Saturday, 15 February 2014

As Many Crafts As There Are Stars In The Sky

We have had more snow in Tokyo so it has been a good time for more crafting. Before it struck I made a second visit to Asakusabashi, where I went on a craft tour a few weeks ago. I had done some more research and found this website by a woman who writes crime mysteries based in Japan. She has some great tips on where to go in Tokyo. I had just been intending to get a ring and bracelet finding from one of the bead shops and then check out the washi paper shop to make sure it was worth bringing Mumsy here when they visit next month. It's so hard, though, to go to a bead shop with 4 large floors and only buy findings from the ground floor. Especially when they have examples on display. I basically had no chance.
Ring medley
Especially when the tutorial sheet was 50 yen (about 30p). Isn't it purty?
Finished Star Ring
I've never used glass gems in settings before. It was very fiddly but once you get the first spoke down it gets easier. I think the materials cost about £5 all in. I will definitely be making a few of these as presents!

Then the washi paper shop. Wow, that place is good. It is basically chock full of kits for all sorts of traditional crafts and you know how I am about trying a new craft. Plus Mumsy has already said she is after exactly this kind of thing so I kind of had to try one to see how she'd get on with all japanese instructions. I was just being a dutiful daughter...
Washi bowl medley
You get given the scored cardboard, black paper, templates for cutting out the papers, wooden knob, instructions (with lots of pictures) and can then choose your own washi paper from about 50 designs - traditional and modern in the most amazing colours. I was immediately drawn to this one. You know I am powerless against polka dots.
washi paper bowl
I have never been particularly interested in paper crafts but these are a whole different kettle of fish. The kit was about £7 including the paper and you use masking/sellotape and white glue to do the rest. It probably took about 3 hours all together but isn't it beautiful? I have told myself I cannot go back until Mum arrives as otherwise the flat will be full of boxes and baskets and purses and pictures and more, all made out of these beautiful papers.

And what of the findings I went for in the first place?
Ring medley
Not my neatest of projects considering I just hot glued the stuffed fabric into place but perfectly feasible. Plus a surefire way for me to stop stabbing myself with the pins and needles I end up sticking in my jeans when I am in full flow. So far I am using the ring one the most but once I am machine sewing again I expect the wrist one (which is actually intended for use as a hair band) should be very handy. I do have one of the commercial wrist ones with the plastic strap but they are always very scratchy and uncomfortable. This is much nicer and the insertion of a 1 yen coin at the base of the blob means I don't stab myself. Always a bonus!

Some people would think this is enough craft for one week but they would be wrong. I finally bought the fabric for my one-block-wonder which I signed up for back in September. I decided on EPP since I prefer hand sewing patchwork to machining it. I carefully folded and cut the fabric and am gradually transferring the left (the original fabric) into the right (four hexagons).
one block wonder medley
I am not fussy cutting (i.e. trying to get certain parts of the pattern into certain triangles) so this is entirely a random process but I've always been fascinated by it when I've seen quilts using this technique before. As always with this technique, I am inspired by my favourite from last year's NEC quilt show:
Out of Africa by Janet Boult
It always fascinates me how this technique exaggerates the elements of the original - focusing your eye in the quilt above on the different patterns within the fabric. With my fabric this is even more exaggerated given the difference between the pink flowers and the green background.

Pooch's response to my various finished objects is generally to nod, frown, and ask what I'm going to make next. Usually I don't have a plan but as it happens I have been thinking a lot about Pojagi (or Bojagi) which is a traditional Korean patchwork way of making wrapping cloths (something that is also very traditional in japan except their cloths tend to be whole cloth with a printed design rather than patchwork). It is also a technique for making transparent quilts and there was a great one at the recent Tokyo Quilt Show.
Korean Silk Quilt
Korean Silk Quilt Detail
I have been researching the seaming technique involved and almost bought some chiffony stuff on my last fabric expedition before reeling myself in and telling myself sternly I should practice with existing fabric before I commit. So at some point in the near future that is what I'll be doing.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

How Not To Make a Fabric Bowl and Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to PK Sews who has won the remaining ladies from the She Who Sews bloghop! I have emailed you to ask for your address. 

In my last post I showed how not to make a fabric bowl. I am really not good at using bias binding. Despite copious evidence to the contrary I continue to believe I can sew it on both sides at once. Tsk tsk. 
My creation
The photo from my last post is on the right and shows a horrible travesty of stitching where the binding slipped and didn't cover the stitching. On the left shows what happens when you decide to change the stitch you're using. Bodge, bodge bodge. I was notionally using this tutorial so I went back and read it again before again bodging it. Here is what happened. 

I assembled my materials. In this case an epp patchwork piece and a wrapping cloth for the year of the horse we were given when leaving a restaurant last month. It is cotton and I didn't need to wrap anything so I thought I'd repurpose it. 
My creation
Using the friendly dinner plate I cut out my circles, along with a circle of felt - which you can get half metres of at the 100 Yen shops. I sewed the layers together, sandwiching the felt between the wrong sides of the horse and pink fabrics and machine stitched 1/4" from the edge all round. 

I have frequently tried gathering a machine stitch and have every time snapped the thread and been left with a mess. This time I threaded a needle with doubled thread and sewed a running stitch around the edge using the same holes as the machine stitching made and sewing one of my stitches for every two of the machine's. I then gathered and tied off. I then, after some thought, made an important strategic decision. 
Strategic Decisions
I went for hand sewing the binding on BOTH SIDES. I know. Mind blowing. 
My creation
It even kinda worked. With a little more time I dare say the bowl could be coaxed into a circle and the binding is at least neat. Plus this means my 'small' item for the sewing room swap is now finished and thus all sewing for that swap is complete. 

