We Are Champions

I buy many Japanese craft and sewing books. They are my guilty pleasure. Besides fabric, parfaits, wedge sandals, cappuccinos, and macarons.

I like to share the projects my craft books inspire, like my mega hair bows, felt veggies, and embroidered badges. Japanese books have excellent illustrations (as do menus and train safety signs), and with my somewhat-functional language skills I can figure things out with little problem. But this book had me stumped.

下田直子の手芸技法 Handcraft Techniques by Naoko Shimoda下田直子の手芸技法 Handcraft Techniques by Naoko Shimoda includes 23 techniques for embroidery and hand sewing. It is a beautiful book with stunning examples of smocking, scalloping, gathering and quilting.

p10-11 下田直子の手芸技法 Handcraft Techniques by Naoko Shimodap38 下田直子の手芸技法 Handcraft Techniques by Naoko Shimodap40-41 下田直子の手芸技法 Handcraft Techniques by Naoko Shimodap57 下田直子の手芸技法 Handcraft Techniques by Naoko Shimodap62-63 下田直子の手芸技法 Handcraft Techniques by Naoko Shimodap64-65 下田直子の手芸技法 Handcraft Techniques by Naoko ShimodaAren’t those textures incredible?! I would love to try these smocking techniques on a dress or blazer someday.

For my first project from this book I thought I’d start with a simple rosette ribbon project inspired by these pages.

p42-43 下田直子の手芸技法 Handcraft Techniques by Naoko Shimodap44-45 下田直子の手芸技法 Handcraft Techniques by Naoko ShimodaThese rosettes seemed like a good beginner project and I dreamed of wearing my ribbon award proudly like a Grand Champion heifer. But I was quickly proven wrong.

p112-113 下田直子の手芸技法 Handcraft Techniques by Naoko ShimodaFor Technique L [Ribbon Work] I was instructed to measure, mark, and pin the ribbon into various folds. My fingers were not nimble and the pins left holes in the ribbon, and my rosette started to resemble an award for Grand Prize Loser.

The project sat on my desk for months, deflated and sad. It wasn’t until thumbing through another craft book about ribbon rosettes that I found a  tip — use a small piece of cardboard to help fold-and-hold the ribbon while you simultaneously tack the bottom edges with needle and thread. Once I got the hang of that, my rosette came together nicely.

Saké Puppets: Grand Champion of Winning!And now I feel like the Grand Champion of Winning.

I’m going to make more of these, since now the only challenge lies in finding interesting ribbons and button centers. Perhaps I’ll present them to my friends and loved ones for tasks I deem prize worthy: 1st Place in Chopping Onions, Grand Prize in Hailing Taxis, and the coveted Mr. Hustle Award.

What awards would you present?


18 thoughts on “We Are Champions

  1. I love this tote bag with red embroidery and the samples with fabric manipulation! It’s amazing! Thumbs up for your ribbon award! I would have never thought a ribbon pin (award) can be so cute! Give the 1st place for The Clumsiest Person of a Month or #1 Swear Bag 🙂

  2. A great book indeed, nice find.
    I love your rosette, I think that without the ‘tail’ it could be a great brooch. Maybe you can make your own ribbons in silk?

  3. love the blackwork-done-in-red tote bag! I was working on a blackwork sampler ages ago that I ought to finish and perhaps turn into something like that! And I didn’t even know some of those textures and designs were possible with smocking! I think when I take a trip to Japan, half of my luggage space will have to be reserved for craft books! (Gives me a good reason to get a move on with my language skills, too.)

  4. ohmygosh the redwork! my grandmother has stuff like that, but now I want to apply it to something of my own! can i have that book? pleaseplease? i speak zero japanese but it’s so inspiring! thanks for sharing!

  5. This cracks me up because without this review I could totally see myself buying this book with zero Japanese knowledge and never, ever getting to make myself a Blue Ribbon Grand Champion rosette. You definitely win!

  6. Me from pakistan.can i purchase your embroidred ideas book.i m a big fan of ur craft and embroidery plz rply.

  7. Do you know of any source for this book other than Etsy? I can never order from there as they continually reject my address (long story). I’d love to get it and try to figure out some of the stitches from the pictures/ diagrams!

  8. It is currently unavailable on Amazon, but I’ll keep checking. I wish Etsy would respond to my multiple requests for help because I really want this book, Japanese or not! But thank you for taking the time to respond to me. I appreciate it.

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