Power of Pattern: Central Asian Ikats

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Among the most colorful clothing in the word, ikat robes — which hail primarily from the “the Stans,” or Central Asia — employ “creative use of scale, proportion, and orientation.” They are created by dying the warp (or vertical) threads of silk and cotton, sometimes multiple times.

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This past week, my husband and I had a chance to head into Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) to see this collection.  Here’s the notice in the gallery:

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Note the embroidered cuff.

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This photo of a Tajik Wedding ritual (1865-1872) shows the rich patterns of both men and women in their ikat robes.  I did a Google Image search, which has lots of results, but these older robes, as shown in LACMA, are rarer now.  In that Image search, I saw lots of machine-made ikats, which don’t have the subtlety of the hand-dyed.

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On the right is a series of threads which will form the warp threads in a loom, showing their various patterns from dying them using a resist process:

“Fabricating an ikat design demands vision as well as time. Before any actual weaving takes place, the lead craftsperson must picture a fully fleshed-out color pattern. Next, assistants soak the warp threads of the textile-to-be in a series of dye vats—up to eight in total—accumulating hues along the way. Prior to each dying phase, all stretches of warp are strategically bound with dye-resistant greasy thread, leaving exposed only those portions meant to be colored.

“By repositioning the dye-resistant thread before every immersion, textile makers gradually cover the entirety of the warp in an array of different tones. The most skilled designers will subject some sections of the material to multiple immersions, combining red and yellow dye to produce sunset orange, or red and blue dye to yield rich royal purple.

“Finally, when the Technicolor warp is ready, loom operators stretch it taut and gird it with a cotton or silk weft. The result is a long, narrow oblong textile bearing the designer’s repeating geometric pattern. This can be shaped into an eye-catching coat, or alternatively kept two-dimensional and made into a wall hanging” (from an article in the Smithsonian Institution Magazine, when they mounted their exhibit of ikat).

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LACMA’s didactic label in the exhibit

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I love the visual doubling and tripling of pattern and color in this robe.

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I think the guards thought I was crazy when I came to this robe.  I kept crouching down, zooming in, trying to capture the details of what I would call a type of kantha stitching, embroidery, hand overcasting.  It was a riot of color and texture and pattern:

You can see the nature of the ikat weaving, which blurs the edges as the weft yarns are woven through those pre-dyed warp yarns.  To make velvet, two rows of weft yarns are needed, instead of just one, so velvet robes were considered top of the line.  In the outfit above, it is the outermost robe.

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I took so many photos, that I’m not really sure which title goes with which picture, but I enjoyed reading the names of the clothing: a woman’s robe is a Munisak, a woman’s dress is a Kurta, and a man’s robe is a Chapan.

“Defined by an hourglass sihouette produced by the gathered fabric at each side of the waist, a munisak was used throughout a woman’s life for significant events, from her wedding to her funeral.  As such, it was an important part of her dowry” (LACMA text).

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Recently, my friend Judy had traveled to this area with her husband, so I was familiar with the term “the Stans,” and what the area looked like.  Although some consider that term a snub (“stan” means land, as in Afghanistan is the land where Afghanis live), I think it works well for those of us not familiar with where these countries are:

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Image sneaked off of her travel blog, *here*

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Women and their Ikat Robes (2017), from *here*

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Turkish Coat, pattern #106

While we were in the LACMA exhibit, I told my husband that many quilters have used FolkWear patterns to make a similar robe, and added detailed surface decoration.  I first learned about ikat when I took a class in Houston several years ago from Roberta Horton, a reknowned quilter, who showed us ikats from her line of fabrics, made in India:

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Although I was a Clothing and Textile Major in college, I’d didn’t remember hearing about this fabric before; perhaps that why I wanted to blog about it today.  But in the quilting world, we also have variants of these colorfully patterned robes worn by these people from Central Asia.

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I’ve seen the Tabula Rasa jacket and all its variations, from a pattern by FitForArt.  Perhaps it’s the blurring of the lines between our patterned quilts and these beautiful ikat robes?  The more surface decoration the better?

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Not always. I’ve also seen some not-so-great versions of handmade clothing that were patterned to within an inch of their lives, certainly showing their makers’ skill but not always on the level of what was in that exhibit.

The brilliant thing about these ikat robes is the sense of balance that is present.  Even in the layering of the different patterns, something pulls them together, links in either color or design.  A worthy goal for our own creating, wouldn’t you say? whether it be in quilts or robes or clothing.

