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Japanese Fabrics

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 😛


Japanese Fabrics

Spring Fabrics 2013

April 11, 2013

One of the good things about sewing magazines is that you get to see lots of new Spring fabrics! I’ve compiled a list of my favourites below. Some were discovered through magazines, the others through online “window shopping”. Links to the sources are found below the photos. I do most of my fabric browsing on Rakuten (which is like Japan’s own Amazon) because there are lots of shops to compare prices and stock availability. Some of the Rakuten shops may be able to ship overseas, for those that only ship domestic, you can use a forwarding service like Tenso. I have been writing up a shopping guide that will teach you how to buy fabrics from Rakuten. I hope to finish it up soon!

As seen in Female Spring 2013. Too sweet for words.
from Yuzawaya on Rakuten

What’s spring without flowers? I’m reminded of Liberty fabrics but this is by a Japanese designer Atsuko Matsuyama.
from nukumori koubou on Rakuten

From far it looks like a houndstooth pattern, but it’s actually a cat. What’s funnier is that it looks like one of those cartoon cats getting an electric shock!
from hideki on Rakuten

This has a marimekko feel to it but it’s actually a Japanese fabric. The actual name of the fabric is unknown to me because although it is 100% cotton, the fabric is called 綿バニラン. The first character is kanji for cotton, followed by “ba-ni-ra-n”. The characters are in katakana which means that they are derived based on the sound of a foreign word. Any guesses to what this particular fabric might be from the closeup picture of the weave on the bottom right? You will see this fabric used in the latest Cucito. 
from hideki on Rakuten 


The top left cardigan is from Cucito and the top right is from Female. Make them both and you get matching Mum+kid cardigans. I love polka dots. I also love how the reverse side of the knit looks like a solid color, making the insides look pretty as well.
from hideki on Rakuten 

Found this Linen Single Gauze by Nu: handworks while browsing. I’m not sure if it’s a new release but it’s on their Spring sale list. It’s perfect for a light scarf in springtime and I just love the colors. Especially the light blue.
from Craft Dream on Rakuten

Now for some cute designer prints.

New from Cotorienne – a new collection called “Togetherness” There are other prints in same series but these two are my favourites. Sheeeeep fabric for pajamas?
From nukumori koubou on Rakuten

This will be perfect for a kids messenger bag. Bright bold colors, quirky print!
From nukumori koubou on Rakuten

And this is just too cute for words! Space travel by Kikorakko 2013 Collection for Yuwa.
from nukumori koubou on Rakuten


Stay tuned for more Spring fabrics next week!

Japanese Fabrics

nani IRO – different types of fabrics

March 22, 2013

Another long post to write. I’ve been at it since this afternoon and still not done yet. Why? I kept getting distracted and ended up fabric shopping instead!

Anyway, we’ve been looking at mostly ダブルガーゼ double gauze fabrics from nani IRO so far. But do you know about the other types of fabrics available in the same gorgeous prints? Unfortunately, not all the designs and colors come in the same fabric variations. Some of the designs have only one or two colors produced in a different fabric type.

綿麻キャンバス – cotton linen canvas
Before you think that Canvas is only for bags and accessories, look at this gorgeous skirt made by Karyn from the blog Make Something. Makes me want to make one myself! And so I searched the net for the same fabric. Can’t find any in stock! Not even on Rakuten. So sad 🙁 There’s a little bit of the blue one left in Miss Matatabi’s store if you fancy any.


コンパス –
This was a difficult one to translate. The direct translation of the word is “compass” but I simply can’t find an english equivalent to this. It is a 100% cotton fabric and as you can see from the close up, the weave is pretty loose. If I search in Japanese, the fabric descriptions point to a light weight fabric used for handkerchiefs and bandannas.

接結ニット – Double knit
I’ve had a chance to see the fabric in the picture on top in Japan, and now I regret not buying any. The problem is, the width of the knits are all 80cm, which made it difficult to estimate yardage when I had no project in mind. So beautiful.  There are some available here.

ビエラ起毛 – brushed cotton flannel.
Frances made herself a dress with this fabric and it looks amazing!

わたガーゼ – Cotton gauze. Only available in certain designs and colors. For example the woodblock pocho print on the top, only 2 colors out of 5 in the same print is in gauze. The rest are double gauze. Gauze is simply a thin cotton fabric with very loose weave.

綿麻モーリー Cotton Linen blend. Another puzzling one. I get the first part of the fabric name – 綿=Cotton 麻=Linen but the second part モーリ is “mo-ri” and Google translate tells me is Morley, which sounds more like someone’s name? There is no english fabric name that sounds like Morley though. But the fabric is basically a 55% Linen + 45% Cotton blend so I’ll just call it that.

