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Japanese Fabrics

Japanese Fabrics

Keshiki by Yumi Yoshimoto

February 12, 2019

The first quarter of the year is usually full of excitement in the world of Japanese fabrics because there are lots of new launches that we’ve all been eagerly waiting for! First up on my list – Keshiki by Yumi Yoshimoto. This is the second time I’m reviewing her fabric (see last year’s IG post of my Keshiki Qipao) and I really love her designs because they are like abstract works of art. The larger scale patterns can be used in so many different ways that every single dress  you make will look so cool and unique.

I’ve been seeing sneak peeks of her new collection on her IG feed @keshiki_designby_yumiyoshimoto since last November, but the fabric only shipped out in January and so I finally got my hands on some!


The full collection. You can see Yumi Yoshimoto’s signature sketching style. Which is what makes her fabric such wearable pieces of art. She seems to be preferential to shades of blue and green and grey, which makes it right up my alley! Continue Reading

Japanese Fabrics

Interview with Kayo Horaguchi

October 16, 2018

Today’s blog post is a special feature on one of my favorite Japanese illustrators – Kayo Horaguchi. I have blogged a few times about her fabrics and sometime in August, I was given the opportunity to interview Horaguchi-san through email. My written and spoken Japanese is non-existent, even though I can read Japanese sewing instructions rather quickly by now. So I had a lot of help to translate the questions and then translate Horaguchi-san’s answers back to English. Which is why it took so long but it was definitely worth the wait!

Before we begin, I have a few pictures to share with you. I made this outfit originally for a guest post but I realized I never posted them on my own blog! So I believe many of you have never seen these pictures before!

This was a flutter sleeve square necked tunic made using Kayo Horaguchi’s fabric. There is a newer version of this print released this year in 3 different colorways (which you will see at the bottom of this post)


The beautiful border print is shown in this tunic.


The colorful fine details on the bodice.


I had a lot of questions for Horaguchi-san, because I was so curious about her inspirations and how she came about creating such amazing scenes in her illustrations. Without further ado, let’s see what she has to say about her creative process!

Me : Please tell us a little bit more about yourself, especially for our readers who may be seeing your beautiful works for the first time!

Me : What got you interested in becoming a designer?

Horaguchi-san : Since I used to like drawing as a child, I naturally gravitated to work related to illustrations.

Me : Were you formally trained as an artist? How did you get started doing what you do?

Horaguchi-san : I attended a Vocational school for Fashion, majoring in a fashion illustration.
I was mainly painting with acrylic watercolor at that time.

Me : How would you describe your signature style?

Horaguchi-san : My main concept is to draw based on the theme “When you look at it you will feel fun and happy!”

Me : Who / What is your biggest influence in your work as a designer today? (A famous designer/artist or even moments from your childhood)
今日のデザイナーとして最も影響を受けた事/人物は何ですか? (有名なデザイナー/アーティスト、または先生の子供時代の出来事など)

Horaguchi-san : When I was a child, my parents often took me to the Art museum, I think that contact and exposure to a lot of art during my childhood have greatly influenced my work today.
My favorite artist is Yayoi Kusama, and I often take trips within Japan to visit her exhibitions and view her works.

Me : Your collections are an eclectic mix of cityscape, nature, people and animals. Where did you first get the idea to combine them in your designs?
先生のコレクションは、都市景観、自然、人、動物の折衷的な組み合わせです。 最初、どの様に先生のデザインの中でそれらを組み合わせるというアイデアを得ましたか?

Horaguchi-san : I did not plan specifically to create such a combination.
Sometimes the scenes just pop-up in my mind, I just combine my favorite motifs and the it forms automatically.

Me : One of the most striking characteristics in all of your designs is the color palette. I have always been fascinated by how there seems to be so many colors within the same space and yet they look so harmonious together. How do you pick out the colors for each piece and is coloring the illustrations the easiest or hardest part of the process?
先生のデザインで最も印象的な特徴の1つはカラーパレット(色の鮮やかさ)です。 私はいつも同じ空間内に非常に多くの色があるのに魅了されてきましたが、見事に調和しています。

Horaguchi-san : When coloring, I do not choose colors based on any color balance.
I apply color to my art based on my feelings at the point of time while I am drawing.
It is not a particularly difficult task when I am in the right mood.

