Friday, November 9, 2012

Japanese Luxury Silk Scarf and Sewing Box

It's over one month since I went to Japan, and I'm still catching up. My first Japanese related blog post I'd like to share with you is my Japanese luxury silk scarf made from two gorgeous pieces of silk I bought in Kyoto Nishijin silk centre. This is really two posts rolled into one - the scarf and the lovely little hand crafted wooden sewing box you see in the picture above. How much do you want one of these?
Anyway, the silk. Nishijin silk centre is where you can see and buy those luxurious Jacquard and gold embroidered silks that you associate with really elegant  kimonos. I'm a bit foggy on all the history and facts about Nishijin, but I do remember it was a long bus ride away from Kyoto JR Station. You can read about  Nishijin here.

While I was there, I saw an inspirational kimono fashion parade, several different methods of silk making, and lots of silken items to buy. I would have loved to have bought a beautiful ikat woven silk umbrella (for AU$100) but I settled on a small pack of subtle silk scraps, a couple of key rings and two lovely pieces of orange silk.
The top piece is the speciality Jacquard silk Nishijin is most famous for , the bottom piece is  shibori style knotted silk.
I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the silk scrap pack, but I decided I wanted to keep the two other pieces whole and I thought the easiest way would be to make a simple silk scarf by sewing them together.
Which is exactly what I did. I used one of my new Japanese needles and a red rasant thread to sew a french seam directly joining the fabrics in the middle of the scarf. This doesn't matter when I wear the scarf, which I have already, as the join is at the back and usually covered by a jacket. You can see how well it turned out. Hand stitching of course - and it took me the whole of The Sunshine Cleaning Service DVD to sew that 12 inches, too!

I don't mind the look if the stitches. I feel they sort of fit in with the hand made nature of the silks. I wish I'd used silk thread though. It's such a long time since I've used it that I forgot I had some! I didn't hem the silk or take off the selvedges, the scarf is just two pieces of silk, joined in the middle. I wish I had more time to do things like this….

Second part of the post now.
This is about a quaint little needle making shop in Kyoto just off Sanjo Dori and the big shopping arcade in Down Town Kyoto. I first found out about this place before I went to Japan this year, when I was researching places to go, things to see and buy. I read two blogs, Just Hungry and Quilt Otaku, that both happened to mention Misuyabari (Japanese website only) and I put it on my must see list.
Misuyabari is a little tiny shop in a very traditional section of Kyoto's Down Town area, just off the main shopping arcade on Sanjo Dori. You can read a lot more about it on on both the blogs I mentioned above. Maki gives great directions there too. I was fully expecting to completely miss all the signs and get hopelessly lost, and…I didn't! It was actually extremely easy to find! I entered the arcade from the Sanjo Dori entrance, and I suddenly realised I was standing right at the sign to the shop! It's right next to the fortune teller's sign.
Then you turn into the little hall/arcade and walk through to the delightful traditional courtyard,
and there is the shop, just down the path.
I love little tiny shops  packed with goodies - I have one myself! In fact one of the things I love about exploring Japan retail, is getting ideas about how to organise my own tiny space.
Here is the owner helping a customer. And i have to say, it was so lucky she was there, because she helped us when I was buying needles. No English is spoken here. You can see all the lovely crafted items here - pins with tiny hand crafted character heads, chiremon fabric thread spools, tiny wooden sewing boxes, pincushions, fantastic steel needles - all hand crafted. I had to find a bank I could withdraw some extra cash from (cash only sales) and return to buy my sewing box and some gifts for friends.
I had to find a bank I could withdraw some extra cash from (cash only sales) and return to buy my sewing box and some gifts for friends.

Here is a really close look at what's inside it. The little snips are very sharp.
All in all it was a wonderful day! I finished off my wandering at Lipton Tea Room, with an iced tea and a Green Tea and White Chocolate Tart.
I love japan!

If you are going to Kyoto, Misuyabari is a destination shop. You can visit when you check out Nishiki food market, she amazing shopping arcades, Gion or one of the big department stores not far away.
have a good weekend,
Each box has a pencil line on one side to show how to correctly close it. The lid fits exactly and it never comes open when it's in transit in my bag or basket.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Don't be shy - make a comment! You've made my day ♥