Saturday, 31 January 2015

Purple Japanese Rooibos

I actually finished this dress in December but I'm only just getting around to posting about it now. I seem to be on a Colette roll at the moment. This is my first Rooibos and I used a purple Japanese print cotton that I bought in Tokyo a few years ago.

I cut a size 4 but had to take it in quite a lot - it's not nearly as fitted as the website photo would have you believe. I also had a go at doing a full bust adjustment for the first time. Luckily the Colette website has a Rooibos sewalong which includes instructions on how to do this and it worked! Woohoo!

I really like the contrasting collar detail and I think I've ended up with a cute little shift dress. The fit is a little boxier than I would ideally like but now they I've put in the zip I don't see how I can take it in any further.

I also made it quite a bit shorter which luckily was my intention as that's all I had enough fabric for!

This is my third Colette pattern and so far I've been really pleased with all of them, the instructions are easy to follow and I really like their designs. I wonder which one I'll try next?

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Fabric Shopping in Japan

As promised last year, here is my guide to fabric shopping in Japan. I was pretty restrained on my recent visit as you have to be or you'll just go bonkers, but I'm pretty pleased with my purchases and can't wait to get stuck into them. First stop ...


Yuzawaya, Shinjuku

This is one of my favourite fabric stores and as we usually stay in Shinjuku it’s super convenient. Yuzawaya is one huge floor filled with fabrics, notions, buttons, wool, and loads of craft supplies. It's situated on the 11th floor of the Takashimaya Department store which also happens to be the home of Tokyu Hands “lifestyle” store (another shopping must – 8 floors chock full of stuff you never knew you needed!). To get there from the Shinjuku JR station take the New South Exit and follow the signs for Takashimaya Times Square. If you plan on doing Yuzawaya and Tokyu Hands on the same day, give yourself plenty of time and allow for a recovery break in between - you'll need it!

Yuzawaya, Kamata

Kamata is about 20 minutes from Tokyo Station on the JR Keihin-Tohoku Line and Yuzawaya actually takes up 3 buildings in this location. All of the buildings seemed to have fabric on the ground floor and a lot of it. The top floor of the first building had quite a large selection of notions and craft supplies but also some wonderful kimonos with second hand ones going for a crazy 1,000 yen which is about US$8.50. I didn’t get to check out all the floors in each building but they appeared to sell toys, stationery, art supplies and cosmetics amongst other things.

Kim & Tracey trying on kimonos - look at the shortlist pile on the floor!
To get there, take the West Exit at Kamata station and then head left to walk under the tracks. Walk a little further and look for the Yuzawaya logo on the neon signs, the buildings are on the right hand side of the street.

There are even more branches of Yuzawaya and Tokyo Craft Guide gives a great lowdown of these with maps if you want to explore more.

Nippori - Fabric Town

Yes – an entire district devoted to fabric and all things sewing related! Heaven! It’s about 10 minutes from Tokyo Station on the JR Yamanote line. Take the East exit at Nippori station and head diagonally across the big square towards the right until you get to the furthest street which is Nippori Chuo Dori. Head down here a few blocks and you’ll see the "Tomato" sign on the left hand side. Tomato is the biggest and most well known store here and you’ll be lucky if you get to any of the other many shops in the area – 6 floors of wall to wall fabric of all kinds. Next door is “Arch”, their discount store with prices starting at a ridiculous 100 Yen a metre. Great if you live in Tokyo but when having to think about the suitcase and weight allowance, one has to be pretty selective, difficult as that may seem.

Go here for an excellent detailed map of the shops in the area as well as a list of what they stock. 

How many choices of leopard print?
Just before Tomato is Mihama which sells smaller pre-cuts of designer Japanese prints, well worth checking out and there's a cute little vintage bead and button shop nearby called L Musee, (no. 25 on the map) - easy to spend a small fortune in there. Some of the little shops across the road from Tomato are also worth a look if you haven’t done yourself in by now.

Here's a tip - most stores in Fabric Town only accept cash. Also be warned – this is not for the fainthearted - expect to get totally overwhelmed!  Next stop ...



There are 3 floors of fabric here but the ground floor is where the fun stuff is. All the fabric is displayed in small pieces hanging from a ring above the bolts. Apparently when you want to purchase something the assistant cuts two small fabric samples and staples them to two receipts with your order. One is for you and the other gets sucked through a tube hanging from the ceiling and shoots off to the cutting floor. Once your fabric is ready it’s delivered by chute to the cash desk where you show your receipt and voila, your fabric is ready to collect and pay for. I should have bought something just to witness this but unfortunately nothing really grabbed me at the time.

