How to Make a Sailor Fuku Uniform


Many schools in Japan require their students to wear a uniform which often resemble a sailor suit. Although these uniforms, also called sailor fuku, can be purchased, they are expensive and must be ordered from Japan. Making your own sailor fuku is a less expensive alternative to buying one, and is not hard to do as long as you have a basic understanding of sewing and stitching. Although these instructions are for a uniform with a blue skirt, blue collar and red bow, you can customize the sailor fuku with different colors, fabrics and patterns.

Things You'll Need

  • White dress shirt
  • Navy blue pleated skirt
  • Red scarf, bow or tie
  • 3 yards navy blue duck cloth
  • 3 yards white muslin
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • 2 yard white ribbon
  • Straight pins
  • Dressform (optional)
  • Iron
  • Acquire a white, button-up dress shirt that is clean and form-fitting. If you are making a summer uniform, find one with short sleeves; if you are making a winter uniform, find one with long sleeves. If the shirt is too large or does not fit, sew two darts into the shirt until it fits; use the dressform to help with fitting.

  • Acquire a navy blue pleated skirt; check in stores which sell uniforms to local schools (e.g.: department stores). Here is a tip: If a navy blue pleated skirt is not available in a local clothing store, check thrift stores like Salvation Army or Goodwill. You can also order skirts online: searching for "pleated skirt", "uniform skirt" or "tennis skirt" will generate a variety of colors and styles, a lot of which are perfect for a sailor fuku. A solid navy blue skirt just above the knee is the most popular style; skirts made with plaid patterns are a close second.

  • Look at reference pictures to find the kind of collar you want. The most popular kind of sailor fuku collar style is the one shaped like a backwards "bib" that lays flat across the back and connects in the front. To make this kind of sailor collar, find a fabric with a similar weight and color to the skirt. You will need at least a yard of colored fabric, depending on the size of your collar. Create a pattern first by cutting the bib shape from the muslin cloth. Place over the shirt on the dressform to make sure it fits.

  • Once you have the shape you want, place it on a doubled piece of blue fabric, folded with the insides facing out, and trace the shape with chalk. Add a 1/2-inch all the way around the perimeter to allow for the stitching. Use the sewing machine to stitch almost all the way around the perimeter of the collar, leaving a 6 inch opening in the back flap. Turn the collar inside out through the opening and lay flat. Tuck the raw edge inside and hand-stitch closed.

  • Find reference pictures of other sailor fuku costumes to observe the white stripes on the sailor collar. Usually sailor fukus feature one or two stripes stitched all along the outer perimeter of the sailor collar. Achieve this look by running some thin white cloth ribbon along the perimeter and pinning in place with straight pins. Use the sewing machine to stitch in place. Press with an iron. You are finished with the collar. Stitch or pin to white shirt to prevent shifting around.

  • Accent your collar with a scarf, handkerchief, or necktie laid beneath the collar and tied in front where the two points of the collar front meet. Check reference pictures to see how different uniforms look: some uniforms feature large and colorful bows (elementary school uniforms), and others are accented with neckties or bowties, which are more modest and professional (middle and high school uniforms). Use an idea that you see, or be creative with your own.

Tips & Warnings

  • Finish off your Japanese schoolgirl look with tall socks and cute shoes.

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  • Photo Credit Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images Hemera Technologies/ Images Images Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images Hemera Technologies/ Images Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
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