this would work in my fourth floor walk up.

Jeff  

I mean it’s been a learning curve definitely. So going a lot more seasonal hanbok with a historical nod to under dressing. What I wear underneath is of great importance that will be laundered ridiculously I have numerous sets of underwear and under tops and pants and layers for winter. But that in terms of keeping all the beautiful silk garments clean. I also as a rule, I do not sit down anywhere. And the very few instances that I go to a restaurant. I am very judgmental about where I plop down. But subway transit, I barely sit at work but work is a clean place. But I do not sit down. That is a hard rule for me. Whatever the length of the subway ride, I will be standing up I do the gracious gather myself as I ascend to stairway many a hem have been sacrificed in that learning journey. Also do not sit in wheeled office chairs in hanbok my little tassel belts and such I’ve sacrificed many to the gods of office furniture.

Nicole  

Oh my gosh.

Ada   

I’m just imagining you on a city. Like no sitting.

Jeff  

I my bicycle in the pandemic. Granted, I had to tie up the long ends around my back like you’ll see historically. I always wonder when I’m about to do a thing. I’m like they had to have someone in my ancestry had to have encountered this problem. How did they XYZ and find just tie it up in the back. I obviously cannot wear my hat but throw a helmet on my top knot and I’m wheeling down a Park West, in silks, and a face mask in the middle of it But yeah, you learn and you would just like with anything like if it’s raining, I’m not going to wear X certain garments, I have a polity, a poly dupioni outer coat. If it’s the most horrible weather, then I have options. But a recently noted Korean tangible cultural asset. It’s sang wall, which is the lifestyle of making and wearing hanbok daily. So it’s not just you know, throwing on hanbok for New Year and your wedding. It’s the lifestyle of Korean culture of making and wearing our traditional dress. So upon that practice in a modern New York setting, I don’t think it’s crazy. But there are rules and sorts of things and that I have been accustomed in the years of doing this every day.

Ada   

I love it. I mean, I think we only see so much on Instagram, we see the great poses, we see the great outfits, we see the great settings. And my question is always like, but how did they get there? And, and tying it up when you’re on your bike and swapping the hat for a helmet make a lot of sense. Riding around. So I appreciate the insight. Perhaps one day we’ll learn to be as careful. I don’t know about the sitting though. Good for you

Jeff  

holding strong.

Nicole  

Sorry. Okay, I’ll just say and I was like, Oh, you must have a core of steel. If you’re like always standing and don’t have like, I think

Jeff  

it’s the theater dance background like, yeah, I will, you know, retail survival jobs. There is no sitting. Like I’m used to it. I walk for fun. I’ll start like in Tribeca and walk Manhattan just to look at stores and be out. Done that deepen the horrible tan line that exists underneath all this.

Ada   

So where other people have a farmer’s tan, you have the hatband tan?

Jeff  

Oh, it’s three different colors because of the horsehair mesh. Oh, it’s beautiful.

Ada   

You know what if you ever got an ajumma perm though, and you did the visor, you would already have the the correct line for it.

Jeff  

Ajumma ready? Its ready.

Ada   

I look when I play golf in the Korean neighborhood here. They all are like why are you wearing a hat? Why aren’t you wearing a visor?

Jeff  

You’ve gotten the email for the uniform? Why?

Ada   

You have the sun sleeves. Where’s your visor?

Nicole  

Oh, I love that. So you you’ve mentioned briefly, Jeff about you. You’ve made hanbok for other people. And I think you’ve used the word client. So do you commission hanbok? And what’s it like working you know, with with clients?

Jeff  

I am definitely very small time. Like I mentioned before, I’m very cautious about the work, passion. What you do for your business. Maybe not, should not be your passion, or at least an adjacent distance from i, for friends, a lot of the time acquaintances, especially as an adoptee. There are times with fellow Koreans that I have made hanbok I find it a wonderful experience because I know what that first time of wearing hanbok for me is. Or even my New York City friend, Korean friends go come over and I’m like, let’s play dress up time. I’m like, What would you like? Pick your skirts. For instance, I have a friend a fellow musical theater performer Korean adoptee. She had a performance here in the city for an Asian theater performance group. And wanted to wear a hanbok Can I said come on down. We’re luckily once again the same size. So I have ballgowns traditional wear I have wigs, like what do you need? I want to share that joy and that experience of being drenched in your own culture in the most beautiful way possible. Like the literal weight of that. It’s almost like a weighted comforting security blanket. Like the one that calm pets down. Like it’s almost like that, in my crazy adoptive mind feeling this embrace and sort of surrounding. I love bringing that and helping other Koreans feel that even if it’s just throw a jacket on they don’t. I don’t demand full joseon realness from everybody but it It just that little bit. I really love and the further extent of creating a bespoke hanbok, where a person may not be in the sewing community sewing world. So bringing them to the garment district and to like Mood on a non busy hour. Just seeing the eyes light up with possibility of Oh, French linen. Oh, and I’m like, Yes, we can do anything you want with hanbok. Seeing the finished product in their fullest realized idealized sense of their Korean self. I love giving that and or being able to help someone achieve that feeling.

