A Weekend of Craft Shops, Day 1

Yesterday I regaled you with my confession of otakuness, and here is the proof.

This past weekend we set out to Futako-tamagawa in search of a craft shop.  That’s right, I lured Dan along with the promise of ramen, but we somehow ran out of time.  I’m a cruel woman.

Hobbyra Hobbyre and Lido Merceria are not just craft stores, but Tokyo shopping at its best — small, well-curated specialty shops for the enthusiast.

Let’s begin with Hobbyra Hobbyre, a French-embroidery-inspired, Liberty-of-London-lover’s paradise.  This shop carries a little bit of a lot of things, but all were of the best quality — beautiful cotton and linen print fabrics, fine yarns and wood knitting needles, sewing patterns and books, needlework supplies, selected tools and notions, and amazing printed embroidery kits.  I mean amazing.  I wanted to leave with a few of each.

The downside to this shop is that it’s a bit expensive.  Fabric was in the 1000-2500 yen per meter range (US$12-$30 per yard), yet I picked up some reasonably-priced sashiko supplies for 200 yen each (US$2.50).  Dan told me later that, while waiting outside, he got a bit nervous when a woman left the shop exclaiming how expensive it all was, because I was still inside, taking my sweet time, certainly doing damage to our bank account.  My words, not his of course.

The crown jewel of the day, maybe my entire week, was the Hello Kitty + Liberty of London limited edition cotton prints.  Both have a dedicated cult following (many of you know about my little Liberty crush), and they’ve combined forces to produce some of the most whimsical and lovely fabric I’ve seen.  I stood there for a while trying to come up with a project idea worth the 3200 yen per meter price tag (almost US$40 per yard), but in the end I decided I couldn’t love Ms. Kitty quite enough.

This sneak-attack photo doesn’t reveal much (photos aren’t typically allowed in craft stores), but the print is of Hello Kitty flitting amongst London Town icons.  (Apparently this collection is only being sold in Japan, so if anyone is interested I’d be willing to go find some and put up a reserved listing in my shop – send me an email to discuss).

I went to Futako-tamagawa in search of Hobbyra Hobbyre, but was delighted to find Lido Merceria just next door.  Where Hobbyra Hobbyre is all things embroidery and French floral, Lido Merceria is German retro-era needlepoint.

Lido Merceria feels more like a curiosity shop than a craft store.  I loved the display case of vintage scissors and tools (yes, those are $85 embroidery snips, for anyone who is counting). With notions, buttons and trim, patches, and upholstery-weight fabric, all in varying degrees of vintage and new, this shop was a treat.

And what did I end the day with? I showed incredible restraint — sashiko thread in pretty pastels, a printed sashiko pattern, and a few swatches of Liberty fabric.  Not a bad day.

Getting there: Take the Tokyu-Den-Entoshi Line from Shibuya station or the Tokyu-Oimachi Line to Futako-tamagawa station.  Cross through Dogwood Plaza to locate the Takashimaya Shopping Center. Lido Merceria and Hobbyra Hobbyre and on the 5th floor of the South building, across from the Camper shoe store.

Lido Merceria  Tel. 03-6805-6822, open 10-9
Hobbyra Hobbyre  ホビーラホビーレ  Tel. 03-3707-1430, open 10-9

Tamagawa Takashimaya S-C South Building 5F, 3-17-1 Tamagawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo

〒158-0094 東京都世田谷区玉川3-17-1 玉川高島屋S・C 南館5F

According to their website, Hobbyra Hobbyre can be found in other locations around Japan.  Check store locations on their website for more information.

Sashiko! Sashiko! Rah rah rah!

It’s true, I was a cheerleader in high school. I’m pretty sure I was pegged as the grumpy cheerleader (bookish introverts probably shouldn’t be allowed on the squad), and I would have worn motorcycle boots with my uniform if they had let me.  But I digress.

I can’t help but cheer because my sashiko kits are finally up in my web shop, and I’m really excited.  I’ve been working on these kits for the past few months, and I’m happy to finally share them.  I designed the patterns and created illustrated instructions detailing the techniques I learned from my snappy old-lady friends in sashiko class.  Let’s take a peek:

I tried to marry traditional Japanese aesthetic with modern design and materials, which is probably how you could describe my taste at the moment.  Every dish and towel in my kitchen is indigo and white, and everything else in our apartment is either white, wood, or Muji-tan.  I find it simple and refreshing.

These coasters are also great because they provide almost-instant gratification for the busy crafter.  They take hardly any time to make, and class-up tea cups tenfold.  A few of the kits are geared for beginners and a few for more experienced needleworkers, but I’m happy to answer questions and do some virtual hand-holding for anyone wanting to learn sashiko and jump in head needle first.

I’m now moving on to a second batch of designs (on top of my Action Craft quilt project, which is still a sizable heap of scraps), so if you have pattern requests, let me know.  S – A – S – H – I – K – O!

Maybe that one needs some work.

Holy Etsy, Batman!

Wow! Thank you, dear friends and readers — because of you, my Etsy web shop is nearly sold out!

I couldn’t be more excited/thrilled/astounded! Perhaps I need to lay off the caffeine this morning (and the exclamation marks), but I wanted to send out a big THANKS for the support, and let everyone know that more is on the way! I’ve got more lined up to post, and a busy weekend of stitching ahead of me. So check back, and again, thanks!

The Big Reveal…

I’m so pleased to finally reveal the project I’ve been working on the past few months — a little place of my own at the online marketplace, Etsy!

Now up and running, my web shop features handmade goods with unique Japanese details. Yay! Right now I’m starting slowly, with small bags in all shapes and sizes with sashiko embellishments.  A common way for women in Japan to stay organized, these mini bags make switching between handbags quick and painless.

I hope to add much more in the near future, including bento box lunch sets, sashiko-detailed linens, and even some DIY kits.  So check back often!

Delighted by new resources and smitten by Japanese whimsy, I’m taking it to the streets Internet for some crafty, handmade fun.

Many forces have converged to help make this project possible.  Thanks to all my friends and family who have given me feedback and support.  I’m so grateful!  And a special thanks to my partner-in-craft, Spoppy and his awesomely eerie illustrations.  In case you are curious about our creative process:

Yep, it’s that seamless.

So take a peek!  I’d also love to hear what you think, so feel free to send me feedback, emails composed entirely of emoticons, or just notes of greeting to sakepuppets <at> gmail <dot> com.