Handmade gift wrap ideas for the holidays – - – sashiko furoshiki!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

In the midst of the madness that is my overseas move, I decided to release two new sashiko patterns. Yessir! sashiko furoshiki by Saké PuppetsInspired by Japan’s gift-giving culture, I made sashiko-embellished furoshiki for the holidays. Furoshiki are cloths used for gift wrapping and they create lovely, elegant packages. The fanciest of gifts are always wrapped in furoshiki cloths. In addition, furoshiki are often considered a gift themselves, and can be used as tablecloths, scarves, or tied into handbags.

furoshiki as tablecloth by Saké Puppets

I have also been thinking about how to make holiday gift wrap more sustainable. From year to year my family tends to save and reuse ribbons and bags, so why not throw a few furoshiki in the mix as well? 

The first pattern was inspired by winter snowflakes, which I love to sashiko stitch onto indigo fabric because they evoke memories of quiet snow falling late at night. The pattern can be repeated to create a border design or fit into corners.

sashiko snowflakes by Saké PuppetsThe second pattern is a simple modern sampler. I originally created this design to use on iPad or tablet cases, but discovered it makes for a beautiful furoshiki as well. One of the wonderful things about sashiko patterns is that they can be embroidered anywhere! The pattern is a 25 cm square (9 7/8″) that can be sized up or down to your liking.

Sashiko is great for iPad, tablet and Kindle cases, pattern by Saké PuppetsBoth patterns are available for download on Etsy, along with several other patterns that are also well-suited for furoshiki. Check back here soon for tutorials on how to make and wrap furoshiki, and click over here for step-by-step instructions on how to embroider with sashiko.

Happy holidays everyone!

Giveaway winners

Thank you everyone for your kind notes regarding my move. It makes me a bit emotional to know you are all out there, cheering me on. Right now my suitcases are piled in the genkan for delivery to the airport, and it feels good to have them all packed.

But on to other important things: the giveaway winners! I added everyone’s name to a big list, numbered the list, then used a random number generator to choose 4. The winners are Tasha, Monique, Donna, and anneolinick from Instagram. Please send me your mailing addresses so I can send you my your stuff. Thanks so much!

Now that packing is done, on to the cleaning … anyone want to help me with that, too?

I want to give you my stuff. (A craft kit giveaway!)

- – This giveaway is now closed. – -

Things are getting crazy here my friends. In less than one week I’ll be leaving Tokyo. We are sleeping on the tatami floor and our apartment is filled with half-filled boxes and suitcases. I’m trying to balance my days packing with adventures around town, but struggling. I still have many karaoke songs to sing. It is happening way too fast.packing sucks.Most of my time this past week has been dedicated to making our belongings disappear. Between the two of us we are allowed 106 kilos in luggage, which may seem like plenty but I assure it you it is not. I have been begging everyone I know to please take my hangers/toasters/fabric bits I can’t bear to throw out.  

And now it is your turn. Of the six boxes I am shipping overseas, three are filled with craft supplies. *gulp*

These didn’t make the cut simply because I already have a set. (O_O) It is best not to ask why I ended up with duplicates (craft happens, people!). But my craft closet tragedy is your gain … let’s do a giveaway!

Win these kits!Kits #1 and #2 are cell phone charms. They have bells and pretty Japanese fabric. Each kit comes with supplies to make 3 clown or owl charms. They could also double as cute holiday ornaments.Win these kits too!Kits #3 and #4 are “cute key holders!” made from beads. I have no idea how they come together, so you’ll have to tell me how it goes.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment here, on Facebook, or on Instagram. Each comment is an entry, I’ll compile the comments, do a random selection, and ship four lucky winners each a kit. Comments close in 36 hours! (At midnight Nov 19th.) I’ll mail prizes on Wednesday Nov. 20th so winners, after you hear from me, please send me an address ASAP.

Thanks everyone! Now please, take my stuff.

Sweet Sayonaras

One of the things that transpired while I was on holiday was the final step in our plan to leave Japan.

It was a difficult decision and I struggle to explain why it suddenly feels like the right time. But, our jaunt in Tokyo was always meant to be temporary. I can’t express enough how grateful I am for the opportunity to live in and explore Japan, to have met so wonderful people, and to have spent my time doing things that I love: I started my own business and this blog, I learned how to sew my own clothing and how to speak Japanese, I now eat fish guts, play roller derby, and sing karaoke in public. I remember when I was on the plane flying to Tokyo — for the first time, to remain indefinitely — and I was served green tea. It tasted like dirt, and I panicked as I realized I couldn’t say more than arigatou. But I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Living outside of my element these few years has helped me to become more myself.

Shimokita side streets

And though I love my life here, the future awaits.

So I head westward! Toward the great city of New York to seek my fame and fortune resume my career in museum work. I’ll continue to embroider and sew and craft, so though the nature of this blog may change slightly, I’ll continue to share things that interest me, like sashiko, Japanese craft books, and the occasional bowl of ramen. Looking ahead, I’m excited to tap into all of the amazing resources New York offers, like the garment district and tacos.

