October 17, 2011

Hakama pants for Halloween

Front of Hakama pleated
but unhemmed
In between another round of severe poison ivy and a terrible reaction to prednisone (case of cure worse than the disease) I manged to make a pair of hakama pants for my daughter's Halloween costume. 

Due to the brain fog from the prednisone it took me 4 days, that's right 4 dang days to figure out how much fabric I really needed. It should have taken maybe 15 minutes. I decided to construct the hakima in traditional Japanese fashion. Since the looms were only about 13-14" wide max, everything was basically made with rectangles. Since my daughter is size extra small I decided to make hers from 10" panels. This makes the layout of pattern pieces on fabric ridiculously easy, unless you are brain fogged like I was and can't add 10 +10. I also used white cotton twill. 

Before pleating, the big girl pants!
There are a few good places to retrieve free instructions and patterns for making hakama. I have noted which ones claim to be historically accurate and if a koshita is included. For some folks this info is really important. All of these links are at the end of my post.

To make the hakama I mostly followed the pattern by Lady Roxannes since it was historically accurate, had good sizing information and the sewing instructions made sense. 

For the koshita I loosely used the measurements from Sithvixen, but used some of the instructions from And Sewing is Half the Battle for the construction of the koshita. To attach the koshita I came up with my own method that made sense to me. I will make another post just for the koshita sizing and attachment since most online instructions seemed to be lacking something for me.

Hakama pleated and  wearing
 her really cool mask
Back side with Koshita
(trapezoid at top of waist)

Grrrr. Attack pose.
My suggestions and experiences
Read all of the instructions and choose the one that makes the most sense to you. I ended up using three different patterns/instructions plus my own. You might find it easier just to stick with one.

When all your pattern pieces are rectangles, there is no need to cut the fabric. Just measure out the width of one rectangle, make a small cut (for me this was at 10"), grab the fabric on either side of the cut and rip away!!! The fabric will rip straight along the grain line and there will be no wonkiness that occurs with using scissors.

One note of caution: to be sure your fabric is on grain, start off with a cut on the edge of the fabric and rip as before. Now you have a straight edge to begin your measuring from. So fun, and even in a brain fog I was able to do this. Also a great activity for when the prednisone has you doing Hulk imitations. Hulk rip fabric! I loved it.

roning is your best friend: If you don't iron the seams properly every single time, your pants will look like crap. Seriously that is one thing that separates the professionals from the rest. Iron the seams as you sew them. Here's my quickie instructions for ironing seams.

Lady Roxannes  pattern was great, but the formula for determine were to sew the crotch panel to the front/back did not work for me. Using her formula I ended up with a 7.0" (I used 8") crotch placement, but really needed this to be about 10". So if you are small, I would consider adding about 3" more to this measurement. Hakama crotches sit much lower than modern pants or jeans. Try on the hakama before evening out the legs. You might even consider basting the seams first (extra long straight stitch) to see if you like the placement before overlocking it and then reinforcing it like I did (doh).

One more word of crotch caution: where the crotch seams meet (in front and back) is a trick spot and it is easy to end up with the material all bunched up. Be sure to pin this area and to go slow. If it doesn't look right when pinned, it won't look right when sewn. Re-pin unit it looks good.

Clean your sewing machine! This makes such a huge difference and tends to resolve most issues you are having. There are good sites on the web for doing this. Here is a video on YouTube that I used. Once cleaned you will think you have a new machine. My local sewing shop fees start at $90. Yikes. DIY people, DIY!

Because I was using heavy twill, and multiple layers of it, I thought a jeans needle would work. Wrong. This needle left big holes in the fabric and made popping sounds. Changing to a topstitch needle solved those issues. 

If you decide to do the hakama, I hope you find these suggestions and links helpful. It really is easier than it sounds.

The hakama turned out nice and she is pleased with them. Next up....how to make koshita.

Links to free Hakama patterns and instructions.
  1. AnneLiese's Fibers and Stuff: She gives directions for making men's and women's hakama as well as a kimono. If you do not sew, this may be a confusing tutorial for you to follow. Pattern pieces are not traditional panel widths. The pattern lacks a koshita (back brace)
  2. Sithvixen: This link brings up the pdf tutorial. This pattern is much simplified and has a pattern for making the koshita (including sizing the koshita) with a simple means of attaching it, however the back seam is exposed on the inside of the pants and could cause chaffing. There are better methods for koshita attachment that will hide seams. Not historically accurate.
  3. Piner Aikido: another pdf tutorial. Super simplified. No koshita, not historically accurate.
  4. Lastwear on Deviantart.com: If you are not a sewer then I do not recommend this one as it is the most complex pattern I have seen so far. If you use this one be sure to read through all the pages of comments to find the sizing chart and pattern pages. Not historically accurate, but includes a koshita and a pocket. Nice design.
  5. Lady Roxannes on http://www.yamakaminari.com: This is the pattern that I followed. Great explanations and sizing information! Highly recommend this one, even for inexperienced sewers. No koshita.
  6. And Sewing is Half the Battle: Great tutorial. Includes a koshita, but lacks instructions for sizing and the sewing instructions are confusing. Historically accurate

October 3, 2011

So after much studying I was finally down to the business of crafting. Yesterday I worked on two projects that I will split into two posts.