Me : Can you walk us through your design process – from initial idea, to the finished product?  What does your creative process look like? Can you show us a picture of the initial draft, and the finished product next to it if possible?
最初のアイデアから完成した製品までのデザイン過程を一通り説明していただけますか? 先生の創造的なプロセスはどのようなものですか?

Horaguchi-san : As an example of the illustration work on the cover page of the novel, I first read the original book thoroughly, I will quickly sketch out the rough design of the scene from my impressions of the book and the name of the motif I want to draw with a pencil. (left of photo above)
From there I will capture the rough sketch in the computer and complete the illustration in the computer (right of photo above)
Other than work related projects, I use the same method. To first capture the scene in my mind with a rough sketch before finishing it after that.


Me : Your collection has grown from textiles and apparel fabrics and now to decorative items like stationery, product packaging and household goods. How did that come about?
先生のコレクションは生地から生まれ、現在は文房具、製品パッケージング、日用雑貨などの装飾品にまで広がっています。 どの様にして、ここまでに至ったのかお教えください。

Horaguchi-san : First of all, I started taking part in exhibitions with the hope that more people can see my works.
In 2009, I received a prize of Young Designer Award at the [Interior Lifestyle Tokyo], which is an international trade fair for Tokyo to propose lifestyle concepts to interior design markets from around the world. I was then invited to work with a various manufacturers and that’s how I was able to commercialize my works.
2009年にライフスタイル提案型国際見本市「Interior Lifestyle Tokyo」にて、ヤングデザイナーアワードという賞をいただいたのをきっかけに、いろいろなメーカー様にお声をかけていただき、商品化などが実現化されました。

Me : Your designs are not only used in textiles, but we can see that you have created many collaboration works/items with famous characters and brands. Do you have to design around the limitations of each product packaging restrictions or are you given free reign to create?
先生のデザインは生地だけでなく、有名なキャラクターやブランドを持つ多くのコラボレーション作品やアイテムに使われています。 先生は各製品の制約の中でデザインをデザインしなければなりませんか? それとも、自由にデザインすることができますか?

Horaguchi-san : It varies depending on the contents of the work received.
Sometimes I have to design with a lot of constraints and but sometimes I can design as freely as I like.

Me : What is currently your favourite creative work of yours & why? 


Horaguchi-san : My favorite work (of my own) is [promenade]
I display it in my room and gaze at it everyday. 


My favorite items are animal figurines, it is also my hobby to collect them as well. When I look at them it inspires me to think of various stories and scenes. I take great care of it. 

Me : What do you love most about your work?
Horaguchi-san : Since I really like to draw, it makes me happy that I can have a job doing something I love.

Me : If you didn’t work as a designer what would you be and why?
Horaguchi-san : I have never thought about it. . .but maybe a job related to animals even though I don’t have any talent in it. I might have worked on music related work.

Me : What are your goals for the future?
Horaguchi-san : Keep drawing and painting as long possible.

Me : Can we keep track of your latest works?

Horaguchi-san : Of course you can!
I upload my latest news to my websites and instagram, etc. every time I have a new project released. Please follow me at
Official websitehttp: //
Instagramhttps: //
公式サイト→http: //
インスタグラム→https: //


Thank you for reading! I hope you have learned more about Kayo Horaguchi and her works.

Japanese Fabrics

Kayo Aoyama for Kokka Fabrics

September 3, 2018

Today’s blog post about Japanese Fabric is about the Sketch Series by Kayo Aoyama.

I went to check out her Instagram account – kayoaoyama and immediately fell in love! She not only designs fabrics, but also product packaging and other accessories.


Kayo Aoyama also has a website – where you can see a full range of her fabrics and designs. Her designs are inspired by organic shapes, mostly derived from objects of nature like plants and stones. But what I love most about her designs are how she combines them with such amazing colour palettes.