Ada   

You mentioned a lot about community and friends who may or may not be in kind of the sewing and costuming and historical costuming communities. New York seems like such a great place to be if you are in any of those communities. Like you mentioned SewStine. Now she’s in I think she’s in New Jersey. So closer. And I think you recently met up with Zach Pinsent, who does I guess I don’t know if it would be considered dandy. Where are 18 hundred’s Western wear

Jeff  

Regency gentlemen.

Ada   

Yes, Regency gentlemen, again, I’m not a historical costumer. I wish I knew all these terms. I’m working on it very much enjoy all the content. But I’m curious, like, What do you enjoy about being part of that community? Especially because I believe it’s you and you mentioned your hanbok twin. Perhaps being the only Asians are the only people of Korean descent who are representing hanbok in these communities? Is that difficult at all? Do you have commonalities with the other folks in these communities.

Jeff  

I was deeply inspired by the the Western historical costuming historical dress community, vintage community. They are my community of like minded fashion individuals. I feel where I come from with this. And it’s not a better than less than any sort of mentality where my reasons for this are of my own cultural pride, my own cultural investigation, reclaiming adoptee identity were on the ever cautious for cultural appropriation. I don’t like to dismiss, I encourage cultural appreciation and knowledge and learning. But my Korean community, my Asian community, in the Western world, how we exist in a community, often treated as perpetual foreigner. And I know this is exactly a fever dream for white nationalists to look at. But I have so much pride in that for Koreans, for Asians, for marginalized groups, people of color, our pride is beautiful. That, sure, it may be what political fashion anti fashion. Where I place it, in, for instance, a ethnically white individual wearing European or vintage wear, is not the same experience of my daily life being so visibly other in a western space. My experience dressing, in this level of hanbok every day, is not the experience the very few Koreans who still do this in Korea have, where we are and our communities and where we live greatly I feel influence how I view it. So I love them and respect them. My experience from what they do, yes, we experience harassment in different forms, and how people in New York especially feel like they can say things about you in front of you, but not to you. And the whole photography. I’m not really famous. So I don’t understand why I get chased literally for blocks. That kind of experience. I have to acknowledge that what I do and how they live are two different things. I love being around such visually different people. Like when we have an event. Oh my God to be inspired by fashion and the fabrics and the outfits and their commitment, like Mr. Dandy Wellington, please never stop throwing beautiful events. Meeting the Asian community within the vintage community, that has been such an amazing experience to see, and their journey as Asian individuals in western wear and what that does, and how that informs their viewpoint of things. Like I said, though, different, I am just grateful for how informed and though different how it informs how I live my life, how I can learn from them how I can respect and have empathy for everyone. Though, it may not be the same for me. 

Ada   

I love that it kind of goes back to the whole reason why we started this podcast in the first place, because Nicole and I and everybody behind the scenes would, you know, post whatever we’re sewing, kind of just mostly modern garments, if I’m being honest, some quilts and, and things on Instagram, and it felt like our experience wearing these clothes, even though they are modern. And they are what the vast majority of people we see day to day are wearing in the western world was, you know, it was the same as what other people were posting, but they didn’t really look at or understand that like the way we wear it on our bodies. You know, I can’t I can’t change this can’t change any of this would not experience living through it would be different from theirs and that we would want to talk about it. So I appreciate your candidness and sharing that and yeah, I love I love hearing that that as your your experience overall has been something that you are willing to share with us and continue to share with folks. I think Nicole has one last question, which is on a more fun note. I will say.

Nicole  

I mean, it’s fun to hear about your experience in the community. I just to piggyback off of what Ada said, you know, I think to me that you’d said about being in the costuming community. I got the sense that like you your historical customer, but it’s not a costume for you.

Jeff  

Yeah, I hate that word.

Nicole  

Oh, okay. Okay.

Ada   

Oh, we’re gonna stop using that word. Oh my god. Oh,

Nicole  

no, because I think costume like Ada, you had said when you go and rent it. It’s a costume not a garment. But for you. You know, there’s there’s the fun balls in the events and man do I want to go to one but I don’t know if I’ve ever heard that like level types. 

Jeff  

Please. Come play with us. 

