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Do you have a favorite haori just sitting in your closet, one that somehow doesn’t quite fit?
It may be that a simple alteration will turn it back into one of your favorite companions.
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    Traditional haori are always hand-sewn. This will make it very easy for even a beginning-sewer to make alterations. But first let’s discuss how a haori should fit:

   To begin with, the collar is structured such that it tends to  lay flat, folded away from the center, with just the very tips of the loops for the decorative haori-himo showing (as in the illustration to the left). This is how it should be worn, not force-pulled to the center.
    As for fit, ideally the sleeve should reach to almost the tip of your fingers when your arm is outstretched, and you should be able to pull the folded edges of the collar in to meet without creating (much of) a bulge at the hips. This will insure that the collar will hang open an equal amount at the neck, the bust and the hips.
    So, does your haori fit? If not, don’t despair, the modifications will open new doors for you!
    Unlike modern North American sewing, Japanese seams do  not have a standard 5/8” seam allowance. Since all traditional clothing fabric in Japan runs from about 13” to 15” in width, sizing is achieved through varying the seam allowance. Quite often there are several inches of play.
   To lengthen your sleeve you will need to carefully remove the hand-stitching. As you do so, take note of how the sleeve fold at the shoulder rests on top of the body fabric. You will want to sew it back the same way later.
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    If the hip size is fine, and you are only lengthening the sleeve, then you may pivot the sleeve out at the top which leaves you with a very small seam allowance at the top, and a larger one at the bottom. Check for soilage along the original seam lines and if necessary clean before proceeding. Otherwise, using a press-cloth, lightly iron out the original folds and lightly iron in the new ones. Reconstruct the seams with your new sewing edges and you area ready to go!
    Altering the gusset is not much different that altering the sleeve. This is especially easy on a woman’s haori since it may be done independently of any sleeve alterations.
  Un-stitch the seams, again taking note that the body panel rests on top of the gusset panel. Let out the seams as much as is necessary, press, and restitch the gusset panel with the new seams.
    Continue to the next page for some shaping suggestions.
The illustrations on this page were digitally sewn using fabric from Ichiroya. Click on the image to the right view greater details of the yardage.
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with John Marshall
Welcome new friends and old! I've often been asked to write about a variety of Japanese textile and culture related subjects. This page allows me the opportunity to address your requests and to ramble off on side subjects wherever my whim and imagination lead.
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Ichiroya has graciously allowed me to use images from their site to illustrate my ramblings. This is not a financial arrangement I have made - I simply believe them to be wonderful people with whom I enjoy doing business, and wish to support their endeavors. Ichiroya is a web based treasure trove of Japanese textiles, antiques, and information. If you haven't visited them in the past, just click on the icon to the left! Or, click on any of the images below to be taken directly to their page for more images and information.
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Don’t know if you have a man’s or a woman’s haori? A woman’s is always left open under the arm as shown here. A man’s is always sewn closed. This applies to kimono as well.