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Giveaway – Hummingmint and Japanese Fabrics Giveaway

September 1, 2016

Yes! As promised in yesterday’s post, here’s a great fabric giveaway, brought to you from our lovely sponsors Modes4U.


I have been a great fan of Sanrio since I was a kid. Little Twin Stars, Hello Kitty, My Melody, Tuxedo Sam, Kerropi, Minna no Tabo…. the list goes on. I am too old to be carrying these around now, but I am still buying these kawaii stuff but under the pretext of buying them for my kids. 😛

Today I am showing you some super cute accessories I made with fabric sponsored from Modes4U. I have not followed news of Sanrio characters’ release closely, so I only discovered this new character this year. Hummingmint is a new character released sometime in 2015. And I fell in love at first glance. First of all, there is a retro feel about the illustration, and the color combination is my personal favourite! So when Modes4U asked me to choose a fabric for my sewing project, I shortlisted a few but this was on the top of my list and I was sooooo excited when they picked it too!

The fabric is so lovely that I could not bear to use it all on 1 bag, so I made a couple of small accessories. I find that it showcases the main character a lot more too when used on small accessories like these. You can see more pictures of the fabric on Modes4U’s website.


So the first thing I made was this pencil case, something I can leave out on my table so that I can see it everyday. I made it with a beautiful white lace zip that I bought from Japan a few years ago. It matches the lace in the print!


The next item is a card case + key holder. I had an old one which was falling apart, so it was another item I could use everyday!


The last thing I made was this. I was going to make a small messenger bag for my #2 so I was shopping for the perfect shade of mint canvas fabric (which is impossible to find), then I saw this purse frame with the pink ball clasp. I knew it would be perfect for the fabric. I don’t actually use coin purses so this will just have to sit pretty on my desk for holding my wonder clips or maybe some sewing notions.

So here’s a group shot. Isn’t it pretty? 🙂


After making these, I still have leftover fabric enough for making a few pouches or even a small tote. That was all from 1 unit (0.5m) of fabric. Now if you are interested in making your own accessories using Hummingmint fabric, here’s a great giveaway for you. Modes4U is not just giving away 1 unit of Hummingmint fabric, but a whole bundle of Japanese fabrics! You will get 1 unit (0.5m) each of the following.


For more details on the Japanese fabrics you stand to win, click on the links below. 

Top row (L-R)
Cherry Blossoms Dobby Fabric
Stripe Animals Fabric

Cinderella Glitter Fabric
Bottom (L-R)
Hummngmint Fabric
Transport Canvas Fabric

The giveaway will run for a week, from today 1st-8th September and will run on my Facebook page. So hop on over and take part now!

Buying Guide Japanese Fabrics

Fabric Shopping in Tokyo – Nippori Fabric Town

December 24, 2015

Christmas is around the corner and very soon it will be the New Year! I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone by. Being busy with the baby has made me lose count of days (and nights) and it’s no wonder how fast the days flew by. I think this will be the last post for the year, since I would really like to spend Christmas spending more time with the family during this festive period. Next year will be a really challenging one for me so I have to make the best of the last bit of the school holidays as well!

Since it’s the last post of the year, what better way to recap the year than to finally get around to posting the pictures from my unforgettable trip to Nippori Fabric/Textile Town. I posted some when I was there on my Instagram account, but not everyone follows me on that so bear with me if you have seen some of these pictures before. I thought about taking a video/series of pictures to show you how to get there, but there are already many many blogs on this topic, so I didn’t. In any case, it was not difficult to locate despite the fact it was my first time there. So here are just a few key points to remember.


Get on the Yamanote Line towards Ueno & Ikebukuro and head for Nippori station. I got on from Tokyo station and it was only 6 stops away. If you have not been to Japan before, you will be pleased to know that the subway announcements are in English & Japanese, so you won’t miss your stop! If you are travelling with a hubby/guy/man who prefers NOT to be shopping for fabrics but loves his tech gadgets, you can even drop him off at Akihabara which is 2 stops away from Tokyo station and along the way to Nippori. You can compete to see who who will take the longer time to finish shopping. 😛


I took the South exit which brought be across this Momiji Bridge.  Just follow the signs that are everywhere, starting from the exit of the subway station.


