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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.




Japanese Fabrics Translations and Help with Patterns

Translation Request – nani IRO Baby Shoes

July 22, 2014

Laura wrote to me end of June, asking me to translate this pattern for her, so that she could sew this for her best friend’s son. He is about 7 months old, and I hope these shoes will fit him since there is no size indication on the pattern.

The original pattern is free and can be found here on nani IRO’s website under the 2008 collection of patterns.

Laura, or anyone who is interested in making this shoe, you may need to check the length of his feet before cutting out the fabric. There is no indication of the completed size but if you look at the centre line where you cut on fold, you can see that the length of the sole is 12cm. You may have to size up or down depending on the actual size of the baby’s foot.

The other recommendation I would make (based on my experience with babies losing their shoes :P) is that this pattern looks comfortable but may drop off easily because there is no elastic around the foot opening. I would suggest sewing in an elastic band around the foot opening at step 7 (Not too tight of course!) which can help keeping the shoe in place.


1. Flap outer fabric and lining fabric for flap pieces right sides facing, sew all around except opening for turning out.

2. Turn the piece sewn in step 1 inside out, insert cotton stuffing. Hand sew opening shut with a whip stitch.

3. For the main body piece, sew along the back centre line (right sides facing). Do the same for each body pieces, i.e. the outer fabric and the lining fabric.

4. Sew the heel portion from step 3 together (see diagram)

5. Place the outer fabric and lining fabric pieces togehter, right sides facing, sew all around, leaving the opening for turning out at the foot opening (see diagram)

6.  Turn the piece sewn in in step 5 inside out, insert cotton stuffing, hand sew the opening shut with a whip stitch

7. Finish the foot opening edge (see diagram)

8. Make gathers for the Toe part of the shoe.

9. Using the piece made in step 2, place it on the main body piece and align the points – centrepoint, A to a, B to b, hand sew together with a whip stitch.

10. Sew on the cord string on near the foot opening.

This looks like a easy and fun project for anyone with babies to sew for! In fact, I have two nieces and one nephew arriving soon so I may have to make a couple of pairs myself! Thanks Laura for discovering this cute pattern!

Japanese Fabrics

Japanese Fabrics – nani IRO 2014

March 28, 2014

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about fabrics, maybe it’s because I haven’t been buying much lately. This might change soon after checking out the nani IRO 2014 collection! It’s been out for a while now, but I’ve never had time to look at it carefully. Here are the designs for this year and my favourite picks from each of them.



The POCHO series is the quintessential nani IRO fabric. My first purchase was a Pocho in turquoise and red water color spots in 2007?  That was the first time I discovered nani IRO . It just caught my eye in the fabric shop and I spent quite some time at the rack deciding which color to buy. 😛

The signature irregular watercolor spots that comes in varying color combinations, sizes and layout every season. Available in double gauze (the 4 colors on the left)  as well as Cotton hemp canvas (the 2 bolts on the right), and even quilted versions for 3 of the colors  (1st, 2nd and 4th from the left) but unfortunately already sold out on the official online store.

This has got to be my favorite color combi. I love pastel and this would be gorgeous on a bedspread!




The Mountain Views fabric series features strokes (in watercolor) put together to look like a mountain scene. What’s fascinating about this piece is that you can’t really see the big picture from the close up shot. But here’s a picture of the finished sample (below). Gorgeous and rather unexpected use of colors but with mind-blowing results. Available in 5 colors for double gauze and 1 color for laminate (this color only)




nani IRO fabric IS Art. You can hang it up on the wall, especially if you can’t bear to cut the fabric up. Available in Cotton gauze and cottom hemp canvas (only the first bolt on the right) If you asked me to pick out my favorite color out of the 5 bolts, I would have picked the 2nd and 4th. Probably last on the list would be green. Until I saw this….


Isn’t it mesmerizing? Now i think this might be my favorite color combination. I don’t know if the colors look more muted in real life though since I have not seen it in real life yet, but from what I see on my screen it is just a beautiful work of Art. I can’t stop staring at it. I would even consider buying it to hang up on the walls if not for the fact that greens and yellows are not part of my decor palette.



A very very sweet range of fabrics, and I like all the colors. Only available in double gauze so I am thinking new dresses for the girls? It’s always easier to justify shopping for the kids, although the pleasure of shopping is all mine 😛


I love this black fabric too with white contrast prints. Something for me?



The Sen Ritsu line is another very sweet fabric which features beautiful watercolor wildflowers.  Available in both double gauze and cotton canvas.




The Corsage Kosa-Jyu series is also about flowers, but this design is only available in dual layered knits. I have some knit fabric from nani IRO’s past collections. The dual layered knit fabric simply means that it is made up of two thin knit layers, very soft and airy and perfect for Spring and Summer!




nani IRO fabrics are wearable art pieces. Sometimes the hardest decision to make is which section of the fabric design to cut, since different sections will give you very different results. I love this photo of the baby wearing a Water Window (in green) and carrying a little rucksack made out of Freedom Gerden fabric.




Shine Many Ways features diamond shapes composed of  “pixels” painted in watercolor.  There is an ethnic feel to the design, and for the first time, the fabrics are available in Cotton Sateen (above two colors only). There are two other colors in the same print but in double gauze material.


Also updated on the website, free patterns using the 2014 textile range.  Go check it out!

freepatternsAll images from naniIRO official website. Visit the online store to see the entire collection. Past years collection are mostly not on sale any more but can be viewed from the Textile museum page. There is also a Basic range as well as other ready made goods for sale on the store. Unfortunately they don’t ship internationally but you can use a forwarding service if you want.


Have you bought any of the nani IRO 2014 collection? Share with us if you have them on your blog, post your links in the comments below!