How To Cosplay: making a Hakama the simple way

First off, let me disclaim that this is by no means, the authentic or orthodox way of making a Hakama. This is simply the way I do it based on my own research and online tutorials.

A hakama is a skirt like pants with pleats. The pleats and size of it can vary.

Another signature design of the hakama is the 2 gaps by the side. It is very often worn in cosplays for a variety of characters such as the Shinigamis from BLEACH, Hijikata from Hakuouki Shinsengumi, Kenshin from Rurouoni Kenshin etc etc

*Tutorial Video under cut*


  • Adequate amount of cloth
    ( see below )
  • Fabric
  • Scissors
  • Fabric Chalk
  • Sewing Machine
  • Bobby Pins

The amount of material used of course, depend on the individual. Below is an explanation on roughly how much cloth you will need based on your measurements.

Width of fabric = At least 2 inch longer than your desired Hakama length
Length of fabric = At least 4meter. More would be needed based on your own measurements

To make learning easier, I have created a very precise but simple paper template that you can download by clicking on the images below. I highly recommend you print them out and fold them as we go a long. Of course in real life, you should alter the size of the template/fabric according to your own measurements as directed in STEP 1 below.
As you can see from the template, this hakama has 7 pleats in front and 3 pleats behind. One of the bigger pleats will fold over to the other side and cover the middle opening of the hakama pants.



STEP 1: Measure & Draft
You will need the following measurement. Use the template given above and modify it to suit your own body measurements.
  • B = Waist  length
  • Hip length
  • Groin
  • C = Define width of gaps by the side
  • E = Hakama length 

    STEP 2: Cut your fabric
    • After you are done cutting, fold and iron the pieces. You should get something like this. It is highly encouraged for you to iron the pleats to keep them in place.

    *A little tip: To make the pleats stay flat (and avoid looking like you have a belly), sew short rows of stitch (indicated by the red dotted lines) on the insides of the pleats =)

      This little trick not only helps keep the pleats in place, it also holds the pleats around your stomach area down so you look slimmer. You can also sew a horizontal line at the very tip to keep all the pleats in place. 

      STEP 3: Sew your Hakama!
      • Sew along the red dotted lines. Do the same for both sides of the pants.

      After you’re done sewing, it should look like this. Somewhat like a tube.

      • Now sew the groin area, attaching the 2 sides of the pants together to form one complete pants. Sew a long the curved area.

        image image
      • Then fold the edge around the bottom of the pants up and sew it down. This is just to close the edge of the pants up.

      • Then fold the two pocket-like flaps at the side of the Hakama inwards and sew along the edge to seal it in place.
      • Fold the waist area 1/2 inch down and sew to seal up the waist area

      STEP 4: Create the back loop
      • Cut out 2 piece of the 'hourglass' like fabric and sew them together back to back.


        Flip them inside out to hide the ugly seams and then sew the last opening up. Now fold it in half and you will end up with something like the picture below.  


      Clasp the back flap and then sew along the red dotted lines

      image image

      STEP 5: Create the waist sash
      • Create the sash.
      • The length of the sash should be long enough for it to go around your waist twice and then tie a knot in front. The usual measurement is around 2.5 (or 3, depending on your waist length) X your Waist Length.
      • Make a tube with the sash, remember to seal the ends up!
      • Find the middle point of the tube then attach it to the centre of the front Hakama

        image image  image

      STEP 6: And you’re done!
      • Now all you have to do is loop the sash through the back loop and tie a knot in front.
      image image image image image image



      I can’t believe this, I FINALLY uploaded this!!!! After nearly 2 years, I have finally fulfilled my promise to you guys!!!! I know I promised this tutorial many moons ago but trust me when I said I really tried.

      Filming this tutorial alone took me 4 different tries because the whole procedure of making and explaining how to make a Hakama was very complicated and I screwed up many times despite having multiple Hakama making experience. And even though I did succeed on my 3rd filming, I then realised the whole procedure was way too complicated for beginners. Not to mention it is also sleep inducing.

