Friday, February 7, 2014

Fabric shopping in Nippori, Tokyo

Not all the stores were open when I shopped in Nippori on Monday…so remember that when you shop here. Sunday not opened at all. Oh and remember to bring CASH.  No credit cards in these small stores.  I jumped on the Yamamoto Line from Shibuya(head towards Shinjuku) getting off in Nippori (not Nishi-Nippori).  Go out the south exit and you will see a sign for Nippori – Fabric town.  Follow signs at bottom of stairs and marks on the sidewalk.  Remember to take the stairs next to the fire station to go back to the same gate to train.   There is a paper map in English if you find one on street or in a store.  They are promoting the stores and give a good description of what each store has on the back side of map.  Some of my favorite stores are: Mihama cloth on the corner(43 on map)  He has prepackaged goods.  Some traditional Japanese designs and some children prints I love.  Also he sales Echino prints for 6.30 a yard.  This stuff in the states is expensive…so I look through the and see if I see something I can’t get at home.  Each visit is a bit different.  This time I found the cutest Pink youth print and one with monsters.  He has 1 meter packs and 2 meter packs.  Just fun and easy to buy.  Tomatoe is a good store but can be expensive.  Look in the sale racks.  One of my favorites is Yasuda Shouten(69) and Humongous. They are next to each other.  Yasuda has cottons and linens in natural colors and indigos.  So many to choose from.  Not cheap but really nice stuff.  Humongous has Indian cottons and beads that match the colors.  She is a nice gal and can speak a bit of English.  Love her colors. It is just fun to walk down the street and look at the bins outside the stores.  There are usually remnants and sale racks out there.  Again kind of close quarters in some stores.  The thing that caught my eye this trip were the leathers for 1500 yen($15.00).  Small hides but lots of colors.  Soft and thin hides(wonder what animal they are?!)  Can be put on garments or bags.  Lots of Elegance knits.  Expensive but fun.  Fabric is not necessarily cheap in Japan but when you find a piece you gotta have it is worth it.  I really try to look for the print and textures I can’t find at home.  You can find some Kimono shops and fabrics as well.  I have other spots I like to find these so I did not go in and look, but if you want one made that is the place to look.  This is a good site for pictures and video of Nippori.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Shopping Hong Kong Sham Shui Po district for fabric and trims.

I was in Hong Kong last week for work and asked a co worker to take us to the area for sewing notions, trims and fabrics.  She first took us to a place called Yen Chow Street Hawker Bazaar.  Imagine a homeless tent city in a large square block.  This was the most interesting shopping experience I have ever had! Low hanging ceiling of tarps, corrugated fiberglass and wood.  Linoleum paved narrow aisles with stacks of fabrics on both sides. Small swatches tagged to end of bolts to show the fabric. 
The lighting was so dark at some points I couldn’t see the color of the fabrics.  The prices were decent but the selection was not what I was craving.  With the way things looked I would be afraid to buy some wool in fear it had been wet at some point and probably stacked there for years.  I found some black lace and some iridescent fabric for cheap. 
Next we walked down to Yu Chau Street that every shop was trims, ribbons or beads.  Each store a bit different, every color of twill tape, cording or ribbon I could want.  We found Leather toggles, plastic buckles and sequin.  We found a fabric shop on Ki Lung Street but I got claustrophobic with the narrow aisles and the blaring radio talk show that was abrasive to my ears.  They had a lot of linings and left over production run fabrics.  The woman told us there was another store down around the corner on Shek Kip Mei Street.  This was exactly what we were looking for.  Laura found some silk for $10 yd for her niece’s wedding dress and I found two pieces of linen for $6-7 a yard.  One striped from Italy 56” wide and the other a light pink Irish linen 48”.  He had lots of men’s shirting fabrics and some wool.  Again my larger back side was not feeling the love in this store as every time I turned around I knocked over rolls of fabric just stacked on end.  I was also with a group not really shopping so I couldn’t spend my precious time to look through everything….so I took his card and will go back. Wa Fat Piece Goods Co. Shek Kip Mei Street
After telling another coworker about our adventure she wanted to go back Friday afternoon once we were done with work.  She is a subway taker and got directions how to get there from our hotel on Nathan road.  We took the train from Tsim Sha-Tsun heading toward Jordan and Sham Shui Po.  I believe it was 3-4 stops (it will say in English on the train monitor Sham Shui Po). When you get off the train walk to Exit A…that is really important.  When you come up from subway turn left.  This will point you toward Yu Chau Street.  There are lots of street vendors to distract so enjoy your way town to the street.  Once you are in the area you will start to see the trim stores.  Sorry I don’t have more on fabrics….next trip.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Quilt Market, Portland OR May 2013

