How to Sew a Yukata

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A yukata is a lightweight traditional robe worn by men and women in Japan in the summer, especially during festivals. Buying one in a store can be an expensive endeavor, especially if you customize it. But you can avoid the high cost of buying a yukata in a specialty store. Although it is by no means an easy process, by following some step-by-step instructions, you make your own yukata in only a few hours.

Things You'll Need

  • Bolt of yukata fabric
  • Scissors
  • Needle
  • Thread that matches the color of the fabric
  • Hera marker or chalk
  • Measuring tape
  • Sewing machine (optional)
  • Cut seven strips of fabric from the bolt. The two strips for the sleeves should be approximately 14 inches by 42 inches. The body panel is 14 inches wide, and twice your height in length. The collar is 7 inches by 76 inches, with a separate reinforcement strip that's 7 inches by 35 inches. The two front strips of the yukata should be 7 inches by 55 inches. You can eliminate the need to cut front strips by using 36-inch fabric and incorporating the strips into the body panel. If you plan to make the yukata in the traditional Japanese style, use a "hera" (a Japanese perforating marker) rather than chalk to mark the fabric.

  • Fold the sleeve panels in half. Turn them over and align the fabric pattern of the sleeves with the body panel. An exact match may not be possible and isn't necessary, but try to be as exact as you can. Attach a small note indicating which is the front and back sides of the panel.

  • Mark the seams of the sleeve, and hem each piece. The dimensions will vary based on your measurements, but the bottom of the sleeve should be approximately 50 cm (just under 20 inches) regardless of your size. For a more traditional finish to the sleeves, don't fold or sew the material along the seam. Sew the garment around the seam, leaving a few centimeters around it. This is called a "kise" and will hide the seam.

    To create the natural curve of the sleeve near the wrist opening, fold the edges so the wrong sides face each other and sew them together, leaving 0.2 cm of space. Form a crease there, then turn it over and sew the same area with the right sides together before back stitching.

  • Fold the body panel in half and cut a space at the top for the neck. You can make this space wider or narrower to suit your preference. Match these dimensions when cutting the neck space on the front panel strips, if applicable. Unfold the body panel and measure the circumference of your sleeves, then cut the body panel to accommodate the arm holes. Hem the body panel.

  • Square the collar by folding the length back on either side so it will fit the size of the neck hole, and hem the edges at a 90-degree angle. Attach the reinforcement strip to the inside of the collar, folding the collar over it lengthwise and sewing the strips together.

  • Attach the front panels to the main body panel, then attach the sleeves to the sides of the yukata. Measure before sewing so that the sleeves are evenly attached. If you're making a traditional yukata, use the kise method to hide the seams. If you're using 36-inch fabric you don't need to attach any front strips. Instead, fold the material and cut holes in the fabric where the sleeves will be, then attach the sleeves. Attach the collar to the top of the garment.

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