Keep going….


Very soon you will start seeing these flags along the street.


and then of course the fabric shops.




I didn’t go into this one because it was across the street and I didn’t have time, but it is a fabric store specializing in Costumes and Stage fabrics.


A shop selling pieces of leather for sewing


and of course the very famous Tomato Fabric shop. This is just ONE of their many branches on the same street. Each branch stocks different fabrics.  Ask any staff if you are looking for something in particular, they will whip out a map of Nippori Fabric Town and show you which building to look for.


Across the street (from the building above), is a Tomato branch full of discounted fabrics! 100yen per m!


In one of the Tomato shops, on the 4th (or was it 5th?) floor, I found the naniIRO fabrics. Most of the other design fabrics are on the same floor as well. Kayo Horaguchi, Echino, as well as all the cute character prints, panel prints, laminates. Well, all my favourites. I skipped lunch to shop this floor.


While I was fabric shopping, my SO found this little supermarket and bought this melon at like 400yen! Which is a great deal if you know how much melons cost in Japan.

I did not have time or manage to finish the whole street. I pretty much shopped in Tomato first, because everyone says it is a must go. By the time I ended, everyone else was tired (but me) and it was starting to get dark and baby was getting fussy. So that was pretty much it. I still returned with a heavy bag of fabrics though. One whole duffel bag full. Here’s what I got.


Laminates, and the last Hanauta one is a nylon fabric.


The quilted fabrics (actually the top two are from Pandora house)


My 100 yen fabrics. Should have bought more 🙂


These took up the bulk of my purchase. Knits! It’s so hard to find nice knits here. Even plain simple ones like polka dots, which will be great for making basics like skirts/shorts for the kids.


and some cute ones like this – I think these are llamas? This has already been made into a cute tshirt for my boy 🙂


I find it really hard to resist panda prints.


Here’s one on skis! This is a double gauze, and I must think of something to make with it that will go well with skiing? Any ideas?


More soft double gauze that I will use to make the baby some shirts with.


and I have a soft spot for Puti de pome fabric. It was hard narrowing it down to these two choices.


Oh, and I almost forgot to share with you all the notions I bought. This loot is from both Tomato and Pandora house, and they were mainly Zips, acrylic color tape for making bags, knit bias tape (which wasn’t cheap but it’s hard to find these here). I stocked up on lots of combination/free style zips which allows me to mix and match the different zips and zipper pulls. I used up the last batch and found them really useful for making jackets and bags.

It doesn’t look like much, but with a minimum of 1m per design, it came up to quite a heavy load. I brought a big foldable travel duffel along and it was filled up! Despite not being able to visit all the shops, I still had a great time in Nippori fabric town and now I’m plotting how to go back next year, or sometime soon! I will definitely bring something larger, and preferably with wheels, to carry my purchases.

Well, that’s the end of my little report on my trip. I’ll be signing off for this year, so here’s wishing everyone a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Buying Guide Japanese Fabrics

Fabric Shopping in Japan – Pandora House in Narita Aeon Mall

December 3, 2015

Every time I go to Tokyo, it is almost without fail that I end up at Narita the night before my flight. Why Narita? Someone asked me once. There is nothing much to do there, in terms of sightseeing, but anyone who has travelled with young children will understand how difficult it is to wake up really early, lug the kids+luggage to the train station,  challenged by mutliple flights of stairs just to get to the Narita Express train platform, and feel completely exhausted by the time it is time to board a 7hr flight back home.

But that is only part of the reason, the other reason being a chance to visit Narita Aeon Mall for some last minute shopping! If you ever find yourself on a short stopover, transit, or just a couple of hours to spare at Narita Airport, this activity is highly recommended 🙂 There is a shuttle bus service from Narita Airport to Aeon Mall. The timetable is here ,although it seems like a very badly translated one, hope it will help!

