Wasai – The Art of Kimono Making

Today want to write about my obsession for wasai (和裁). 3 years ago I started to learn how to make kimono. Read all about the passion of making kimono with my own hands.

What is wasai?

When you look it up in a Japanese-English dictionary, it may be translated like “kimono-making”. As it is limited for kimono, you can’t use this vocabulary for other kinds of cloth-making.

Why did I start to learn wasai?

To learn wasai was an idea, when I was still living in Nagoya. My kimono sensei there started to learn wasai, after she had mastered kitsuke (着付け “kimono-dressing”) and gotten her teacher’s license. “If you want to know all about kimono, you should even learn about the material and how it is made”, she once told me. True words, I thought.


Another reason why I started to learn wasai is that I hardly can find kimono in my size. A common problem, eh? In that case, you have two opportunities. It’s cheaper to make a kimono by yourself than being it to a wasaishi (和裁士 kimono taylor).

What did change since I started wasai?

A lot!! When I buy a kimono, I have become much more careful not just about stains and pleats, I even look at how it is made. If the sewing is rough or not, if the sewing will be fine for the next few years or not. You might even tell, if you can re-sew the sode to make the yuki longer, when it doesn’t fit. If the kimono doesn’t fit at all, I have become to think about what I could make of it then.


One example, a nagabaori (長羽織) I made of an so-called araihari (洗い張り). Araihari is one method to wash a kimono. They take off all seams and bring it back to the form of a tanmono. Then, it’s washed and starched, before it is stretched on boards to dry. After an araihari is done, you have to re-sew the kimono. There are a lot of araihari which haven’t ever been re-sewn. As the former kimono seemed to be too short for me, my sensei decided to make a nagabaori of it. And it worked out pretty well, I think. 🙂

Some projects

My starter project was a yukata. It was super hard to sew straight and with even stitches. It’s not perfect, but one if my favorites.


Another project was this cute komon hitoe. I found this lovely antique tanmono with magnolia in vintage store. As magnolias bloom from the middle of March to April I made a dōnuki (胴抜き “a hitoe which looks like an awase”) of it.

20150914g 06920150914g 063IMG_8703 - コピー

My last project was a yukata for my husband. It was the first time I made a otokomono (男物 kimono for men) and it was really challenging.


Picture credits: © private / All rights reserved

Follow me on Instagram

Read more about kimono, Kumamoto, and me at japandigest.de


3 thoughts on “Wasai – The Art of Kimono Making”

  1. Wow this is amazing! The fit and look of those yukata are gorgeous! All this time I just assumed these garments couldn’t look right on a Caucasian body but it seems the only issue is the fit and tailoring. I myself am trying to find an wasai course in Japan for when I vacation there next that can put up with my limited Japanese.


    1. Yes, its super easy to put on a Yukata in your own size. There are some wasai schools which offer a one-day-crash-course for a yukata. At least I know one in kumamoto, so I’m sure that there are also some in bigger cities 😉 and sewing doesn’t nee lots of words because it’s practical. So even limited Japanese skills should work!


  2. I am starting out in the fashion industry myself, and one of the things I love about Japanese sewing is how focused it is on hand-work rather than machine. I myself only have a hand-powered Singer and during the learning process I am really trying to not rely on machine work so that I can achieve a couture and traditional skill-set. These skills are almost impossible to find with in-person instruction without attending an expensive full academic course in a high-fashion city, so I am mostly having to go it alone and piece together the information and read old books.

    Of course leave it to Japan to have never lost these skills in the first place (•̀ᴗ•́)

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s