My beautiful niece Allison, has an etsy shop selling fabric and handmade goods. Madicakesboutique She asked if I knew anything about the Quilt Market coming in May and should she go.....Is the Pope Catholic!  Yes you should and I should go also to be your consultant!  We have had this weekend planned for months and were so excited when it finally came.  I have been fortunate to have gone the last time it was in town so I knew what to expect...the size, being overwhelmed, loving every second.
Allison drove down from Bellingham WA on friday morning.  We hit the show for a few hours on friday afternoon.  We were both overwhelmed with the beautiful fabrics, colors, ideas and creative atmosphere.  We gladly accepted any thing people were handing out.  Later that night we went through the show catalog and marked the booths we wanted to go look at.  She had an appointment with her sales rep Saturday afternoon. We won two stacks of Kaffe 2 1/2" squares.  Love it!
One gal Allison wanted to meet was Heather Bailey.
 I snapped this picture of the two.  Heather has wonderful patterns and fabrics.  Check out he giant bluebird embroidered on burlap behind them in her was very cool. Check out her website.
I spotted one of my favorite quilt designers, Jane Sassaman.  I had taken a class from her at ArtQuilt Tahoe many years back.  She is such a nice gal.
Needless to say Allison & I were worn out and buzzing with ideas all weekend.  I was very sad when she left to go home sunday afternoon. We have had to go back to our routines...but excited to get back together to play in the studio hopefully soon. We have more ideas we have time for!  Love you kiddo!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Where I got my first design inspirations in the 70's

No this is not me....but this woman's  satin stitched emboirdered shirt inspired me as teen.........I have been thinking about this blog post for a while…actually over a year now.  It is about going back to my ”roots” for creative inspiration.  I think about "What is my look"? "Where do I get my ideas..?"  "What draws me to certian styles?"
I was a teen in the 1970’s.  I had a mother that taught me how to sew really well and a couple older sisters that were pretty crafty with a needle.  My oldest sister was a flight attendant for United and crossed over the continent hoping another high-jacker would not get on the plane again….she passed her time on layovers with embroidery.  The surface was usually a denim shirt.  After living on the east coast for many years, she had met a man that exposed her to the San Francisco Bay Area, where we were from, in a very different way then she had experienced when she was a teen in the 60’s.  The Bay area in the 70’s was about music, art and politics.  The non-working drugged out  hippies moved on and the thirty something’s that were still there and liked the organic or hip way of life realized they still needed jobs and ways to support their families.  They still drank and partied but they had to make a living.  Anyway what I saw come out of this was some pretty incredibly creative people doing their art and crafts, starting businesses, becoming graphic artists, publishing books, designing and making a big impression on me.  My closest friends were graphics artists starting to work for small electronic companies with fruit as a logo, doing posters for local radio stations and starting skateboard and art magazines.
I was listening to Ridgetop by Jesse Collin Young this morning and it brought back memories of hanging out in San Francisco at my sisters apartment a block from Haight street.  We would be sewing or embroidering things to wear or put on our backpacks. 
I embroidered this patch that went on an old green surplus knap sack I carried in high school.  My sister had turned me on to this book, Native Funk and Flash. 
  I loved this book, as well as American Denim. 
I loved to sew and knew I wanted to be a clothing designer, photographer or artisan.  I continued to make things over the years.  Here is a yoke of a top I made in the 80’s , I never made the shirt but can’t part with the work.  I only have a few things left…these two things are a few survivors.  I hate I have rid myself of some of my handy work…. denim skirts, vests, bags, leather patch suitcase.  I am sure I can dig up old pictures of myself, but I was usually behind the camera.

