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Japanese Fabrics

Japanese Fabrics

Japanese Fabrics – New Fabric finds from Autumn Magazines

September 26, 2013

I have been getting a lot of queries about where to buy the magazines, and I have not replied some of you yet. Sorry about that, but what I am going to do is to compile a list of sources for purchasing Japanese sewing books and magazines. That will be ready next week! In the meantime, for those of you who are not able to buy the magazines easily, I wanted to share some of the new and exciting fabric finds in the latest Autumn magazines.

First on the list has got to be this Moomin panel fabric. I first discovered the Moomins on a trip to Finland many years ago. But it was only in Japan that it really caught my eye because it seemed to be wildly popular in Japan, with all kinds of merchandise being sold in the Zakka shops. A quick search on Wikipedia reveals the reason for this

The Moomin Boom

The Moomin Boom (muumibuumi in Finnish) started in the 1990s, when Dennis Livson and Lars Jansson produced a 104-part animation series in Japan named Tales From Moominvalley, which was followed by a full length movie Comet in Moominland. Moomin books had always been steady bestsellers in Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, but the animation started a new Moomin madness both in Finland and abroad, especially in Japan, where they are the official mascots of the Daiei chain of shopping centers. A large merchandising industry was built around the Moomin characters, covering everything from coffee cups and t-shirts to plastic models.

There are a number of Moomin character fabrics available, but this particular panel print series was made for Kokka, and the prints are just like large pieces of art. In fact, you can even frame the panels up for display!

Remember the dress on the front cover of the Cotton Friend Autumn issue I just reviewed? I didn’t notice it till today while searching for the featured fabrics. It is no ordinary check print. It’s actually a digital inkjet print with the simulated bleeding effect of printers. Whether or not this was a “printing accident” I shall leave it up to your imagination 😛 but it certainly makes it an interesting fabric.

Next, we have the Corduroy quilted fabric. Perfect for Autumn and Winter months. The bedroom slippers look super cosy!

The next two fabrics were featured in Female magazine which I will reviewing next Monday.

The first one is another digital print, but on polyester. I am not the biggest fan of polyester, but I can’t deny that sometimes it is really convenient to have since they require no ironing. This fabric features a galaxy print, or as the designer named it, a Macrocosm print. Honestly,  I would not have liked the fabric if I had not seen the picture of the completed dress. I’m just not about the quality of the print though, as it looks quite pixelated in the close up picture.

The last fabric I wanted to share with you is this Cotton lyocell blend in sateen weave, featuring a petit paisely print. Once again, sold by the completed product picture 😛 I think all fabric sellers should do that. It makes the fabric irresistible ! I have not tried sewing with this particular blend before, but it looks quite smooth, probably really comfortable to wear, but will it be easy to sew? If you have sewn with this type of fabric before, let me know!

That’s all for today, see you on Monday for a peek into the Female Autumn Magazine!

Fabric Picture sources and links to buy

Inkjet print checks –
Corduroy Veronica Series
Digital Macrocosm Print in polyester
Petit paisely in Cotton lyocell blend


Japanese Fabrics

Japanese Fabrics – Lecien Toy Pop and TP collections

August 8, 2013

I can’t remember what I was searching for, but I stumbled upon these two cute collections by Lecien Fabrics. According to the descriptions, these are collaborations with the fabric shop Yuzawaya. Just wanted to show you guys a couple of interesting ones since I’ve not noticed them before. I’m not sure how they are grouped together as a collection though, as there doesn’t seem to be a proper theme across the different fabrics. I’m not even sure if Toy Pop and TP collections actually mean the same thing but I’m just following what was stated in the description. All pictures below from Yuzawaya on Rakuten. Click on the images to view other colors and closeup pictures of the fabric on their website.

This was the one that caught my eye first. I love all polar bear prints because they are just so adorable.  Especially the one standing up and waving his paw! This grey fabric is a great background for hardy bags and pencil cases, can’t really see the dirt on it. 🙂

One of my favorite Sanrio characters is Keroppi the frog. This is not the same frog but it just came to mind when I saw this. Do you know Keroppi? If you do you are probably from the same generation as I am because Sanrio doesn’t even show it on their list of popular characters anymore.

