This year I concentrated my fabric shopping obsession (and yes, I think I really do have a problem!!) in Osaka, so I’ve written this post to help any other travellers wanting to have a sticky beak at the lovely shops in that city!

If you want to have a look at my ridiculous haul from this trip, I wrote about it here.

A couple of things to note about shopping in Japan: most shops don’t open until 10am, but many will stay open until 7 or 8pm, depending on their location. Some shops that are multi-level will require you to make your purchases on each floor, but others let you wander from floor to floor with a basket of goodies. Tax in Japan is 8% – this is usually not included on the ticket price, so remember to factor that in when you are working out the prices.

If you are shopping in Tokyo, obviously Nippori Fabric Town is the place to go – a whole street of fabric shops! I didn’t go there this year as I was spending my spare days in Osaka. However, the days I was in Tokyo for the karate seminar, I was staying in Kamata, and there is a Yuzawaya store about 200m from my hotel! So of course I paid it a quick visit!


Yuzawaya in Kamata is a massive store – with three shopfronts, two of these have 5 floors and the other has 3. Covering all aspects of craft, from sewing to knitting to papercraft to flowerwork and everything in between! If you can only get to one store in Tokyo, this is a good one!

To get there, take the Yamanote line (green) to Shinagawa and change to the Keihin-Tohoku line (blue) towards Kamata. In only three stops you’ll be in Kamata.

When you come out of the ticket gates, turn right and head out of the station via the stairs or escalators (if you go past Starbucks you’re heading the wrong way!)

You’ll come out into a pretty plaza area with a couple of shopping arcades on the other side. Turn left and walk down the covered street, past the Tokyu Store and in about 50m you’ll come to the first of the Yuzawaya shopfronts on your left!

After Tokyo I headed down to Osaka on the bullet train (yes, I did Bento on the bullet train – such fun!) I had three shops to visit there, and found another couple on the way as well.


Once I got to Osaka, the first place I visited was Toraya – again this one was very handy to my hotel. Thanks to the excellent directions from Betty Stitchup in her blog post I found it first try. If you are doing the Shinsaibashi Shopping Street, just keep walking south and it will become the Ebisubashi Shopping Street. Toraya is near the Namba end of Ebisubashi, sort of diagonally opposite McDonalds. There are a confusing number of exits from Namba Station, and you can even end up in a different underground section called Namba walk. Look for an exit that takes you to Midosuji, that is the major street that runs parallel to Ebisubashi.

Toraya is three floors of fabric fun with a small haberdashery section in the top floor. It uses a truly fascinating purchase system. Once you have decided which fabrics you want (this could take a while!), get the attention of a shop assistant (they all wear a little tool belt). They will cut two little samples of your fabrics and staple them to a reciept with the fabric code number and the amount you want. You get one copy of the reciept and the other goes in a pneumatic tube to the top floor. Ten minutes later you rock up to the cashier on the ground floor and present your receipts and your fabric will be there waiting!

Pneumatic Tube System!

The fabric range is good, less crafty prints than Yuzawaya and more dress fabrics. Lots of plain wovens in a great range of colours, textures and content types, and the upper floor of more fancy evening fabrics was lovely. There is also a remnant shelf on that floor – I did have to restrain myself!!

Although many shops in Japan are cash-only, Toraya will take both Visa and Mastercard (I didn’t try AMEX so I’m not sure). The store is open 10am to 7.50pm.


Also, if you are looking for somewhere to eat, from Toraya go west down the side street and across Midosuji – there are a bunch of restaurants in the side streets around here that look fantastic!


A very similar store in content to Yuzawaya, Otsukaya is a beautiful shop with five floors of stunning fabric and haberdashery.

Again I was able to find this easily via Betty Stitchup’s blog, although the walkway she mentions was partially closed for renovations and I went a slightly different way.

From Shinsaibashi Station, take the Midosuji line to Esaka. Head towards exit 4 & 5, and you can go straight ahead into the building there. There’s a bookshop dead ahead and coffeeshop on the ground floor if you need refreshment! Walk downstairs and take that exit near the coffeeshop, then turn right into the walkway. Turn left onto the street, cross over – watch out for bicycles! – and walk on towards the big Pachinko parlour, then right down that street. Walk about 2 blocks and Otsukaya is on the left hand side, opposite the waffle rocket (you’ll see what I mean).

Ground floor is wovens, loads of crafty cotton prints in various weights, plus plain drill and a great range of denims too. Second floor has patterns, stretch fabrics and more fancy wovens, including some nice-looking athletic fabrics.

Third floor has haberdashery, and masses of beautiful kimono crepe and cotton, and more evening fabrics. There’s a Marimekko corner too! As well as what looked like a tailoring or class area.