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This was another experience that showed me that old truth: it’s always good to get out of my head, my studio, and the endless loop of social media, in order to gain inspiration from other places in the world.

Happy traveling, and Happy Father’s Day!

Wedding Day for Us

The day my husband became a father to four children.

Happy Fourth of July 2018

Fourth July Tiny Quilt

To honor the 4th of July, I stitched up another tiny quilt.  I love being patriotic, as the meaning has a sense of loving America and its peoples, the history and the early settlers, and those who set up the government in 1776.  It helps that my nickname in my childhood was Betsy, but I do love the red, white and blue.

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I went through my Orphan Quilt Blocks box, found one that wasn’t being used, and smallerized it, using this PDF pattern to cut it out: Fourth July Tiny Quilt Star Center

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I put on two borders, quilted it (so fast because it’s so small) and put a single-thickness binding on it (cut your strip 1-1/2″ wide), gluing down the back binding and top-stitching it down.  It is one of those quilt projects you can take at full throttle–no fussy cutting or intricate piecing.  Put your pedal to the medal and crank out a 4th of July star tiny quilt!

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It slips over the back of one of those cheezy plastic stand picture frames (under 2 bucks at Walmart). [More on the quilt underneath it at the end of the post.]

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Here’s a post with general directions as well as how to make a sailboat design.
And I have also made:

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a snowman,

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a harvest pumpkin, (which has more directions, especially on that binding)

 

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and some Christmas trees. (I included the directions for the smaller trees.)

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I made the quilt above quilt five years ago at the same time we had a government shut-down, and I was moaning about government needing to behave itself then.  I now look back on that particular chaos with a wistful glance; would that we had that steadiness now!

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Yet, I still believe that America is a Tune, and that we must figure it out — sing it — together, no matter how painful things are.  After reading the book Hamilton, I value what those early fathers of our country (and mothers, too) must have faced and appreciate how much work they did and how inspired they were to come together and get the framework off the ground.

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Have a Happy Fourth of July!

 

Pioneer Cosplay

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Logo by Simone

Recently a few of us here were involved in the Heritage Day Celebration, honoring the early pioneers in this valley. It happened last Saturday, on a mildly hot day.  Good day to be wearing all these layers, right?

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Didn’t Thoreau say something like “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes”?  I think the dress looks like a cross between Mary Poppins and the mother from Little House on the Prairie, an ancient TV show that forever colored our view of what women in the 1850s wore around the farm, and notable for the final show: they blew up all the set houses with dynamite to keep them from the local evil corporate guy.

We hosted a “quilting booth” but instead of that tired old trope of setting out a quilt top so people could mangle it with their stitches, we ran a hexie booth, based on the research I found that quilters at the time were doing English paper piecing.

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We had some work to do.  We, meaning, several of us who have attended our quilting group for many years, plus some others we conned into asked to participate.

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First, combine four patterns to make a pioneer outfit (seen above). Then start working on the demo goods: hexies.

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I appliqued them to a tote bag I picked up a couple of years ago at Quilt Market, figuring the “maker” theme was a good fit for hexies.

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l to r: Julie, Melissa, me, Laurel, Simone, Lisa. (PS Simone doesn’t really look like this. She likes to pull faces. Her texts always make me laugh.)

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We figure we glued up about 500 hexies, total, between this and what Leisa did later on.  It was so good to have these!

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It was a team effort: our friend Dennis brought us tables and chairs, and Leisa was the “set decorator,” using quilts from near and far. We arrived at 7:10 a.m. and left at 2:20 p.m., the right amount of time.

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We also had some modern hexies there to entice the participants; that is Laurel’s beautiful Modern Millefiore Hexie quilt on the left, with Simone’s hexie pillow (pattern here), and other props.

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We had Color-A-Quilt pages for the littlest visitors, as well as create your own quilt block (below).  We had to remind them that it was a visual treat–take a photo with your phone sort of thing–as people kept walking off with my design boards.  That is Julie’s hand you see there, making a mock-up.  She kept these two sections rolling the whole day.

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from l to r: Cindy, Julie, Denese, me, Laurel and her husband Ralph, Leisa, Simone

The original crew, plus my husband, Dave (who is taking the photo).  We swapped out two for four others mid-day; we were swamped, so were glad to have them.  Here are some photos from our day:

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We were suprised by the number of teens — and teen boys — who sat down and made a three-hexie patch from start to finish.