I think this would be perfect for the lining of a bag. I believe in using pretty fabrics for linings. This would be lovely for someone who loves strawberries! I know two little girls who will love this fabric 🙂

Can you spot the hidden pandas?

So simple but so adorable. And I love this color combination.

Something for the boys? I see busses, space shuttles, numbers, cars, fish and monkeys? Pineapples too?

A border print designed for school goods. Check out the chart that breaks down the fabric into the different sections and what you can make with them .Even the handles are part of the print. No wastage of fabric!

My favourite has still got to be the polar bear in grey. Hope I can still find it on my next trip!

Japanese Fabrics

Summer Fabrics 2013

July 18, 2013

In the spirit of summer, let’s have a look at some really “cool” fabrics, especially the fabrics used in Japan for making Yukatas and Jinbeis !

There are no strict rules for the type of fabrics that can be used for yukatas and jibeis, but most of the fabrics recommended in the magazines are 100% cotton and are usually lightweight, in a great variety of prints and almost always brightly colored. For Spring/Summer releases, there will always be this particular fabric called “リップル  サッカー” which translates directly from the English words Ripple  Sucker (as in Seersucker) fabric. Lightweight and cooling, with a rippled texture that means it’s rather crease resistant (or rather you can’t really see the creases thanks to the ripples :P).

Here are some I’ve come across, many of them by Mico Ogura (designer of Puti de pome and Ecrulat)

I know an Elephant lover who will squeal over this one!
Image from


Triangles? look carefully for the foxes and rabbits hiding in the fabric.
Image from 

My kids are really into watching Running Man (a Korean variety show) and one of their favorite funny characters is nicknamed Giraffe. So they get really tickled even seeing pictures of Giraffes. And these are so cute! Especially the one on pink fabric. I love that shade of pink. Not too pastel or gaudy. Just a nice sweet pink.
Image from 

From far it looks like a traditional Japanese wave pattern print, but look closely and you can see cute little Starfishes and fishes scattered among the waves.
Image from 

Here’s a sweet cherry fabric for sweet little girls!
Image from 


Hello Kitty Seersucker fabric! This will be so cute on not just a yukata but also a summer dress.


Another traditional looking Japanese fabric but with Hello Kitty heads scattered all around. Lol.
Image from 


Snoopy enjoying the Summer fireworks!
Image from 

If you need a pattern for a kids jinbei, check out my previous magazine review on Cotton Friend Summer 2013. There was even a Men’s pattern included so that you can make it for the whole family!


Buying Guide Japanese Fabrics

Directions to nani IRO Atelier

July 11, 2013

While the memory is still fresh in my mind, I thought it would be useful to jot down the directions to the nani IRO Atelier in Osaka. Some of you who might be heading to Osaka for a holiday might find it useful if you are going fabric shopping. It is definitely worth a visit if you are a big fan, because not only do they have the latest fabrics, there are also fabrics archived from the past seaons. There are limited prints and mostly pre-cut fabrics. There are also ready made Zakka goods (SUMAU nani IRO range) available for sale. In any case, if you are a fan, you will love it!

Before I left, I saved a copy of the map from their official site on my phone, but I still got lost. I think the main reason is because there were too many lines and road names and not many landmarks on the map itself. So I decided to create my own (at the bottom of the page) where you only need to know the major road to follow, and the landmarks to guide you along the way.

First of all, take the subway to the 肥後橋 (Higobashi) station. Here I am taking it from Namba station.

Click on image to view larger picture (picture from Google Maps street view)

Once you get to the station, follow the directions in the station, and look for Exit 7. You will emerge from the underground subway station via this stairs, landing right outside this shop called Aoki Men’s Plaza (see the blue sign in the picture above?) which sells Menswear. Walk in the direction of the green arrow in the picture. You will cross junction #1 after the green arrow.

Click on image to view larger picture (picture from Google Maps street view)

At the next block, you will see a Japan Post Office (Orange sign). Keep walking along the main road in the direction shown above. Walk past the Japan Post Office and you will cross junction #2 (see the crossing in the picture?)

Click on image to view larger picture (picture from Google Maps street view)

Just before the next junction (#3), you will see this brown building with a blue signboard. The name of the building is way up on the top, so I didn’t see it at first. And the alley didn’t look quite right, as there were no visible shops from the main road. But this is the right turning, so turn into the alley and walk straight ahead.

