Jump to: [Kise] [Sewing the Curve] [Hemming the Wrist] [Attaching the sleeves]


The first step in sewing the sleeves is to mark where the seams will be. If you are using the traditional method, make sure the two sleeves are folded in half with right sides together and layer them on top of each other on a marking board. You should have four layers of fabric. Place a ruler so the edge is along the line that you intend to mark and run your hera along the edge of the ruler, pressing into the fabric to leave a dashed indentation.

I will try to convert measurements to inches wherever possible, but when it gets down to millimeters, it's simply ridiculous to try to approximate them in fractions of inches. It will be to your advantage to invest in a metric ruler.

The marks should be made according to the diagram below:

Note: This diagram shows the sleeve turned 90° so that the folded edge (shoulder) is along the left side.

The process of marking should be as follows:
  1. Measure 50.2cm (19 3/4") from the shoulder (folded edge, left side of the diagram) and draw a straight line across what will be the bottom of the sleeve, parallel to the free edges (right side of the diagram). If you want your sleeve to be a length different from the standard 50cm, this measurement should be (final sleeve length) + 0.2cm. This 0.2cm is for a "seam buffer" called a kise (described below).

  2. Measure 23cm (9") down from the shoulder and place a mark at this distance on both edges. On one edge (the upper side in the diagram) this will be the bottom of the wrist opening, and on the opposite edge (the lower side in the diagram) this will mark the length of the seam attaching the sleeve to the body.

  3. Draw a line 0.8cm (5/16") in from the top edge, starting from the wrist opening mark (from step 2) all the way down to the free edges. It should intersect at a right angle with the line made in step 1.

  4. Draw a mark on the shoulder fold 1cm (3/8") in from the top edge. This marks the hemline for the wrist opening. It is equal to the seam allowance in step 3 above plus 0.2cm added for a kise.

  5. Measure 33cm (13") down from the mark made in step 4 and draw a line at this distance parallel to the bottom edge. (The segment between the bottom of the connection to the body, marked in step 2, and the seam marked in step 1 will not actually be sewn, so I did not include it in the diagram.)

  6. In the corner marked "curve," match your cardboard curve pattern so that it is tangent to the two intersecting seam lines (from step 1 and step 3) and trace the edge of the curve.

  7. If you have not sewn along the free ends to prevent them from raveling, draw a line 0.4cm in from the edge, starting 2cm (3/4") down from the end of the curve and ending before the bottom seam line. (If you have already sewn the free ends to prevent raveling, you can skip this step.)


Traditional Japanese clothing never opens or folds the fabric directly to the seam. Instead, a tiny buffer zone is left around the seam to hide it. This buffer is called a kise.

The right side of the diagram shows the cross section of a kise. The red dot indicates the actual seam. The kise itself is very narrow, usually only 1-2mm.

Sewing the Curve

In order to prevent the free edges from raveling, the traditional method is something called "pouch sewing" that encases the free ends inside a small "pouch" of fabric. If you have already sewn the free ends, you can skip this step.

Fold the sleeve so that the wrong sides are together and sew along the red line. Fold the fabric about 0.2cm (kise allowance) inward from the seam and press with your fingers to form a light crease.

Once the crease has been made, flip the sleeve so that it is inside out, with right sides together. Do not open the edge completely to the seam. Instead, open it to the crease you made so that the seam is hidden as shown in the kise diagram above.

With the sleeve folded right sides together, sew along the solid red line. Backstitch slightly at each end.

By hand, using doubled thread, sew two curves along the dotted lines. The first curve should be about 0.4cm from the seam, and the second curve should be about 0.2cm from the first one. Leave a length of thread dangling at the end of each curve.

With the side of the sleeve that is intended to be the front facing upward, place the cardboard curve 0.2cm (kise allowance) inside the curve of the seam and fold the material over it, pinning it in place at either end of the curve. Push the pins all the way through the cardboard. Pull the ends of the hand-stitched threads to gather the corner. Iron the gathered material and then lightly backstitch the gathers in place where indicated by the red line. Remove the cardboard cutout.

Hemming the Wrist

Fold the edge of the fabric inward so that the edge meets the 1cm (3/8") mark, the red dashed line in the diagram. Start at the base of the wrist opening, go up around the shoulder, and then back down to the base of the wrist opening on the other side. Fold inward again at the 1cm line to make a narrow hem.

Sew this hem with stitches roughly 1cm apart. Your needle should pass through between the folded layers of the hem so that most of the thread is hidden, dipping outward to make a tiny stitch through to the right side of the fabric, and then returning under the fold. Do not sew exactly on the tip of the crease of the folded edge of the hem, but rather about 0.1cm from the edge (kise allowance).

Once you have finished hemming the wrist, flip the sleeve so that it is right-side out. Make sure you leave a 0.2cm kise along all of the seams and then iron the edges. The base of the wrist hem should be exactly level with the kise of the rest of the seam.

This completes the sleeve portion of the yukata.

Attaching the Sleeves

Note: You cannot attach the sleeves until after you have at least finished the body portion of the yukata. Please proceed to the next page and return here when the garment is ready.

First, place the sleeve and the body right sides together. In order to do this, hold the sleeve against the body so that the shoulder folds line up exactly and then turn the body inside-out around the sleeve.

Pin the shoulders together such that the marking on the sleeve's shoulder fold is 0.4cm from the edge of the body's shoulder fold. Continue pinning downward, keeping the sleeve's marking a constant 0.4cm from the edge of the body's arm hole opening.

Sew along the mark. At either end of the sleeve attachment mark, angle outward to the edge of the body's arm opening as shown by the purple line in the diagram (left).

Leaving a 0.2cm kise, pull the sleeve out through the arm hole so that both the body and the sleeve are inside-out. Continue the seam allowance fold all the way down the drooping length of the sleeve and fasten in place using the selvage hem.