Fire Flowers: A Free Summer Sashiko Pattern

It is hot in Tokyo right now, and though I dislike the heat I love the way Japan deals with it: twinkling wind chimes to remind you of a breeze, shaved ice and cold noodles, evening street festivals, and fireworks.

The word for fireworks in Japanese is hanabi, which roughly translates to “fire flower,” and which I think is delightful.

I sashiko’d this placemat for the shop where I take classes. They asked us to create fun sashiko pieces for their summer window display, and I thought long and hard about what could represent summer in Japan. It was either unagidon (grilled eel on rice) or fireworks, and in the end I decided fireworks would look prettier rendered in thread.

Fireworks are meant to be enjoyed together with lots of oohs and aahs, so what better way to celebrate summer than to share the pattern with you!

Click here to download the free PDF pattern.

I used variegated rainbow sashiko thread for the big blasts, white for the fountain, and scraps of pink and blue for the others. I have some extra rainbow thread, so if you’re interested send me an email at and I can throw together a small, inexpensive kit.

Happy hanabi!

Works In Progress: Gray (Grey?) Shoulder Bag

I spent a semester in London while a student, so now I can never spell grey (gray?) correctly.

Has it been over a year since I last looked at this project? Oh dear.

The last time you saw this bag it looked like this:

Perhaps it doesn’t seem like much has changed, but I swear it has. I’ve finished the sashiko stitching and now I just need my sensei to hold my hand while I pin and sew the pieces together. I’ve forgotten which goes where. It’s a bit of a mess, actually.

This shoulder bag was designed by my sensei and the kit was a bit on the expensive side, so I’ve really been wanting to finish it. And then I bought this expensive button to go with my expensive kit. They were a match made in heaven, I couldn’t help myself.

The lining she gave me is a bit ugly, so perhaps I need some expensive fabric to go with my expensive other parts. Dark is always good for the inside (dirt!) but I like a little surprise (color!) when I open my bag. Anyone have suggestions?

E-zine giveaway winners, & a Craft Club reminder!

Thanks to everyone for your comments! It’s fun to hear from everyone !

And without further delay, the winners of &Stitches Issue 3 are:

Congratulations to Laura and Kathryn! (Kathryn, please get in touch with me at to claim your prize.) To everyone else, thanks again for your kind words and support. *blush*

You can still get a copy for yourself at the &Stitches web shop for £4.50 (use the code momiji to get 10% of until July 7th). What a deal!

And for those in Tokyo, don’t forget we’re holding the next English Craft Club in Shinjuku Gyoen (if it rains we’ll be under a covered pavilion). Check this link or email me for details. Hope to see you there!

&Stitches e-zine (and giveaway!)

Update: We’re no longer accepting entries for this giveaway. Winners will be announced later today. Thanks!

* * *

Recently the quarterly e-zine &Stitches asked me to contribute to their Asia-inspired issue, and I happily accepted! I provided a short background and tutorial on my favorite Japanese craft, sashiko.

&Stitches is a digital magazine focused on modern embroidery. My sashiko tutorial in this quarter’s issue includes the traditional seigaiha pattern, or blue ocean waves.

The e-zine contains lots of other great stuff too, including embroidery tutorials, patterns, book reviews and interviews, including one by Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching, whose cheeky patterns helped me rediscover embroidery almost 10 years ago (whoa!). I’ve already devoured the entire issue and enjoyed flipping through the lovely, really colorful photographs. You can check out the &Stitches Facebook page or click on over to their blog to pick up a copy. Use code momiji during check out to receive a 10% discount on your zine purchase, valid through July 7th. Along with the issue you’ll also receive a coupon for free shipping until July 15th on any purchase in my Etsy shop.

But better yet, you can win a free copy! The fine ladies at &Stitches have offered to giveaway two issues to readers of this blog. Leave a comment here before midnight Thursday July 5th Tokyo time, and I’ll use a random number generator to select two lucky readers. Talk about happy stitchin’!

You can also check out the Saké Puppets Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, or peek at my online Etsy shop, where new fabrics and patterns are being updated. Thanks!

P.S. I should note that &Stitches hails from the UK, where the term “oriental” doesn’t have the same connotations as it can in American English. It goes without saying that the &Stitches team is excited about introducing their readers to embroidery styles from around the world.

Hanami Lunch

A friend and I stopped into Shinjuku Gyoen for lunch yesterday. We found a spot under a tree with big draping branches, so it felt like we were inside a sakura-lined fort. Every so often, someone would duck in, say hello, wander by. We ate sakura mochi and drank tea like two civilized ladies.

