Hand Sewn Tabi Project

I made another pair of tabi, which are Japanese soft-soled foot coverings that have a split toe so you can wear them with thonged sandals, and this time I did almost all of the sewing by hand.


Linen Tabi, Hand Sewn

They're made out of linen fabric. The outer shell is made of a nice white linen, and the lining is unbleached linen. The ties are also linen, though not the same exact fabric as the outer shell. I was kind fo using up some scrap for those.

The problem with machine sewing these is that there are too many layers combined with too many curves. I did the very first seam, the one joining the two ends of the upper in front, on the sewing machine, but quickly switched over to needle and thread. Machine sewing saves a bunch of time when attaching the ties, but after hand sewing almost all of the body I didn't want to finish off with the machine.

The pattern is the one I developed with the help of John Marshall's Make Your Own Japanese Clothes. As with previous versions, I kept part of the front open to be consistent with more historical examples. One change I made with this pair was to overlap the pattern pieces for the 'inpiece' and 'outpiece' of the upper when cutting the fabric, so that there is no seam running up the back of the heel. This makes for a bigger piece of fabric when cutting, but it was easier to sew and is again more historical.

I also lined them differently. Instead of sewing the lining pieces to the out pieces and then attaching the sole to the upper, I sewing the lining and outer separately and then joined them so that all seams are smooth both inside and out. Theoreatically, I guess they are reversible, though the lining is sewed to be a little smaller than the outer. This method is only really possible because the seam around the top edge of the ankle is not closed until you sew on the ties.

I'm not sure how these will hold up in the long run (One thing about machine sewing is that you can put in a lot more stitches.), but it felt good to complete and entire project by hand.

2013.06.20 at 12:00pm EDT