create_the_obi

The Obi, or Sash, is the horizontal band of fabric that lies just under the belt and just over the tabbards. Probably the most common method to create this item is to sew a rectangle of fabric that matches the tunics, then put a strip of velcro on the back. But this is not adjustable without some effort and wriggling, and there is a visible seam on the back, and... it uses velcro.

Jedi Kai Thri Ona
has posted a better solution which she credits to Sauja Dupen. This method is a true Obi, which in Japanese fashion is a long piece of silk that is wrapped and tied around the waist. To get the gist of the method, read her tutorial.

This page is a documented execution of that tutorial.

  1. Prewash the fabric (in this case, Calcutta cotton from Hancock's). I use Charlie's soap:



  2. Out of the dryer! Notice the texture of the fabric in the light. Ooh, pretty. It will look pretty on you, too.



  3. Iron it. If you can't accomplish this step, perhaps you'd best get some expert help. :)



  4. When you are done ironing, the next step is to create two long rectangles to form the obi. The pattern calls for these rectangles to be twice your waist measurement for the body of the obi plus another half your waist for the ties. (For example, if you have a 40" waist, make 100" long rectangles.) I suggest you make the ties separately and sew them into the Obi body. In either case, with wovens such as Calcutta Cotton the best way to create these rectangles is make a small incision with scissors and then tear the fabric as shown.



  5. I make my rectangles at minimum the width of the belt plus 2x the width of the inner belt plus .5" for seam allowances. For example, if your belt is 3 inches and your inner belt is 3/4" the width of the rectangle should be at minimum 5 inches. In practice I fudge a bit because the belt does not always lie parallel to the obi (it can sag somewhat) and also the obi tends to "scrunch" or roll a bit.  So I'd probably go 6 or 6.5 inches in the example above.



  6. This is where Jedi Kai's pattern comes in really handy. You need to cut the obi into the shape so that the ends will pass each other in your back and lie flat as they close together (picture closing blast doors).  There really isn't a shortcut for this and it requires you to measure twice, cut once because it can be confusing. The good news is you only need to concentrate once. Afterward, just trace the obi onto the second rectangle and cut it out. On the diagonal cuts, ripping with the grain wont work so use shears. When you are done, you will need to iron again because of the curled edges.



  7. Below is the whole pattern with the belt.

  8. The rest is courtesy of my wife, who takes pity on me when I'm buried up to my neck in piles of unraveled fabric scraps and sews my costume.  First step is making the ties with the fabric left over from tearing out the ends of the obi:



  9. The ties are sewn inside out (not that it matters with jedi fabric.) Remember to pivot at the corner to make a nice crisp corner.



  10. Trim off the fringe, but leave a healthy seam allowance.



  11. Trim off the corners.



  12. First tie finished. Rinse and repeat.




  13. Using the purple hokey pokey pictured above, turn it inside out (but don't shake it all about).



  14. Ready to poke corners out. Be gentle! Use a chopstick or the hokey pokey thing again.



  15. Steam it, baby!



  16. Now put the two obi halves together and peel one of the layers back. This is how the ties should be attached. Leave some off the end. Put the tie parallel to the longest corner of the obi, sandwiched between the halves. Point the tie back inside, because it will actually be part of the outside when you turn it inside out.



  17. Fold the other half over the tie. Notice a little corner peeking out. This is important.




  18. Now sew almost all the way around, but leave a handwidth unsewn.
    Backstitch a little over where you start to leave a nice sturdy hand hole as seen in the following steps.



  19. Keep going!



  20. Leave a hand width unsewn. Use your own hand as a guide, because after all yours is the one that will be reaching in there to pull it inside out.



  21. When you're at the end, backstitch again.



  22. Now that it's all sewn, you can trim off the tie corners that were peeking out before.



  23. All sewn up! ready to flip inside out.



  24. Pull ties through the hole. Try not to think of alien worms hatching from your belly.



  25. Get in there! Pull out that second tie! Aren't you glad you left a hand hole with backstiching on each side?




  26. Your obi now resembles a large, floppy tape worm.



  27. Poke out the corners just like you did with the ties. They were practice, but these will be seen so do quality work.



  28. Corners successfully poked! Now steam the whole thing again.



  29. Fold the edges of the hand hole back inside as though they had been sewn.



  30. Use a topstitch foot now.



  31. Top stitch that bad boy!



  32. Clip the threads...



  33. And now you have created an obi.



  34. This is how it looks as seen from the backside when wrapped around the waist. Open the blast doors!



  35. As seen from the front side.


  36. This one's juuuuust right.


So, if you can do all of the above (or talk someone close to you into doing it), there's no reason you can't sew it all.



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