How to Make a Japanese Obi

    by Contributing Writer

    An obi is a beautiful belt used to tie a kimono together. Although its construction is very simple, its appeal lies in the symmetry of its lines, the play of color and pattern in the chosen fabric, and the evenness of its construction. It’s a very simple garment to make and can be appreciated in its use as an accessory or, if it is made out of particularly attractive fabric, as a display item on its own.

    Things You'll Need

    • Iron and ironing table
    • 5 yards of heavier brocade fabric in silk or a blend
    • 5 yards of lining fabric in silk or polyester
    • Tailor’s chalk
    • Ruler
    • Tailor’s measuring tape
    • Sewing scissors
    • Pins
    • Thread
    • Iron
    • Ironing board
    • Cutting table
    • Sewing machine

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    Iron the material you're going to use. Lay the lining fabric with the right side face down on a cutting table. Use your tailor’s measuring tape and chalk to mark off a length of fabric that is 30 inches wide and 4 1/2 yards long. Use your ruler to connect the markings, making a rectangular shape. Cut this shape out with sewing scissors. Repeat this process with the heavier fabric.

    Turn the heavier fabric so that the right side is facing you. Lay the lining fabric face down on top of the heavy fabric. Line up all the edges and pin them together.

    Sew three of the four edges together with a 1-inch seam allowance. Start sewing at a corner and work down one long edge, one short end, and the other long edge. Sew approximately two-thirds of the second short end together.

    Clip the corners 1/2 inch from the sewn edge. Hold the lining in one hand and the heavier fabric in the other. Pull them gently apart so that the seam is in the center between them. Press open all of the seams.

    Turn the obi right side out. Push the corners so that they are crisp. Press the obi again along the center. Press along the outer edge of the seam, rolling the seam so that the heavier fabric is all you see when the lining is facing down.

    Turn the raw edge of the open end of the obi 1 inch inward. Line up this turned-under edge with the already sewn part of the seam. Iron this turned-under section flat. Close the opening with small, even back stitches. Iron along the edges of the folds of the seam once more.