Saturday, December 27, 2008

100 yen stores

I had read about 100 yen stores on a few people's blogs, so when I came out of the subway and saw one just up the road I went exploring. (Look for the red logo - you'll come across them here and there.) The store was great. It sold very basic items from potato peelers to stationery, and everything in between.

I couldn't resist quite a few stackable plastic containers - the perfect size for storing threads and other sewing bits and pieces in my studio.

They weren't the most practical thing to bring home in a suitcase, but they made it safely - stashed with this colourful Japanese candy that is simply too pretty to eat.

I also found my way to Daiso - possibly the mother of all 100 yen stores - on Takeshita Dori in Harajuku. See Marceline's blog for excellent directions and details. It was very busy when I was there and I was already laden down with a few shopping bags; so I found it hard to make my way around the store. I did pick up some cute coloured paper packs, which I plan to use making some things out of a Japanese craft book I picked up on paper cutting.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Last time I was in Tokyo I struggled to find Okadaya, despite good directions (this seemed to be a pattern with me). This time I was determined to find it, after reading good things about it.

I took a photo of the well signed store (how could I have missed it) so anyone else trying to locate it knows what to spot. This red sign is what to look for when you come out of the East Exit of Shinjuku station.

Okadaya is in two buildings - each of about 6 levels. One building contains fabric of all descriptions, the other contains all the extra bits you need to sew, knit, bead, and craft your little heart out with.

My favourite floor was the craft book floor (right at the top). I think it had the best craft book selection I'd seen anywhere, with multiple copies of each book. Sadly, there was a "no photos" sign up so I can't show you the proof.

For the knitters there was also a whole yarn floor.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dressmaking patterns

Has anyone seen these patterns? I spied these at a few shops in Nippori's fabric street, including Tomato. The images and styling were very cute. The patterns were for fairly basic children's garments so would be ideal for beginners.

If anyone knows whether you can buy them online, please drop us a line at Japan Craft Journal? It would be a great resource to share. I think I recognised one of the images from a craft book. Maybe they are related.

Update: An anonymous blog reader has very kindly left a link to the site for these patterns. Thank you, whoever you are!


Yes, Tomato is that good. Thank you to all the bloggers who talked about this store. It proved well worth the visit. I've never seen so many women buying fabric. Home dressmaking is alive and well in Japan.

Nippori is easy too get to - just take the JR Yamanote line. This map is just outside the East exit of the station (head for the North exit first, then signs to the East exit will appear). If you click on this map you can see it in more detail.

Whether you are a dressmaker, a crafter or a quilter, you are bound to be happy with the selection on offer. My favourite floor was the 4th floor. The 5th floor was also interesting with great bag handles, braids and the like.

There was oodles of linen in all weights and colours. The 100 yen rack near the front door was very popular. It was a complete crush around that area and it was hard to get a close look at the fabric for all the women standing in front of it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Six floors of craft

Yesterday I sought out Yuzawaya, after reading Suzy's post on her blog Floating World Views. Yuzawaya is about 6 floors of craft supplies. It has some wonderful Japanese stationery on one of the floors, oodles of fabric, and everything else in between. I could have spent hours marvelling over the cupcake baking equipment but I had a twitchy husband with me (who hates craft stores).

The quilting fabric collection was very extensive, with all the Japanese lines I recognise from home. Their fat quarters were rather impressively displayed in little, orderly drawers.

See Suzy's very concise directions on how to find it. I didn't take them with me so wasted much time looking for a shop that was only labelled in Japanese characters. This is a great one stop shop for any crafting supplies you might need.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pocket guide

Tentative discussions about a quick trip to Tokyo before the end of the year have arisen in our house.

If I get there, I'll be sure to pack Marceline's little A6 guide to all the cute shops she found her way to in Tokyo. Her guide covers craft, fabric and sewing supplies, stationery, print Gocco, kawaii, toys and homewares. Directions are included, as well as some images. Marceline details what she found in each store and her overall impressions of each store - helpful information indeed.

You can pick up a copy of Marceline's guide at her web shop.

(Above image from this book - one of my faves.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

this is a great book. a great basic bag  book. with bags of various shapes and sizes. there are 34 projects. 34 great projects. 

i've been wanting to make this tote bag. forever. and i finally had a chance. thanks to my friend's birthday. i don't usually follow patterns. but decided to this time. and i am so glad i did. the bag turned out super cute. i even made the bias tape. crazy. i know. 

the pattern was easy to follow. and the diagrams with numbered steps was so helpful. since i don't read japanese. this was super helpful. it helps to have a bit of sewing experience though. for sure. 

this bag is next on my list. a super cute eco bag. i need to find some more free time. or wait until another friend's birthday though. dang it. 

you can find this bag. over in my little shop. if you are interested. 
isbn 978-4-415-10656-4

Monday, September 29, 2008

sashiko - part 2

This book takes a more contemporary approach to sashiko, applying it to zakka items (projects for the home). Again published by Ondori ISBN 4-277-34107-1

This is a great little book and really demonstrates how a line of running stitch can enhance the most simple of projects.

It contains a picture heavy 'how to' as well as clear instruction and patterns for the numerous projects.

But what really sold be on this one was the inspiration it provides for embellishing ready made items. Like a couple of lines of running stitch on a knee of a pair of kids jeans or a simple flower in the corner of a tea towel.

It's amazing how a outline of running stitch can add texture and pull a project from being pretty ordinary to something extraordinary.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Stylish Dress Book

With the weather turning warmer here in Australia all I can think of is cute summer dresses so I pulled out my favourite Japanese womenswear book purchased recently.....its called Stylish Dress Book (ISBN 978-4-57911185-5).