      I pulled my hair over what was the best and easiest way to teach this complicated pattern. In the end, I came up with that template. Please excuse the noob-ness of my pattern because I don't study dressmaking and I can't read patterns. I hope you guys will find it useful. You are free to distribute the template as long as you leave my watermark and credit me =)

      Anyway, I hope you guys enjoyed this tutorial. Please leave me a comment and tell me how you think about it alright^_^? And yes, this tutorial will appear on the blog and facebook earlier than my Youtube channel because I am now prioritizing the blog over the channel.


      Soh said…
      SO CUTE! I adore the way you used paper to illustrate it and I died at the tiny paper sewing machine! Kekekeke! Love it!
      Cheryl Lo said…
      This really helps ! Love your tutorials =)
      Jac said…
      cute video ^^ I've seen that way before!
      Anonymous said…
      Great Job! I love your tutorials. They are always clear and understandable.
      Laurie said…
      awesome tutorial is awesome! I remember somebody placed a comment about this before, but how do you actually film this tutorial, the angle looks so complicated if you shoot this all by yourself.

      :D Though I can imagine how much effort it took you to churn out this tutorial since AFA is already tomorrow.

      I wanted to post my paper hakama but TwitPic was fail.
      Kyoko said…
      wow! do u make those tricks by yourself??

      i have hakama pattern, but it make me confuse =.=;;
      Soh> Haha thanks! Glad you liked the sewing machine \^^/

      Cheryl, Phyrflie, Jac> Thanks for commenting^^

      Laurie> Thankss! I shot this video by constructing a horizontal tripod with a wooden meter ruler, hanger, chairs and heavy books =__=|||||| Yeay, its a lot of trouble....

      Kyoko> Tricks? Anyway hope u find this tutorial useful
      This comment has been removed by the author.
      Anonymous said…
      hi your tutorial is awesome, but i have a few problems with the part of the pleating, the video is so fast and i cant follow it, i hope you can help, beacouse i really need to do this pant.
      tanks =)
      Anno: Thanks and glad you enjoyed it. For the pleating part, it was deliberately sped up to save time. You can try pausing and playing the video to follow it.

      Remember to print out the template and just play around with it. follow the instructions and it should be pretty easy to understand
      Ryuuzaki-chan said…
      I soooo love you!!! I want to make a Hakama for my Rei Hino cosplay (the suit she wears at the temple) and this will be so helpful!!! Thanks a lot!!! n____n
      Anonymous said…
      Thanks sooooo much for this!!! I'm new at this and i wanted to make a hakama sooo badly. One question though. On the template the outer side of the legs has a little incline?
      Anonymous said…
      Oh, and one more thing. How long "c" is?
      Ryuuzaki Chan: Glad you liked it ^^

      Annonymous: Yes, the outer leg is kind of a slope. C is just the space of the gap beside Hakama-s. Size is dependent on you.
      Anonymous said…
      ashiningfaerie said…
      Hi i may have missed it in your tutorial, but how much fabric do i need roughly for each piece? Once i have the measurements wouldn't it shrink as i sow it? I'm still new to sowing but i want to make one for my brother and have a deadline. Thank you very much for this! It helped allot.

      Width of fabric = At least 2 inch longer than your desired Hakama length

      Length of fabric = At least 4meter. More would be needed based on your own measurements

      Rule of thumb, you need AT LEAST 4meter (length) of fabric and the width of the fabric must be longer than the length of your hakama (waist to ankle). I recommend 45 inch width fabric
      ashiningfaerie said…

      Thanks, I'm sorry but I'm still a little confused.

      My brother is a big guy, 52in around the waist and 36in down to where we want the hakama to end.

      Would you recommend cutting each of the four pieces along a single line, or do you think we could cut two next to each other to save fabric?