Friday I posted a tutorial for tabi socks that I made for my geta shoes. Well, one pair of tabi just isn't enough especially now that it is rainy and really cold here.

I do have to warn you that when you make tabi you now have a left and a right sock. If your tabi pairs are each a different color you won't have to worry about matching them up. But if you did a bunch in the same color..guess what...that's right it's a little more work for you on wash day.

My daughter and I gathered all the socks that we wanted to turn into tabi style. I think I did about 8 pairs of socks and it only took about 30 minutes because I was having sewing machine issues. I am going to show you the Halloween tabi socks that we made. They are so cute. If you go to one of the cheapy stores you can get a pair for a $1 to play with.

Her skeleton tabi are going to look great with the waraji sandals she made for her Halloween costume.

Did I mention that tabi are comfortable to wear? They are. I remember when I was a kid there were those socks with all the separate toes--couldn't stand to wear those. The tabi toe does not add bulk in your shoe and they look wild.

So be bold, be crazy and go tabi!!

September 30, 2011

How to make Japanese style tabi socks

So yesterday I got a fabulous surprise in the mail! For my birthday I ordered geta 下駄 from Japan and they came about a week early. I am happily wearing them now.
Geta are Japanese wooden clogs that make a wonderful sound when you walk in them. They look like platform flip flops although I cringe at using the word flip flop when comparing them to the beautiful geta. Although it seems that geta are just as casual to the Japanese as flip flops are we Americans. Geta can be worn with or without tabi -- Japanese socks that have the big toe separate from the rest of toes. These are also worn with the waraji  わらじ sandals I made in my last post.

This is what happens to you when you start to watch anime or at least me. Because of my desire to understand anime without translations or dubbing, I am teaching myself to be literate in Japanese and have desire to learn more about the culture. Wearing the traditional clothing and consuming the food of another culture I think is helpful in gaining a deeper appreciation and perhaps an affection for another country.

Tabi or 足袋 are super easy to make when you start off with a sock. I have not tried to make them from "scratch", but I am sure I will tackle that too. Stay tuned.


  • pair of socks - any kind you like that look nice because you want to show them off.
  • chalk to mark the socks or hell a sharpie works--just use a thin one.
  • thread to match or close enough -- since the seam is between your toes who is going to go looking there?
  • sewing machine or hand sew these if you prefer.
  • good scissors
  1. Turn your socks inside out and put one on each foot
  2. Spread out your big toe from the rest of your foot
  3. Mark the area in between the big toe and second toe with chalk, sharpie or whatever. Be sure to follow the curve of the big toe so that it doesn't end up with an SNL "cone head". (see pics)
  4. ***If you do both socks at the same time you will not have to worry about ending up with two left socks or two right socks. Here is why: once you turn the sock inside out and put it on your right foot and then sew on the marking line, it now becomes the left sock when turned to the right side. I knew this and still ended up with two left socks. Doh!! Marking then simultaneously solves this issue nicely.
  5. Time to sew along both sides of the marking line leaving space for your scissors to cut (about 1/8"). First start with the straight line (back stitch at the beginning). When you reach the end back stitch again and then make the turn to start up the toe side by making only one stitch that is at a 90 degrees to the stitched line. Back stitch the one stitch to reinforce it. Now start sewing up to the tip of the toe rounding the corner and back stitch again. Easier to do than describe I promise!
  6. Scary part: cut between your stitched lines being sure to also cut the curve from the toe. Do not worry about clipping seams.
  7. Turn inside out and put them on. Don't you look cool!

Let me know if you tried this and how marvelous your tabi turned out. Try this with unusual socks rather than just plain ones for something extra wild.

September 25, 2011

Boozy Cantelope Sorbet

How's that for a title? I had a cantelope that I let sit on the counter for too long. It was sweet and tastey, but too soft. So I started looking for a recipe too use it in.

The sorbet promised too be easy, without sugar, and used gin to keep out from getting rock hard. So I threw it all in the blender with some orange jest and a little honey just in case. For hours later it looked yummy.

Scooped some up for my daugherty and I and....."Mom, did you put zest in. here?"  Yes, I Did. Do you like it? "Uh, you better taste it" she says with a twisted up face.

Ugh. Idk. Was it the gin or the orange rind? Nasty nasty stuff. We even doused it with honey to see if that helps. Sadly no.

September 24, 2011

Halloween costume Shinigami, Arrancar Hallow or Espanda?

What do you want to do for Halloween? Are you dressing up? "Well Mom" she says, " I want to be......." So what part did I hear? LOL. The shoes. And not just any shoes, I did my research. We are going to make Japanese waraji. In case you haven't guessed it from the title we are Bleach fans. (No not the nasty stuff in the bottle, the fun Japanese anime on the net.)

While she is working on her mask (leaning more towards the Espada characters at this point.), I am in charge of wardrobe. Today we tackled the waraji which are traditonal footwear  of the soldiers, commoners, and travelers. This is a good article about the waraji. Apparently travelers measured the distance they traveled on long journeys by the number of waraji they used.

