Bebe Taian: How to Make a Susoyoke (Under-juban Skirt)

December 4, 2010

How to Make a Susoyoke (Under-juban Skirt)

A susoyoke is a simple rectangular wraparound skirt that is worn underneath the juban to prevent moisture or perspiration from getting on your lovely silks! Susoyoke are especially important to have because traditionally, Western-style underwear are not worn beneath kimono. Wearing that style can make it very difficult to use the restroom without messing up the layers and ties you might be wearing. Susoyoke are often silk or cotton, and with little to no real sewing experience, you can make your own. I did. That's why I took up basic sewing lessons after I turned 12! Only please forgive my poor illustrations done in simple pictures from Paint. I hope that they are complex enough to show the process adequately, but not so simple that meaning becomes lost. I also apologise in advance for any mistakes I make in this. I am attempting to remember what I did years ago to make my own susoyoke without pattern or experience.


To make your own susoyoke, you need a little sewing experience (very little), some nice fabric (cotton or soft silk, but cotton is much better because it's easier to wash!), some fusible interfacing, and maybe some comfortable wide fabric tape for ties, like grosgrain ribbon, if you want a wider waistband. You can make this as you would blanket binding out of a wide, long rectangle of the same fabric you purchased. Make sure you wash, dry, and iron your fabric first to ensure it doesn't bleed colour or shrink!

PICKING YOUR FABRIC:

This is very important. Fabric tends to be expensive, even cotton fabric. Make sure your fabric is intended for clothing/apparel use. This is important for reasons like stiffness, drape, and expected wear. You wouldn't wear something heavy all the time, like thick upholstery fabric for a shirt, would you? This is for the same reason that you do not want a heavy, difficult to take care of fabric for your susoyoke. It will need to be washed easily because it will pick up any sweat, moisture, etc. that can get near your body. It protects the finer fabric of your juban. It needs to be able to breathe to prevent perspiring, and to keep you from otherwise, er, getting too hot under your collars! Ahem. Hems. Whatever. A good fabric for beginners is a cotton intended for clothing that you cannot see through when you hold it up. You should not be able to see your legs through this when it is worn, even though the susoyoke should not be seen when wearing your kimono anyways. Different rules apply if performing maiko henshin (maiko dress-up)! Make sure this fabric is dryer and iron-safe. Check the label and take notes. You might need them later.

REMEMBER TO WASH, DRY, AND IRON YOUR FABRIC BEFORE CUTTING AND SEWING!

MEASURING AND CUTTING FABRIC:

Measure your widest area (hips or waist) and use that, plus enough to wrap the fabric totally around like a kimono, with a little extra for seams. So, my hips are 38" around at the widest part, but it takes 54" to wrap around me properly like a kimono would. Add three inches to that for folded seam finishes, and I need 57" of fabric. 57" is an odd measurement for fabric, isn't it? It's one yard, plus 21". Let's go with 5 feet of fabric, or, 60". If I get bigger as I get older, I have room! So I bought 5 feet of fabric for this project. I think I got mine at Wal-mart back when they had bolts for $1-3 each. Now you can buy online or go to a fabric store for it.

The average fabric is 45" wide when unfolded. Check your bolt to see the width of the fabric on it. Some are narrower, some are wider. I will be tying the susoyoke at my natural waist, which is much smaller than my hips, but this tells me how long the skirt needs to be! From my waist to an inch or so above my ankle, it's 35". So I need two inches or so for the hem at the bottom, and maybe one inch at the top. My fabric needs to be 38", so I actually used a chalk snapline intended for laying tile and one of those laser levels (lol... yeah, I'm a power tool girl...), as well as a yardstick, to lay out the cut for my susoyoke.

My rectangle of fabric is now cut to 60" x 38" (just over a yard). Do not discard the "extra" 60" x 7" piece of fabric! You need that! It is your waistband.

SEWING THE SKIRT:

Take the largest rectangle and fold the 38" edges in by 1/2" and iron them down. Then fold them again so that the frayed edges will be encased. Iron this flat again. Then sew this part down close to the edge of the seam, the side that opens. That side needs to be sewn down. Do this for both sides first. The hem the bottom up. I am not a professional seamstress, but I usually iron the fabric first 1/2" up, and then fold it again by 1.5" up and iron it before sewing. This allows me a little room if it ends up being too short, but I think it is more of a concern when wearing skirts or slacks I think, since I can always tie the susoyoke lower. Now, three sides of the fabric are sewn with the rough edges tucked in.

On the last remaining side, the top 60" stretch, sew a straight line 1/2" or 5/8" across it. This is for reinforcement of the fabric, readying it for the waistband. That step will come next.

THE WAISTBAND:

Read the directions for your fusible interfacing. Adhere the fusible interfacing to the piece of fabric set aside for your waistband. It should be 7" by 60". More than likely, your interfacing is not five feet long. That's fine! Just cut it to the size you need it to be, patch it on, and make sure it irons and sticks well. You don't want this stuff peeling or sliding when trying to work with it.

Then, cut this piece of fabric straight down the middle, so that you have two pieces which are 60" long and 3.5" wide. If you have experience with binding quilts, this is about the same thing. You are making a "binding" waistband for the top of the susoyoke fabric.

For both pieces, along the 60" sides, fold in half and press. Then, the measurements for each differ. This is so that one piece of the waistband can tuck into the other when attaching it to the skirt part. Open up the bands and fold in the edges of one piece by 1/2" and press. Take the other one and do the same, but with 5/8" measurement. Pin the pressed edges down as you go, if you have to. This is the part where a degree of accuracy actually matters. You will have two pieces of fabric with three lines along the 60" width, one in the middle, and two either 1/2" or 5/8" from either side. These will be your waistbands.

Iron 1/2" of each side of the 1/2" folded tie so that the unfinished edges 2.5" wide are tucked in. You only need one fold here, not two, since they will be hidden when sewn to the skirt.

Iron 1/2" of each side of the tie with the 5/8" fold just like with the last tie. Fold this tie in half so that each side is 29.5" long and cut it. The unsewn end of these ties will be tucked into either side of the waistband so that you can tie the susoyoke shut. 

ATTACHING THE WAISTBAND TO THE SKIRT:

Attach the wider waistband which is still in one 59" long piece to the skirt, covering up the reinforcement stitching done earlier. Don't worry if it isn't absolutely perfect. Leave the "holes" at the sides of the waistband open so that you can insert the two shorter ties. Confused? The tie WAS 60" before sewing down those 1/2" tucks at each side, it is now 59". Your skirt should be 58" wide because two 1/2" folds were made in each side, so your waistband should overlap the skirt by 1/2" on each side. You should be able to tuck the skirt seamlessly into this binding fold before sewing one straight line down to keep it in place. I recommend using pins to keep all the fabric together.

Then take the unsewn end of each of the remaining ties and insert them smoothly into the holes in the side of the waistband. Sew the opening shut, either by hand or machine. The folded, "finished" ends of the ties should be out already. Sew these shut if you haven't already.

FINISHING UP:

Turn off your sewing machine and see how it fits! Congratulate yourself for a project well done! It is a good first-timer clothing project, especially for such a useful item in your kimono wardrobe!

2 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for posting this! :D I'm looking at making my own susoyoke soon, and this is just what I needed! (Oh and btw, a belated Merry Christmas to you!)

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  2. Meri (belated) Kuri! <3

    There are a few variations, mostly with fabrics and sometimes laces, but it's very basic. A few kinds have tucks in them to make them more fitted for the hips, but I tend to leave them out since all of the other kitsuke accessories will give you a cylindrical shape anyways. Let me know how yours turns out! I'd love to show pictures!

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