Yohji Yamamoto has been a hero of mine since I graduated from design school. I once saw him walking down the streets of Milan, Italy, not long after I started working in the New York garment district, and felt that I had made the big time. “Walking on the same street as Yohji Yamamoto?” I thought.  It was a momentary highlight in my career that I remember like it was yesterday.

He is known as an avant garde Japanese designer and famous for his intricate designs and impeccable tailoring. He often experiments with different draping methods and varied fabric textures. Yamamoto is also known to integrate wabi sabi, an ever-changing state of beauty, simplicity, and asymmetry, combined with an appreciation for natural elements, into his design aesthetic.

The fashion website Showstudio launched Design Download – “a series demystifying the fashion process by offering prestigious designer garment patterns for download” –  with a Yamamoto pattern for a jacket in classic Yamamoto style. He remained mysterious about the process, revealing very little, and challenging the maker to pay close attention to detail, shape, and technique. There is no “how-to,” like you would find with a traditional pattern. Design Download calls this piece a “mystery garment,” telling the reader that the “photographs of the piece hold the visual key to stitching together your own.”

DIY YOHJI YAMAMOTO - Photograph by Abraham Rowe

Yamamoto says, “Now you have the original pattern of a certain garment. It is hard to see what it is just looking at it. The fabric should be some kind of wool… Then, you have the photo that tells you a little bit more. Take a close look at the symbols that are inscribed on the pattern. They are important leads to construct the garment. Now, spread your imagination and good luck!”

The jacket itself looks quite simple, but its beauty lies in the draping and contours of the fabric. We recommend printing the entire pattern and making sure the pattern pieces fit together in a way that makes sense before you begin cutting fabric. Once you piece together the pattern using the given keys, you will see that it is not as complex as the description might have you believe. We had to rotate our fabric (switching the grain lines) to make the pattern fit the fabric correctly.

We decided to make a basic version of this jacket, focusing on the simplicity of the design and Yamamoto’s aesthetic. We constructed it using a double layer of our 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey.

DIY YOHJI YAMAMOTO - Photograph by Abraham Rowe


Yohji Yamamoto jacket pattern from Design Download
2 yards of 60” wide 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey
1 spool Button Craft thread
Basic sewing supplies: fabric scissors, pins, needles, ruler, rotary cutter and mat, Alabama Stitch BookAlabama Studio Style, or Alabama Studio Sewing + Design: all three of these books contain the basic sewing techniques used to make this jacket.

DIY YOHJI YAMAMOTO - Photograph by Abraham Rowe


Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey
Fabric color – Black
Button Craft thread – Black #2
Seams – Inside felled
Rib – Cretan stitch

DIY YOHJI YAMAMOTO - Photograph by Abraham Rowe

10 comments on “DIY YOHJI YAMAMOTO

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    1. Phyllis

      Tracy I made a tiny muslin and the construction is not too bad really. The hourglass shaped pattern piece is folded in half lengthwise and this becomes the collar. The rounded edge of the 2nd pattern piece forms the back and sleeves. The basic construction is:

      1) Sew the center back dart, The top of the dart (e.g. at the cut edge) is aligned with the center back of the shawl collar.
      2) Sew the sleeves (clip at the inner corners and then match A to B, C to D)
      3) Fold the collar and sew from the “underarm” to the other “underarm” to attach the folded collar to the jacket.
      4) Move each sleeve out of the way and sew again from the “underarm” to the rectangular flange at bottom center back.

      I did the muslin on a machine but I think the construction is the same in the AC method. I love the plain version but also might use the Facets stencil to embellish large random “chrysanthemums” in red on black jersey.

      1. tracy

        Phyllis, this is very, very belated (and I don’t know if you’ll see it), but thank you for this. I just now saw it. I’m going to bookmark this link and copy your instructions!

  1. Kathy VK

    Ah well … now you’ve just gone and made my morning! How bloody cool is this! I’m heading straight over to check out the download project. Swooning with delight … thank you!

  2. Grace

    I made this pattern several years ago. It was fun to put together. I recomment cutting out the diagram of the pattern to play with it and see how it goes together. unfortunately my wool version was eaten by moths. I think it might be time for a second version!

  3. Linda Gerig

    Love this . Went to website to get pattern . It said that each pattern piece was 28 pages each or you could take it to copy shop and get it printed on large paper. It never says how much bigger to print that file. Or will copy shop know? Thanks. Linda Gerig

    1. Alabama

      Linda, once you download the zip file with the pattern, you will see several files. The two files named LG1 and LG2 are to scale. Take those files to your local printer and they will print out a full pattern for you to work with. Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

  4. lucy

    Did you cut your fabric to pattern exactly? Your sleeves look wider than the gallery examples. I love the width of your sleeves. Going to start it this week!