English Craft Club 7月8日: Flying Geese Quilts

The next English Craft Club class meets Sunday July 8th in Shinjuku Gyoen! This upcoming class is part of the American Quilt Series, and up this week is the Flying Geese block.

This block was fun to put together, and can be arranged in a variety of ways to create some interesting patterns. Come try it for yourself!

Finished quilt blocks can be used to create a placemat, decorate a tote bag or cushion cover, or save to add to a larger quilt. All project materials and light snacks are included. Cost is 5000 yen per person, or bring a friend and get a discount! The English Craft Club is open to everyone — men, women, both native speakers and those learning English. If you are interested in joining the class, please send an email to sakepuppets@gmail.com to register. Hope to see you there!

You can find more information about upcoming classes by clicking the links below. Thanks!

Sunday July 8th: Schedule
12:55  Meet at the Okido Gate at Shinjuku Gyoen
13:00  Class begins! Choose fabric and begin project
14:00  Break for snacks and refreshments
14:30  Class instruction ends, but feel free to stay until 15:00 to finish your project and chat with instructors and new friends

* * *


12:55 新宿御苑の大木戸門で集合
13:00 レッスンを始めしょう! 単語集を習ったり、ご自身で布を選んで頂きます。
14:00 休憩
14:30 ワークショップ終了。15:00までは講師が残っています。


『The English Craft Club』は楽しく英語を勉強するクラブです。毎回のクラスごとに、皆さまに各自で作品を作って頂きます。クラフトをしながら、様々な表現や英単語を楽しく勉強していきます。

『The English Craft Club』に参加をご希望の方は、以下のアドレスまでご連絡下さい。ご質問もお気軽にどうぞ。(英語・日本語どちらでも結構です)sakepuppets@gmail.com

The English Craft Club, this Sunday!

There are still a few spots available for the English Craft Club in Shinjuku this weekend. If you are studying English, love crafts, and live near Tokyo – this is for you! This week we’ll be learning embroidery. Please RSVP for details. Drop-ins are welcome on a first-come, first serve basis. See you there!

Look at my garden grow

I hesitate a bit to tell you how much time I’ve spent thinking about these vegetables this week. Because it makes me seem a little insane.

School has started up again, and all I can think about in class is how much I want to go home and sew my veggies. They’ve possessed me.

I think it is because they are incredibly satisfying to make — quick, easy, and in the end, totally adorable. Who thought a carrot could be so cute? I never did. I don’t even enjoying eating carrots (because I am still a 5 year old and pick them out of things), but sewing carrots is another story.

I made all of these veggies using this craft book I bought a few months ago, which has been sitting on my desk, begging me to open it. Laughing at me. Taunting me. “Look at how cute my fruits are!” it says to me in the middle of the night.

The title of this craft mook (regularly produced, somewhat cheap paperback books) translates to “Full of cute vegetables and fruits,” which is the absolute truth. It also promises that you can make everything inside using 20 sq.centimeter squares of felt, which are widely available around Tokyo.

The result is that some veggies turn out quite small, which was a challenge for my clumsy fingers.

Let’s take a look inside:

The headings and project titles are in English, but all of the instructions are in Japanese. I find I like this, actually — I can read enough to get a general sense of what to do, but also forces me to do a bit of problem solving to make up for the Japanese that I can’t quite understand.

Each vegetable is represented in a full color photo spread in the front of the book, and in the back of the book additional assembly instructions guide you through the project. Patterns are printed on an additional sheet, which you tear out of the back cover.

I think they stretched the definition of fruits a bit by including these cakes, but who can complain once they see how happy they make this bear.

More photos can be found on Flickr. Have you made anything out of felt recently? Do share!

Weaving a fine mess

A friend invited me to try saori weaving. Excited by new crafts and adventures in Japanese, I happily accepted.

I spent about 2 hours seated at a loom and came away with 2 table mats. Up close, I think they look pretty darn good.