      Sorry for the confusion and thank you again.
      ashiningfaerie said…
      Okay, so my mental block on this finally went away and I realized what you meant.

      We got it now and will be picking up the fabric, with complete confidence, tomorrow afternoon so that we can have the hakama ready for the performance on Thursday.

      Thank you so much, and again, sorry I got confused so much on it.
      M. ^^ said…
      This really help a lot !
      All the folding and sewing are really clear. Thanks a lot.
      And I like your voice too ^^

      I just have some trouble with the measurements and their analogy on the pattern.
      (I think it would be nice to add the a/b/c/etc on the paper pattern in order to have the right total-width of fabric for each piece)
      M. ^^ said…
      Ok, so I did the paper-thingy (well, the beginning)
      It's a little hard to make it all stay in place lol.

      So, without changing your measures on the template, I think the waist width is too big for me, but ok for my boyfriend.

      I don't really know how I'm gonna adjust all that without ending up wrong. We'll see !

      If you want, I'll send you some photos when it's done in fabric ^^
      Anonymous said…
      Thanks so much for this tutorial...I've been searching online and found nothing then I stumbled on your youtube video and ended up here! Looks a bit difficult, but it'd be nice to play a Bleach character for my first cosplay ever!
      Anonymous said…
      First: Thanks so much for your tutorial, it's great!!!

      I might have missed it in the tutorial, but how big/long should c be (approximately)
      Anonymous said…
      Wow, this was really helpful! I have watched so many other tutorials and i did not understand them! Your tutorial made it really easy! Hi five to cosplayers cosplaying bleach for their first time! ;)
      (this will be my first!)
      AHmi said…
      Thank you heaps for the tutorial :) one thing I am stuck on is once I have all my measurements how do I transfer it onto the fabric...Can anyone help please?
      Mathias said…
      Thank you for this wonderful tutorial~! I watched the video and followed along with the paper template, and now I have a quite adorable mini-hakama! Thanks!

      I'm ready to try it full-scale, but I'm a little confused about how your measurements of the finished hakama transfer over to what the full-scale template should be. So, how will I be able to judge the measurements of some things like the pleats in addition to the overall width, for example?
      Thank you for the tutorial! I have a question. What do you do about the hem? Because you can't leave the raw edge, so how do you neaten it up?
      The simplest way to hem the edges of a fabric without a serger machine is to do a double hem.

      I found this video that teaches how to hem wonderfully.
      Sarah Roach said…
      Is there a specific scale or formula for the measurements of the back flap?
      Willbro said…
      I am a little confused on how to cut the parts. can you give how to get the length of each piece?
      I know the length of my total Hakama, but what should I use for each piece?
      Aranel said…
      Hi everyone!

      Your tuto is really nice!!
      I'm looking desperatly striped fabrics for wedding hakama.
      Please would you have an internet shop link where I could find that? That becomes urgent!
      Thanks in advance for your precious help
      Anonymous said…
      the tutorial is so cute :D
      i really helped alot thank you <3
      Saisen said…
      Omg thankyou!!! I've looked everywhere for an easy to follow pattern for a decent looking hakama! My husband and I want to have our formal marriage ceremony in Japanese attire and this is perfect!!!! Arigatou!!!
      mike schnelly said…
      Thank you, very well done, but what to do with the two green triangles at the hips, do they just fold in loosely or are they stitched down?
      aburame shino said…
      hi and thank u for this wonderful tutorial but there is one hard thing that i face is the measures the front is bigger than the back by how many cm and and and what is the favorite fabric for the hakama
      aburame shino said…
      and also how to measure those two green triangle and thank u so much
      Elpheal aka Kaika said…
      Hi, I've never tried measuring how much bigger the front panels are compared to the back. So sorry, I don't have an answer for that. I suggest you try printing and cutting out the hakama template to get a feel of the size.

