Inspiration file 27
A kid’s beret with fluffy pom-pom


In Japan, it is said that fall is the season for harvest, reading, sports, and the arts. In addition to athletic meets and school festivals, craft shows are held all around Japan during this season.

Masumi Saito, who had presented the Usaron’s frilly apron for our Craft & Sewing column, participated in a craft event. The event “24h@craft in Tokyo”, which 14 crafters collaborated on, was held from Oct.25 through 28, 2013.

“Since my oldest daughter was born in 2008, I have made handicrafts as time permits while I have been a stay-at-home mom.” Saito says. She has 5-year-old and 2-year-old daughters. She produces children’s clothing and fabric accessories from her brand named “sinafuku”. The brand name is a blend word from her daughter’s name “Sina” (pronunciation /SHEE-nah/) and “fuku” which means clothes in Japanese. Saito continues, “I want to bring nostalgic feel but also childlike sprightliness into my creations. By using mainly retro-inspired and pop-feeling fabrics of U.S. cotton or German cotton, I have made ‘one of a kind’ products.”

The girl in the picture is Saito’s younger daughter. She looks so lovely in her mom’s handmade beret with fluffy pom-pom. Saito describes the beret, “Since I rarely knit, I used a pom-pom maker to make such a big yarn pom-pom.”

Some of Saito’s original creations were also displayed at the event site, which came out of her experiences of raising children. “One of my products, the baby chair harness, can be placed on a regular chair when you cannot find a baby chair or a booster seat on an outing. The washable cotton breast pads were actually so helpful for me while breastfeeding. I also made a cover bag so you can wrap your bulky and awkward baby carrier. They are definitely convenient! I want more people to try them!”

Saito used to perform in a theater company when she was single. The way to express herself changed from the plays to the handicrafts with fabrics. In whatever she undertakes, there is no difference in the joy she feels.

You can see the blog of Masumi Saito at


A tiny story for a happy everyday life

Today’s featured fabric is etocoto designed by an illustrator, eto. The etocoto series consists of five different designs, with animals and plants used as its design motifs. etocoto is made from different materials including cotton broadcloth and cotton/linen canvas to match each design’s artwork and theme. eto says, “The theme for etocoto is ‘Bringing a little more happiness to women’s everyday life!’ My design has these three elements; bright color tones, enough cuteness and stories of tiny little people. I hope you can sense these elements through this fabric. It makes me happy if touching these fabrics and designs could bring out your creative inspiration.”

Sweets Border JG 36000-1 Cotton broadcloth

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The wide borders on this textile look as if layers of cake were transferred over. This textile’s design inspiration comes from various kinds of cakes. Colors reflect such delicious flavor combinations as chocolate and framboise, custard and strawberry, and café au lait and berry. How tasty! When you look at the designs closely, you can spot small objects like tiny people, doors and keys. A girl’s one piece dress will definitely be a choice for this fabric’s creation.

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Inspiration 26
A pendant necklace in the motif of mushrooms


Fall has reached its climax. Edible mushrooms are a feature of the fall season in Japan and there are a variety of mushrooms in grocery stores. Matsutake mushrooms, which are recognized as one of gourmet foods in Japan, are regally displayed for sale in extravagant wooden boxes. Shiitake, