Japanese Fabrics

Kawaii Japanese Fabrics

April 19, 2013

I’m a big fan of kawaii (かわいい means cute in Japanese) fabrics. Well, I’ve been a Sanrio fan since I was a kid. Not just Hello Kitty, but also My Melody, Little Twin Stars, Tuxedo Sam, Minna no Tabo… so many more! But today’s fabrics are not about these famous characters, but characters from storybooks and TV shows.

Some of the fabrics are new releases for Spring 2013 and some are not so new but new fabric discoveries for me. I subscribe to a couple of Facebook pages of Japanese zakka and fabric shops, and I discovered this new fabric shop called Tree Big on Rakuten with lots of character prints. I was so excited to discover so many of my favourites in one store.

Image from Tree Big on Rakuten

This was the first fabric that brought me to this website. I subscribe to the Shinzi Katoh Facebook page and first found out about this new release from it. If you haven’t heard of Shinzi Katoh, you have to check his website out! His zakka stuff are quite easy to find in stores in Japan. There are also some shops in Singapore that sell Shinzi Katoh stuff. But fabrics seem to be hard to find in stores. Every time I go to Japan I try to hunt down the fabrics but I’ve never managed to find any.

The Little Red Riding Hood is just one of the storybook character series that he has done. Others include Snow White, Cinderella and even collaborations with famous characters such as Disney, Paddington Bear, Hello Kitty.

Image From Tree Big on Rakuten

Another print that shows off Shinzi Katoh’s style of drawing people and animals.

Image From Tree Big on Rakuten

Le Sucre is one of my recent favourites and my older girl loves it to bits. I only discovered this character through their fabrics a few years ago. Apparently this fabric was not just designed for kids, but also to attract ladies in their 20s-30s. This character was designed by Naomi Tozaki for Santan.Co. Ltd. Check out the online shop here for other zakka stuff.

Image from Tree Big on Rakuten

Another fabric from le sucre. This fabric is a sweet border print, perfect for making bags!

Image from Tree Big on Rakuten

A fabric featuring Heidi stamps! I was trying to find out the designer of this particular version of Heidi, since there are so many storybook version of the original story by Johanna Spyri, when I realized the character looks very familiar and realized that it came from the 1974 Japanese cartoon version of Heidi (where the title is actually ハイジ pronounced Haiji). According to Wikipedia, this character was designed by  Yōichi Kotabe – a Japanese manga artist and animator. Many of you might have watched this when you were kids since it was apparently dubbed into many languages.

Image from Tree Big on Rakuten

This is new to me. Karl and Curious Tower – A quick search on on Google tells me that this is a Japanese cartoon with the following synopsis –

“The story centers around a mysterious tall tower built from an (unsteady) stack of building blocks. Every morning, noon, and evening, an old timekeeping man rings the bell in the tower to confirm the time for the local townspeople. However, one day at noon, the tower bell fails to ring — leaving the townspeople confused about when to eat lunch. The fantasy adventure begins when Karl, an inquisitive boy living in the town, decides to go to the tower’s plaza to see what is the matter.”

Haha, even the synopsis is so cute!

Image from Tree Big on Rakuten

Babar! One of my childhood favourites. I remembered watching this on TV and borrowing the books from the library. My brother even bought me a vintage Babar print (from a vintage storybook) from a flea market when he went to Europe. I love the green fabric in particular, it’s a very Babar color!

Image from Tree Big on Rakuten

In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.
In two straight lines they broke their bread
And brushed their teeth and went to bed.
They left the house at half past nine
In two straight lines in rain or shine-
The smallest one was Madeline.”
― Ludwig BemelmansMadeline

I did not read this as a child but I bought Madeline books for my girls and they love her. I’ve read the stories so many times I can memorize the opening lines 🙂

Image from Tree Big on Rakuten

This fabric is based on the storybook series called The Family of Fourteen. This is a very cute story about a family of 14 mice by Kazuo Iwamura. I first stumbled upon the Chinese version of these storybooks and just fell in love with the illustrations. The books have been translated to many languages including English. You can see a picture of the entire family here and even “mouse” over 😛 the characters to see the profile of the individual character. The fabric in border print even shows their names below each mouse.

How many of these characters did you recognize? Are you tempted like me to buy the fabrics? I’m really tempted to get Babar for myself and Madeline for the girls.. oh, and the Shinzi Katoh, and the Le Sucre fabrics. Uh oh 😛


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  • Reply hokidoki April 19, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    Oh they are all so cute. i want heidi and the family of fourteen. My challenge is to find the right projects for kawaii fabrics. it definitely a good fit for zakka projects, maybe kid bedding and curtains but what about to sew clothes? do you think it is too busy. Do you plan to do some posts of potential projects with kawaii fabrics.

  • Reply tyas wirani April 20, 2013 at 9:36 am

    the pattern of fabrics recalls my childhood! my most favorite pattern, madeline, is very nice and it inspires me to make lunch drawstring pouch or an apron using cute pattern 🙂

  • Reply Sarah June 10, 2013 at 1:08 am

    Hi there! Do you know of somewhere I can buy those fabrics online in the US?

  • Reply YeojaChinguXX September 16, 2014 at 10:03 am

    OMG~!!! You just killed me those super duper cute fabrics~!!! I really would love to turn those into cute dresses~!!! The Heidi & Madeline ones are my favorite! Thanks for this post 🙂

  • Reply anna September 26, 2014 at 6:43 am

    Do you know where I get 3 or less yards of the Madeline fabric? thanks

    • Reply Japanese Sewing Books September 26, 2014 at 11:01 am

      Hi Anna, Unfortunately I only know where to get it on the Japanese website (links are below the fabric images). You can try a Japanese buying service like Tenso http://www.tenso.com/en/agent/index.html. I’ve only used their forwarding service and not the shopping service so I can’t really comment about the service. But it’s an alternative if you need to buy from Japanese sites.

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