ダブルガーゼキルト – Double gauze quilt.
This is really just double gauze pre-sewn into a quilt for you. Very nice on bags and blankets.  I guess you could make this yourself with the same double gauze fabrics, but so much more convenient to have it done for you.

Other than those above, I remember seeing some laminated nani IRO fabric as well. But I just couldn’t track them down either on the main nani IRO site nor the other Rakuten sites. Oh well, one less thing to worry about (not having it in my stash ;P)

Finished Projects Free Japanese Sewing Patterns Links Free Patterns Japanese Fabrics

nani IRO pocho smock – completed

March 22, 2013

So I finally decided to use this fabric from the 2012 collection – Peaceful cooing Madobe It was such a big thing to me because this is the first time I’ve actually cut into a piece of nani IRO fabric! So I have to blog about it. 🙂 Just a couple of pictures as I’m still trying to finish up the sewing video for next week as well as one more post about nani IRO fabrics.



Close up of neckline

I have even decided on the perfect pair of jeans that will go with this top! (Jeans are from Uniqlo)

Did you notice that the patterns run differently on the front and back? It was because the pattern was too wide and I didn’t have enough fabric since  I bought 1.5m only without knowing what I was going to make with it. So I had to cut the front straight grain and the back cross grain. Turned out pretty good! 😛

Japanese Fabrics

nani IRO 2013

March 14, 2013

Browsing through the entire catalogue of nani IRO 2013 is rather painful for me…. Simply because I want to buy everything! It’s also really difficult to try to compose a blog post while I’m really itching to be shopping instead. I’ve got 1 yard in my cart right now and I just hit the “Keep shopping” button, but I stopped to get back to writing this.  I’m not telling you which fabric I’m eyeing, and I will checkout my cart before I publish this post, just in case it gets sold out! 😛 Anyway, this blog post will be boring, because I will just be gushing about how much I love every single fabric.

I love nani IRO’s catalogues. They give me soooo many ideas.

Coule you have imagined this fabric to be used on a child’s dress? I find that I kind of get carried away when fabric shopping. Always veering towards the too cute or too pink or pastel stuff for the kids. I would have picked this blue fabric out for a skirt or dress for myself. But look at how adorable it is on the kids!

This is really special. The fabric design is called dear mother’s girlhood. In the fabric’s description, there is a part that says “刺繍タッチを水彩で描き上げ”  – Google translate tells me that it means “Raised embroidery touch paint in watercolors” So does it mean there is some embroidery on it? It certainly looks like there is some 3D effect but I can’t figure out if the effect is painted on or embroidered. Can someone who has seen this fabric in real life let me know? I’m really curious!

More ideas on how to use the fabric. The woodblock pocho is a really cute design. There are so many different parts to the fabric that you can play with because of the way the pattern is repeated. You can be sure every single garment you make out of it is unique!  😛 Does this fabric look familiar? That’s because it’s one of the designs for the giveaway! Enter here (if you haven’t done so already)

One of the sweet sweet designs that i will always fall for. I love the one in yellow and blue stripes on the borders most and I can see it being used on a dress. Just can’t decide if I should use the blue on top or below, or maybe even at the waistline!

I browsed through all the different color combination for this and the yellow+navy combination really caught my eye. I just want to hang it up on the wall like this. But then I saw how they used it on skirts (see below) and I changed my mind. Maybe it will look better on a skirt.

The shirts are made from the next design below, called nuance MUJI. Awesome water color blocks. You can make really simple A-line shift dresses out of this to bring out the beauty of the fabric and every single dress will be different depending on how you cut it.

To be honest, when I first saw these two dresses, I didn’t like it very much. Probably because the pink checks remind me of a kindergartener’s uniform. But on the website you can see a close up picture of the border, where the colors blend so beautifully.
My favourite color combination is the one in the middle. The beige checks are not too obvious and I love all the colors used on the border. This will be really nice for a skirt. I’m not too big a fan of having checks all the way through so making an entire dress out of it will be too much. Imagine a solid co-ordinating fabric bodice and this for the skirt!

The last design is called the herring bone pencil. At first glance you can’t tell why it’s called herring bone. But when you see it closeup, you can see the very subtle herring bone pattern on the fabric.  Love love love the one with the green stripe!

So that’s my report on the 2013 nani IRO collection. Back to shopping now. Guess which one I’m getting?