Saturday, September 3, 2011

Hanbok Project Part 1

After making a cotton hanbok with Folkwear's pattern, I wanted to try doing something more elaborate with traditional Korean fabrics. The first step was to search for cloth suppliers online--which sounded simple enough at first, until I realized that most of the websites were written in Korean. (Papabear has posted some useful looking links here, if you can read the language) Other shops on ebay didn't have the materials I had in mind-I didn't want anything too brightly coloured or pastel because those tones just don't represent me. Which is a bit of a problem if you're trying to sew a hanbok:

On the other end, there are hanboks with muted dark tones, but these are traditionally worn by older people. I needed to find a balance. So I turned to modernized designs for inspiration, and boy was I inspired! Here are some of my favourites from trawling the internet:

LOVE the crazy wig! And the combination of textures, the metallic colours, the artful stone work, the subtly layered patterns on skirts. I'm not a fan of the ginormous norigae tassel though. Anyway! After some hunting I found Sonjjang, which has an English website and they sell Korean fabrics, so after some negotiating with the wonderful shop owner and tinkering with potential designs, I bought these materials:

2 yards of black whangguem for the jeogori. The colour is a lot more golden in real life-it is called "huang jin" after all-which was a bit of a surprise because it was really quite blinding gold. So much so it seemed like Chinese New Year came early when put together with the red fabric I intended to use for the chima. BUT, this material is fantastic. I think it is 100% polyester - and I'm not sure if there's a Western fabric equivalent, but once you start cutting the fabric, IT DOES NOT FRAY. Not one bit. Unless you intentionally tug at the weave, it is a dream to cut and sew. The fabric is quite stiff but slightly translucent, and the intricate gold details are printed/gold foiled-it is wonderful.

White satin, for the waist belt of the chima and jeogori cuffs. This material is stiffer, heavier and thicker than ordinary satin though. One side is rough but it drapes beautifully and the smooth side looks a lot more expensive...if you compare it with equally cheap, costumey satin fabrics that hang horribly.

Black nobang. It's somewhat like organza, but stiffer, thicker, and NOT SHINY. It is therefore a lot less transparent than I expected, and blocks out most of the colour of cloths placed beneath it. Not that good for if you want an iridescent effect with multiple coloured skirts for the chima, but great for pinning to build up volume in the gisaeng fashion. The downside is, it frays as much as organza.

Maroon okdolgyeon. What eventually came was pinkish red instead of maroon because they didn't have anything in the colour I wanted. It didn't go as nicely with the whangguem cloth as I hoped so I am thinking of putting it aside for another project at the moment. If you want to buy this cloth take note it has tiny pomegranate embossings with Korean words on it, which you can't tell from the picture on the website, and its width is 22 inches, therefore you need twice as much yardage. The material is kind of like linen and I am guessing it is a modern replica of the hemp traditionally used to make hanboks. Because it is slightly stiff it puffs up beautifully and although it is quite thin, the material is almost opaque.

I also got some navy blue silk charmeuse for the goreum and some norigae ornaments.

In the end, this was the design I had in mind when I selected the materials (those of you who have given me feedback on the other initial designs, thanks!). The picture at the bottom is a final edit after seeing the real thing.

Although I'd much prefer if the jeogori was silver, the gold works as well although to me it seems less elegant. If you have any other suggestions for the colour of the chima and goreum, do let me know and I'll do a mock up in photoshop while considering!

More updates later on in the week, including a review of Folkwear's pattern and the making of the jeogori :)


  1. Very nice blog, it is a wonder way I like the Hanbok style so much, thank you for creating such an informative blog.


  2. Thank you very much for reading Cici!

  3. Sharon,
    Thank you so much! I am a year late to the party but plan to come and play just the same. I am reading over all of your parts now and plan to attempt my own hanbok as soon as I have all the information on undergarments and such. Gisaeng wear looks beautiful and I can make one of those wigs in the course of a weekend. Gotta get the hair accessories though. *giggles* This is going to be fun! Thank you for leading the way for me to follow you! I want at least 4 hanbok..

  4. Hi Andromeda,

    Thanks for dropping by! I was too lazy to make the undergarments so I just bought a petticoat from Sonjjang. Which works perfectly if you're not going for historical accuracy! :p

    Ooh I'd love to see how you make your wig! Just updated about how I did mine, would you be using a different method?

    It is awfully fun and addictive once you start acquiring accessories...I can recommend you ( this seller on Etsy who sells authentic accessories from Korea. You could also try Ebay.

    Four is a bit much :p I was very tempted to make another one but decided I need to move on :) Anyway, really look forward to seeing what you come up with, do update! I'm sure it will be fantastic; if you can sew tiny dolls' clothing so beautifully you can sew anything!