Nicole  

Not maybe it’ll happen. Ada. We’re doing it.

Ada   

I think a hanbok looks a lot easier to make than anything SewStine makes, I’m just beat. That’s what I’m gonna put out. 

Jeff  

Oh Her bless her. 

Ada   

She’s also got a full time job. And if I only

Jeff  

I know and like a beautiful small child

Ada   

And she sews for her partner. Sure. 

Jeff  

Where where show me your Hermione Granger time.

Ada   

Right. Right. And I love that seems easier, hanfu on the Chinese? And seems it’s similar but different. Still a lot of taffeta going on right now I think in the in the modern interpretations. Even a qipao like, seems so much simpler. What I see happening, okay.

Nicole  

And all equally beautiful. And I think most of those folks go home and take off the costume and put on jeans and a T shirt. But this is something more for you. And I think that being in that community and showing people and hopefully having the interest that them having the understanding that this is this is more than a costume it is not it is you honoring your heritage, the exploration of your heritage and just being a badass. I just like sigh I’m thinking about how like, I just love everything that you make. And so this last, I guess less serious It is serious, right? Okay. It’s a fun question. Can you narrow down your vast experience with hanbok to your favorite creation? What’s your favorite thing that you’ve made? Could be the undergarments that I saw on your Instagram? On your Instagram, so it’s not weird?

Jeff  

Yes, I know. I’m like I put it up there. I put it there. It’s I’ve made that choice. Yes.

Nicole  

It’s cool. Go check it out. Yeah. What’s been your favorite, your favorite thing that you’ve made for yourself in this journey?

Jeff  

to sort of clarify like, I understand and fully accept historical costume is like an academic term. But like, yes, the everyday interactions I have with a complete stranger. I love your costume. And I go, I love yours too. 

Ada

Oh, I love that. 

Jeff  

Or you know, it’s just solid Asian bitchface. Or cork an Asian eyebrow, and what do you get? These are my clothes. This is clothing. So, but that’s my only aversion is the Halloween Halloween is the one day you’ll see me in as modern as can be. My hair is down, not braided. I’m in as the modern, most passable, discreet hanbok that I have. Because it’s the one day that I just will not entertain anything but favorite thing I have made. I think that is a fuchsia plaid giant cheolik ballgown. though one of the Met fashion Met Gala exhibits featured a giant plaid gown from amazing American designer Christopher John Rogers. And it’s like the crowning glory I stared at the same multiple visits for hours. I later come to find in the first studio I worked at, coincidentally, though Russian owned, had a Korean woman drafter became my big sister, like, taught me so much took me under her wing. She drafted that dress because she worked for Christopher John Rogers. She goes, holds up my Instagram. You like that dress? I made that dress. Like a what? But yeah, I was brave enough to bunch it up, tie it up to do a gorilla fashion shoot. I pulled a cord, took off a coat and did a quick photo shoot on the steps of the Met. My dear friend Noel costuming drama on YouTube and Instagram bought me that fabric as a gift. Our first meeting was around that time and I spent a day and a half making it before they left. So I could wear it for a trip to the Met and it it holds just a lot of meaning a from when I first made it in one of my first out in public extravagant photoshoots to the meaning that she has since unfortunately passed away but my big sister, what are fate and serendipity and coincidence that they made that dress that inspired me so hugely. That one I think it’s gorgeous. I had thought to trim it or pin it so I could wear it more but I’m like I don’t want to touch it. One day I’ll buy a petticoat to go under it. But the purpley fuchsia plaid. Extravagant ballgown is my favorite so far. 

Ada   

I just found it on your Instagram. It’s beautiful. And I do remember that dress from that exhibit.

Jeff  

Yeah. jaw dropped when she was like, Yeah, I drafted in New York, how small is New York, especially in fashion. I see the Tom Brown people walking around the neighborhood at lunch and I go I love your uniforms are so cute.

Ada   

I mean, I’ve seen them there. I love everything about this, we will definitely be sharing those photos, in the show notes and hopefully to our Instagram when this episode is out. So make sure to follow Jeff at @yang.cheon.shik on Instagram, and keep an eye out next time you’re in New York. I would definitely will be if I see you on the street. Don’t freak out if there’s some random Asian girl running after you, Jeff, for me, but I’m sure that folks will really love and appreciate all of the thought and care you put into dressing every day and sharing that with us. Yeah, I really appreciate you being on today.

Jeff  

Thank you so much. It was so nice to get to know you and hopefully more of our beautiful, beautiful Asian sewing community. I know we’re everywhere. Please Please join us. But thank you so much. It’s been so wonderful. chatting away with y’all.

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