Fourth floor is furnishings and more haby (bag making supplies!) and patterns.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the 5th floor sign and I can’t remember specifically what that floor contained – it was certainly more fabric, and I think it was suitings and high-end textiles.

Otsukaya is closed on Wednesdays, but open 10am to 6.30pm for the rest of the week. I paid with VISA and with cash, but I beleive they accept Mastercard as well.

Prices were very reasonable, especially on the denim and the bagmaking hardware!

Nippon Chuko

I discovered this place via Yelp but found my own way there – getting a tad lost on the way! Nippon Chuko is an online wholesaler, but the Osaka store is open for retail. I beleive they also ship international from the online store.

On the Midosuji line, take the subway north and get off at Hommachi Station. You can walk from here, or you can go one stop east on the Sakaisuji line to Sakaisuji Hommachi station. From Sakiasuji Hommachi station, take exit 7 and turn immediately left at the top of the stairs. Walk along towards the big green Fanbi Town sign. When you get to the intersection with McDonalds above Kohyo, turn left and Nippon Chuko is a few doors down on the left.

There are lockers at the front of the store where you can stash your bag while you shop (don’t forget to take your wallet with you into the store) for a returnable 100Y coin. A blessing if you’ve been humping your backpack or a heavy handbag around all day!

This place is less about fabric and more about craft – but again, 4 floors!! There is SO MUCH HARDWARE here – if you are into bagmaking at all this is the place to go. I have never seen so many handles, straps, brass, leather, snaps and clasps in one place!

There is also an extensive range of threads and zips – and I mean extensive!!

There are some basic woven poplins & cottons on the second floor, and a lovely assortment of heavy kimono cottons on the top floor, as well as some quilting cottons.

You can grab a basket and shop all the levels, and bring your goods to the cashier on the ground floor for a single purchase. There are cutting tables on the fabric floors where the staff will cut & bag your fabric for you to take to the register. I used a VISA card here with no problems.

Nippon Chuko is open 9am to 5pm, closed on Sundays.



In between Nippon Chuko and the intersection, there is a shop called Torii. Reminiscent of the consignment fabric stores right here in Sydney, this place had a two-metre minimum purchase. I arrived there only 15minutes before closing so only had a breif glance around; there seemed to be plenty on offer, heavy on the upholstery & decorating fabrics.


Embroidery & Ribbon Shop

Also in between Nippon Chuko and the intersection is a lovely little shop specialising in ribbons and embroidery. Again I only had a few minutes for a quick glance around but they had an amazing range of ribbon and a second floor that I didn’t even get to.

Random Designer Fabric Store

Across the road from Torii, I spotted a shop with literally MOUNDS of fabric piled up at the entrance. I popped over and discovered more mountains of textiles piled up in there! I’ve really no idea if this was some kind of consignment store – I don’t have enough Japanese language skills to really ask the staff.

However, after a quick poke around, I realised that most of the fabrics were high-end designer pieces – I’m guessing end-of-roll stuff. I saw a gorgeous embroidered silk velvet that was Y64,800! (Although maybe that piece was a sample, and the price was per roll?? I’ve no clue!)


Atelier for Nani Iro (& craft beer!)

The Atelier for Nani Iro is a small studio with a range of Nani Iro fabrics available to purchase, and a rack of beautiful sample garments to browse. No photographs allowed in this beautiful, light-filled studio, although I did convince the staff to allow me to take a a picture of the label, from the fabric I bought.

I found the shop easily, with the excellent pictorial instructions provided by Japanese Sewing Books.

Take the Midosujui subway line (I was taking it from Namba station) and disembark at Higobashi station. Take exit 7, and walk straight ahead towards the blue Aoki sign. Walk a couple of blocks, until you see a Yoshinoya on the next block – turn left before that. You’ll go another couple of small blocks, passing a car park on your left, and then you will reach a park on the right hand side. Nani Iro is directly opposite the park, on the second floor of the bulding with the gold lettering.

And if you (or your travel partner) needs refreshment after (or during) your shopping, there was a tiny craft beer garden only a couple of doors away from Nani Iro – I didn’t drop in but it looked totally sweet!

Handy Shopping Phrases

Here’s a couple of very basic phrases to help you shop for fabric in Japan!*

I-ku-ra des ka? (How much is it?)

Ko-re wa o ku-da-sai. (This one please.)

Ichi metre o ku-da-sai. (One metre please!)

Ichi metre goju o ku-da-sai. (One metre fifty please!)

Ni metre o ku-da-sai. (Two metres please!)

Credit-o card-o deska? (Credit card okay?)

