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⌒@)

The Rainy Season Sweat Wicking Dress

Tsuyu, I love you and I hate you.

Rainy season wrap dress, by Saké PuppetsAccording to the Japan Times the rainy season began 10 days early. I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year. The bad: damp tissues, moldy sinks, towels that never dry, and the smell of damp feet. The good: I love love love waking up to the sound of rain in the morning. And any excuse to linger in cafes or drink tea all day while sewing or go to movies mid-afternoon. I don’t even mind the crazy curly hairdos. The temperature isn’t too hot or too cold, and the rain is rarely heavy enough to require more than a large clear umbrella.

The absolute worst part of rainy season? The fact that when it is over, it is summer. Hot, humid, and wet but in a different, nastier way. To prepare I am making dresses, and Japanese fabric is perfectly suited for Japanese summers. How convenient.

Rainy season wrap dress, by Saké Puppets. PS, my neighbors have pretty hydrangeas. This wrap dress is made with nani IRO woodblock pocho in gray/green double gauze cotton using Vogue 8646, the first Vogue pattern I’ve tried. It was just OK. I skipped a muslin because it’s a wrap dress (read: easy to fit), and made the size 10 with an extra 1″ in length in the bodice. I could have used another inch, I think. And the bodice feels too big. I hand-stitched the hem around the neckline which gives a nice finish and removed some bulk from the front. I am thinking about adding long ties, to actually wrap this sucker around my body and tighten it up a bit. But for a rainy-season-turned-sweaty-summer dress, it’ll do just fine. Japanese double gauze is like wearing a ShamWow. Sweat-wicking at its finest, my friends.

Rainy season wrap dress, by Saké PuppetsI bribed my husband into taking my picture with the promise of buying him lunch. And then this happened. Whooeee!

whooeee! by Saké PuppetsWe both ordered omurice like 5-year olds, because what else do you do on a rainy day?

Blue Waltz Dress

I haven’t bought new clothes in a while because every time I see something I like in a store I find a detail or something that isn’t quite right and convince myself to make it instead. This would be fine if I actually made the thing.

I finished my wool Hollyburn skirt just in time for … spring. As the weather warmed up, wearing a full wool skirt felt silly. And hot. So I tried to think a season ahead when choosing my next sewing project. Enter the Elisalex dress in Nani iro blue waltz.Elisalex dress in Nani Iro waltzTokyo’s summers are really hot and linen dresses are ideal. A lot of Nani iro fabric comes in this linen-cotton blend or double gauze cotton, which are great for sweaty Japanese summers. Coincidence? I think not.

I love the way this dress fits. The bodice is lined and just the right amount of snug.My zippier side.

I made a muslin for this dress which helped me decide to lengthen the bodice an inch. The muslin is still wearable though I’m not in love with the fabric, so I have designated it as my clean-the-house dress. Scrubbing floors in a dress = much more fun than scrubbing floors in sweatpants.

I went with an exposed zipper using this tutorial by Gretchen Hirsch and after seeing this tip by Closet Case Files added a very thin interfacing to give the skirt a little more poof. I don’t have a full-length mirror and now that I see these photos I might shorten the hem to the knees. I purchased the Nani iro from Miss Matatabi and lined the bodice in an orange and red cotton voile from my stash.

Summer, bring it on.Blue waltz for summer. Nani iro and Elisalex

Spring Circle Scarf

While visiting the Kawaii Nunohaku craft fair last month I bought two small pieces of fabric from a Kamakura-based shop owner. The fabric was a beautiful pairing and I knew right away that I wanted to use them in a scarf.

A beautiful pairing.I know nothing about these fabrics except that the colorful one is incredibly soft and light, is screen or maybe woodblock printed, and the other is linen. It might be hand-printed, too. I decided to make a circle scarf like the one I saw on Miss Matatabi’s site. I cut each piece into two 12″ by 30″ rectangles and sewed the short ends together. Following the directions here, I sewed the two fabrics together along their long edges then turned the scarf right-side-out, hiding the seams and pressing it crisp. I joined the remaining short ends and finished it with hand-stitching.

A spring circle scarf. I’m really pleased.

The *New* Tokyo Craft Guide

I’m really excited to share the news — I’m writing a book!

The New Tokyo Craft Guide

My friend Frances of Miss Matatabi and I have joined forces to put together the Tokyo Craft Guide, an ebook showcasing our favorite Tokyo craft shops, cafes, and project tutorials.

*\(^O^)/*

We have accumulated a list of over 50 craft stores (!!) and organized them in a series of craft-shopping-excursions complete with illustrated neighborhood walking maps, shop highlights, and favorite cafe spots. It is like a treasure map with the best kind of treasure – fabric! ribbon! buttons!

The idea for the Tokyo Craft Guide was born when we realized our favorite independently-owned craft stores are sometimes hard to find. They require extra effort to get to, but when you do you’re rewarded with lovely nooks of fabric, supplies and project inspiration, each with its own character or style. This is the type of experience we want to share.

The Tokyo Craft Guide ebook will be available next month, and in the meantime you can visit our blog for additional shop profiles, events and interviews. Much of the content I have offered previously on Saké Puppets will move over there and get a much-needed update, so fear not! You can also find photos and Japanese craft chatter on our Facebook page, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

We’re really excited to finally share this project with you! Please take a look, and thanks!!

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A Candy Party in My Bag

I am in love with Kokka’s new fabric Candy Party Tsuzuki. When Miss Matatabi gave me a few chunks I jumped right in and made this tiny punky needle book. Then … I stalled out. I put it on my desk and stared at it. I was dizzy with infatuation. What to do next? Do I cut it up and re-piece it, or do I use the pattern as-is? I thought about making a skirt but decided that is too bold, even for me, even for Tokyo. I considered a clutch, a backpack, more zipper pouches. I wanted something big to show off every combination of patterns I could muster.

candy party laptop caseMy laptop needed dressing up, it was an ideal match. Now, when I dig into my shoulder bag I see my Candy Party laptop gettin’ down in there.

laptop case by Saké PuppetsThis envelope-style laptop case is a combination of the pink-gold and blue-lilac colorways pieced together. I think it rocks, so much so that I ordered more of the purple-mint. What next?!