I’ve actually blogged about Panodra House before, 3 years ago, when it was just a little corner of the main store in Aeon Mall.

This time round, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there were lots of new shops at the mall, and a new upsized stand alone Pandora House store!


It is on the second floor near the escalators, and was quite easy to find.


I was immediately drawn to the Character fabrics at the front of the store. Look! A Frozen theme sewing machine on display.


Sewing machines on display. Unfortunately due to voltage differences I can’t just bring one home with me. There was a larger display with more machines on the left hand side of the shop with a gentlemen doing a demo on a machine.


More fabrics and sample sewing items..


Cut pieces of faux leather. 580yen each if I remember correctly.


Fabric sold in multiples of 10cm at 51yen per 10cm (after tax). Not a huge selection, but pretty varied in types and colors. Here you can see some basics like stripes and dots, but also traditional Japanese prints.


A little corner for sewing books and patterns. Spotted some M patterns on the side shelf on the left as well. It is not a huge selection, but I also discovered a large bookshop 未来屋書店 Miraiya Shoten right next to Pandora House. I had no time to explore it though, as my time was running out 😛


Sewing notions


lots of colors to choose from!


I had never come across this before, so I had to take a photo of this. These are plastic encased bells and specially designed for use in baby toys. I wished I chanced upon this earlier, as I made a fabric ball toy for my boy recently, and used 2 metal bells. Now I worry about how it will hold up in the wash. These come in a few different shapes for making different baby toys.


Other than sewing supplies, there are also lots of craft supplies, like yarn, wool felting, and this one in particular looks like it’s trending at the moment. I don’t know if it is a brand new thing but its my first time seeing it. It’s called Silicon Motif. Here’s an example I found on Rakuten. I forgot to take photos of the finished products on display, but they were really pretty. Basically you set jewels and charms in a silicon mold. It’s quite similar to the idea of UV resin but I think the results are much prettier.

siliconmotifsImage from ABC Craft on Rakuten

Here are some photos of my loot… Not much, as I had limited luggage space left on the last day.


Quilted fabric. Already made a new pot holder from the hedgehog fabric.


Knits at 780 yen each. 140cm wide x 1m long.


Pre-cut fabrics. Thick and canvas like for making bags.


More blue fabrics 🙂 , and a small piece of double gauze with a cute cars print.


Stocking up on zips! Knit bias tape for making quick Ts for my little boy. Not cheap, but I hate cutting knit bias tape.

The fabric selection at this shop is not as comprehensive as a full size fabric store of course. If you are looking for designer fabrics like nani IRO, Kayo Horaguchi or Echino, you won’t find any. However, there was a decent selection of Kokka character prints, the classic Sanrio ones plus the trending ones like Star Wars. There were also other Kokka fabrics, lots of ready cut fabrics (0.5m/1m), double gauze fabrics, bag fabrics, kids and baby double gauze fabrics, pre-cut leather, fleece, quilted fabrics and some knits. I picked up a few knit remnants for cheap! Oh there is also Laura Ashley and another brand that was displayed quite prominently. I’ve seen it in one of the magazines but I just can’t recall the name right now. pretty floral prints mostly based on darker and sombre colored fabrics. It starts with a ‘So…’ but I just can’t remember it somehow. Do you know it? Please tell me if you do!

I will be posting photos of my trip to Nippori fabric town soon, once I’ve taken photos of my loot from there. I chose to post this first because it’s the holiday season and time for travel, so it may  benefit some of you who are doing a a few hours stopover in Tokyo.

Giveaways Japanese Fabrics

Book Review and Fabric Giveaway – Bags and Small Accessories using Echino Fabric

September 7, 2015

2015 marks the the 10th Anniversary of echino fabric. Designed by Etsuko Furuya, echino is one of the most well loved and popular Japanese designer fabrics. From quirky prints that include anything from animals to florals to vehicles, in a landscape of color explosion and geometric shapes, each piece of fabric tells a story.

