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Published on October 27th, 2009 | by Jules Yap


Halloween goes East

The day for ghouls and goblins will soon be upon us. Tien and friends decide to go Japanese this year. Why not? Witches and vampires are so last season.

“My friends and I are going for a Japanese theme this year. For one of my friends, I wanted to make a sexy kimono (was inspired by Emiri Miyasaka’s kimono, above).

The cheapest place for colorful fabrics by far is Ikea (at least in my city). So, I purchased the fabric, took about 6 hours of planning and sewing (didn’t really have a pattern… just kind of made it up as I went).

Turned out rather nice. It wasn’t expensive – cost me about 180 kr (roughly $25, but it’s probably even cheaper in the US). Below is my makeshift pattern. I based it off of this. Here are the measurements I used and how I did it. I kind of eyeballed the measurements, so it’s not exactly as that, but I tried my best to remember the measurements for the instructions.


Obviously, one can go longer and multiple layer it, but I have to make 4 costumes for my friends and simplest is best. Hope someone tries this (but not in my city :D ). It’s going to be an awesome Halloween.”

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The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

20 Responses to Halloween goes East

  1. Tee says:

    Anon and Shah: I see your point but I am kind of confused. I wore a genuine Cheongsam (a type of traditional chinese dress) for prom. It was modest and my hair and make up were quite plain. Is that still offensive?
    If I were Chinese-American would that make it less offensive?
    How much “Chinese” do I have to have in my blood for it to be okay?
    What if I was white but was born & raised in China, would it be okay for me to wear it?
    Considering America is a “melting pot”, is it really bad to intergrate fashions from different cultures?
    What if you always wanted to wear a beautiful, modest Kimono (one that depicted it’s original purpose of an entertainer and not a prostitute) and Halloween was the only time you could wear it?
    Would it make a difference if I was actually knew the history of that dress and had a genuine interest in chinese culture (and not just in a commericialized way?)
    Do you think that other cultures adopting western styles is as bad as “orientalism”?
    Also, the orginal poster said the women wanted to wear sexy kimonos not that they were going as geishas or japanese women. Maybe they did not do the whole geisha costume. Would that make a difference?

    -Genuinley Curious

  2. Anonymous says:

    It’s not like japanese people wear that in Japan, it was a bad idea from some stupid designer for miss Japan’s outfit. Most Japanese didn’t even like the idea. Kimonos aren’t really like that. And this is why the west thinks people in Japan are all hentai and “gueisha”…

  3. Shah says:

    I find “ethnic” Halloween costumes somewhat pointless and fetishistic. There is a difference between going as a “Japanese person” versus going as Pokemon or Goku (Japanese anime characters). I am Indian and I do feel offended when someone dresses up as an “Indian person.” That’s not appreciating my culture, that’s indulging your orientalism. Props to the original commenter for pointing that out.

  4. That is so cool!

    While I understand where Anonymous is coming from.. it IS Halloween. It isn’t meant to be serious.

    I do find the kimono a bit too short for my liking, but the idea is there…!

  5. Tien says:

    Not the same Tien, no. :D Submitted a few things on here, but not on Hanzi Smatter. Cool site, though. Have to use it on my art lesson about tattoos (that went wrong).


  6. prue says:

    Just another thought on “mocking identities”: as long as I stay within my own ethnicity, am I (as a woman) then allowed to dress like a man? Or as someone with a different job (nurse?) or from a different situation in life (rich? poor? mother of five? old woman?) Could I dress as a parrot?
    Hm, what would be left…. furniture, I guess. I just hope IKEA won’t be offended if I don’t go as Lack…..

  7. Anonymous says:

    Tien, you are awesome! Are you the same Tien from hanzismatter?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Oh, that came out really well. Using the patchwork makes it lots of fun.

    As everyone else weighed in on the identity issue, so will I! ;)

    I entirely understand where the original person who raised the issue was coming from. Race and identity are very sensitive subjects, and I am not aware of any European or North American culture that’s post-racial (or post-whatever) enough to make fun of other people’s cultures/traditions comfortably. Saying “Halloween is the only time of the year people are allowed to play stereotypes, so let people do it!” can be a bit risky even if it’s innocently meant because it’s a bit too close to the old trope where someone that is offended by something offensive is invariably accused of not having a sense of humour.