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Most did not look like this–they sewed them up properly, although sometimes with an interesting twist or two, but we thought this won the prize for “Most Interesting Hexie” of the day.  We had to teach many how to tie knots (about half had no idea how to do that), and we saw that lots of youngsters (and oldsters) liked to be able to sit and sew, a skill not often available to them in other places.

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We had a sample quilt set up in a hoop in case anyone wanted to try hand-quilting.  Most were more fascinated by the hexies.  And most wanted to pick through the baskets of cut fabric squares and glue their own shapes, too.

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Wee Pioneers

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I love sharing our craft with some new quilters!

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Stats: 3,000 paper hexies purchased
60 needles (only 35 were brought home–don’t know where the rest went)
3 needle-threaders: one from Clover, my friend Laurel, and my husband Dave
2 ten-gallon jugs of water
4,000 cut squares prepped up: fabric donated by Paintbrush Studio and Primitive Gatherings
Project boards that are not dusty: 0
Number of pioneer outfits that will never be used again: 7

Triple Squares in “On Your Mark”

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My friend Simone recently launched her first line of fabric for Paintbrush Studios.  It’s called On Your Mark and has its origins in punctuation marks.

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Because I’m a pal, I get to sew with it.  I made her a baby quilt using her fabrics, perfect because the fabric has a lovely soft hand that the quilt won’t be scratchy at all.  I call this Triple Square.

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It’s basically a variation of a nine-patch, using 2-1/2″ squares with side pieces of 2-1/2″ by 6-1/2.” It goes together very quickly (like I started it Saturday afternoon, and delivered it, unbound, by Monday evening).  You may have seen this at QuiltCon, where she used it in her demo.

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Triple Square, 42″ square

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It finishes at 42″ square.  I quilted it in random angle lines, going around and over and above the brightly colored squares.  I threw in some random other background pieces, just to spice it up.  Then I channel quilted it around the outside edges, to create a type of border.

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The reverse of Triple Square

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This is Simone’s free downloadable pattern for her collection, titled Gumdrops, which you can find on the link at the top of this post.

Look for Simone’s fun and colorful collection coming soon to a quilt store near you!

Fabric Shopping in Tokyo and Seoul

This is the second post on shopping for fabric in Toyko and South Korea.  My last post talked about the famous Tomato Fabrics and Nippori Fabric Town.

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It looks like I’m standing in a fabric shop.  However, it is a tenugui shop, a place that sells fabric that is narrow in width, with unhemmed ends.  A tenugui is translated as a “wiping cloth” and is used for bandanas, napkins, drying towels, and this place also sells really long tenugui that can be used as scarves.

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This shop is found in 2k540, an artisan collective near Akihabara station.

These are the two tenugui that I purchased, and below is the detail of the one on the left, with its subtle coloring.  They are about two feet long.  I plan to wash them up before using them in my sewing, or maybe I’ll just leave them in the kitchen downstairs for some fancy dish drying.

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My husband gave me these a couple of years ago, and I didn’t understand what they were for.  Now I do.

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If ever I go to Tokyo again, I’m headed here: Yuzawaya in the Ginza area, although I understand they have other locations.  I used my Google maps to get to Ginza Core, the tall building in the middle of the photo.  I walk in and a young woman all dressed up, even with a hat, is at the “concierge” desk for the building.  I show her the name and she says “Oh, yes.  Sixth floor.”  I keep forgetting that different stores can be on any floor here.

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The elevator opens onto this scene.  Wow–a real fabric shop.  I don’t know if they allow photos, and I don’t have the language to ask, so I kept taking undercover photos as I walked around.  They have yarns, embroidery, crafts, magazines, notions, fabrics, woollens for mens’ suits, patchwork (what they call quilting) and so many other things.Tokyo_Yuzawaya2

You can see the button wall on the upper left in this photo: rows of boxes.  I imagine someone might have to help you? but it does look self-service.

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There was someone just to the right of me, kind of blocking access, otherwise I would have plopped down and spent all evening looking through these magazines.

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Tiaras…just in case.  Obviously this was the bridal section.Tokyo_Yuzawaya5Tokyo_Yuzawaya6

Fur trim is big here.  I didn’t see any mink balls here, though.

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Blue and white fabrics–maybe from Japan, but possibly from China.

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Quilting cottons and their equivalent of fat quarters in front.  180 yen is about $1.60, and these pieces are suitcase-sized, coming in at about 14 by 19 inches.

