Hi everyone!

So it’s been, ahem, a while since my last post. I do apologise – there’s been a lot going on! Not least of which was preparation for a trip to Japan for a karate training seminar! So of course I had to make time for some crafty excursions while I was there.

As luck would have it, I found a Yuzawaya on my first day in Tokyo, not ten minutes walk from my hotel. Yuzawaya, as I discovered, are sort of like Lincraft (or possibly Joanns).

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Not wanting to go too crazy on my first day, I only bought a fat quarter with a cute retro dance print, and a Japanese pattern book – Machiko Kayaki’s “home couture selection book”. It has some really cute, simple patterns that I can’t wait to try out. The instructions are of course in Japanese, which I can’t read, but the illustrations are very straightforward so I don’t think I’ll have too much trouble.

After my 3-day karate seminar, I headed off down to Nagoya, where I had enrolled in a shibori workshop. Arimatsu is known as ‘the home of shibori’ – it was a popular stopping place on the Tokkaido road, where many shibori artists plied their trade.

I took a billion photos of the Arimatsu Shibori museum, which I am going to upload to flikr as there is too many to share here. Here’s a little snippet:

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Just before you go into the museum, there are two little old ladies sitting on a platform doing shibori. You can sit and watch them, and they will demonstrate the techniques they are using, and show you samples of how it would look after dying. Of course all of this is in Japanese, of which my understanding is extremely limited, but a needle is a needle and a stitch is a stitch.

The workshop consisted of me and one of those ladies, with a pre-designed t-shirt and ‘noren’ (Japanese curtain). I’m going to do a post in further detail on this later. Basically they show you how to do the shibori stitches, then they send it off to their dyers and mail it to you. Mine arrived in Australia about two weeks after the workshop, which I thought was pretty impressive.

Here’s some souvenirs I brought home from Arimatsu:

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After some more sightseeing in Nagoya I headed back to Tokyo. Thanks to tips from some awesome ladies in Those Darn Sew & Sews Facebook Group, I knew that Nippori was the place to go. It is actually called ‘Textile Town’.

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It’s a whole street of fabric, craft and sewing supplies!!! Heaven!

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It was sensory overload after a while, though. So many great fabrics, so little room in the suitcase…

I took an organised approach and did a lap of the main drag, stepping into nearly every shop, taking pictures of fabrics I liked so I wouldn’t forget. Then I wrote a little wish list, and then I pared that back to how much I could actually afford to buy/fit in the suitcase. That turned out to be quite a lot, as I’d packed an empty duffel for exactly that purpose!

First purchase was a blouse pattern and some sweet cat-print lawn to make it from. On the way to the register I picked up a remnant of cotton in a groovy retro floral print.

DSCF9643The pattern was 1,000 yen, the lawn was 900Y per metre and the remnant was 850Y (it’s 110x110cm – about a square yard). The Aussie dollar is not that strong against the Yen at the moment, but the lawn cost aout AUD$11/metre, and the cotton about AUD$10. These were from one of the Tomato shops – there were at least three. It’s the same shop, but with different departments in different locations along the street. One of them I didn’t go into at all, because there was a queue out onto the street!!

Next stop was some black cotton print. The cotton prints are quite heavy, like a quilting fabric, but with an uneven weave which gives them a lovely texture. I bought a pre-cut 2m piece for 1290Y (about AUD$15).

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These next two pieces were purely for colour & print! Unfortunately despite my best efforts I lost the reciept, but I don’t think I paid more than AUD$20 for the lot.

The circle print on the left is a soft, drapey woven, possibly viscose or rayon. The floral/plaid on the right is a crisp polycotton woven.

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Precut pieces were everywhere, and I couldn’t resist these little bits of animal print, and a piece of laminated print – panda bento!! The laminate was 650Y (50cm x 112cm) and the fat quarters were 108Y each.

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These two little bits are both 50cm x 110cm and were 400Y each; heavy cotton woven.

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Of course I couldn’t resist some stretch fabric too! These two pieces were 900Y/m. They are a heavy jersey, sort of like ponte. I’m thinking sportswear, of course!

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You can’t spend much time on Fabric Street without wandering into a second-hand kimono shop. I found three, but I have a feeling there were a few more on some of the side streets. 20160402_144813

Racks and racks and racks of pre-loved kimono! Both mens’ and womens’. I thought I was dreaming when I saw the price on this one – 1000Y!! That’s about AUD$12, folks!!

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This one is hip-length and is fully lined.

At those prices, though, I couldn’t go all the way to Japan and only buy one.

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Isn’t she beautiful?? She is definitely pre-loved – there are a couple of tiny stains and the lining has seen better days. But for 1000Y I can find a home for that gorgeous print. There’s so much fabric to use in a full-length kimono!

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Also in those stores they sell parts of kimono – I guess in an effort to recycle as much of the garments as possible. I snagged a shibori scarf and a old sleeve for a couple of hundred yen. (I’ll be using that shibori scarf in a future blog to show you more about shibori!)

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(I did actually buy a few other pieces, but I’m not going to share them here yet as they are destined to be gifts.)

I’d love to hear from anyone who has shopped in Nippori, or anywhere else in Japan that rocks the fabric world!

 

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