Su-mi-ma-sen, ….. doko des ka? (Excuse me, where are the ……?)

Toy-ret-u wa doko des ka? (Where are the toilets?)

Ko-re wa ko-tsu-ton des ka? (Is this cotton?)

Ari-ga-to go-zai-masu! (Thank you!)

(*Disclaimer: Please note, I DON’T speak Japanese, so I’m not promising the above phrases are grammatically correct – but that’s all I needed to do my shopping, so you could find it helpful. And if all you can remember is please and thank you, that still counts for a lot in super-polite Japan.)

And if you have limited time in Tokyo and can’t devote several hours to Nippori Fabric Town, I recommend Tokyu Hands. There is one near Shinjuku Station which is surrounded by shopping malls. Tokyu Hands has a craft and homewares section which is fun to browse, even if you don’t buy! (There is also one in Kyoto, not far from (on the same street as, in fact) Nomura Tailor.)

I hope this post is helpful to anyone headed to Japan who might be interested in a side trip to one (or more) of these shops. Great places to get some sewing souveniers!

I’d love to hear about any other Japanese sewing adventures – please leave a comment below!



Hello everyone! Thanks for stopping by.

I’ve finally come up with my #makenine2017!


I know a lot of the #makenine2017’s out there have chosen nine sewing patterns, but  I decided to broaden my focus a little bit and include fabrics and projects as well.

Let’s unpack this, shall we? In no particular order:


I’ve got all these gorgeous vintage and retro patterns and pattern magazines, but I’ve only made maybe two or three items. So one of my goals for this year is to actually get in there and make at least one. I have even ‘projectised’ a couple of patterns with the fabric I want to use, so I’ve got no excuses!! To see more of the patterns in my library, check out my flikr album.


The story of sewists everywhere, right? Lately I have been pretty committed and have managed to finish 90% of the projects I’ve started in the last couple of months. (I am a slow sewist, so it’s not a UFO until at least 6 months after commencement, heh heh.) But, seriously, there are a couple of projects hiding out that were started years (or possibly decades) ago. So my aim is to either finish them, recycle the fabric or CHUCK THEM OUT!!



As I was trawling through my stash the other day, I came across this incredible piece of fabric. So big I had to photograph it hanging on a clothesline! You know the stash is out of control when you find fabric you had forgotten about. Anyway, after racking my brain, I remembered I bought this fabric in  Thailand, on a trip about 3 years ago. It’s a dreamy lightweight silk that feels like, well, really lightweight silk. It’s doubled over in this photo and you can see the print on the other side, so you get the idea. Anyway, there’s quite a bit of it and it’s obvious it needs to be either a maxi skirt or dress. I definitely want to maximise the print, so I’m going to be looking for a pattern with the fewest amount of pieces. I was thinking of the Gabriola Skirt by Sewaholic, but it does have a lot of seamlines in the skirt, so I might have to shop around. If you have any ideas for a pattern that might work, do let me know!


Okay, if you’ve read any of my blog posts before you will know that I have a deep and abiding passion bit of a thing for sewing activewear. I’m not particularly good at it, but the aim is to improve! I want to try a couple of new patterns and hack some old ones. I have tried making FehrTrade’s PBJam leggings previously, but they were an unmitigated disaster so I definitely need to have another go. If you buy Burdastyle Magazine you’ll know the January 2017 edition had a focus on activewear, so I’m looking forward to getting my hands on that. (It can take a while for Burdastyle to hit Australia, unfortunately!) The Kwik Sew pattern is already on the table – pieces cut for the shorts and top so I can test for fit! And of course the Greenstyle Creations Endurance Bra: while I’m not a fan of zipup bras I want to give this a try, as it looks amazingly supportive.

Which is a nice segue to….


As you know I’ve already had success making bras, so I really want to get into more of it this year. I’ve made the Watson and the BOO3 (from Booby Traps), as well as the Gail which is not pictured here. I also have the Booby Traps Dart Bra and Seamwork’s Florence Bra which haven’t had an outing yet. I’m keen to replace most of my bras with me-made.


The Evergreen Jacket from Hey June is one I’ve actually had my eye on for quite some time. When I brought that black camo fabric back from my Japan trip last year, I knew exactly what I wanted to make with it! It’s a heavy stretch fabric, somewhere between scuba and ponte. (I’ve no idea what I want to make with the blue camo, though!)


A patternmaker I’ve been following for a while is the gorgeous Sally from Capital Chic. I started following her blog years ago when she was doing a lot of refashioning, although I don’t think her old blog is available anymore 😦

Her patterns are glamorous, classy and impeccably drafted.  I’ve always had a hankering for the White Russian Sweatshirt. It comes with a cute fox or lion design to quilt onto the front of the sweater. I got this sweet pony fleece on sale sometime last year, and it’s been languishing in my stash ever since. Match made in heaven? I think so!