“Since the collection started, I treated the ‘fabric’ as a place to tell a story. echino’s textile is loved by many people in even the slightest terms as something that brings excitement to their daily lives and moments. As a textile designer, I find this gratifying.”
by Etsuko Furuya
echino Designer

Along with the ten year anniversary celebrations comes a sewing book devoted to sewing with echino fabrics. Explore the many different ways you can make use of these amazing fabrics. There are 26 projects in this book that not only include the tenth anniversary fabrics but also some of the more recent fabric collections.

And since we are feeling excited for Echino having reached a 10 year milestone, let’s celebrate with a FABRIC GIVEAWAY! Kindly sponsored by one of the best places you can get a wide range of echino fabric online – – they ship worldwide!



First up, cushions. No better way to display art than on cushions right? It becomes part of your living space and adds a pop of color to your decor. You may find some of these prints familiar. That’s because as part of the 10th anniversary collection, a series of popular prints from the past were combined together as a panel print. so you can get multiple designs on one piece!


If you can bear to cut up the fabric, you can use different parts of the panel print for multiple small projects.



 A basic bag, unlined but comes with a inner pocket, with 4 different strap options. (Fabric from the parakeet collection)


Longer strap option – fabric from the landscape collection


Tote bag options with different length straps fabric from zon and samber collections


A 3 way bag with all straps options sewn in. Carry it with a single strap as a shoulder bag, or a large tote using the short straps. When you need a smaller bag, just fold in the top portion and carry with the short thin straps as a mini tote! Fabric from the arc collection.


A lined and structured tote bag with contrast canvas straps. Fabric from the parakeet collection.


Small box pouches in various sizes and strap/zip options. Fabric from the zon collection. I love how you can select a different portion of the fabric each time and make really unique pieces.



A dress or a skirt? Wear it anyway you want. Fabric from joy collection. This range is more of a wearable fabric with cotton (85%) linen (15%)


An rope bag. Fabric from the landscape collection


A rope drawstring rucksack. Fabric from the landscape collection


Easy pants made with fabric from the vista collection.


Big Bag as seen on the cover. Fabric from the camouflage collection.


An Apron made from the landscape collection I really love how this fabric appears in different projects throughout the book. It always looks different!


Make yourself some kitchen mitts and Babouche (traditional Moroccan slipper with no heel).


 A reversible hat, cute when worn either way. Love how the prints peek out from under the solid fabric. Fabric from camouflage range.


This is so beautiful! It really puts the artwork on full display. These are parasols though, meaning it is meant for sun protection and not waterproof. Scotchguard to the rescue for a waterproof version? 🙂 Also check out the beautiful parasol kit with a wooden handle. I’m not sure if you can find such beautiful parasol kits (See the exact one they used for sale on Rakuten) but maybe you can recycle an old umbrella for this?


 Be a trendy traveller with a boston bag, and matching travel accessories!



And for all those remnant fabric pieces and scraps, make covered buttons out of them. Each piece is unique. Jazz up your outfits or even use them as part of a display piece in your home decor.


The last project in the book is an eco bag – with a handy carry pouch. Can you tell how the pouch is made from the cut away piece from the main bag? Fabric saving idea! Fabric from the parakeet collection


All the fabrics used in the book for your reference.


Did you know that there are also solid color fabrics from Echino that are in co-ordinating colors with their printed designs. They have the same weight and composition 55% linen 45% cotton and will match the prints perfectly.


The pattern instructions are pretty typical of a Japanese sewing book with lots of diagrams.



A close up of the instructional diagrams.


1 double sided pattern sheet included.


Echino No Nuno De Tsukuru Bag to Komono Echino Designed by Etsuko Furuya / Aoki Eriko / Cho
available from cdjapan

Title : echino の布で作るバッグと小物 Bags and Small Accessories using Echino Fabric
ISBN No.: 978-4-579-11529-7

And now, for the GIVEAWAY!

