40×Tokyo: Tenugui

40 x Tokyo

T-minus 11 days and counting.  Just over a week away!  The anticipation is reaching an apex; I am so excited. Today’s birthday trip wish is to stock up on …

Tenugui (手拭い)

So what are tenugui?  Basically they are traditional, thin, cotton towels that are printed with the most incredible designs.  The internet changed the course of my career, but my roots are in graphic design.  You marry that with my Japan obsession and a fetish for fabric and tenugui becomes a perfect storm. So many of my favorite things rolled up into one little package that also happens to be both fashionable and functional.

The little towels are great for more than just drying your hands and tieing your hair back in Kendo.  They make a great way to wrap wine and sake to give as gifts… can be hung as well art… used as placemats for a nice dinning experience… twisted and tied to make an impromptu hand bag… and so much more.  I have a very small collection of tenugui so will be happy to add to it.  What I haven’t solved for yet is how to use them in a new and innovative way when it comes to sewing fashion projects.  I am sure the inspiration will strike at some point.  Ideas are welcome!!!

great omiyage tenugui from tokyo

Kamawanu Daikanyama

When I first started planning the Tokyo trip, it has been a few years in the making, Daikanyama was high on my list simply for a visit to the home of Baby the Stars Shine Bright.  While the original home of this alternative fashion brand has moved, I didn’t want that to be a reason rule out visiting the area all together.   Thus Google brought me to Kamawanu.  They have branch locations across Tokyo, but their main branch is founded here in Daikyanyama.  In addition to row upon row of tenugui, they also carry a selection of other traditional Japanese accessories.

kamawanu tenugui daikanyama

The best part of tenugui is that the designs usually tell a story.  The motif of the design has meaning.  The more I learn about the Japanese culture the more I comprehend some of these great tales and fables.

Links: Kamawanu English Site  |  A Crafter’s View

Credits:   (一)   (ニ)   (三)   (四)   (五)   (六)


Project Kickoff: Rabbit Print Dress

There are 3 websites that I frequent regularly to find cute Japanese fabric.  The first is Super Buzzy, the second is Fabric Tales, and the third Emi Craft in Japan on Etsy. They all have a very good selection of prints that span from cute animals, to sweets, to fairy tales.  And all these shops carry fabric prints that you will not find in your local JoAnn Fabrics collection.

Rabbit Tea Party Sewing Project

Last month I came across a fabric called Rabbit Tea Party in a black and gray colorway on Emi Craft.  A few clicks, quick checkout with PayPal, and before long it arrived in the post.  It has since stayed tucked away in queue behind several other projects being finished up.  [While I love that inspiration strikes and projects amass, I should know by now that it is so much better if I focus on one thing at a time. Anyway…]

Rabbit Tea Party cute fabric

The challenge with this fabric will be how best to maximize it.  It is a precious 2 yards.  I am not sure if it is possible, but ideally I want to make a one piece dress.  Now for the inspiration – a  favorite Japanese brand, that I would gobble up if it wasn’t for their oh so petite Asian sizing, Emily Temple Cute.

Emily Temple Cute Dress

After browsing Marui One’s online catalog of ETC dresses, came across not only the dress styling I want to mirror but a somewhat similar fabric as well. Stripes and macaroons clearly go well together.

Since I have so little wiggle room for mistakes due to the amount of fabric, this project is going to take some time.  First step will be to find a few patterns that will get the closest shape, then onto a muslin draft, adjust the pattern, and then go for it.

But first things first… got to make it through the work week.

Sweet Dreams, Sheri