Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fabric and notions from Tokyo!

We spent Thanksgiving in Tokyo this year and had a really great time. I had a sewing supply buying agenda, as usual, and went out to Shinjuku's Kinokuniya bookstore right after we had dropped off our luggage in the hotel. 

Book 1 of 5
I had been eyeing Bunka College's English translated textbooks for a couple of years now and what better place to pick up the series than in Tokyo at the Kinokuniya's flagship store... If they had it. A really sweet girl named Imee helped us out for about 20 minutes trying to locate these books. They had a few at another location in Japan but it would take a week for transit. That wouldn't work.

In the end we headed to Bunka College on Thursday and found the entire series in their bookstore. I picked up some other stuff too, including pressing hams and blocks, drafting tools, ironing pads, and some other knick knacks for my sewing use.

Hand sewing needles, bobbin holder, Chacoliner refills, pressing and pattern tools

Pressing hams and pads, drafting rulers, fabric from Nippori's Textile town

We made our way to Nippori to check out Textile town, it was easy to find after getting off the subway thanks to the English signs. Shopping wise, Jim spent money on fabric for pocket squares before I found something I really liked. That's the second time my husband has purchased material before I have... this monster is my own doing so I can't complain.

I was pretty disappointed at the selection they had there. Don't get me wrong, it's still a fabulous place to find stuff. I've just been spoiled by the selection, amount, and prices available at DDM. 

Speaking of prices, WOW. Overall we expected Tokyo to be pricey but to actually see the price tag of some things really made me do a double take. Let's just say my shopping spree at Bunka ended up costing a little more than my ticket to Japan, and we upgraded to business class on the way there. EEK. But if we apply shopper's math, I *saved* at least $90 on the books alone than if I had to order them from Kinokuniya online.

Checkout at Bunka College bookstore (my books are on that stand to the right!)
There were a few leather stores along the main street in Textile town. I saw some beautiful pieces of hide that made me want to start sewing purses. I reminded myself I was there to primarily pick up notions and I really didn't want to hoard just to have it sit in stash for years. I don't know price ranges for leather but what I did see felt reasonable.

Beautiful leather pieces big and small

One of the Tomato stores on the main strip
I did buy a few yards of fabric with traditional Japanese motifs, they will eventually become a quilt to commemorate our first trip there. While there were lots of natural fiber fabrics (cottons and linens), there wasn't much that really appealed to my garment sewing interests. Not a big deal, I'm no where near lacking in textiles for my projects.

For those who are visiting the area, the biggest fabric and notions stores in the area are the "Tomato" stores. I remember seeing at least two. One building was two stories (pic above) where they had linens and cottons geared towards garment sewing, and the other store was five stories with a couple of floors for quilting fabrics, a couple for sewing home decor/bags, and one for silks, wools, fancy fabrics for garment sewing. The first floor of the larger Tomato store had a 200 Yen/meter (about $2.40USD at the time) section. Much (if not all) of the bolts were cotton quilting fabric, which could be used for clothing, but the weave on some of these were not as fine as the more expensive stuff. Average prices were $4-15/meter for cottons, depending on the weave. The silks were around $20/meter and wool fabrics averaged $10-$20/meter. The whimsical Japanese printed cotton fabrics started at about $10/meter, most of which were a broadcloth or canvas weight, suitable for making bags and the like.

I looked at some of the notion prices on the fifth floor, Clover brand supplies cost just a little less than online or at DDM, so I skipped on stocking up.

Today is the first day of December, my mega sewing month. I also need to prep a lot of my sewing room to be shipped back to the US. I don't want to deal with packing headaches when I return from my Asia trip. And yes, I will be visiting fabric markets all across the continent starting in January.

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