OMG you guys. This is my refashion wardrobe. It is literally busting at the seams. I went through a phase a few years ago where 90% of my sewing was refashioning. Some of them were pretty good, too! I bought a lot of garments that I thought had ‘potential’, but sadly I did not have the potential myself to see it through on a lot of them! Of course, there are a couple that I’ve just never been able to bring myself to cut into (did you see the flocked-polka-dot-taffeta dress on my instagram??)

Again we have a neat segue…


See that blanket? I made that. It’s made from recycled suits and skirts, all made of wool. It’s backed with a preloved flannelette sheet (green and white striped, forsooth) and the quilt filler is another flannelette sheet. So it’s not super-thick, but it is totally warm and cosy!


That blanket I made for a friend, and let me tell you it turned out so well it was pretty hard to give up. Ever since then I’ve been intending to make one for myself, and have collected a bunch of wool-fabric trousers and skirts from various op shops. On top of that, I have a collection of woolly half-felted jumpers to make into a rug of some kind, plus yet another quilt I want to make for another friend (this one from preloved band t-shirts).  I don’t know that I’ll get all three of them done this year, but I’d like to try for one!!

And, because I want to stay focused, I did this on my sewing room wall:

Yes, my sewing workbench is always this tidy.*

Yes, my sewing room workbench is always this tidy. *


And that’s it, folks! My #makenine2017. Have you come up with a makenine list  for 2017? Do you have a different way of planning your sewing for the year? I’d love to hear from you!


*Disclaimer: No it’s not, that’s a total lie.









Having only moved house in the last couple of weeks, I’m still adjusting to my new digs, and having my own (albeit tiny) crafting space which is kind of still under construction. So there’s not been a huge amount of making lately. I’m going to blame my stash.

Yep, I’m blaming my lack of creativity on the very items I am supposed to be creating with.

It’s like this. My stash has been in storage for the best part of the last 6 months. So as I have been unpacking it over the last few weeks, I’ve become a bit overwhelmed with it all. So many things to make! So many plans and patterns! Where do I start??

Well, I’m not going to start with a picture of a perfect frilly floral crafting space. I’m sure you’ve seen them all over Pinterest, and they are very pretty and sweet, but I just don’t work that way. Instead I’m going to share a cute story of 80’s retro serendipity.

A while back, my Auntie made muumuu’s for me and my sisters. Check out this mad 80’s print:


I love it! I admit I have a bit of a thing for crazy prints – remember this shirt? I’d wear this as a beach cover-up any day. Can’t get enough of that print? Here’s a closeup.


So, last weekend all three of the makebakesisters happened to spend the weekend together in celebration of my mumble-mumblieth birthday. Allison brought some cool stuff down for me from home, including an old suitcase of Kylie’s:


It has potential.

And a stack of retro craft magazines:


Leafing through one of the magazines – Handmade September/October 1987, in fact – that one on the right – I came across a picture that had me leaping to my feet yelling ‘No way!!!’

I raced in to my closet and dug out the muumuu so I could compare it to this picture:

80's print dress0001

Do You See What I See?  Yep, it’s the same print! I just love serendipity like this.

I think some 80’s music might be appropriate right now.



And by that I mean the way the quilt grew and shaped itself as I worked. This is my 4th or possibly 5th cot-sized quilt, and all of them have been patternless projects. Granted, the first few I used block patterns – here’s one from a few years ago, pre-blog.

jack straw_4

Then there was this one, which was all about recycled fabrics, but the process was an organic one where I had a bunch of odd squares and rectangles and had to fit them together. There’s probably a name for this, maybe it’s crazy patchwork, but I always thought that referred to non-geometric shapes? This was more like tetris.

This latest quilt – which was given in conjunction with Hilary The Hippo – also happened mostly by accident. I had two things: a roll of fat quarters in co-ordinated prints which I’d gotten on sale some time ago, and a yen to try the stack-and-slash method.

So I read a few tutorials, then blithely set about stacking & slashing. Then I went, oops. I was supposed to layer calico in between the printed squares.


Sorry about the quality – phone camera + poor light = crap photo!

See those big blocks? They’re supposed to be about twice as wide. Luckily, I’d started out by trimming down the fat quarters into 12″ squares, so I had some fabric left to work with. I did the stack&slash thing properly this time – notice the three wide bands, that’s how it’s supposed to look! I had freaked out a bit and forgotten to take more pictures of the process, but here’s how it ended up.