I am going through a big EPP binge at the moment and so I have another project to share - one which I rather suspect I am going to use for the EPP Pouch Swap since my efforts with the blue/grey patchwork have been so consistently dismal. I used some of the 6cm squares I got at the Tokyo Quilt show to make this strip. 
Traditional japanese fabric sewing wallet outside
Having had such an awful time with zips (as well as bias binding) I decided to go full-hand-sewn on the zip. 
P2100007
I added a pin cushion and pouch to the inside.
Traditional japanese fabric sewing wallet inside
And just to prove it is impossible for me to make something right first time, I added a ribbon to the middle to hold reels of thread, using a lobster claw fastener that is too big to go through the centre of any reels, bobbins or other thread holding devices currently in existence. 
No Cats Here. Just a Chicken... With Ears
Well you know. Perfection is an insult to Allah an'all. 

I'll keep trying. 


Monday, 10 February 2014

Not Good Enough For A Swap But Good Enough For Me?

Mere weeks ago I was reflecting on how I put so much effort into things for swaps but not the corresponding amount into things for myself. Whizz forward to today and I added the bias binding to a fabric bowl intended for the sewing room swap. Bias binding and I are not exactly well known for our accords.
bad stitching
FFS. Looks awful. I immediately thought "it's no good for the swap but I can use it as a thread catcher since I needed one anyway". Which, yes, that is better than throwing it away because from a practical point of view it's fine, but (with a stamp of my little foot) I want nice things too!
This is what I think I deserve to make myself nice ones of:
1. Thread catcher
2. Shoulder bag
3. At least one fabric basket for the coffee table (since at the moment stuff is sprawled all over it)
4. Tool basket/tray for sewing machine area (because ditto)
5. Pincushion ring/bracelet (because I keep sticking them in the sofa and then sitting on them)

Meanwhile I have the stuff for another fabric bowl and once it is complete I'll add a how-to-and-not-to-make post for it here.

As an aside, it snowed in Tokyo yesterday - all day non-stop. It was rather exciting as it was very fine snow the like of which I can't remember seeing since before I moved to London so probably about 20 years ago. We ventured out for american style pancakes with maple syrup (god bless Vermont) in the morning but then burrowed into the sofa for the rest of the day. By bedtime it had settled to about 8" deep on the branches outside so I assume it was the same on the ground.
snow in tokyo
During the day the birds were not at all happy and kept kicking up clouds of it to get at the food I'd put out that morning as usual. When they came to have a look inside to see what we were doing, as they like to, they left little divots in the snow balanced on the rail. So sweet!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Names of Traditional Japanese Clothes

I was looking this up so I knew what type of jacket pattern to look for when I thought I might want to refer to it later. Hence this blogpost. So really this is really more of a notebook page for me than something I strongly wanted to share. Links are to wikipedia pages which often have pictures on.

Fundoshi - old school men's pants. The man puts the 'fun' in 'fundoshi'. Essentially a loin cloth. Probably not going to need a pattern for this. Ever.
Furisode - unmarried woman's kimono. Easily identified by bright colours and very long sleeves which reach the ground.
red kimono
Hakama - culottes with lots of material. Mainly worn by men but sometimes for women when playing sport or when graduating. The two activities have a lot in common.
Hanten - short winter coat with a black sateen collar. Is sateen very different to satin? Oh, it uses a satin weave but cotton instead of silk. Checks out.
Happi - straight sleeved coat, now usually worn at festivals. I don't want to look like a japanese hippy. But this is the sort of thing I've been looking at making. The Colonel makes it look good. 
Matsuri Colonel
Oh god no.
Cute Dogs
Haramaki - stretchy stomach cloths. Also 'senninbari'.
Jinbei - pyjamas/house clothes for men and women.
Joe - religious long coat/robe. Usually white.
Junihitoe - 12 layer kimono worn by court ladies. Very beautiful.
Kimono demonstratie
Kappogi - apron for wearing over a kimono. Basically a hospital gown with baggy sleevs that ties at the back. Not sexy.
Kasaya - buddhist robes.
Kimono - literally means 'thing which is worn'.
Koikuchi - men's shirt where the neck resembles the mouth of a carp (koi). No collar and a kind of curved v-neck.
Kosode - worn by men and women. A loose t-shaped robe worn with an obi belt/sash.
Kazuki Veil Kosode
Kubi bukuro - mesh bag designed to attach to the saddle and hold a severed head. I'm thinking crochet.
Mawashi - Sumo belt/loincloth
Yasukuni Sumo
Got to admire the cropping there.
Samue - traditionally what zen buddhist monks wear when they're working. Plain side-tie two-piece cotton pyjama-type things.
Senninbari - the stomach cloth haramaki but this one is a 'thousand stitch belt'. When a man was going off to war (including first world war) his wife/mother would go out and ask passing women on the street to stitch a stitch in the belt so each was done by a different woman. In Shinto this was then believed to be an amulet to keep them safe. Apparently the 'stitch' is a french knot. Amazing.
Senninbari #embroidery
Tobi trousers - I love these! They balloon out past the knees and then gather again at the ankles. It makes japanese workmen (the main wearers) look like a cross between MC Hammer and the original Star Trek crew.
Japanese Workmen Asleep
I would love to wear these. I would look uber ridiculous, but still.
Uwagi - kimono style jacket now worn in martial arts. Closed with an obi belt.
Yukata - casual summer kimono worn by men and women. Unlined and closed with an obi belt. This is not a picture of me, I just like their style.
Yukata (浴衣)
You get these instead of towel robes in japanese hotels.

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