Oops! Apparently I've accidentally deleted all of my images. I'll see about fixing that soon.

Monday, June 11, 2012


A couple of months back I saw this fabric and knew I had to have it.  Finally it went on sale, and I snapped up what little was left of it.

I already had a general idea of what I wanted to do with it. So, naturally, I turned to the web to hone the idea down to a fine point where I settled on this:

Dobuku via Sengokudaimyo

As far as I've been able to determine from various online sources, the Dobuku (dofuku) dates from around the end of the 1300's to the late 1400's, and while it started out as peasant wear it was later adopted by samurai.  Dobuku literally means torso-clothing; it's an informal covering with a wide variety of sleeve shapes & sizes.  The basics are all there though:

 There are only four pieces needed for what I'm making: one main body piece (mihaba), two sleeves (sode), and one collar/strip (eri).

Traditionally, the fabric available would have only been about 18" wide, so the pieces for putting a garment together would have been based on multiple strips of that.  Modern cloth, however, comes in a variety of widths; my fabric was about 45" wide. I chose to make the body of all one piece of fabric because it seemed logically sound to do so.

Kosode pattern via

You can see in the above drawing for a similar garment that the sleeve only attaches to the body over the shoulders and not along the full width of the sleeve. I am assuming this is correct for the dobuku as well.


This drawing shows that the body is stitched up leaving a nice wide armscye whereas the sleeve is stitched up leaving a smaller opening at the sleeve end.  As I didn't find a tonne of information out there specific to the dobuku and I've never seen one in person, a lot of the construction came down to guesswork for me. (If anyone who actually knows and has good source material can see that I've done something wrong, I would be grateful for your assistance.)

Having taken a closer look at the photos of ancient garments I noted that they actually flare out a bit, so I ammended the pattern a bit so that just below where the sleeve attaches the sides expand slightly. As such, I also cut the bottom edge in a slight curve so the hem would lay properly.

The sleeves on my garment are smallish. I'm making this for a summer garment, so I wanted something that wasn't voluminous and that left me with about 3/4 length sleeves when worn.  You can see in the above photo where the openings in the sleeve are and their relative size.  And in the photo below you can see what it looks like after being clipped, turned, & pressed.

At this point I tried it on and was satisfied with the general fit.  Ok, I was thrilled.

 For the eri, I carefully attached one edge to the neckline and front opening of the dobuku.  Searching for info online, I had found various places where the eri was stiffened by something as robust as denim. However, I thought that would be total overkill for such a light garment as I had planned.  Instead I starched up a strip of white muslin and basted it into place.

With such a simple garment I was intent that it would have very clean finishing on the interior.  For the seam allowances I pressed them open and applied a Hong Kong finish made from bias tape I cut from the remaining fabric.

For the hem, I carefully pressed it up, and, as I wanted a very wide hem and there was a small curve to the bottom edge, I carefully basted and eased the edge onto another piece of self-bias tape before stitching it down by hand with small fell stitches.

My husband kindly took some photos of me wearing it after it was finished.

Instead of making an obi I have been using a belt from guatemala. It works well for this as it's the perfect length to wrap around twice & tuck in.  I've worn it quite a lot in the last week, both belted and open. It's terribly comfortable and I feel good wearing it, so I'll certainly be making more.

this pic makes me really happy

Have a wonderful week!

By the way, this is my 100th post! Yay me!


  1. What a flattering outfit. It looks great on you.


  2. Awesome! I enjoyed the Japanese fashion history lesson too.

  3. Thanks! I learned a lot, but I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of what there is to know!

  4. Thank you! (btw idk why but Blogger flagged your comment as spam. wth??)

  5. I love this outfit!! And it looks so good on you too!!

  6. This is beautiful, I think I would like to make one of these. Thank you for the construction pics.

  7. You totally should! I wish I had taken pics of attaching the eri; it really was the only tricky part. Also, having made a nearly 180 degree turn I was concerned about stress on the fabric so I reinforced those two spots with a little triangle of close-together zig-zag stitching. I have no idea why i didn't photograph that but no pic is likely why I forgot to put that bit in. Anyway, I've been wearing it a ton and it's holding up beautifully.


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