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。

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

Summer of Skirts Part 3: Roller Skating Wrap Skirt

Roller skate wrap skirt by Saké PuppetsWhat better way to wear a roller skate skirt than to take it for a spin on your own set!

I started roller derby this year and love it. I’d wear my skates to bed if my Japanese apartment didn’t require I remove all footwear at the door. I’ve caught myself hip-checking strangers on the subway and my gear bag now contributes most of the bad smells in our house.

So when I saw Melody Miller’s Ruby Star Sparkle Roller Skates Ring A Ling, I wanted it immediately. Sewing + roller skates = mind blown.

Melody Miller's Roller Skates Ring A Ling skirt by Saké PuppetsThe fabric is a mid-weight cotton-linen blend, perfect for a summer play skirt. And I’ve hardly worn anything else all summer. If you’ve met me for lunch or a play date in the past 2 months, odds are I was wearing this skirt. After my roller skates, it’s my new best friend.

This skirt encourages wigglingMaybe my photographer is jealous, because I was scolded for moving around too much during this photo shoot. But it couldn’t be helped. I was wearing my two besties and they got along splendidly.

The pattern for this skirt is Tilly’s Miette wrap skirt. Two friends and I decided to make this together as a mini sewalong, because we all wanted a project to do together and I couldn’t be bothered to read something for a book group. We all live in different parts of the world, so we posted our sewing updates and questions on a secret Facebook group. I think our sewalong experiment worked pretty well, and I’m not sure about them but I’d do it again. Especially if it means I can avoid another book group.

I did have one big issue with this project. I was so mesmerized by the metallic details and roller skates with pom poms that I didn’t notice the print had diagonal stripes. Which meant that I should have cut my skirt on the bias, but didn’t. Oops.

oops. stripes.Because the print is quite busy, I decided to just make it busier by adding the pockets.

Busy body printI actually like the way it turned out. Pockets in skirts are a wonderful thing anyways, so it was sort of a win-win. A demonstration shot:

Cell phone goes here! Magic!I’m ignoring the fact that on a recent episode of Project Runway Michael Kors called these “pleasure pockets.” Eew, gross, you orange old man!

Peek!A final action show. Peek!

That wraps up my trio of summer play skirts! It felt great to make a whole season’s worth of wearable, durable clothing, so now I’m looking to autumn. What are you making, friends?

Stitch Show at Spiral

Hi everyone! I went over to Spiral this weekend (dodging the typhoon!) and checked out the Stitch Show embroidery exhibition they were hosting. I posted some photos over at Tokyo Craft Guide, so if you are interested pop over and take a peek. The exhibition was based on this book, available online. Enjoy!

I’m now feeling really inspired to stitch something. ;)

Stitch Show embroidery exhibition and book, via Tokyo Craft Guide

Summer of Skirts Part 2: Zebra Forest Skirt

Summer play skirt by Saké PuppetsI’m quite proud of this next summer skirt because, it’s self-drafted!! I started with a square of fabric and nothing else, and then poof! made a skirt from my mind.

Confession: I actually created a pattern from a skirt that I bought at Anthropologie 4 years ago. I stared at the beloved garment for about an hour and was able to draft a pattern without taking my darling apart. I worked out the measurements and then constructed an exact replica. Except with zebras.

zebras on my skirt, by Saké PuppetsI purchased the fabric at Tomato in Nippori during our Tokyo fabric shopping meetup last month. Inna, Chie, Frances and I challenged each other to make garments using fabric we normally wouldn’t buy or wear. I resist pretty much anything with an animal print so this fabric definitely fit the criteria for me. Though, I love this fabric. It is a beautiful soft cotton and I think zebras in the forest are hilarious.