If you step back to admire the view, you might think, “Eh! Not bad for a beginner!”

And then you step back just a little bit more, and … oh. Well. That’s quite a mess.

I’m not sure what happened. I’m a pretty handy person, usually. But weaving is hard. Well OK, the truth is it’s simple but I lack coordination. It also might have been useful to ask questions, which I couldn’t.

I wanted to ask the instructor why the edges were so wonky, and what could be done to prevent that from happening? In Japanese, I said: “It’s not cute! Why?”

Her response: “Nice job!”

And so, I trudged ahead and with plummeting expectations, finished my mostly-crooked table mats.

I was disappointed over my failed attempt until I started doing a little more internet-peeping. I learned that saori style weaving is known for its imperfections and celebrates the beauty that evolves from mistakes.

Perhaps I did get it right.

If you’re in Tokyo and interested in trying saori weaving, you can visit Jota in either Kichijoji or the Seibu department store in Ikebukuro (7th floor). Contact them in advance to schedule use of the loom, cost is 1000 yen for 3 hours plus 15 yen/gram for yarn used (my table mats were less than 500 yen each). More photos of my weaving adventure coming soon!

Badge of Honor

I’d like to share my new favorite craft book.

embroidery emblem. It’s a small book with gorgeous photography. I’ve spent far more time looking through the pages of this lovely book than actually crafting the projects in it. I love the style. No wildflowers or calico cats here, my friends.

Though this jellyfish is totally rad, I’ve become enamored with the monogrammed emblems. I love the idea of wearing a personalized badge. Mine will say A — maybe for Angela, maybe for Awesome. Or Awkward. It’s hard to tell.

First, the photo spread:

Then a pattern and stitch guide:

Most of the patterns are a little advanced, with stitches I’ve never tried before. But even so, I managed to poke out a few gifts for friends. Here are the fan photos they sent me:

These were fun to make and easy to customize. It didn’t take me long to go off pattern…

I think I’ll wear my heart [badge] on my sleeve.

A Stylish and Cute Craft Book

If you would have told me a few years ago that after moving to Tokyo I would be ooh-ing and ah-ing craft books dedicated to ribbons and pink bows, I would have laughed in your face.

Only the bows knows who’s laughing now.

I even made a mega bow. I’m not sure what head of hair is ready for this.

This craft book is adorable, full of easy accessory projects to make in under an hour.

I love the brooches and badges. If I wore one of these, I would feel like a winner all day.

I’m not sure what to try first — the bow necklace or the hairy shoulders.

The illustrated step-by-step instructions are really easy to follow, and the assembly techniques heavily favor a hot glue gun. It’s like I’m an 11 year old again!

And get ready for this … scrunchies are making a comeback! A J-pop band even sings a song about them (ponytail to shu shu) though due to gratuitous beach and wet t-shirt scenes, I’ve decided not to link to the music video. Do the work yourself.

Summer stabbin’, had me a blast ♫

Summer stabbin’, happened so fast. ♫

Met a crafter, crazy for me. Met a tea towel, cute as can be.

Ahem. OK, enough of that. Want to know something sad? I actually Googled the lyrics to Summer Nights to make sure I had them right. Of course I had them right. (Head shake.) Silly Angie.

But back to crafting (Dan, I’m back!). I bought this pre-printed cloth from Hobbyra Hobbyre in April. I love the pattern of the dancing fūrin 風鈴, a glass wind chime which catches the wind and creates a quiet tinkling sound. These pop up around Japan during the summer. The delicate sound is meant to remind us of a breeze, to help us feel cool.

I’ve had the windows open a lot this past week, and I can hear a fūrin from somewhere nearby. The clinking sounds, and my blue fingers stained from the indigo-dyed sashiko yarn, remind me of eating blueberries and sitting on my grandmother’s balcony during the summer. She let us make the best forts on that balcony.

This design is different from what I usually do, which is the more traditional white-on-blue. I enjoyed trying something new, even if I learned a few things the hard way.