    On the other hand, “the culture and ethnicity of a group of people is not an acceptable Halloween costume, ever. Period.” is just too sweeping. What if I make a ridiculous version of my own national costume (and my nation’s national costume is pretty ridiculous to start with!)? What if I wear the (very expensive, real deal) Arab national dress my old Saudi boss gave me when I worked there? Ultimately it comes down to good taste and intent: I think it’s perfectly possible to imitate, rework or wear another culture’s national dress for Halloween so long as it doesn’t cross over into recycling crude stereotypes, mockery or caricatures.

    And I think in that regard the OH (Original Hacker) definitely falls clearly on the right side of the fence. :)

  9. James praker says:

    Hi there!
    this post is nice and the use of images is to good also.i used these kind of images during Web Designing and the post and its content is also nice!
    Thanks for sharing!

  10. CGdesigngirl says:

    Awesome job! I love the cartoon quality about it!

    In regards to the first comment -
    I have a couple of kimono and chinese jackets. When I wore them, my asian co-workers fawned over me and thought it was great that I had such an interest in their culture.
    If the first comment was true, then japanese lolitas and goths would have to be careful not to offend victorians, vampires, little girls and dolls.

  11. Tien says:

    Oh… and in case you’re wondering, last year’s costume (in the link above) was “Victorian shinigami” (angel of death/reaper). I made a psuedo-Victorian neck ruffle, and Japanese hakama. I liked the juxtaposition of the two cultures. Was inspired by the movie, The Fall.


  12. Tien says:

    Oh, and to those who want to make the process faster, just cut down the middle of the garment rather than cutting out four pieces. Sew the hanging sleeves (rather than cutting and rejoining) and then simply cut between the sticthes. It saves a few steps and makes it a lot easier to manage. Cuts down the sewing time by at least half an hour.


  13. Tien says:

    Sure, one could say that I’m hacking away at the Japanese traditions, but part of their subculture is cosplay. To me, this is an homage to that. (I watch loads of anime.)

    This year, I wanted an all-out theme. 8 friends are gathering – 4 will be “geisha”, 2 will be Shinto monks, 1 will be a kabuki warrior and I will be a red ninja.


    p.s. You do realize that something Ancient Egyptian headdresses, French Revolution bouffants, Elizabethan gowns, and Greek togas are all part of some country’s history… yet, were you offended by that?

    p.p.s. http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3068/2995225186_e95380e161.jpg That was my costume last year. Oh, and I’m Asian, so I’m guessing it’s alright?

  14. Paula says:

    Great work, definitely a pattern to bookmark. Hope you have lots of fun.

  15. Costume is fun, i love Ikea fabric too!

    I love the irony of the commenter with a beef about identities being “Anonymous”. Some people are way too uptight.

    My japanese friends are obsessed with American culture, even though their preconcieved notions are hilariously inaccurate. Of course we weren’t in the least bit offended, why would we be?? Rather, it became an opportunity to share something about ourselves and have a good laugh. They also brought my niece a pretty kimono and showed her how to put it on… she’s wearing it out on halloween night this year.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I love it! Awesome idea. I like that it can also be made into just a robe. It you make it a little longer…cool gift idea. Thanks for posting!

  17. Greg says:

    Perhaps we should all just wear brown paper bags from now on, in order that we not offend anyone from other cultures. Heaven forbid I should appear to be dressed like a suburban German or Turkish or South Korean IT worker (mail room clerk, wine store proprietor, etc.). (I’m American.)

  18. Anonymous says:

    Wow my daughter is going to a Japanese Princess and we’re Black. Someone sent me this site bacause I am trying to buy fabric for her Kimono, but not expensive fab. Last year she was a Princess from India. I hope no one takes offense to her costume. She’s only 8 and I want her to appreciate all cultures.

  19. Anonymous says:

    As a reply to the previous comment – do NOT take everything (including yourself) so god damn serious. Halloween is the only time of the year people are allowed to play stereotypes, so let people do it!

  20. Anonymous says:

    As much as I understand the hard work and long hours that went into the creation of this piece, and admire anyone who is able to make an outfit from scratch, I just have to say that I do not feel that someone’s identity should ever be a Halloween costume. It tokenizes an entire culture and reduces identity and heritage to some fantastical idea of what “Japanese” is supposed to look like. I apologize for my bluntness and hope you can understand my frustration; I just feel that the culture and ethnicity of a group of people is not an acceptable Halloween costume, ever. Period.

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