Drafting A Hakama Pattern

For the longest time I have wanted to make a Japanese Hakama properly. I made one once before but I can't say that it was exactly accurate, considering I just kinda bought a whole lot of red fabric and made giant pleated pants. A friend of my has a birthday coming up and he is (literaly) my resident ninja, having spent years studying a form of Ninjitsu. So, what an excellent excuse to make him some Samurai inspired garb and whet my appetite to make Japanese clothes.

The first thing I needed to do is draft a pattern for the pants. I found this image a while back during one of my many long sessions online looking at Japanese traditional clothes. This one I found on sarcasm_hime.net Yes I am that kind of geek.

For the most part, Japanese clothing is made by piecing together long rectangles that create the sleek shapes we're so used to. This is evident by the way their fabric is made and dyed in long bolts usually 14-18" wide. Keeping that in mind, I didn't think that the flouted pant-legs in the pattern construction I found was necessary, so when I started making measurements and doing math, I decided I didn't want to make them taper out much from the hip.

Hakama are more than just baggy pants with some pleats. The pleats actually have a meaning,
seven total to represent each of the seven tenants of bushido. There should be five in the front and two in the back. In addition to representing the tenants, the extra baggyness of the pants is used to hide their movements during combat so their opponents cannot predict their next move. There is no need to make the pants any larger than necessary to include the pleats. I figure about three inches between each pleat, which adds quite a bit of fabric to each side, making them baggy enough.

Getting started, measurements for the pattern:

I made three measurements when I was planning the pants for this particular ninja. Inseam, waist, and waist to crotch. This tells me three important things: how long the pants need to be, how long the waist should be to the inseam, and how big around they are.

Two important numbers to keep in mind are three inches (3") and one and a half inches (1.5"). Why? Your pleats will fold under half of what is left in the front. It's helpful to see an image of this so you can immagine it. It's best to understand this now, rather than later.

Let's break this down into easy math, just like high school.

My measurement for the waist was 32". ( 32 / 2 = 16 ) So, 16" is how wide the front panel should be after the pleats are added. However, in order to make the crotch, your pants will have to be in four peices, so divide again: ( 16 / 2 = 8 ) Now you can factor in your pleats. There are "three" pleats on each side, equaling 4.5"; so add 4.5" to 8", getting 12.5".

Note: I say "three" because the center pleat is the two sides folding into a valley to create the center "fifth" line

Don't forget about the seam allowances! Once you have your measurements calculated, add 1.25" to the width for your standard 5/8" seam allowance. Or if you like to be generous like me, Just add 1.5".

It helped a lot here to draw the measurements on a piece of paper with the above image so that I could visually see what I was going for.

That was the hard part!

For the back you should do the same as the front, divide one half your waist measurement then divide again for a 1/4 panel. The two pleats in the back will be valley pleats like the center pleat in the front. You will need to add 3" to those measurements for enough to make the valley.

Draft the pattern

You need two physical patterns, one for the front, one for the back. The front pattern is going to be wider because there are more pleats. What I did was first plot out my waistline at the top of the paper and measured down from there. After those points were plotted out I needed to decide where the crotch would be.

This is where your waist to crotch measurement comes in. From the point at the edge of one side of your waist, create a 'J' shaped curve out from the waist. This is the part that goes between the legs. I used my measuring tape for this but you could also use a piece of string cut to the right length.

At the end of the crotch, measure straight down from the center seam using the measurement you took for the inseam.

On the other side create a not as deep, but longer in length 'J' shape for the side vents. Measure down from there so the hem is even at the bottom. If you want your pants to taper out at all, measure straight out from where your hem lies and draw a line from the bottom back to the crotch. This way your length is the same, but the hem is wider than the top.

Once you have your patterns drafted, they're probably pretty wrinkly. Iron them. You should be ready to cut your fabric now...if you have it!


Andrea Serna Heilbron said...

<3 <3 thanks!!

kamlon puasani said...

a bunch of thanks!

Unknown said...

This is very interesting! I would like to know the references you used in terms of the meaning behind the pleats of the hakama. This is purely for my own curiosity and for my research for a Japanese persona I'm portraying in the SCA. Thank you.

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