Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sewing Stuff from Japan

I thought that I would come home with suitcases packed with yards (or meters!) of Japanese fabrics,  notions and books, but I came home with very little evidence of my trip to Japan.  I don't know why.  I thought I had done the right research, but I either missed the crafting stores as a result of sensory overload or I was just too tired at the end of the day (which is when we usually had time for shopping) to really focus on looking for them.

I did a little research before going and printed out a map of Nippori's Sen-i-Gai (Fabric Town) in Tokyo from this site.  I dragged Brian there after a day trip to Nikko.  We arrived around 4:15 in the afternoon, which was not the best time to go shopping in this district, because most places seemed determined to close at 5:00.  It seemed to be a wholesale district and I didn't see any cute stores, though we did happen upon a notions branch of Tomato.

Tomato was packed with young squealing girls who spent time salivating over adorable buttons and ribbons.  This girl squealed at this display of zippers:
Lacey zippers!  How fun are they?  I should have grabbed a bunch in every color, but I only picked up one each in pink, red, and black.  I'm not quite sure how to attach them, but I'll figure it out.

I didn't really find any other craft stores or fabric stores (though there was a nice section at Tokyu Hands), but I did happen upon these at a sock shop and I think I should only be allowed to wear them when sewing:
As for books, I spent a good hour perusing the sewing/craft section at Kinokuniya, but walked away without a thing.  I finally found a good embroidery book at Narita Airport.  I haven't translated the author's name yet, but the book is called "12 Stitches Idea" and it's pretty fabulous.
 I really fell in love with this shirt.  So adorable.  They also suggest doing this on a piece of ribbon for your own homemade measuring tape.
I also really liked these coasters:
Maybe I'll have better luck next time.  Brian has agreed to at least one more trip to Japan and only if we go see Kyoto.  He also kept asking how far away Miyajima was from Tokyo, so I think we'll have to do a Kyoto-Hiroshima-Miyajima excursion someday.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Reversible Japan

Prior to going on my ten day trip to Japan, I made a reversible skirt from Betz White's Sewing Green with the idea that two-skirts-in-one equalled less packing.  While that was true, it was also devastatingly hot and humid in Japan and this double layered skirt was maybe not the smartest thing to pack.  In addition, the humidity caused some major thigh chafage on that first day and I had to go out and buy some leggings to wear under all my skirts for the rest of the trip.  I was basically walking around with about two to three layers of fabric on my bottom half for the entire time in Japan.  Yikes!

Anyway,  I think Betz White makes her skirt with a vintage tablecloth in the book.  I chose to use a piece of fabric that a friend gave me last summer.  I had just enough of the fabric to cut out the required seven panels for the skirt.  Here is the first side of the skirt at Osore-zan, or Mount Dread, the third most sacred spot in Japan.
And for the reverse, I chose a piece of muslin that I had in my sewing cabinet.  I was afraid that a white cotton would be too thin and the other side would show through too much.  I also embellished the plain side with some Steam-a-Seam flowers from the print fabric.  I didn't have enough to go all around the hem, so I just did the first panel or so in the front.  Here is the reverse at two different hilside shrines in Kamakura:
As for the pattern, it was pretty good, with the exception of the length of ribbon needed for the waistband.  I needed an extra yard to feel comfortable tying the skirt at the waist.  I'm not a huge fan of reversible skirts (mostly because they never stay shut and the waistband always feels weird), but I like this skirt.  I'm glad I finally got to use that fabulous floral fabric!  Thanks again, Sookie!