Our kind sponsor, Modes4U, is sponsoring 1m of this fabric from the landscape collection in teal blue –


Will you be the lucky winner? Just enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. You can choose to login either using Facebook or just using your email address. You can get extra chances to win if you follow Modes4U or Japanese Sewing Books on facebook. The giveaway will run from 7th-14th September. Have fun and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Japanese Fabrics

Hello Kitty Laminated Fabric Lunch bag and pouch

June 4, 2015

It is the end of the school term (and the beginning of the school holidays). I can’t remember if I posted these before, but I sewed these lunch bags in the beginning of the school year.


Unfortunately, these bags have been thrown around and stepped on and have gotten so dirty that washing them didn’t help. So I made up my mind that their next lunchbags will be made with laminated fabric. Water proof and dirt proof! Then I received some super cute laminated fabric from Modes4U from their Hello Kitty fabric range. Actually I was given a choice of fabrics to review and I found it so hard to decide! My other favorite characters from Sanrio are Little Twin Stars and My Melody, and there are so many fabrics to choose from the Sanrio range as well.

This was one of my final picks… I can never resist Hello Kitty!

hellokittybag (1)

 Pink Hello Kitty oxford fabric heart confetti by Sanrio from Japan
There are quite a number of online shops selling Hello Kitty fabric, but not so many selling the laminated fabric range. Laminated cotton is not quite the same as oilcloth. I find that oil cloth is stiffer and not as easy to sew. Laminated cotton is basically cotton with a water proof plastic layer applied to it. The plastic coating helps to keep the fabric waterproof and also stiff enough to make bags without using interfacing. I do find it easier to sew than oilcloth.

If you are not into cutesy prints, you may be pleased to find some Kayo Horaguchi collaborations with Sanrio. Like this one


anyway, back to my fabric choice…


Armed with my new fabric, Clover Wonder Clips and masking tape….


Just some basic tips for sewing with laminated fabrics. Just like oilcloth, the plastic coating will tend to “stick” to your metal sewing foot. So it is best if you have a teflon foot. I used this one –  Janome Ultra Glide Foot as my machine is from Janome, but there are many generic brands around so just check that the attachment method is suitable for your machine. If you do not intend to sew laminated fabrics often, and don’t want to purchase a special foot, you can also stick a piece of masking tape on the bottom of your metal foot, then with a penknife, carefully cut out the grooves on the foot. I used to do this before I bought the teflon foot and it works well. The other thing you can do is to sew with tissue paper on top of your laminated fabric (the paper type for making crafts, not the type for blowing your noses :P). Tear it away after you are done sewing. However, this method is not so good for sewing around curves as the paper is not so flexible, so it’s more suited for flat projects like flat pouches and squarish bags.

The sewing clips are used because pins will leave holes in your laminated fabric. Using the clips will prevent that from happening.  The masking tape was used to stick the handles down because the plastic coating prevents the fabric from being folded down nicely and tends to bounce back instead of being folded flat. So using the masking tape will help keep the fabric flat. Do be sure to use a thin masking tape so that the tape will not be anywhere near your seam allowance. Otherwise the tape may stick to your sewing foot and jam your machine.

after a few hours of sewing, I now have….


a new lunch bag! I love how it can stand up nicely by itself.


I cut out one of the hello kitty shapes from the fabric, overlaid it on two pieces of felt, sewed along the outline, and made a nice little charm for the bag.



There was enough fabric left over from the 0.5m piece to make a pouch, and there are still leftovers to make more. I am thinking a pencil case or a waterproof pouch for a change of clothes in my diaper bag.


Sewing around the curves was a bit iffy because half way through the sewing, my Janome gave way after years of non-servicing. So I sent it in for servicing and fell back on my old Brother machine which doesn’t do too well on thick fabrics.


A Kitty case hiding in the Kitty pouch!



In case you are wondering, the pattern for the lunch bag is adapted from this book. The pattern in the book was more elaborate with pockets on the inside as well as the outside, but I didn’t need them. It did provide very good step by step instructions for sewing a laminated bag as well as other types of bags.