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

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?

Macaron Craft Kit Giveaway

I am in a macaron phase.

a macaron treatThis was a macaron zipper pouch kit, and according to the package it was only supposed to take me 40 minutes to assemble. Liars!

the guts of a macaron zipper kitAdmittedly, I spent most of my time with the sparse instructions and a dictionary. I’d look up kanji and then with an exasperated eye-roll think, “I know what that means. Damn you, memory!”

The kit comes with a 10 cm zipper, precut felt circles, plastic button parts, and a small cell phone strap. Here is the part that had me stumped:

zipper tricks on the macaron pouch kitThis is an example with a different zipper. Once you sew the ends of the zipper together, creating a zipper-circle, you want to gather the sides with a basting (or running) stitch. This creates a nice bed for the felt-covered button part.

sewing the felt-covered button parts to the zipper on the macaron zipper pouchBack to the real deal, you can see the zipper teeth are the middle of the felt sandwich. The sweet macaron guts.

Voila! A mini macaron zipper pouch, on a string.It is just the right size to hold a 500 yen coin, for those moments when you need an emergency macaron.

And lucky day, I bought an extra kit to share the macaron love!

Macaron zipper pouch kit giveaway! via Saké PuppetsTo enter this giveaway for a strawberry-pink macaron coincase strap kit, which doesn’t make much sense so I decided to call it a mini macaron zipper pouch kit, which makes much less sense, leave a comment on this post telling me what you’d hide inside your macaron. Comment before noon (Japan standard time) on Monday August 5th. I’ll choose the winner randomly.

Good luck!

Summer Sashiko Season

Happy Marine Day everyone! Today is 海の日, a holiday to celebrate and give thanks for the sea. Many people use this 3-day weekend as an excuse for a beach vacation and to me it feels a bit like Memorial Day in the US — the weekend that marks start of summer festival season.

I love hanabi and matsuri season in Japan, and last year I posted this free sashiko pattern to celebrate. Hanabi, the Japanese word for fireworks, roughly translates to “fire flowers” though sometimes in Tokyo you’ll see fire shapes like fire Hello Kitty or fire sushi. No joke. I’m convinced that’s what I saw. 😉

fire flowersfire flowers free sashiko patternClick here to download the free PDF pattern.

Happy summer!

Shop sale!

A quick note to share the new kits I just posted in my web shop.

sashiko stash bust!Whew! Say that 5 times fast!

I’m cleaning out my craft closet, which means I gathered all my random bits and pattern pieces and put together some discounted surprise samplers. What fun! For me and hopefully for you, too.

This sashiko grab-bag includes everything you’ll need to make 4 coasters, including a surprise selection of patterns and fabrics. You’ll get a random yet well-coordinated assortment. Let’s get a little sampler-dangerous. 

What, you don’t think embroidery is dangerous and edgy? Then we need to spend more time together, and I’ll show you a stabbin’ dangerous time. (^_-)-☆

More info on the kits here. Thanks!

Tokyo Craft Guide ebook!

I am so thrilled to announce that the new and improved Tokyo Craft Guide is here! Well, it’s over here, but you know what I mean.

Tokyo Craft Guide ebook!

Beautifully illustrated by Hana of ilikesleeping, and researched and written by myself and the lovely Frances of Miss Matatabi, the Tokyo Craft Guide is packed full of our favorite off-the-beaten-track craft shops in Tokyo. We’re giving you all of our secrets, my friends. Six neighborhood maps help you navigate our curated lists of craft shops and cafes. We also throw in a few parks, temples, a ramen shop, and a few bars. But mostly we talk about crafts: over 50 shop listings describing what is special or unique about each shop, where to go for paper or fabric or yarn, who speaks English, and a few words of Japanese to help you in case they don’t.

sneak peek! Tokyo Craft Guide cafes and shops

I’ll still be offering the same free content from the previous Saké Puppets guide, it has simply moved over to the Tokyo Craft Guide blog. Over there we will be profiling larger shops like Yuzawaya and Tokyu Hands, and also posting interviews and craft events happening around Tokyo. But we’ve reserved the special stuff for the book: small, independantly-owned places, young shop owners who stock their friend’s creations, old shop owners who have been around for 50 years and stock beautiful vintage glass buttons — those are the places that make craft shopping in Tokyo so wonderful.

The Tokyo Craft Guide has amazing maps!

I’m in love with the illustrations in this book. Each map guides you on a treasure hunt, sending you into the neighborhood to find secret craft-gold. Also, never have I looked so relaxed or my bun looked so perfectly huge!

relaxed! via Tokyo Craft Guide and ilikesleeping

A special thanks to everyone who helped us on this project, and to those that were so patient waiting for its release. I’m really excited! Maybe I’ll celebrate by … shopping for fabric.  (@⌒ー⌒@)

Spring on Instagram

It may seem like things here at Saké Puppets have been quiet, but on the other side of the Internet curtain I’ve been busy — drafting sashiko patterns, summer sewing, and … drumroll please … finishing up my Tokyo Craft Guide ebook! Woot!

Wrapping up our book has meant a lot of meetings over lattes and days with proof pages scattered across the tatami floor. If you follow me or Tokyo Craft Guide on Instagram you may have already seen some of our behind-the-scenes snap shots. Enjoy a glimps of spring in Tokyo, and see you all back here again very soon!

Tokyo Craft Guide!

Tokyo Craft Guide!