If you’re staying near Shinsaibashi which is the big shopping area of Osaka, it's worth a look. There is a huge undercover shopping arcade that runs between Shinsaibashi and Namba stations called Ebisubashi, and Toraya is at the Namba end. To get there take Exit 20 at Namba Station, turn immediately right when you get onto the street and take the first right again. You’ll see ABC Mart up ahead on the right hand side, take another right turn here and you’ll see it just up ahead on the left.


This was a 20 minute train ride from Shinsaibashi station on the Midosuji line but well worth the visit. Lots of goodies here from notions to traditional Japanese prints, cute Kawaii cotton prints, expensive silk and suiting, knits etc. and none of the crowds that you get in Tokyo.

To find it take Exit 4 from Esaka Subway Station, you will end up crossing a walkway that runs above the road and then going down some stairs. At the bottom of the stairs turn right and walk along the paved walkway until you reach the street. At the street, turn left and then take the first right where you’ll see a pachinko parlour on the corner. Walk a couple of blocks and you’ll see a red awning on the left hand side, this is Otsukaya. There is also a Tokyu Hands near the station which you will see on your way to Otsukaya. It’s not all that big but still worth popping your head in for a wee look.

Otsukaya's red awning on the left

So there you have it - my guide to fabric shopping in Tokyo and Osaka. I'd love to hear from anyone else who's had the pleasure of fabric shopping in Japan. Of course aside from the shopping, Japan really is a wonderful place to visit and I encourage anyone to go there for a totally unique experience, you won't be disappointed. I know I'll be going back again!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Ahoy there, Julia!

Huge credit goes to Julia Bobbin who totally inspired me to make this dress, I've always loved her version of Colette's Parfait and when I found this fabric on my trip to Goldhawk Road last year I knew I'd found the perfect pairing. I love the way Julia played with the stripe directions and so I just had to have a go myself.

I made a toile first and hurrah! - size 4, straight out of the box - no fitting changes, which was a huge relief given that it took an age to cut the fabric out so I could get the stripe placement just right. Thankfully I had just enough fabric apart from the facings so I just used some plain white cotton for those instead.

Now, if you try this at home bear in mind that cutting some of the skirt pieces on the bias resulted in it being too big when I came to attach it to the bodice. It was an easy fix but something which I hadn't expected.

The only other modifications I made were shortening the length a few cms and shortening the straps slightly. I also tapered in the side seams a bit so it wasn't so flared. I only sewed one button on the straps and instead of the second button, I just sewed a few stitches to keep it in place. I figured I wouldn't be using the straps to do it up anyway so this would keep it nice and secure (without the extra work!)

This is my first Parfait - yes, I know, I'm so late to the party that this pattern is almost vintage by now! But so what, it's such a cute summer dress that it was worth the wait. I love the button details and the cute little pockets. The bodice gathering is really sweet too and overall it's a really nice, flattering cut.

Thanks for the inspiration, Julia! 

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Top 5 of 2014

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a fabulous festive season and have plenty of exciting things in store for 2015!

Some of you may be familiar with Gillian from Crafting A Rainbow's series "Top 5 of 2014". I've been enjoying reading these posts and it's got me thinking about what a great year I've had so I've decided to share my Top 5 sewing related highlights.

2014 - The year I started my blog! This was a big achievement for me as I'd been thinking about it for such a long time and it was a huge learning curve. I'm still baffled by the world of technology but I've managed to figure out just enough to get my blog off the ground and keep it running so far - yay! I'm not the most prolific writer (or sewer for that matter) but that's not the point, I really enjoy sharing my sewing experiences and it's been wonderful making new friends in the blogosphere.

Which brings me to my next highlight - I had a fabulous holiday in the UK in July and had the pleasure of meeting up with Nicole for a Goldhawk Road fabric shopping experience. Of course if it weren't for the wonderful world of blogging this probably wouldn't have happened.

As part of that holiday I also went to Lisbon with my wonderful friends where we had such a fantastic time and also managed to do even more fabric shopping!

I had a "significant" birthday this year and was so thrilled to get given "Serge", my serger. I'm still trying to get to grips with re-threading it but I'm loving it all the same, it makes finishing seams really fast and they look so much nicer.

In October I went to Japan to play music, dress up in crazy Halloween costume and go fabric shop in Tokyo and Osaka, returning to some of my favourite stores but also discovering a whole lot of new ones.

So, those were my top 5 highlights. I also had a blast taking part in some fun sewalongs: Madmen Challenge III; Sew Dolly Clackett; Lauren & Andi's Outfit Along, Pattern Review's Frankenpattern Contest and the Cat Lady Sewing Challenge and I made a dress for the Vintage Sewing Pledge.

I was lucky to have such a great year and I'm looking forward to more sewing, blogging, music and meeting new sewing friends in 2015. Looking ahead I'm not going to set too many sewing goals, my main priority is just to enjoy it. I do hope to improve on my sewing skills, fitting in particular and I'd love to be able to insert a zipper in under an hour! Also, I WILL master re-threading my serger!