Wow. It seems that a lot of folks are interested in my efforts to make a hakama. For those of you eagerly awaiting photos of my efforts, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait just a bit longer. Why? Well…
The first hakama I made, as I implied in my last post, is a heap of fabric that has yet to be thrown out reclaimed for some other purpose. This is the hakama in which I totally misread the directions and ended up sewing the legs together. So it probably would have looked great for pictures, but moving around? Not so much.
The second hakama I made I finished up just around the time of my last post. It looks great. There were only two problems. First, I could not get it fitted right. I highly suspect that I made the hakama a little too small to start with, and then that issue was compounded by the fact that I wasn’t sure where to make the right adjustments. The main issue were the pleats: the outermost pleats on the front were pulled completely apart, as were the ones in the back. I’ve since learned that adjusting the side vents (either by lengthening them or by adjusting the folds in the back) can greatly assist in fixing these sorts of issues.
The second issue I had was that I think I chose the wrong type of fabric. When I wandered into the fabric store, I had no idea what I was looking at. I ended up choosing a type of fabric called “bottomweight,” or something like that. It looked like thick, stiff material that I thought would look really sharp and be really easy to work with. I was right. However, when I put the thing on, I felt like I was wearing a suit of armor. I couldn’t really see myself doing ukemi in it–I just hadn’t taken flexibility into account.
I was going to hold off on making another one, as I’m leaving for the annual Kokikai Summer Camp this week. However, we have so many guests coming to visit after I return, that it would be the middle or end of August before I could try again. So, over the weekend, I took the plunge and decided to make one more hakama, with the goal of being done within a couple of days. This time, I bought some standard cotton twill. It won’t hold the pleats as well, but I know it will be comfortable enough for training.
It became readily apparent that my first two efforts weren’t for nothing–I spent about 8 hours over the weekend making this third hakama, and I’m nearly complete. (I just need to finish the seams and hem the darn thing.) Not bad, considering that the second hakama took me several weeks. I made the hakama a little bit bigger, and used one of my old Bujin hakamas to determine the length of the side vents. The result is that it’s now fitting a lot better. My only real complaint right now is the koshita–there are a lot of steps in building it that involve hand-stitching, and so it looks a bit of a mess. Fortunately the parts that look a mess are on the parts that face the back of my gi. But still, there’s some serious need for improvement here.
Although I’m not yet at the point where my hakamas match the ones I buy from Bujin Design, I can at least say that they’re very close to the “cheap” ones I’ve bought. elsewhere In fact, I think they’re better–they’re less expensive (except in terms of time) , are made from better material, and they’re custom fit. I’m fairly confident that, over time, I’ll improve enough that I might never buy another hakama, especially now that I know it doesn’t take long to make one yourself, once you have a little experience.
Summer Camp is fast approaching, but I’ll see if I can’t post a picture or two before I leave. Then you all can weigh in with your opinions….