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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I used this tutorial and it worked perfectly! thank you so much for making this. The only difference is I curved the between the rest of my toes and not just the big toe. I get a weird cone head on my 2nd toe if I don't.