I’m primarily a pastel palette lover, so immediately, these two fabrics jumped out at me.


This is called flying cups, and the pink is a little lighter in real life. But the unique thing about this fabric, is that it is made of a special fabric called typewriter fabric. It was my first time coming across this type of fabric and initially I thought it must have been some kind of translation error, but no, it is called typewriter fabric and it seems to be a Japanese term for this type of fabric because if you tried to Google in English you just get lots of fabrics with actual typewriters printed on them 😂.

If you search タイプライター (for typewriter) and 生地 (for fabric) in Japanese or in Rakuten, you will get a whole bunch of the correct results. So from what I gathered, it is thin, very smooth, densely woven, 100% cotton fabric. And when I finally had the chance to touch it, I was so impressed, I wanted to make bedsheets out of it. Because it really reminded me of Egyptian cotton. It was smooth and cool to touch and you can barely see the weave of the fabric.

There’s a better explanation from this Japanese website that I found, and it’s quite a long explanation so just an excerpt

Type typewriter fabric is a long and thin cotton yarn woven with high density. Because the fibers are densely woven, it is a material that can be said to be a representative of functional fabrics that are durable but also lightweight and warmth retained.

If you are interested to know more, click on the link above and use Google translate to read it. It’s really interesting!


This double gauze fabric is called forget me not and is super soft and the color is really pretty too! Will be lovely for a little girl’s dress! Doesn’t the flower motif remind you of a particular monogram label? 😉


The other one I wanted to show you is the flower ball print. Made up of large clusters of watercolor flower prints, this design is a soft canvas and comes in 3 colorways. I really liked the blue one but in the end I chose the other two colorways because I wanted to make a matching set and the greens in both colorways matched perfectly.


Needed some new cushions for my new place and these really brightened up the room!


Made 2 card holder pouches. I only needed one but I thought having two will make the photo look much better!


In Kayo Aoyama’s website, she says

My design is inspired by organic shapes, like plants and stones. I draw by hand, because the uneven lines or trace of brush makes reminds me the most of nature.
My wish is that my design will brighten up your everyday life the same way a fresh bouquet of flowers will add that extra sparkle to your home.

I think she really has achieved it hasn’t she?

Bags or Zakka Sewing Patterns Japanese Fabrics

See Design for Kokka Fabrics

August 8, 2018

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about Japanese fabrics, There are many new collections to introduce so I’ll do it one by one! I’ll need time to sew them up as well you see…

Today’s post is about a fabric from Kokka fabrics, from See Design by Donna Gorman.


I’m usually not really a pink person so I didn’t think very much about it. But when I actually saw the fabric real life, I was immediately struck by how Marimekko it looked! I’ve always been a big fan of Marimekko designs. Especially the geometric prints. In my younger days I used to buy their bags and even bought some fabric for my stash. The fabric was soooo expensive that I can’t bear to cut it up.

And then recently, this popped up in my Facebook feed. About a free pattern project using the latest See Design fabric on Kokka’s English blog. The project is a balloon bag and you can find this and more free patterns from Kokka’s English website here But what really caught my attention…..

The featured project is a puffy bag in the shape of a balloon made with the seedesign series by designer Donna Gorman. Gorman, who worked at Marimekko for 24 years and is now active as a freelance textile designer, expresses her vision and contemporary design through the seedesign series with a variety of products.

So when I know that new fabric is coming in, I suddenly feel more daring about sewing up my existing stash. I even deliberately wanted to make it look more Marimekko like so I surfed around for Marimekko bag designs and found one in my Japanese sewing book. So here it is!


Presenting the tulip bag with two convenient outer pockets. A simple golden magnetic clasp enclosure. The original design didn’t come with any zips/closures but I wanted one to stop things from falling out 😂


As I wanted the bag to stand up on it’s own, I used byAnnie’s Soft and Stable foam interfacing (it’s a sew-in and not fusible). The lining is from Cotton+Steel Basics range – Counting Stars.

