How to Sew a Judo Gi

Written by karyn bowman
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How to Sew a Judo Gi
The actions performed in Judo require a uniform that is durable. (arts martiaux 43 image by Nathalie P from Fotolia.com)

Wearing a Judogi or gi, the uniform for Judo practitioners, is a must during class and competition. The top is a kimono-styled jacket while the trousers are easy pull-on style. The accompanying belt is symbolic of the level of skill you have acquired. Making a judogi is possible if you have basic sewing skills, and the project can be accomplished quickly with concentration.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Martial arts uniform pattern
  • Medium- to heavyweight cotton material
  • Thread
  • Cutting board
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Size 14 sewing machine needle
  • Elastic (optional)
  • Drawstring material (optional)

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Go to a store that sells fabric and sewing notions to look in the pattern books for a pattern in your size for a martial-arts uniform. Use the fabric requirement guidelines for the uniform size you plan to make. Choose a medium- to heavyweight cotton in either blue or white, the most common colours of a gi. Also, buy your thread and any other needed notions as suggested on the pattern envelope. Trousers can have either a drawstring or elastic at the waist. Decide which will be used on your uniform and buy the appropriate notion.

  2. 2

    Wash the cotton fabric before you begin cutting to allow for shrinkage. Once fabric has gone through the dryer, iron the fabric if necessary. Read the pattern directions for layout suggestions and assembly instructions. Cut out needed pattern pieces before sewing, putting to one side the pieces you need for the uniform you are making.

  3. 3

    Using a cutting board to protect surfaces underneath, lay out the fabric with selvedge edges touching unless otherwise directed by the pattern layout suggestions. Lay the pattern pieces on the fabric to make sure it all fits correctly. Pin pieces to the fabric and begin cutting out pieces of the pattern.

  4. 4

    Make a bobbin of the matching thread. Place a size 14 needle in the needle holder, tightening the screw to make sure the needle is secure. Thread the sewing machine with the remaining thread on the spool.

  1. 1

    Read the construction instructions at least two times through to understand how to make the uniform. Gather pieces for the jacket first. Follow the instructions, step by step. Many begin with the top shoulder seams and work their way to adding the collar, sewing on the sleeves before the final hemming of sleeves and jacket body. The collar band that goes on the front of the jacket must have five rows of top stitching once it is attached to the jacket.

  2. 2

    Gather pattern pieces for the trousers. Read over the instructions for pant construction. Begin sewing the pieces for the trousers per the instructions. If using a drawstring to hold up the trousers, make the casing or the fabric pocket at the top of the trousers with a button hole on each side of the front centre. Measure your waist and add at least 12 inches to that number. Cut a length of drawstring measuring your final number. Thread the drawstring through the casing starting at one buttonhole. Keep moving the drawstring along the back until you get to the other buttonhole. Tie knots at the ends of the drawstring once they have been threaded through the casing.

  3. 3

    If using elastic, measure your waist where the trousers will sit. Subtract two inches and cut your elastic at that length. Make casing per the instructions of the pattern but leave eight inches of the seam open. Thread elastic through the casing along the back until you get to the other opening. Pin elastic together so there is an overlap of one half inch and sew it together with two lines. Stretch fabric to make elastic lay inside casing and sew casing shut without touching the elastic.

  4. 4

    Reinforce seams at the underarms and crotch areas by sewing over the seams two or three times to aid durability of the garment.

Tips and warnings

  • Another way to add durability to the seams is to do flat-felled seams. This is demonstrated in the video in the resource listings.
  • Standard sewing machine needles are size 11 and can handle most fabrics. A size 14 needle can handle heavier weight and thicker seams without breaking.
  • Fabric stores sell drawstring material and elastic in packages or by length. Ask staff for help in correct measurement if you plan to buy the drawstring/elastic by length and are not sure how much to get.
  • Elastic, drawstring material and pins are considered 'notions.'
  • The selvedge edge is the woven uncut edge of the fabric.
  • Check with your judo school which colour is preferred for the judogi. Blue and white judogi are used for contests according to the International Judo Federation. Black is commonly seen in school settings.
  • Pre-wash material before sewing. Cotton can shrink a great deal and it is better to have the shrinkage occur before sewing than after and not being able to wear the garment because it is too small.

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