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Regular sewing fabrics.  I wonder if you have the sales clerk pull the bolt for you after you give them the number.  This is the real challenge in shopping in a foreign country: you just don’t know how things are done.  After being in Tokyo for a few days, it gives me much greater appreciation for visitors to our own country must experience.

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Men’s suitings.  I had picked up a basket while shopping, but was determined that I would not buy any more things than would fit in the small basket; I got pretty good at packing it in. What did I buy?

 

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I bought this gadget, that will help you make clutch purses without getting your fingers all full of glue (brilliant gadget).  They use a string to help tuck the fabric into the frame–all the frame kits and the string.Tokyo_Yuzawaya13b

I bought two sets of purse handles, as they were selling about 75% cheaper than what I can buy in the states, plus the above fabrics.  The French fabrics on the lower right are coated, so they’ll make a nice lunch sack.  I found fabrics from Japan, France, Scandinavia, and some bits of American fabrics, but not much and all the prices were reasonable.

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Next fabric challenge, in a new country: Dongdaemun Shopping in Seoul.  Wikipedia tells me that “Dongdaemun Market opened in July 1905 in Yeji-dong whose name means “a neighborhood for learning politeness”, so the market was originally called Baeugaejang (“market for learning”)….The market sells all types of goods but notably silks and fabric, clothes, shoes and leather goods, sporting goods, plumbing and electronics, office supplies, fortune tellers, toys and food areas specialising in Korean cuisine. It also has many pet shops.

“DDM [its abbreviation] was traditionally a night market and wholesalers once operated from 1:00 am to 1:00 pm. Now, the area is open for 18-½ hours a day from 10:30 am to 5:00 am, with some stores open 24 hours a day, although most close on Mondays and holidays.”

We went over in the afternoon, not knowing about their 5 a.m. closing time.  We came up out of the subway using Exit 9, and I’d done some research that told me to look for the J.W. Marriott and it would be to the right of that.  That white gridded building with the yellow-lit area underneath is the Marriott.  But there were also two uniformed, English-speaking guides standing at the subway exit, and they helped us find our way.

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This side of the river is the fabric shopping.

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I understand that the other side, that massively long building is clothing.

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Maya, an IG friend who we’d met for lunch in Seoul, had all sorts of tips for Seoul, and we found her advice really helpful.  Basically each stall has a number, led by the floor number (so 5018 is on the fifth floor).  There’s also a building number, as you can see.

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But truthfully?  Once you get inside, give it all up.  Just wander.  We did eventually find the booths that Maya tipped us off to, as well as about a fifty-thousand others. (There are multiple blog entries about this place–just Google it.)  It’s a market made for business, but they put up with the rest of us.

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Because I was in love with all things hanbok (their traditional dress), we happened on the booths selling their fabrics.  In the neighboring booth, a young woman was being measured for her own hanbok.

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The renowned Happy Quilt booth.  If you ever want to go here, keep track of the number on the sign overhead.

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Booth after booth after booth for as far we could see–this place was huge.  Many booths just had swatches of fabrics, and if you liked it, they would call the warehouse, get it cut and deliver it to your hotel.  If you got like 60 yards, they would deliver it for free.

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I like to bring home a piece of jewelry from my travels, but from what I could tell, the women in these two countries don’t wear a lot of costume jewelry, except for pearls.  So we stopped at this booth and picked up some polished stones, another booth (below) had cording, and I’ll make myself a necklace.

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Last stop, outside: ribbons.

It’s about now — after walking forever inside, realizing that we’ve only touched the very edge of this area for shopping — that it dawns on us that so much of our fabrics and our clothing must come from this area of the world.  Of course we know that, given that America labels all its clothing and purchases, but that is not usual.  But from now on when I walk into a fabric shop in America, I’ll remember that much of what I see had its genesis from this area of the world, maybe even represented by one of these little booth sellers in this massive building.

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The purchases were few.Dongdaemun_14a

Dongdaemun also has this huge plaza with buildings designed by the famous female architect, Zaha Hadid.

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Apparently every one of the panels is cut to a different size.  All I could think was: quilt design.

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This was our last night in Seoul, the end of our Asia trip, and all I wanted was a meal from Shake Shack.  I guess you could say I was ready to not have to be adventurous in my menu choices anymore, ready to go home, ready to grab the rotary cutter and explore with fabric some of the designs I’d seen in our travels.

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I have one more post from our trip, about our visit to the Quilt Museum in Seoul.  Also coming up: the drawing for the zippers (tomorrow morning) and I’ll contact the winners by email.  Thanks for reading, and thanks for your interesting comments.  You are all a well-traveled group!