I bought this cool book at the quilt show a few weeks back by  Sue Spargo I loved the look of her work…reminded me of  what we loved back then.  A little Bohemian. As I looked through the book it was all the same stitches I have in two other little stitch books my sister had given me back then for reference that I still have…but I like Sues colors and ways she used the velvets in layers.  So it will go into my library with all my other little stitch books I have collected.  As I collect reference books over the years, I have found some books I would have just died for as a teen.  I loved anything that had design references.  Art Deco, Art Nouveau ,  flowers, anything I could put on my clothing or bags. 
Which brings me back to  searching for my look, my artist way.  I keep thinking I have to have a look, something that is mine.  I am a very good crafts person, I can swing a needle and thread or put together a garment with the best of them, but I never felt I had a specific look…too many ideas and too many directions.  I am working on narrowing this down I think……go back to my “roots”  the look I love and still gravitate to now….that look of the 70’s beautiful embroidery, patch work, denim, tapestry.  I came from a great area of the country, in a time when music and art were flourishing and I was around it, it influenced me to go into the clothing industry.  I just need to re-ground myself to what my dreams were.  Now I have the money, studio, stash of fabric, beads, floss, books, tools and knowledge.  I have learned so much in the past 30 years except how to trust my ideas and design skills.  I will continue to sew my way through the studio and make up my ideas inspired and updated from the 70's that influenced me.  

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Little Blueberry Pies


I made some cute little blueberry pies last weekend. I have this wonderful 4" x 4 pie pan from Chicago Metallic. I love the size. We can either split one or eat a whole one! Found a cute little book too, "The Magic of Mini Pies". I love the recipes as it is for a small pie maker machine or something like this 4" pie pan. I like her dough recipes. Very easy. I will work on perfecting the dough so it is flaky. Want to make some savory pies ...little Chicken Pot Pies! I had to make some cinnamon walnut spirals with the left over dough...yummy! I used to make these as a kid. Another cute pie book is "Handheld Pies" some fun stuff in there as well.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

PAC at Menucha - Spring time

Last weekend was another fun filled weekend at Menucha with the clan of Portland Art Collective. We had a great time creating and laughing about all kinds of things.Here is Dayna painting
Here is Steph working in her journal.
Tory was working on class samples and checking Pintrest
We had wonderful weather with the flowers blooming.
I wish our time there was longer and we could just create all day and night long. We work on show product or just sit and read magazines or books...wink wink you know what I you guys you are the best group of artist to hang with.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

India in January

I have a job that I am fortunate to travel to the orient twice a year. This year we decided to add production of our garments to some factories in southern India. It was decided that we should go visit our counterparts that we talk via email everyday and see the factories they would like us to use for future production. So on January 2nd, four of us from the office set out on a very long journey...Portland, Seattle, Paris, Bangalore...a good 25 hours of travel. We arrived late at night and drove 45 minutes to the Hotel Ista
I was totally planning to blog when I first got to Hong Kong but got so busy with work and got a nasty cold that I barely got my emails answered. I am writing this now that I am back. The driving in India was crazy and we laughed how they fill every space on the road with cars, motorcycles, tuktuks and trucks. I had lots of car time to look at the stencils on the trucks and how they decorated their vehicles. Women rode side saddle on motorcycles, holding babies, or bags or groceries. They looked so comfortable as their drivers whipped through traffic and narrow spaces. We saw one group with four small adults on a motorcycle!
The first part of our trip was to Bangalore India. This is Hotel Ista where we stayed near our first visit at the office. The pool and restaurant area was so calming.

We were in Bangalore for a day and then flew to Tirpur in the am and drove to a factory, took a tour, had lunch and then drove back to airport to fly to Chennai. The first factory is a knit factory that does knitting, silk screening and embellishing. I can tell you that there is a good bet that you have a tee shirt in your closet or drawer that was made in this facility. It was wonderful to see thier capcity and skills. Here are some pictures of the workers sewing sequin on tops. The workers are brought from the north as this is a specialized skill they told me.

The women wear the most beautiful wrapped sari's. The colors were bright and clean so amongst the background of the red earth and dirt streets , these beautiful women would stand out. Their hair would be pulled back in long perfect braids, some with flowers streaming down. This signage colors inspired me. It is a good example of the bright colors.

Not to bore you with details, we visited three factories in three days and ate very well, each showing us local cuisine that they favor. We went to the Shish-kabob Factory on the last lunch and the food just kept coming. I was so full! We had about 2 hours to shop before our last dinner, so our hostesses Suman and Saritha took us to a small mall where we bought some cotton scarves, then to a sari shop named Silkworm, that had the most beautiful silk and cotton fabrics for sari's and tunic tops. I bought a beautiful pink silk embroidered piece that I can make a top out of...they offer a service to make it up but I was leaving the next day and would not have time. I am excited to design a summer top with this.

The other piece I could not pass up and believe me I wanted to buy more..was this organic cotton hand woven Sari. It is bright orange and pink, it is appox 6 yards long and 46" wide. not exactly sure what I will do with it but I am sure I will find something.