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Nick P. 01-17-2008 07:53 PM

Shorten / hem a special hakama: opinions.
I have a hakama that was given to me by my teacher; it bears his name, and was a gift from his sensei (who has since passed away). I only wear it on very special occassions.

It is an Iwata brand hakama, size 28; my other Iwata hakama is size 27. My sensei is taller than me, so that makes sense. However, the 28 is really a bit long on me, and i find it difficult to move well in it. I am coming up on 2 years of wearing one. Even the 27 I think is sometimes a bit long, having tried a 25.5 once that I liked very much.

On the one hand, it's only a bunch of fabric. On the other hand, it has immense, or embodies immense, importance as it is a physical reminder of our collective "heritage" and "lineage".

My questions to you all is;
1 - Would you consider having it shortened, if you were in my position? and if so
2 -What special instructions would you give the taylor or seamstress you gave it to to do the job, if any?

I had a Century brand hakama shortened once, and the neighbourhood taylor did a good enough job, but that hakama was a $50 p.o.s. that I could have cared less about. Alot less.

I suspect I am making more of this than is neccesary or warranted, but that is what a forum is gather and debate the opinions of your <ahem> respected peers.


MikeLogan 01-17-2008 08:12 PM

Re: Shorten / hem a special hakama: opinions.
I think the run of the mill "Ask your sensei" fits perfectly well here. I would ask, and I bet the reasonable answer would be yes.

As for tailoring it, perhaps seek out your previous tailor.

Personally, if I were given permission, I would hem it myself. Very slowly. Very carefully.

It's your aikido, passed on to you from your teacher, from his teacher. Your shihonage is not that of his teacher, neither is it wholly like your teacher's. It was made by you from what you received.

anyhow, enjoy!


Janet Rosen 01-18-2008 09:17 AM

Re: Shorten / hem a special hakama: opinions.
If I were to hem it, and though I'd like to preserve the integrity of the original as much as possible, I'd handstitch lightweight hem tape to the bottom edge, fold up the hak where I want the new bottom edge, and handstitch the tape in place wherever it hits, making sure to align each pleat.
That would take a very long time; to ask somebody else to do it would be costly!; its the kind of job one does curled up on the couch over a period of evenings half watching something or listening to music or chatting with somebody!

Nick P. 01-19-2008 09:27 PM

Re: Shorten / hem a special hakama: opinions.
Thanks for the replies.

Timely my asking this question, as I have just (literally, 2 hours ago) found out my sensei's sensei (no, not the one who passed away) is coming from Japan in about 3 weeks, and I will be testing from nidan at that time. 2 practices a day are being planned, and that will require me using both haks.

My sensei here says "Sure, go ahead and hem it. It's yours!", as I suspected he would.

Janet, if you don't mind, I will be sending you a personal message to continue this conversation outside this forum.

Janet Rosen 01-20-2008 08:11 PM

Re: Shorten / hem a special hakama: opinions.
Nick that's fine. Just be aware, as I'm moving and the home computer is packed up, there are/will be some intervals of days at a time I'm offline unless I have time to get to an internet cafe!

lbb 01-21-2008 10:09 AM

Re: Shorten / hem a special hakama: opinions.
Nowadays not many people appreciate what a real tailor can do. It's not a job I'd tackle myself, and I sew. I'd take it to a good tailor.

Nick P. 01-22-2008 06:39 AM

Re: Shorten / hem a special hakama: opinions.
Janet - disregard what I said about a PM (I'll keep it going here), and good luck with the move.

In the above link, you can see the blue Iwata hakama's original hem. The black hakakama is the Century one hemmed by the taylor. I hadn't looked closely at it until taking these pictures, but after doing so, I think they are up to the task...dont't you?

Janet Rosen 01-22-2008 12:28 PM

Re: Shorten / hem a special hakama: opinions.
Yeah, standard fold it twice and machine stitched hem. I recommend you ask them to do a wide hem if possible (as opposed to cutting off as much fabric as possible in order to do a very narrow hem) as it will hang better w/ a wider hem. I don't mean a 7" foldover. But 3" would definitely be preferable to 1/2" or 1".

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