Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Fabric Shopping in Tokyo

Ladies and gents,

If ever there were a time for one to lose their cool, it would be on the wrong side of the world with fabric money to burn. I'm so disinterested in the bright lights (and loud noises) of Tokyo that I'd only really really meticulously researched a couple of tap classes and a whole day of self-indulgent fabric shopping. Honestly, not much else. I also chose my hostel based on its proximity to Nippori fabric town. One track mind, you know?

Somehow my visit also collided perfectly with some sort of festival in Nippori where every shop was offering 10% off!

I'd arrived with the hope of finding some good jacket and trouser-weight fabrics (British summers, eh?) but had low expectations after feeling how sunny and muggy it was during my stay (late May, early June). I even spotted a few unlined suit jackets around the city. Let me tell you one thing, the Japanese LOVE stripes, I didn't realise how prevalent they were on the streets until after I'd seen so much for sale in Nippori. Then I couldn't unsee it on almost every other person in the city!

I saw a salaryman on the metro who had a plain white shirt on but the CF buttons changed colour as you moved down the placket - an idea I may copy in the near future. A wink of novelty detail.

Anyway. Fabric town. Fabric town in the rain with a sale on.

I prodded almost everything on that street! I needn't have checked my map when I arrived shortly after 10am as the first shop I saw (Momo) had a gaggle of women fawning over its remnants and bolts. Must be sale time. This shop had beautiful stock, some of which was imported from across the world. It wasn't the cheapest and I was sad to leave a beautiful green linen on the shelf because it was 1,500 JPY/m but only 100cm wide.

Summery linen fabric
Pinstripe linen fabric (baseball vibe? Maybe I was thinking about baseball)
I went a bit loopy in the first 3 shops I visited, picking up some of the obscenely cheap stuff in bundles, and (hopefully) some better quality stuff too. A couple of times I had to warn myself to stay away from anything I could pick up in England for similar value. I mean, if you go to Japan and only buy European imports, you're kinda missing the point.

Cotton with diamond-shaped tiling pattern
Turquoise cotton. I'm obsessed with tiling patterns at the moment.

Lining Fabric
Teal/Turquoise lining from a bargain bundle. I also got an ivory one but forgot to photo it

Cotton fabric with colourful dot pattern
Cotton with a slubby/greyish background and wonderful colourful thumbprints.

There were a few cosplay shops, a few leather shops and some speciality knit stores too. The knits were mostly loose (like Girl Charlee's hacci sweater knit) so I wasn't too interested, but there was a lot of great sweatshirting around. I came away with some for another Nike hoodie.

Leafy sweater knit
Crinkle-effect floral sweater jersey. Navy/taupe colours.

Then there was Tomato. It was chaos! It took me  a while to figure out the system (bring a buddy, one waits in the cutting line while the other gathers bolts for cutting). Don't ask me how the floors/shops are split up. I have no clue.

soft fluffy herringbone fabric
Double-sided herringbone print stuff. It's really soft and quite fluffy, maybe somewhere between microfibre and brushed finish. Very strokeable.

Quilting cotton with paper crane motif
Paper crane print quilting cotton. Probably for pockets.

Waterproof nylon fabric
Waterproof nylon. For that time I decided I wanted to make an umbrella.

Silk habotai scraps
White silk habotai. I got 5 metres because the price was good, but this is all that's left!

Oh for the love of novelty prints! You need a novelty print cotton for a very specific theme/item? Of course they'll have 3 for you to choose from here!

Quilting cotton featuring cartoon dinosaurs
Dinosaur quilting cotton. Because why not?

To be honest, I had a better time in the smaller shops, I got pretty grumpy in Tomato pretty quickly. But I did find some good linings - one of which I have fawned over in Cloth House before.

I was expecting to find a bit more in the way of nice linings that I've coveted in Cloth House actually, but there were surprisingly few. This probably means more pining in Cloth House in my future...

After Nippori I headed to Shinjuku to visit Sekaido (art supply store - no real sewing stuff except for an infinite number of Frixion pens) and Bunka Fashion School. I missed their open day and show by a few days but was mostly there for the shop. After wandering around the campus trying to find it myself (looking like a complete yutz) I finally resorted to asking the security guard (using a system of mime, grunts and overly gracious thank yous). The keyword was koubai and it's in the basement level (main building, take a lift down, it's on the left of the cafe). I picked up some tools, cheap leathers and embroidery thread. I also prodded almost everything in this shop.

This is what's left of the leathers, they were used in  the patches on my merch bags 

After Shinjuku, next was Shibuya and Tokyu Hands flagship store. I was told to be prepared for "everything you can think of", which captures its spirit very well! Again, I wasn't prepared for it to be this massive! Sewing-wise I picked up some webbing and some elastics. Its sewing floor isn't particularly extensive, but the amazing thing about this shop is that it stocks almost everything else (except books). Peripherally I also got some tiny coathangers/buldog clips to hang patterns.

After this in one day I was pretty exhausted. One day of massively indulgent fabric shopping. Oh the greed. And as always I think I came away with nothing I'd planned on, while still ticking off a huge proportion of my list!

Keeping it all wrapped up for 6 days until coming back to the UK was excruciating, but loading it into my poor broken suitcase and dragging it home was brutal!

One shredded suitcase wheel
Wheel #1

A second shredded suitcase wheel
Wheel #2

Removing wheels of a suitcase with a drill
Repair in progress (shamefully still in progress)

One single day planned, done and dusted. Was this the best bit of trip? No, but I could enjoy the rest of my 2 weeks undistracted by textiles. Except for one very important pilgrimage...to the Nani Iro atelier.

Perhaps I didn't show enough decorum in its hallowed halls. Perhaps I should have looked a little more closely at the other shops in this arcade. Nope. Atelier Nani Iro was the destination and the staff were very polite when dealing with a sweaty, overexcited foreigner. I left with a beautiful haul and a very light wallet. It was good.

Five Senses print (see in the online store)

Shine Many Ways print (see in the online store)

SAAA SAAA Rondo print (see in the online store)

Poppy Trip print (see in the online store)

Bed Grass Cozy print (see in the online store)

Lei Nani - For Beautiful Corolla - Sea Hawaii print (see in online shop)

So that's it, what should I do with it all?


Internet resources used to plan fabric shopping

Cashmerette's day out in Tokyo
Tilly's trip to Japan
Japanesesewingbooks directions to Nani Iro
Daphnesensei's post about Bunka

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