I had this great piece of chocolate-brown polka dot that I wanted to use for the backing, but of course it wasn’t quite bit enough. So in the true spirit of patchwork I used the last pieces of the prints, and some bits of blocks that hadn’t been used on the front, to make it fit.


Yeah, maybe it looks a bit ‘homemade’. And my quilting it pretty average – don’t look too closely at the wrinkles, please! But I like it. And apparently so did my giftees, which makes me happy.

I mean, really. Look at this whacky combination of flowers, tiger stripe and chains.


But still, there was something about it that I really liked. And not just the fact that it was a really lovely soft merino wool – the kind that’s normally rather expensive. Although apparently the moths liked it too:

holey merino sweater

Lots of tiny little holes! But I’ll deal with those later. Firstly, I’m gonna cut a bit of length off, and use my overlocker to take care of the raw edge.  (This also got rid of quite a few holes!)


Then I made a cut straight up the centre, and again made with the overlocking.


That green fabric you see in the middle there is me testing to see what I can use to finish the edges. This shiny turquoise lycra was bought at the same time as the chiffon I used in this top – they match perfectly, and I cannot for the life of me remember what I was planning on making!

It worked for this sweater (well, better than anything else in my stash) so I cut a couple of strips and used it to bind the centre front edges.

The hem I folded up about 1cm, pressed, and then hand-sewed. Then I got out my darning needle and did some repair work!


They’re not perfect, but they’re also not particularly obvious, and the holes will now not fray or enlarge.  I did have to spend $1.25 on some embroidery thread as I didn’t have anything even close to this colour – and of course when I went to the fabric store I forgot to take my offcut so I could match the shade! I had to do it from memory alone. I think I did okay, actually. Does anyone else find handsewing to be kind of therapeutic? Especially darning; it’s very satisfying to see a little hole become a cute little repair.


So the sweater cost me $5 and the embroidery thread $1.25 – total of $6 for a cosy cardigan that I have worn to work already (where it passed the warmth test – I’m always cold in the office, but this cardy kept the chill off perfectly.)


What do you think? Still too daggy? 🙂

I’d been trying to figure out a way to package a little sewing kit for my travels. You never know, I might find something to refashion on the road – but I couldn’t fit Ms Janome in my backpack!
When I saw a couple of pretty vintage glasses cases in Vinnies for $2 each, I was inspired!

Inside, before!

With a bit of tracing paper and a pencil I mocked up a pattern to make a lining piece.


After trying it out, I snipped some corners to adjust the fit, then sewed a single-fold narrow hem around the outer edges. Another fitting, to work out where all my bits & bobs would sit. I handsewed those little bits of felt onto the liner to be my needle & pin keepers, as well as a bit of ribbon to hold my little thread spools.


Then I used some fabric-friendly glue to stick the liner into the case, and walked away to let it dry. Actually, I didn’t walk away. I stayed in my sewing room to work on something else. More on that later!


Then when the glue dried I just added the rest of the essentials! Scissors, stitch ripper, a couple of scraps of iron-on interfacing (handy for mending), a piece of cord (you never know) and a miniature tape measure that I whipped up on my printer & covered in sticky tape.


It did get used on the trip – I hemmed a pair of pants and used the red cord on a handbag refashion (again, more on that later!).

Just to make you jealous, here’s some mist-shrouded Mayan ruins:

Tikal, Belize

Tikal, Belize



In preparation for an overseas trip later this year, I decided to get up to date with my vaccines. I was all good except for Typhus which had run out a couple of years ago, and I decided to get a flu shot as well. The doctor lady sold me on the oral typhus vaccine, which lasts longer and is more effective. Now you have to take it on an empty stomach, so when the possums had a massive territorial dispute in the ceiling last Sunday morning at 6am, I leapt staggered out of bed and took the first one.

A few hours later I had a bagel for breakfast. A few hours after that my tummy was so upset I went back to bed and pretty much stayed there.  Needless to say, neither the assignment nor the sewing planned for the day went ahead.

But here’s something I prepared earlier! Meet Hilary:

Meet Hilary.

She’s a little shy, but if you wait quietly….


She will come out and say hello.

I made Hilary from a magazine pattern, I won’t mention the name of the mag here because the instructions were pretty frustrating, referring to pattern markings that weren’t on the pattern, things like that. Maybe that was how it came to be in the op shop in the first place…. anyhoo, I managed to muddle through. Ain’t she cute?


She was a gift for some friends of mine who are expecting. I actually finished her a couple of weeks ago, but of course I couldn’t blog her until I had given her to her new owners!

Moo! (or whatever it is hippos say)

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