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Japanese Fabrics

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!



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!