Its full of cute tunic tops and dresses all photographed beautifully and brought to you by the same people of girly style wardrobe

designs range from simple tunics to wear with jeans or leggings to the fancy tunic dress

pattern sheets are included at the back of the book and come in sizes 7, 9, 11 and 13 with all patterns designed for a height of 160cm which suits my 157cm stature perfectly. The size 13 has a bust measurement of 93cm, waist 74cm, hips 98cm to give you an idea of measurements which I think is about an australian size 10 but please correct me if I'm wrong as I'm just going by what I wear and measure (i.e. currently larger than this but normally a 10). But these aren't figure hugging designs and I'll be adding a few cms here and there and come back to you with the results.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

zakka sewing

At last a craft book on Japanese zakka with english instructions!
All 25 projects have been designed and made by well known Japanese zakka crafters living in Japan.

The book was styled by Yuki Matsuo and photographed by Yoko Inoue both Japanese living in New york. They have done a beautiful job, the book is visually stunning!

Each of the charming projects are accompanied by plenty of photos as well as step by step instructions. I particularly love the inclusion of the zakka fact, which offers an insight into Japanese culture and inspiration behind each of the projects.

There is also a great 'how to' in the front of the book which makes this book perfect for the beginner crafter. With tips on transferring patterns, basic sewing techinques and embroidery stitches.

You will also find each of the crafters credited along side their project as well as information on their websites. There you'll find more eye candy and a whole new world of blogs to discover.

Most of the projects use natural fibres like linen, wool and wool felt. If you have difficulty sourcing the supplies you need, you will find an extensive list of online stockists in the back of the book. As well as where to shop zakka in Japan.

I got my copy from the book depository but it's also available over at Amazon. For more photos of the projects and free instructions for the squirrel tea cozy. Check out the books website at zakka home.

Some of the designers

Sayaka Suzuki

Kui Hazuki



Saturday, September 20, 2008

sashiko - part 1

Sashiko embroidery is essentially a running stitch with a proportion of 3:2 with the largest stitch showing on the right side. Over the next few posts I will be sharing some of my books on the subject showcasing both traditional and contemporary patterns.

This particular book is published by Ondori ISBN 978-277-31159-5

It has quite a clear 'how to' showing you both technique, the materials you will need and how to trace the patterns onto your cloth.

There are full page patterns of the more traditional patterns ready for you to trace.

As well as instructions for projects that you can make using your embroidered cloth, such as coasters, napkins and book covers.

Tote bags and sweet clutch purses.

As well as Zipper box shaped pouches and drawstring bags.

Friday, August 22, 2008

More translation assistance

For more translation of Japanese sewing terms you may like to look to Jennifer's Moving Hands blog or to Korallin's posts on the blog Label Free.

Construction methods for garments are fairly universal, so I also find my favourite English patterns give the helpful instruction needed to whip up those favourite Japanese designs with more confidence.

Too good to use

Even beyond craft blogging circles I heard many mentions of the famous Ito-ya stationery store in Ginza. It was high on my list of places to visit in Tokyo. Who could resist a stationery store that takes up 3 buildings over several floors?

The store was wonderful and I spent more than an hour there filling my shopping basket with an assortment of cards, sticky notes, mini notepads. All of it is almost too good to use.

This is a photo of the much smaller store in Marunouchi (just near the Peninsula Hotel which is an easy landmark to spot).

If you find yourself in Ginza though, just look for the giant red paperclip. It's hard to miss and worth seeking out.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

traditional tie-dyed fabric.

this last weekend h-kun and i visited arimatsu. a town near nagoya. where shibori originated. the traditional technique used to tie-dye fabric. started 400 years ago and is still carried on today.
the fabric is used for kimono. yukata. and many modern day items such as cloths, placemats, scarves, etc. and there are over 100 patterns.
to get to arimatsu take the meitetsu line from nagoya station to arimatsu. it takes about 30 minutes. you can pick up a map of the area at most of the local shops. near the station is a street that is lined with shibori shops as well as the above building. which has an english video explaining the history of shibori and various techniques. there are also a couple of women demonstrating the hand tying there. and if you speak a little japanese then you will be entertained as well.
the craft is carried out mostly by older women. who are full of patience. it's simply amazing. amazing. it will take them 4 to 6 months to finish a piece of cloth for one kimono. patience. and consistency. the whole process is a wonderful one. full of tradition. passed down from generation to generation.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

a little translation help.

so. a customer of mine. used to live in japan. and sent me this lovely link. (you may need adobe acrobat to open it.) that will help all of you with translating the sewing terms in your japanese sewing books. amazing. simply amazing. there are some great explanations. and a laldies' sizing chart, too. please go and look at it. it will save you time. it will also save you banging your head against the table one too many times. really. thanks, sara.

really. if you have a japanese craft book. you will want to click on the link. if you want help with the basic sounds of the japanese alphabets. you will want to click on the link. if you want help. you will want to click on the link. it will help you. i promise.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Cute Felt Fruit and Vegetables Book

this is a brand new book. and a perfect one. indeed. food made out of felt is becoming a popular thing in the creative blogging world. (*note: the projects are not felted. but made from felt.)

56 pages. 34 projects. lots of vegetables. and fruit. there is also a sandwich with all the toppings. pancakes. a japanese bento box. cake. and an ice cream cone with lots of flavours. 

they are a good size, too. up to 20cm. perfect for your little ones. or for your window sill. perfect.

and the instructions. are very clear. there are a few pages of photo instructions. and a full page of step-by-step clearly labeled diagrams for each item piece of food. 

i need to make some. soon. very soon. and with this book i will now have no problem. at all. whoohoo.  ISBN 978-4-529-04604-6 or you can find it here.