[husband editor’s note: While Ang was being a fancy lady, she used her hanami placemat – coincidentally, on sale now on Esty – while her doting husband dined on two-day-old sushi at home.]

This is probably the cutest thing I have ever made. I am both ashamed and proud.

Hopefully we’ll get to hanami again. It’s fleeting!

A Hanami Lunch

A friend and I stopped into Shinjuku Gyoen for lunch yesterday. We found a perfect spot under a tree with big draping branches, so it felt like we were inside a sakura-lined fort. Every so often, someone would duck in, say hello, wander by. We ate sakura mochi and drank tea like two civilized ladies. [husband editor’s note: she tried out her hanami placemat – coincidentally on sale now at Etsy – for the first time, while her doting husband dined at home on two-day-old sushi.]

This is probably the cutest thing I have ever made. I am both ashamed and proud.

Hopefully we’ll get to hanami again. It’s fleeting!

Spring Sashiko Giveaway — We have a winner!

Thanks to everyone who left comments — it was great fun reading them all! I dumped the numbers in to the random number generator, and (drumroll please!) dadadadada…

Congrats to Liz! And to everyone else, thanks again for participating. ヾ(@⌒ー⌒@)ノ

If you are still interested in getting your itchy-stitchy fingers on the Spring Hanami Sashiko Kit, you can keep an eye on my Etsy shop where it will be available soon or pre-order one by sending me a message at Want to learn more about sashiko? You can check out my online tutorial here, or stay tuned for how-to videos, coming soon.

The 2012 Spring Hanami Sashiko Kit, $35  – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Happy stitching, and happy Spring!

A Springtime Sashiko Giveaway!

* This giveaway is no longer accepting entries. Thanks! *

It’s almost hanami time! Yipskip!

I love hanami, the glorious time of year when people lay blankets and tarps in every park and available green space, spread their picnics, and enjoy the scenery. This year, I was inspired to make a new sashiko kit to celebrate.

Meet the Spring Hanami Sashiko Kit. Set yourself up with a classy picnic, or perhaps bring some hanami indoors.

And, I want to share the hanami love! One lucky reader will receive a Spring Hanami Sashiko Kit, and perhaps some other sakura styled treats from Tokyo. So tell me, what is your favorite thing about spring? Leave a comment by Tuesday, March 20th to enter the giveaway. One commenter will be selected at random (one entry per person, please).

The Spring Hanami Sashiko Kit is a limited edition kit for the spring season and will be available in my Etsy shop beginning next week. Though, if you’re really excited about it — like I know you are! — you can pre-order by sending me a message at I can accept payments via PayPal, and orders will ship next week.

The 2012 Spring Hanami Sashiko Kit, $35

This design was inspired by the fluttering of petals as they fall from sakura trees on a breezy day. I love to stand underneath the trees and watch them swirl around me. The design is stitched using high quality, 100% cotton sashiko thread in pinks and white onto a gradated blue cotton fabric. It may look like just the lighting in the photos, but the fabric actually changes from dark blue to light. Sometimes this shading reminds me of the sky, and sometimes a stream. I’ll let you decide.

This kit includes everything you need to make one 16″ by 18″ (40 cm by 46 cm) table mat, including front and back fabric, pattern, materials for transferring the pattern to the fabric, needle, thread, and illustrated instructions. All materials included in the kit are of the highest quality and have been made in Japan. You will need to supply your own scissors, pins, and needle and thread. A sewing machine isn’t required, but it might be nice.

Want to learn more about sashiko? You can check out my online tutorial here, or stay tuned for how-to videos, coming soon!

Happy Spring!

Pink is the color of my White Day.

Today was White Day in Japan. Because I’m a bit spoiled, I got these:

A messy desk with fabric thrown over the piles of craft seconds as a photo studio. See Dan? there is a method to my madness.

Those macarons were amazing. Are they always? I have no idea. I usually opt for fruit tartlets, or dark chocolate with salty bits, or pie. But these macarons were ridiculously good. I didn’t shove them all into my mouth at once, even though I thought about it. I really did.

White Day is March 14th, the day when men who received chocolates from their lady friends a month ago are suddenly faced with an awkward and stressful dilemma: to return the favor and possibly send the wrong message (too much! not enough!), or pretend they forgot and hide under the desk all day.

While White Day was maybe a little stressful for Dan (many coworkers, many awkward moments), it was darn good to me. I left class with a sugar rush and a pocket full of Melty Kiss.

Not to mention, I had my classy snack set waiting for me at home.

My fancy pink teacup, a raspberry macaron, and my newest sashiko kit (coming soon!), a sakura-covered picnic mat. It was a very sweet day.