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!!