The pattern is called a tulip bag and it’s from this book (aff link to cdJapan)

Kantan, Benrina Tezukuri Bag / Boutique-sha

I hope you like what I made and I’ve got lots more yummy fabrics to show you soon! Till next time!

Finished Projects Japanese Fabrics

nani IRO 2018 – Sewing with nani IRO Linen

March 27, 2018

As part of nani IRO month, it goes without saying that I need to make something out of the new collection as well! Last year I explored sewing with nani IRO cotton sateen, and this year, I decided to make something out of the very same fabric we are giving away, which hopefully will make you want to take part in our awesome one-bolt fabric + book giveaway!

The fabric I used is a thin linen in the most popular blue colorway from the Ripple or is it Pippre series. This is what the fabric looks like. The fabric in the picture is hung with the lengthwise grain vertical, so the selvedges are vertical as well.


But I really wanted to make the bottom border into a skirt, and I also wanted to make a more structured dress compared to what you would normally see. Most of the linen pieces in the book are baggy and even though it would be really comfy to wear, I really wanted to try something else. So I just went ahead with what was in my head, and here is the result! 🙂


As expected, the bottom border for the skirt is really amazing. It’s really like wearing a piece of abstract art! The top of the dress was actually a more rounded neck, but I amended it to a  boat neck so that I could show more of the horizontal stripe.


And this is how it looked on me! The skirt is an inverted box pleat skirt because I felt that using gathers will make it too poofy.


Here’s the back view. Remember that this linen is rather sheer so the dress is fully lined with white lawn.

But I had about 1m left of scraps. So I wanted to make something casual too, for daily wear. I was really in love with the linen by this time because it is so cool to wear for our super hot weather. So with the remnants, I managed to cut out a tank top! And because I wanted to feature both borders, and also max out the use of the fabric, I decided on an asymmetrical tank with a longer back piece featuring the bright blue border.

This piece is not lined, as the dark blue print in the front ensured it wasn’t see-through. But I did use lawn to face the neckline and armholes as I wanted a clean finish around them. This was a really quick and easy project and now I really want to get more nani IRO linen because I wore this the whole Sunday and it was so comfortable and cool to wear.


Here’s the back view. You will notice that linen crumples. Yes But that is part of the relaxed linen look. Which then brings me to another point. I didn’t iron the pieces after washing them. I just wore them as it is and I think not having to iron is a major bonus for me! 🙂


Some of you may be afraid of sewing with linen because it is usually more expensive and seems like it will shrink alot. This is actually not my first time sewing with linen, but the previous times I used thicker ones. This thin linen from nani IRO was actually very easy to handle. In fact it feels a little like a mix of cotton and paper. The slight stiffness is due to the natural fibres of hemp. You may also wonder, if it will shrink alot since most people think that anything cotton/natural fibres will shrink like crazy.

So I did a shrink test.


So the first picture is the before…

2 pieces of 10cm square pieces of thin linen were added to the wash. Cold wash (approximately 25-30 degrees in our weather). The top piece was sun-dried and the bottom piece (with blue streak) was put in the dryer on my regular cycle.



Sorry for flipping the pieces when I took the after photo. The blue streak piece is now above, that’s the one that went into the dryer. I had to tape down the edges with washi tape to keep it flat because they were a little wrinkly. Notice that there was no shrinkage along the lengthwise grain at all! However, there was a 6-7% shrinkage on the cross grain.

Obviously there is not much difference between being dried in the dryer (which is way hotter) than on the line. I said sun-dry but because I live in an apartment it was more like sun/wind-dried in the shade. It dried really quickly though, because it’s thin and rather loose weave. So it’s not as dramatic a shrinkage as some might say, but you should definitely pre-wash the fabric before cutting to avoid any surprises.

If you love that relaxed/free-spirit look, as well as the class Japanese/Muji look. You will love sewing with, and wearing linen. I am hooked and want more.


Love this grungy look!

And so that’s the end of my sewing with nani IRO linen report! I hope this was useful to you. And yes I know I promised to post the translation request last week but I got distracted by the fabric arrival and had to start sewing immediately! The translation is almost done, short of one small diagram. And will be up later this week.