The waistband and hem are topstitched and I like the way they toughen up the skirt. It feels quite durable, suitable for a zebra frolic. I also included slash pockets, a hand-picked zipper, and lining.

a top stitched hemline

play skirt out on the town! by Saké Puppetsplay skirt out on the town! by Saké PuppetsThis has been a great play skirt for the summer. The cotton is soft but tough, the skirt is breezy and cool, and the pattern is crazy which encourages summer hijinks. I’m also quite proud of myself for constructing something wearable from almost no pattern. Hooray for new skills! (^O^)/

Maybe I’m still riding the zebra high, but I committed to joining Inna’s couture Little French Jacket sewalong. I’m not sure I’ll keep up with the big girls, but it will be fun to see what happens. Whaddya say, want to join us?!

Shift Work

Shifty, a Colette Laurel shift dress by Saké PuppetsBecause I’ve been eating so many macarons, I needed a dress with a little ease. I’m only half joking.

I was given a wool shift dress last year and love it. The boxy shape isn’t one I would have selected for myself, but it turns out a simple shift is flattering if done right. I decided to make a summer version using the Colette Laurel pattern. But I’m not sure I did it right.

stripey marshmallow?I made a muslin and thought I was happy, and then finished the final garment in stripes and am solidly on the fence about it. I feel like a stripey marshmallow. Or like I’m wearing jail pajamas. Or, from far away, that I look sort of naked.Naked jail pajamasIn hindsight, selecting fabric the same color as your skin tone is not a great idea, regardless of how much you love stripes.

There were a few wins with this project, however. It was my first time installing an invisible zipper, and my first time matching stripes. Victory is mine!Matched stripes and an invisible zipper win!I used self-made bias and lined the dress in really soft natural cotton lawn. The lining was more expensive than the striped linen. Maybe I should wear the dress inside out?shifts, by Saké PuppetsI think some of my ambivalence about the dress comes from the extra fabric in the back. It doesn’t hang the way a shift dress ought to hang. This pattern is for a dress with sleeves, and I thought I could simply leave the sleeves off and voila — sleeveless! Perhaps I was wrong. Maybe I could take it in a bit more at the back darts? Anyone have advice? I don’t own a serger and dislike raw edges, so I finished the sides with a flat felled seam and taking the sides in is not an easy option.

I think I’ll wear the dress again, maybe with tights and heels and a cardigan and a trench coat. If anything, this project was a good exercise in fabric selection and learning to really examine the fit of a muslin before forging ahead. I think learning to sew your own clothing takes a lot of experience gained from trial-and-error. Maybe this dress is just meant to help me log those hours.

Anyone else ever feel this way?

Nippori Fabric Party

I have been to Tokyo’s fabric district many times, but like a trail horse I always go to the same shops. Recently I’ve been feeling brave enough to start sewing garments with fabrics other than cotton or linen, but I have little idea about where or how to start. Sewing bloggers to the rescue!

Nippori meet up


Photo courtesy of Chie. We are all wearing clothing we made. :)

I met Chie of Vivat Veritas, Inna Thewallinna, and Frances of Miss Matatabi (hiding) for a day of shopping and fabric education in Nippori. It was fantastically fun. We showed each other our favorite shops, they answered my questions about synthetic and drapey materials, and we challenged (dared?) each other to make something wearable out of bright prints.

Nippori fabric haulI bought some knit jersey and flamingos wearing high heels from Tomato, the largest and most popular shop in Nippori. We also popped into Zak Zak where everything was 100 yen per meter. We were in and out of a few other shops along the way and ended with lunch at a Persian all-you-can-eat restaurant where the owner tickles customers, insists you eat with your hands and ride his camel.camelPhoto courtesy of Inna. I am frightened.

Thanks for the fabric education and great day, ladies! We’re planning another trip later this summer, so let us know if you’d like to come along!

The Rainy Season Sweat Wicking Dress

Tsuyu, I love you and I hate you.

Rainy season wrap dress, by Saké PuppetsAccording to the Japan Times the rainy season began 10 days early. I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year. The bad: damp tissues, moldy sinks, towels that never dry, and the smell of damp feet. The good: I love love love waking up to the sound of rain in the morning. And any excuse to linger in cafes or drink tea all day while sewing or go to movies mid-afternoon. I don’t even mind the crazy curly hairdos. The temperature isn’t too hot or too cold, and the rain is rarely heavy enough to require more than a large clear umbrella.