      I like polyester cotton cloth but anything that holds pleats well, is stiff enough and works with the sewing machine is good
      Elpheal aka Kaika said…
      I fold them inwards and stitch the edge down.
      aburame shino said…
      thank u very much domo arigatou gozaimashita

      i am going to cosplay isshin kurusaki from bleach

      and u will be the first one to see how it really look like thank u
      Anonymous said…
      Hi, I was just wondering what exactly do I do with the measurements in respect with the template. I ask because the back parts of the template appear to be smaller so I was wondering how to size them or should all four pieces just be (A x E) and go from there?
      The back part of the template is indeed smaller (but only in width) because there are lesser pleats in the back. Hope this clarifies!
      Thiago said…
      The four leg parts seems quite asymmetrical. So do you have the measure from the pieces apart instead of the finished hakama? Or do you happen to have the Vertical/horizontal ratio to each part? meaning that once you have measured the height you could multiply the vertical measure to ratio and thus get the horizontal measure from the pieces apart(With would actually be two horizontal measures, one on the top part of each piece and another for the bottom) ?
      Xianyan Chan said…
      Thank you very much for the tutorial, Kaika, it helps me a lot to understand how to make the hakama! I measured everything as you said in the tutorial, but I got confused when I tried to cut the fabrics out. Can you tell me where the measurements in respect with the template? Also, just to make sure, C is the widths of the gaps on both side? do you need to divide it into half? Because I want the gaps at the side like 15cm wide, but it doesn't look right when I do the math... I ended up with 1.5cm for A, but when I divide 15 into half, it comes out 15cm for A. Sorry for firing you with bunch of questions...It is the first time for me to make this and I am very confused with so many stuff! Hope to hear back from you soon!
      @Xianyan Chan:

      C is the width of the gap on 1 side. For your case, 15cm of preferred width is twice of 'C'.

      A should be your (waist circumference - (15cm x 2)) divide by 2

      Yoiginatsuo said…
      hey Kaika i really like your tutorial but i am a bit confused( since this is my first time doing cosplay) I was wondering if the measurements i made is the total amount i need for the hakama or for each piece?
      Nezumi Chan said…
      Totally awesome!! Thank you so much for sharing.
      Anonymous said…
      how big do the pleats needs to be for the back and front? 2 inches each?
      Thanks. It's really helpful :)
      grant(urismo) said…
      What a great tutorial!
      Does anyone have a copy of the patterns? The links in the blog no longer work.
      Sonia said…
      Yes I tried to get the pattern but it doesn't exist anymore... please repost it if you could?
      Minnie said…
      I'd like to print the pattern as well, could somebody repost it please!
      Hey your blog is just awesome,
      Do u Want to follow each other ?
      Do visit my blog and follow me via gfc and facebook
      i will also follow you back :)
      Kali said…
      My measurement for F came out negative. Does this mean I should do smaller pleats or a smaller measurement for C or both?
      @KAli) Yes, you would probably have to alter the measurements for both the gap of 'C' or the size of the pleats. It's hard for me to recommend without knowing your measurements but I'd said go with whatever seems to make sense to you. Do a paper mock up before hand to see how it will turn out and see if you're happy with it.
      Jocelyn Earle said…
      Thank you SOOO much! This is so helpful, detailed but also simple to follow! I want to make this in 1:6 scale to customise one of my male dolls as Kenshin Himura! Would you be happy for me to link to your tutorial from my Flickr feed if I manage to make the pants and use them in a photoshoot? BTW, my Flickr name is Dolldiva67. I may well try making other cosplay items on your site for my dolls! Thank you sooo much again! xxx
      Thanks for the tutorial. anyway, how to make hakama SKIRTS?
      Gabriel Conde said…
      What are the proportions on the pleats otside and inside them?
      Dolldiva67 said…
      I LOVE this pattern and tutorial- I have made the pants in 1:6 scale and they look amazing!
      Nandhini said…
      Thank you so much for sharing this amazing article with us. Will stay connected with your blogs for the future posts.
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