First, curvy lines are trickier than straight ones. Second, changing colors all the time is tedious. Or maybe I’m lazy. Third, dark thread on a light background fabric means you have to be careful and keep a tidy back, or your fly-away ends will show through and make your finished towel look terrible.  I had to go back with a needle and thread and tack down all my loose ends, which was a bummer because I thought I was done, and then I wasn’t.

Hopefully these summer dreams won’t be ripped at the seams. Whoa-oh-oh. ♫

Anyone else have a summer project?

When button dreams come true…

Yesterday I bought a $20 button.

Actually, it cost ¥1,470 — with the current exchange rate, that’s $18.28 USD.

Worth every yen:

I’m not sure if this is a case of succumbing to Tokyo’s inflated prices or embracing the rare gem this city sometimes offers you.  It doesn’t actually matter, because at the moment I’m in button-love.

I’m working on a special project that needed one special detail — thankfully, a place like & STRIPE exists. A button and notions shop in hip Nakemeguro, & STRIPE has really neat stuff.  That’s right — neat.  Neat-o.  Rad.

They have a strict no-photos rule inside, so you’ll have to trust me.  & STRIPE is easy to find — from Nakemeguro station, head northwest until you hit the river.  Follow the river west and the shop is on the left side, about a 5 minute walk from the station.  (Need help getting to Nakemeguro station?  Try this site.)

1-25-3 Aobadai, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-0042   Tel. 03-3714-3733   Open 11:30 to 7:30, closed the first and third Tuesdays of each month

〒153-0042 東京都目黒区青葉台1-25-3

A second shop is now open in Kichijoji: 2-7-4 Kichijoji, Musashino, Tokyo 189-0004   Open 11-7, closed the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays of each month

〒189-0004 東京都武蔵野市吉祥寺2−7−4川谷ビル1F

Looking for other craft shops in Tokyo?  Check out my Tokyo Craft Guide


It took me a while to get around to visiting Kiwa, the bead and DIY jewelry chain. It seemed like an overwhelming place for someone (ahem, me) who doesn’t wear much jewelry, let alone make it.  My mother LOVES bling and makes her own bracelets, so I’m not sure how I missed out on that gene.  It must skip a generation.

Kiwa, as it turns out, is great.  (And so is this buck, the shop mascot.)

One of my favorite things about craft shops in Japan is that they not only stock supplies, but also kits and displays with lots of ideas for things to make yourself.  Kiwa is no exception.  Some locations even have workshops and cafes in case your crafting fingers can’t wait until they get home.

There was really something for everyone, even a jewelry dunce like me.  Loose beads, kits, hardware, hair accessories, fancy gems and plastic headbands galore.  Photos aren’t generally encouraged in craft shops, but…

… sneaky sneaky cell phone camera …

Personally, I was a fan of the blingy DIY iphone cases:

Maybe I am my mother’s daughter.

Kiwa Omotesando
La Forêt Bldg 3F, 1-11-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo Tel. 03-3475-0411
You can find many other locations around Tokyo by checking their webpage.
Check out my Tokyo Craft Guide for even *more* reviews, maps, and craft magic around Tokyo.  Enjoy!

Another sashiko class, in the bag

This morning I had sashiko class, where I picked up a new project:

Oof, it’s complicated.  Hopefully, someday, that will be a bag.  I took a lot of notes, and pinned little scraps of paper with instructions and hints to each chunk of fabric.  Maybe, someday.

My favorite part is the tone-on-tone stitching — gray thread on luxuriously thick gray fabric.  I can’t wait to see how it turns out … someday.

During class my sensei invited me to her home, though sadly, my language skills failed me and I had some trouble expressing to her that yes PLEASE I would LOVE to do that more than ANYTHING!  Hopefully the crazy-eyed look on my face didn’t give her the wrong impression.  I learned recently that she is the author of this book and this book, so I can only imagine how lovely her home must look.  Sigh.