 

Shopping for Fabric in Tokyo, Part I

First, just to get you in the mood for how big, how huge, how overwhelming Tokyo can be, let’s Sing A Song (click on link below):

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It’s from a video taken at the Shibuyu scramble crossing, a place I went to on my recent trip to Tokyo.  The advertisers must pay Big Bucks to have four screens going at once.

 

 

Ginza Scramble Intersetion

I have to admit, I like the Ginza scramble crossing better (above), although I never got a video with people crossing, as I was always there early in the morning, before the rush.

But we’re here to talk about the fabric shopping.  I found shopping in three different places: Nippori Fabric Town (the nickname), Yuzawaya (an elegant store, 6th floor, Ginza area), and a place you might not think of: buying tenugui, or wiping cloths, in an artisan shop near Akihabara.

Here are three large files of the map of Nippori Fabric Town, 2017 version (click on each picture to enlarge it). I had printed out an older version of this map and taken with me, so this might help someone; these maps are available in many shops.  True confession:  I didn’t shop the entire street, as my time was short, so I will only share my experiences with part of the street.

Nippori Fabric Town is a section of  a street, not too far from the Nippori train station.  I had downloaded Hyperdia, an app that gives you travel directions for the massive subway system, and referred to it often.  Google Maps was also really helpful

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But the real godsend was the portable wifi hotspot we rented, which made our lives infinitely better while traveling in a place where you don’t speak the language (although there is a lot of English around, once you figure out where to look).

Oh, and Google Translate, another app.  You can open it, hold up your phone’s camera up to a sign, and it will translate it, so you can find out things by reading.  Of course, once in a shop, it translated the ingredients of a pastry as containing “walnuts, flour and Breath of Heaven,” so there you go. (I actually downloaded this at home to read a recent purchase of a Japanese book about lettering–helpful there, too–although the idiomatic expressions may always be a challenge.)

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My Hyperdia map (and Google map) said to exit the South Gate.  Where you exit in the Tokyo train stations can be as critical as to which train you take.  I had to ask once for help, and they redirected me, for even though you have the maps, you still get lost.Tokyo_Nippori2

Pretty panels outside the South Gate, as I headed on a walkway over the tracks to the stairs down to the street below:

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Check out the guy rolling his suitcase down the little ramp next to the handrail.

Come down the stairs, go across the street, then proceed straight at the next street.  Tokyo_Nippori3

Turn right when you see this:

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(You’ll be coming from the other direction: look for the giant upside-down hockey stick next to the iron maiden statue, and turn right in front of the stick.)

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I loved seeing these patterns all in Japanese, but didn’t buy any, being reminded of that line said by Barbara Bush about Nancy Reagan:  “She’s a size 4.  So is my left leg.” (I loved Barbara Bush; Japanese clothing is just not made for me.)

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I knew there was also a Happy Fabric I was supposed to scout out when I went to Seoul (next post), but doubted that they were related.  If you do a search for “fabric shopping in Tokyo,” there are several blog posts that will each give you a different piece of information about jumping into this experience.  And they all said:

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“Head for Tomato Fabrics.”

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The first Tomato shop was my favorite.  The fabrics were nicely organized, the shop was clean, the sales staff had a smidgen of English and were very helpful.  The down side of shopping on Nippori street is that the minimum purchase is 1 meter.  When I’m home shopping, and I have the back of my mini SUV to throw all my purchases in, this is not a problem.  But when I’m traveling overseas, and I have one small suitcase, slightly bigger than the size of my dresser drawer, this is not happy news.  I figured if I got desperate, I could leave half a meter of each fabric behind, but instead I left my pajamas behind, rather than part with any of my fabric (and a blouse in Incheon was abandoned, but that was a mistake: always check the closets, she now says).

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Why is she wearing a face mask?  It’s complicated.  But you see it everywhere.

At this shop I purchased these fabrics.  I made sure that everything I purchased was made in Japan, and I loved finding fabric by Keiko Goke and Yoshiko Jinzenji.  The sunflower print fabric, one a canvas and one a quilting cotton, are by Suzuko Koseki, with Yuwa again being the manufacturer.

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One down, more to go.  I’d asked the ladies in the above picture which Tomato shop had “patchwork” fabric, and headed that direction.