Waraji were made of rice straw, but since Home Depot doesn't do rice:
  • we used sisal rope 1/4" (10' per sandal) and 
  • jute thin stuff (1 pack made 1 pair of shoes but you may need more depending on your foot) 
  • We also bought a scrap plank of wood 4ft x 12" wide x 1" thick for a dollar.  For our looms we had the wood cut down to 20" in length. We are 7-7.5 shoe size if that helps you in figuring out what size loom to make. Bonus: the Home Depot guy cuttin my wood was smokin hot! Yummmy.
  • My own tip here: keep the hammer handy because the nails loosen up quit a bit as a result of the weaving process. And..uh... take the loom off your knees before resetting the nails. Doh!
  • Total cost per pair of shoes: $7.00. Love it.

There are plenty of tutorials on the web and here are two that we found useful. This one gave directions for a homemade loom:

Make your own cosplay Bleach sandals on Instructables

We found this tutorial good for making the loom  and for the actual weaving (easy easy easy to do): 

How to make you own sandles for Bleach Cosplay on Youtube.
I recommend watching the series (3 vids total) at least once all the way through to pick up on all the great tips she gives.

Here are the pics from our adventure.
Ta da! Waraji. And very comfy.

So how did we do? It was fun. We really enjoyed the process and are very happy with our waraji.

September 22, 2011

Forgive me, I have not blogged the crafting.

Wow. Has it really been that long ago? April?? Really? Oh well, I am back now.

The last thing I remember crafting before dropping out of sight or blog land are the accessories for my daughter's Jr. prom. She didn't want me to post it on the web until after the prom. That was back in May? Hmm. ..piss poor excuse to show up again in September I know.

Making her accessories was so much fun because she didn't go with the typical HS prom outfit. She wanted to be herself which is very artsy and smart. Her personal theme was steampunk and boy did she rock it!!

Together we made her facinator, even  the top hat portion. A combination of sewing and gluing did the trick. Added some feathers, a playing card, and red ribbon to match the corset. There is even a skull bead among the feathers.

Speaking of the corset, there is a tank worn underneath it. Since the thin straps did not go well with the look, we added black lace to the straps and the front portion. It went from plain, to dramatic.

The earrings were made from sale parts I found at JoAnn's Crafts and so was the black center piece for the necklace. The beads and long red crystal were re-purposed from an old pair of my earrings.

The choker was made from some black brocade that I had (tag sale find) and I just threw on a clasp for the back. That too had little red crystals hanging down the back.

Lace from a spool as well as fabric lace were used to make the fingerless gloves. Embarrassingly easy to sew. Just trace the hand and sew it up the side. Doubling over the fabric prior to sewing the glove resulted in a better looking lace pattern and a "pocket" to put in the red ribbon.

Now here is a confession. All of the close up shots in this post were cropped from other photos because I didn't even take close up shots of the accessories. Doh!

Wait till you see what we are going to make this weekend for her Halloween outfit.

Mata nā!

April 10, 2011

365/ 61 & 62 Starfish Pillow Birthday Gift

What a week! Work was crazy and for a time so was I (more than usual). BUT...I found time to be creative and that saved me. The last couple of days (Tues/Sat/Sun) I have been working on a special gift for my friend Ken. It was his birthday and I wanted to do something really nice. 

A few years ago he pointed out a starfish pillow that he really liked. That memory is the inspiration for the Starfish Pillow I made him.

The front of the pillow sports a partial wool felt starfish. Figuring out how big to make the starfish and where to center it was a challenge. This pillow is 20" square, so I had to tape sketch paper together to get a proper sized template. 

I divided the paper into thirds (horizontally and vertically) so that the design would be off center and still look good.
Do you like my fabric choice? It is from my generous friend Amy who didn't know what to do with it or even know why she had it. We agreed that it was a terrible minty green color. However, 10 minutes with my pal Jacquard Dye-Naflow and wha-la: a gorgeous beach inspired fabric perfect for the Starfish Pillow. I am telling you changing the fabric color could not be easier! I was shocked and delighted with the new colors.

No less challenging for me was the back of the pillow. I went with an envelope closure, but the math to create it always messes me up. Yes I know, I mess up the math. Math is perfect. Before childbirth: math wiz...after childbirth: dunce.

Ooooopsie not enough painted fabric for the back, so what do I do? Add in more from the stash that matches the starfish on the front. Lucky for me that was white. It turned out nicer with the two colors. A happy accident. I was also more daring with the fabric color on the back so it has "rusty" areas too.

Here is a close-up view of the starfish. I used different colors of DMC and other flosses to create the bumpy texture on the arms. I used  pinkish-grays, peach tones and a peach variegated floss. Recognize the knots? French of course. I got really quick at doing the French Knots. This was the most relaxing part to do.

This is how it would look on my bed if I had made one for me too. Actually, I just might do that.

For now I am entering my pillow in the Blogger's Pillow Party. Click the graphic below to visit their site for details.

Blogger's Pillow Party