The absolute worst part of rainy season? The fact that when it is over, it is summer. Hot, humid, and wet but in a different, nastier way. To prepare I am making dresses, and Japanese fabric is perfectly suited for Japanese summers. How convenient.

Rainy season wrap dress, by Saké Puppets. PS, my neighbors have pretty hydrangeas. This wrap dress is made with nani IRO woodblock pocho in gray/green double gauze cotton using Vogue 8646, the first Vogue pattern I’ve tried. It was just OK. I skipped a muslin because it’s a wrap dress (read: easy to fit), and made the size 10 with an extra 1″ in length in the bodice. I could have used another inch, I think. And the bodice feels too big. I hand-stitched the hem around the neckline which gives a nice finish and removed some bulk from the front. I am thinking about adding long ties, to actually wrap this sucker around my body and tighten it up a bit. But for a rainy-season-turned-sweaty-summer dress, it’ll do just fine. Japanese double gauze is like wearing a ShamWow. Sweat-wicking at its finest, my friends.

Rainy season wrap dress, by Saké PuppetsI bribed my husband into taking my picture with the promise of buying him lunch. And then this happened. Whooeee!

whooeee! by Saké PuppetsWe both ordered omurice like 5-year olds, because what else do you do on a rainy day?

Blue Waltz Dress

I haven’t bought new clothes in a while because every time I see something I like in a store I find a detail or something that isn’t quite right and convince myself to make it instead. This would be fine if I actually made the thing.

I finished my wool Hollyburn skirt just in time for … spring. As the weather warmed up, wearing a full wool skirt felt silly. And hot. So I tried to think a season ahead when choosing my next sewing project. Enter the Elisalex dress in Nani iro blue waltz.Elisalex dress in Nani Iro waltzTokyo’s summers are really hot and linen dresses are ideal. A lot of Nani iro fabric comes in this linen-cotton blend or double gauze cotton, which are great for sweaty Japanese summers. Coincidence? I think not.

I love the way this dress fits. The bodice is lined and just the right amount of snug.My zippier side.

I made a muslin for this dress which helped me decide to lengthen the bodice an inch. The muslin is still wearable though I’m not in love with the fabric, so I have designated it as my clean-the-house dress. Scrubbing floors in a dress = much more fun than scrubbing floors in sweatpants.

I went with an exposed zipper using this tutorial by Gretchen Hirsch and after seeing this tip by Closet Case Files added a very thin interfacing to give the skirt a little more poof. I don’t have a full-length mirror and now that I see these photos I might shorten the hem to the knees. I purchased the Nani iro from Miss Matatabi and lined the bodice in an orange and red cotton voile from my stash.

Summer, bring it on.Blue waltz for summer. Nani iro and Elisalex

Sashiko Picnic

Today the weather was beautiful. I packed a lunch, hopped on my bike and peddled out for an impromptu picnic.sashiko bentospring sakura sashikoMy neighborhood has a take-away karaage (fried chicken) shop which proves irresistible at lunchtime when they stack bentos in the front window. Next door is a sweets shop, so into my bike’s basket went a sakura-shaped sugar cookie for dessert.springtime picnic lunchsakura wasanbonThe sakura trees are just starting to bloom in Tokyo. I found a few over-achieving blossoms that had already fallen and scooped them up to take along. The wasanbon cookie was stuffed with azuki red bean paste and much too sweet for my liking. It looked pretty anyway.sakura trioThe footpath that runs through Setagaya is lined with small gardens, play areas, and occasionally a small stream. As I ate my lunch I dropped the blossoms into the water. They meandered about 5 or 6 meters before getting caught on a rock. A bit later a small girl noticed them and plucked one out, very proud of her find.floating sakuraAh, spring.