Click on image to view larger picture (picture from Google Maps street view)

You will pass by a open air public carpark on the left. Keep walking down the alley.

Click on image to view larger picture (picture from Google Maps street view)

At the next block you should see a courier service office (with the blue sign) on the left. This is were I asked for directions because I just wasn’t sure I was on the right track. But it is the right way, so keep walking. You will need to cross another junction after this block with the courier office.

Click on image to view larger picture (picture from Google Maps street view)

After crossing the junction, you should see quite a large neighbourhood park on the right. On the left there is a row of low buildings.

The white one! The name of the building is 壽会館ビル – which you see in gold words. Atelier to nani IRO is on the second floor. See the flag hanging from the window? I almost missed it because there were some trucks parked in the building before it. Anyway, enter the building and you will see a steep flight of stairs on the left. Take the stairs to get to the second floor. and there you are!

No photos allowed in the store, so this was the first photo I snapped on my mobile after shopping. It’s a big bag. And they wrapped it in plastic carefully because it was raining.

Back in the hotel, admiring my purchases, wishing I bought more 🙂

Carefully wrapped presents for two very lucky friends.

Click on image to view larger picture

Here is the simplified map. One thing to note, the instructions on the official site said to get out at Exit 8, but Exit 7 is actually nearer.

Photo credits : Many of the street view photos are taken from Google Maps and I added further directions. It was raining cats and dogs on the day I went, so it was impossible to take any photos with my DSLR and hold an umbrella and find my way at the same time. The street view feature on Google Maps is quite amazing. you can try it for yourself and see.

View Larger Map

Japanese Fabrics


May 31, 2013

As a closing post to this month’s theme of zakka month. I must write a post about Shinzi Katoh.  I think it is a pretty famous brand, but for those of you who do not know it. Shinzi Katoh is a Japanese Zakka artist/designer, book author ,illustrator and many more. From his website‘s profile page, it says that he’s been designing all kinds of Zakka products for over 30 years and created more than 10,000 designs!

I cannot even remember how long ago it has been since I first discovered his work, but one of my first loves has got to be his fabrics. Like this one.

Image from 


There are also many collaborations with well known characters such as Paddington Bear.
Image from Okadaya online shop

and his own take on fairy tale characters like the very famous Little Red Riding Hood that has been used by so many fabric designers out there.
Image from Okadaya online shop 

Other than fabrics, there are lots and lots of other Zakka goods designed by Shinzi Katoh. I don’t even know where to start so I’ll just highlight some of my favourite items.

Iron on patches based on his illustrations.
Image from 

One of my favourite categories – Stationery. There are notebooks, pencils, Deco tape, bookmarks, albums, card holders… can’t name them all. Here are some mini cards. See how he has added his own style to famous characters like Pooh Bear?


Love these Thermos flask!

I love lunchboxes. I have too many but I am already thinking of buying these. ;P


Most ballet illustrations revolve around pink ballet shoes but these towels are so cute and whimsical at the same time.

Sora Bear was designed by Shinzi Katoh in 2008 for the Sorabea foundation which organizes activities that encourage kids to think about the global environment and help to stop global warming. The two main characters in the story are Sora and Bea who were separated from their mother due to the effects of global warming. You can watch a very touching animation of their story here on Sorabea’s facebook page. There are no words or dialogue so anyone, even a young child can understand it. Go watch it! One of the activities of the foundation is to donate Solar panels to preschools. I think it’s an amazing cause! All products bearing Sorabea chracters are subject to the 6% royalty of which 10% is donated to environmental conservation efforts.

Shinzi Katoh’s products are sold online and all over Japan. There are also a few physical stores, two in Osaka alone! One in Suminodo and one at Namba Parks. Unfortunately, one of them is closing down. If you are lucky to be in Osaka this few days, do not miss the closing sale at the Namba Parks (it’s a shopping mall at Namba station). It is on until 2nd of June only with discounts of 10-70%!

If you can’t be there, go explore the online shop in English, which also ships worldwide! 🙂 Unfortunately, there are no fabrics on the online store. Fabrics are sold separately by fabric retailers.

Happy shopping!