Jeogori in Detail

By Ásfríðr Ulfvíðardóttir/ Rebecca Lucas.

The jacket, called jeogori (저고리), is the part of the womans' wardrobe that changed the most over the centuries. It lengthened, shortened, gained and lost gussets, curved and straightened sleeves, added and removed contrasting panels... the list goes on.

So why there is an unspoken assumption that a 21st century hanbok is identical to what a 16th century lady wore, is a mystery. But it crops up so often, I feel I need to address it seperately, here.

Firstly, we need a glossary of the more common parts of a jeogori:

  • Baerae (배래): The curve of the sleeve.
  • Buri (부리): The hem of the sleeve. It is the 'pointed end' of the sleeve, like the beak of a bird.
  • Dang (당): Underarm gussets.
  • Dongjeong (동정): The white over-collar. Modernly, is backed with paper and removeable, to prevent cleaning the entire jacket when just the collar is dirty.
  • Do-ryeon (도련): The curve of the jacket hem.
  • Geo-deul-ji (거들지): White over-cuffs, the cuff equivalent of the dongjeong. Are a 20th century innovation.
  • Gil (길): The panels of fabric that make up the body of the jacket.
  • Git (긷): The collar of the jacket.
  • Go-reum (고름): The strings used to tie the jacket panels closed.
  • Jindong (진동): The seam attaching the sleeve to the body.
  • Kkeutdong (끝동): A cuff attached, of a constrasting colour.
  • Mu (무): Side gores.
  • Seop (섭): The overlapping panel(s) attached to the centre front seam.
  • So-mae: (소매): The sleeve.
Not every jeogori has all of these parts, and are one way of identifying the era the garment is from, according to the style. It is really obvious if you compare a 16th and a 20th century jeogori.

Common parts of a modern jeogori

Modern Jeogori
Click on image to enlarge.

Comparison of mid-Joseon and modern jeogori

Above: Modern childs' jeogori. Own image.
Below: Sketch of 16th century jeogori. Own Image.
Childs' jeogori
Adult jeogori

The pink childs' jeogori I sketched here, for the 'modern' jacket, is very close in style to the commercial Butterick and Folkwear hanbok patterns. Although the Butterick pattern was advertised as being part of the 'Making History' range (which also includes medieval and American civil war inspired costumes), it is a style that seems to have become popular in the late 19th century (Gwangju Design Biennale, 2009).
So, using a commercial pattern is not too likely to help in making a medieval outfit.

Compared to the modern jacket, the historic styles seem to have many more pieces to it. There are side gores, underarm gussets, and sleeves pieced together. It also appears that while some modern jeogori only have the one, front seop, with a curved left-hand side hem. The right-hand side is cut straight, without the extra overlapping panel. This contrasts with the symmetrically cut, mid-Joseon style, where both the left and right sides of the jacket have the seop panel, with a curved hem.

The curve of the sleeve also varies, as the mid-Joseon examples I have seen either have wide, straight sleeves, or are cut straight at an angle to taper towards the wrist. The characteristic curve of the sleeve (poetically described as imitating the curve of a traditional Korean roof) is a later development.

A possible 16th c. jeogori pattern.

Instead of relying on a modern commercial pattern, try the possible pattern below.
Please note, due to the symmetrical nature of the pattern, only the right-hand side is illustrated.
Left to Right: Fabric layout, pattern layout, and front and back views.
Fabric Layout Pattern Layout Fabric Layout
Click on images to enlarge.

How the pattern works

The best instructions I can give for sewing the jeogori together, aren't mine at all. Lisa A. Joseph, who is also known as Saionji no Hanae, has written about the basic pattern for Japanese kimono in Kosode Made Simple, and my instructions are inspired by hers.

  1. Extend your arms out, so they are roughly parallel with your shoulders and get someone to measure you from wrist to wrist.
  2. Divide the number (in inches or centimetres) by six, round up to the nearest whole number, and add your preferred seam allowance along the two 'edges.' This becomes your personal 'standard' panel width, which you can then use to calculate other measurements.
  3. Body panel lengths, should make a jeogori that is about hip length. Measure from the top of your shoulder, to your hip, and add another 5-10cm, just in case. Multiply this number by two to get your 'standard' panel length.
  4. Sleeves are half the length of the 'standard panel. You will need two of these half-panels per sleeve, and they are sewn along the longer edge.
  5. Underarm gussets are square, and about one quarter of the width of a panel. They can often be cut from the leftover fabric, as they are fairly small.
  6. Underarm gores, are one quarter the length of a standard panel length. They are cut like a truncated trapezoid. A simple way of doing this, is to divide the width of the panel into three, and draw a line from the end of the first third, to the end of the second third (see cutting layout). Do this on two quarter-length panels for four underarm gores.
  7. The two overlapping panels, are half the standard length, divided diagonally. The precise angle of the panel seems to differ between jeogori, so double check the extant item you are basing your jacket on.
  8. The collar is half the width of a standard panel, and two can be fitted onto a half-length panel if needed to save space. They can then be sewn together to make a long band for the collar.
  9. Optional: If wanting contrasting cuffs, they are half the length and half the width of a standard panel.
  10. Optional: For a white over-collar, a rectangle of fabric half the width and half the length of the standard panel size will work.
For a jeogori with contrasting panels, they appear to commonly have been fully lined. You will need to cut out one full 'set' of pieces in your main colour for the lining, and an incomplete set in the main colour for the outer. The contasting panels should make up the rest of the outer 'set' of pieces.

Worksheet

Use this handy checklist to figure out what measurements you should be taking:

  1. Measure from wrist to wrist:___________________
  2. Measurement 1., divided by 6:___________________
  3. Measurement 2., add seam allowances:_______________
    This is the panel width.
  4. Measure from shoulder to hips:__________________
  5. Measurement 4., multiplied by 2, add generous hem allowance:____________
    This is the panel length.
  6. Measurement 5., divided by 2:__________________
    This is the sleeve panel length
  7. Measurement 5., divided by 4:__________________
    This is the underarm gore length
  8. Measurement 3, divided by 3:___________________
    This is for the diagonal division of the underarm gore.

Sewing

  • Sew the four sleeve panels, so that you have two sleeves of two panels each. If you have kkeutdong, I have found if you sew the cuff to the sleeve to the outside, and then iron the cuff so it then is folded on to the sleeve (covering the seam), you can then sew down the cuff and treat the entire thing as one piece.
  • Attach the underarm gores to the sleeve, with the small, flat end of the gores against the non-cuff long edge of the sleeve. It should look like a giant T, with the sleeve edge and gore edges all flat, and the angled edge of the gore should be facing towards the cuff. Then sew the T, along the flat side, to the body panel.
  • Take the square gussets, and fold them along the diagonal, so they form little triangles. The 'free,' unfolded points of the triangles will sit under your arms, where the underarm gores and your sleeve meet. (See cutting layout.) Sew one of these 'free' triangles into the corner of sleeve and gore. When you sew the sleeve closed, you will also sew the other side of the gusset closed.
  • For attaching the overlapping panels, and collar, see the fantastic instructions at Kosode Made Simple from step four, onwards.

Bibliography