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This shop wasn’t it.  This was the 100 yen shop, or 1 meter for 100 yen.  At this time, we estimated that 1000 yen was roughly 9 dollars, so 100 yen was about 90 cents.  This is where I started to fall out of love with this adventure.  Again–if you are local, it’s bliss.  If you are a foreigner, with limited cash and space, it’s not really helpful to have a lot of fabric that is sort of clearance stuff, upholstery stuff, etc.  How can you possible carry home 3 yards of fleece, even if it is incredibly cheap?

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I moved on to this Tomato Shop, with five floors. (Doesn’t it make your heart leap to see all these rainbow colors, even if it is just fabric for dress lining?)  I passed on the American fabrics, for I learned that I’m just not keen to pay $20 bucks for a yard, and instead concentrated on local fabrics, of which I found plenty to choose from.

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Final Tomato store was a lot of fun.  While I was waiting to be checked out, I took a snapshot out the window of this electrical pole.  A work of high-powered art.

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Dots are universal.  I had obtained a rolling cart from a helpful employee, loaded it up with cute Japanese Christmas fabric and rolled it carefully to the cutting table, having checked to make sure I didn’t have the kind of tag that indicated I’d have to buy a meter of each.

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The selvages may have played a part in my decision…

Wrong.  I had to buy a minimum of a meter of each (above).  I put half of the bolts aside, and purchased four pieces, instead of the ten I’d picked out.  Even after I’d bought one meter of fabric, he wouldn’t cut a half of the next.  One meter per roll.

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I wandered through the remaining Tomato shops, feeling very much like it was warehouse shopping, and didn’t buy anything else.  My backpack was heavy, and it was only the 4th day of my trip.  Space would be a problem, for sure.

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When they say there are over thirty shops here, some of them are like the one above: leather skins hanging out front, along with mink balls, and a dingy interior (where the owner was slurping his ramen).

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Halloween?  Traditional Costume?  With one black hand, one white hand?

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Time to go home.  I retraced my steps back to the Nippori Station, a combination of old and new.  New, in that they have the barriers at all the track edges, and old with the arches.

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When I came back to my hotel, I noticed this little shop.  Always when I’d passed by it, early in the morning on the way to the subway station, the rollup metal door had been down, and I hadn’t known what was behind it.

So later that afternoon I went to see what was there.

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It had Liberty Fabrics, sashiko embroidery kits, lots of stitchery kits–a very charming shop in a very small space.  The employees knew about 5 words of English, a larger vocabulary than my pitiful Japanese, but they were unfailingly polite and tried to be helpful, always smiling.

The younger woman in the shop kept that smile plastered on her face, even when helping two other obtuse Americans who where there with me.  Maybe it was the end of a long day, or just their nature, but I was immediately embarrassed to be from the same place as them.  Woman A was nearly taking apart one of the displays, trying to figure out how it was put together, taking several photos.  The young employee came over and smiled, and held out her hands, as if offering to help.  Woman A barked at her “How will I know if I should buy this, if I can’t read the instructions?  I have to figure out if I can even make the darn thing!”

I wanted to pretend to speak French or German…anything but be associated with this person, who had not figured out the basic rule of Japanese consumerism:  Don’t Touch the Stuff.  Seriously.  You can ask them to show it to you, you can lightly gesture towards whatever you want to see and if they give you a nod, then proceed, but we Americans like to shop with our hands.  Touch touch touch.

And one more rule: be nice.

I remember once trying to buy a little wiping towel when I was in Japan in 2001, for there really weren’t towels or dryers in the bathrooms.  Every woman carried around a little towel in her purse, and pulled it out and dried her hands that way.  In this department store from the display, I leaned over to pick up the towel (really a washcloth) and the woman helping me said gently, “No, no.”  Then she scurried off to the back, came out with a washcloth like the one I was interested, and with both hands, presented it to me.  [This trip I saw dryers nearly everywhere, but still not too many paper towels.  And women everywhere were whipping out their little towel to dry their hands.]

I accepted all my packages this week with both hands.  I offered up my credit card with both hands.  I took the receipts given back to me with both hands.  But rarely did I ever touch anything in a shop without their permission.

Woman A ended up leaving without buy a thing.

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I also learned to let the shop know that my purchase was a gift, and the simplest wrapping job  — in this case a cellophane bag with a piece of paper, a little bit of ribbon with a sticker — became a work of art to take home.  This little bit of Japan in my suitcase was far better than yards and yards and meters and meters of wadded up fabrics.

Next post: Yuzawaya, Tokyo Shopping Heaven, and We Venture into Dongdaemun, in Seoul.