Felt shapes and an exciting shopping trip

(Hi all and welcome – I'm so glad you're here. if you're visiting from the Crafty Crow be sure to check out this post for a little, bento-related giveaway)

I love working with felt –  it is so easy for the novice sewer like me and it's suitable for handsewing, which is easier to do in a house with constant distractions. I have a few Japanese craft books about making homemade toys for children and I fell in love with this project – an utterly adorable little geometric shape set made of felt. 

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My boys loved this sort of thing when they were little – all the pieces (usually wood or plastic in commercial sets) come in triangles, squares, and circles, and you can make endless patterns and pictures with them.

What I saw in the book was made with primary colors, which I think looked fantastic. In the colorway I chose here, organic, natural shapes might work better than severe geometric lines – I can even envision basic shapes like trees (with little apples to put on them), simple houses, cars, animals, people. 

Now, this wasn't handsewn and it was incredibly tedious to keep changing thread on my sewing machine (and to sew those tight little circles), but I think the end result is a lot of fun. It goes in a little cloth bag and makes an ideal travel toy. Here's my quick tutorial – all the pieces are made of double pieces of felt sewn together. Trace squares, triangles, and circles onto paper first and then cut two layers of felt for each piece. For variety some of them can be different colors on each side – just choose a thread which looks good with both. After sewing, do a final trim with scissors.

On another note, I had so much fun the other day. I went to a huge Japanese craft store called Yuzawaya. It's quite far from me, so I rarely get to go these days – no more than once or twice a year. It was such an exciting day for me.  

I've been wanting to build up a fabric stash for so long. I have so many projects burning away in my head and I can't even begin until I have a few more scraps and pieces here. Plus the boys are always coming home from school telling me they need an extra handkerchief (required), lunch mat (also required), little bag, etc. I'm still not happy with my stash – I love Japanese fabric and feel lucky to have such sheer variety here but I am longing for more vibrant patterns by my favorite designers who are hard to find here. But the longing is eased somewhat. One thing which helped was that I was able to pick up a bunch of fat quarters as well as a bias tape maker. As soon as I got home I started experimenting: 

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I'm really looking forward to being able to trim things now! One of the first things I tried doing was making a skirt for Mia out of linen and putting on a newly trimmed pocket pocket, but she wouldn't try it on so I could hem it. I'm afraid she might not be a linen girl….Or it may be that she was disappointed that it wasn't pink.

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I'm hoping it will help if I add some of these 

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but I think she would really prefer a riot of color, the brighter and pinker, the better.

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I don't know if she's going to be happy with the material I picked in this pile below to make her a little dress. It's a very light fabric but definitely lacks the vibrant punch she seems to love – it's a dark navy with teal colored flowers. The purple floral and solid fabrics are also for a dress for her, and the brown mushroom and blue dotted quilted materials will become book bags for each of the children.

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I also picked up a bunch of plain linen and linen-cotton blend fabric. I love the soft colors. I have a few secret projects planned with this, mostly gifts so I can't say more right now!

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Then, I found myself on another floor which I had totally forgotten about. The seventh floor of Yuzawaya in Kichijoji is chock full of beads as well as zakka kits. Amazing! I got so excited. There were a bunch of zakka kits on sale and I picked up a few, including this little kit for a water bottle holder

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There were many other kits there too – for placemats, coasters, even fabric slippers. I already started one kit, though the embroidery and button and strap are not on there yet. This is for a cup bag which is, again, another required item at Japanese school (preschool, not elementary). You bring your own little cup to school for lunch. 

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and then I picked up a bunch of little bits of trim. 

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This is also the kind of place where you can pick up small bits of cotton fabric bundles like this, which is so fun to dream about.

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There were so many other goodies- I picked up an embroidery hoop as well as some beading tools I'd been needing and some packs of beads, like the ones below. No matter what craft you do, there's something there – for needle felting, basket making, flower making, metalwork or leathercraft,  mizuhiki, lots and lots of washi (Japanese paper), knitting and crocheting, etc.

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There! Now don't you feel like you went to Yuzawaya with me? minus the sore arms (no shopping carts!) and legs…
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11 thoughts on “Felt shapes and an exciting shopping trip

  1. Amy Hanson

    Oh, man. How wonderful!!! But no shopping carts? That’s crazy, in a store with 7 floors!
    The little skirt for Mia is darling. I hope she comes around…The bright yo-yos have got to help, and will be adorable.
    I love the little kit of felt shapes! I would like one of my own, and the colors you picked are divine. So perfect!
    So VERY inspiring, all of it! Thank you!!!

    Reply
  2. kanako

    Thank you for the nice virtual tour of Yuzawaya!
    I don’t know why I didn’t go there more often.
    I love the round things you made for Mia’s skirt. My mom’s crafty friend once made me a bag with many of those in different colors.
    I am glad you had fun at Yuzawaya!

    Reply
  3. Laura

    Oh, I remember going to Yuzawaya when we visited Tokyo (when Pippa was 2). It was kind of overwhelming, but very fun! I bought some yarn and knitting books but had to control myself because of needing to fit everything in my suitcase to come home! Everything you got is so lovely. I just wish I enjoyed machine sewing more… You’ve inspired me to pull out that book, Omiyage by Kumiko Sudo, and hand sew something tiny and pretty!

    Reply
  4. Christine - Origami Mommy

    Thank you! I made another skirt, this time in shades of teal…..I think she liked it a lot better. Not sure what was going on with the linen skirt but yes I think she gravitates towards bright. We both enjoy (and need) the color fix we get looking at Sweet Sweet Life. 🙂

    Reply
  5. Christine - Origami Mommy

    And you’ve inspired me to look up that book. I hadn’t known about it. Do you like it? I am finding that small and hand-sewn is much more doable for me these days. That book looks like it has so many cute projects in it.

    Reply
  6. Katherine

    Yes, I do want to go to Yuzawaya. 🙂
    I think your felt shapes are cute too, I think if I made them I might try needle felting two colors back to back, because then I can be sloppier than with the sewing machine! Great attention to detail, I would probably just use all white thread, because I hate changing thread too. I like your blog!

    Reply
  7. Laura

    Yes! I love anything by Kumiko Sudo – she is an amazing textile artist! That book is a favorite of mine (though I’ve only looked at it, not tried anything yet). Also look for her book “Circles of the East” – quilt designs inspired by kamon. One more quilting book I love (I collect these – but one day I *will* be a quilter!) is “Quilting with Manhole Covers” by Shirley MacGregor which features designs based on the gorgeously designed manhole covers from various parts of Japan.

    Reply
  8. Jennifer

    Yuzawaya in Kichijoji is always a dangerous place for me! With Inokashira Park, Yuzawaya, Cotton Field, and other cafes and interesting shops, Kichijoji is one of my favorite places.

    Reply
  9. debra

    Oh man. And here I was, all excited because I got a ride yesterday, an hour away…to the Hobby Lobby. Hobby Lobby. sigh. This sounds DREAMY! I would spend too much time and money, I’m certain, but how wonderful. Love the felt shapes

    Reply
  10. Kristin

    I absolutely love the felt shapes idea! I am redoing my daughters’ playroom for their Christmas present and I think this would make a beautiful addition.
    I love all the goodies you brought home too! It makes me want to go through my fabric stash and start sewing. 🙂

    Reply

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