There we have it. In 3 short weeks I’ll be on to my next thing. I hope you’ll come along!

To Tokyo, お世話になりました。本当にありがとうございました。

* * *

ps, I’m having a moving sale in my shop – use the coupon code SALE35 for 35% off your purchase ($10 min). Thanks!

Ahoy!

Hello dear friends. It has been too long! My confession: I was on holiday in New Zealand for a few weeks and, silly me, I thought I would have oodles of time to post about the crafts I brought with me and the new patterns I’m designing. As it turns out, vacationing is tough work! My days were busy and I returned to Tokyo with all of my projects still unfinished. I realize no one will feel an ounce of sympathy, but I had to plead my case.

We rented a small camper van and drove around NZ’s South Island, stopping at a different gorgeous location each night. We saw seals and penguins and whales, drove through avalanche zones and vineyards, and strategized our stops based on sunrises and sunsets. I learned to appreciate savory pies (steak and peas!) and found a favorite Marlborough sauvi.

New Zealand sceneryI did get to do a bit of knitting. The cliff-sides and river banks dotted with sheep and newborn lambs had me inspired, and I marched straight into the first wool shop I could find for some locally-sourced merino. Cruellas in Nelson set me up with a pattern, yarn and needles, and kindly held my hand the next morning when I returned with many questions.

New Zealand sheepOthers in our party found the sheep inspiring in a different way, and instead sought out the nearest grocer stocking lamb and mint sausages.

On our way back to Tokyo we stopped in Melbourne where I stocked up on Frankie magazines, merino knit jersey from The Fabric Store, and more yarn and patterns from Yarn + Co, a super hip yarn shop in Fitzroy. It was their neon accessories in the window that caught my attention, but the friendly owner, wall of alpaca yarns and huge couch had me there for quite a while.

New Zealand and Melbourne craft-capadesIt was an unforgettable trip. But now that I’m in Tokyo I am happy to be back at work! There are many exciting things happening here — I can’t wait to share them all with you!

We rented our van from Wilderness Motorhomes and had a great experience. I highly recommend them!

Hitomezashi sashiko: a tutorial

Yesterday I posted the result of my year-long endeavor with hitomezashi, the “one-stitch” style of sashiko done with alternating over-and-under stitches.

hitomezashi by Saké PuppetsToday I thought I’d post a tutorial so you can try this style of sashiko at home. I bought a pre-printed pattern, but once I got going I realized it wasn’t necessary. Hitomezashi is straightforward, with alternating stitches on a grid. Much like knitting, the repeating pattern is easy to memorize and follow.

Let’s begin by drawing your grid onto your fabric. I made my lines 1/4″ apart. Draw lightly, you want these to wash out later, but you also don’t want them to wear off too soon.

sashiko tutorial by Saké PuppetsNow you’ll simply follow a pattern, making one stitch per space on the grid.

a sashiko tutorial by Saké Puppets

Stitch all of the horizontal lines first, then proceed to stitch all of the vertical lines. In the end, your pattern will emerge!

a sashiko tutorial by Saké PuppetsI have broken the kaki no hana (persimmon flower) pattern down and isolated just the horizontal and vertical stitch lines in separate graphics. This pattern is done on a repeat, so you can make your project as large (or as tiny!) as you’d like.  The key to remember is that as you work your line, you are always alternating stitches — one up, one down, one up, one down, and so on. If you skip a space on the grid, it will throw your whole pattern off.

Once complete, wash or spray your project with water to remove the grid lines. Hem or use bias tape on the edges for a nice finish.

You can create different designs by changing the patterns on the horizontal or vertical axis. Enjoy! I look forward to seeing your masterpieces!

step 1: horizontal linesstep 2: vertical linesVoila! the pattern emerges! A sashiko tutorial by Saké Puppets

Persimmon Flowers Sashiko

ImageFinishing this sashiko project was like a deep sigh of relief.  Finally, I did it.

I bought this pre-printed pattern from Hobbyra Hobbyre last summer and have worked on it on-and-off since. This style of sashiko is called hitomezashi, or one-stitch sashiko. Hitomezashi is typically done on a grid with over-under stitches, each stitch and space equal in length and, if done neatly, is reversible. I know you think that is crazy talk, but I’ve seen it done and it is amazing. All you quilters and embroiderers out there know what I mean — typically the first thing I do when examining someone’s work is look at the back, right?! How do they hide all those ends? Well, I know how they do it; turns out I’m just lazy.

hitomezashi sashiko by Saké PuppetsNeedless to say, mine is not reversible. Hobbyra patterns (as well as Olympus) come printed on double-wide cotton, so you can fold and stitch through two layers or use the extra fabric to cover the ugly back when you are finished. This pattern is called kaki no hana, the flower of a persimmon.

This pre-printed pattern was a good introduction to hitomezashi, it just took me a long time to finish. I got bored and put it away, would pick it up again for a week or so, get bored, move on to something else …. you know how it goes. But now I’m so glad I saw it through.

* Update: want the pattern? Now you can find it here!

kaki no hana, persimmon flowers sashiko by Saké Puppets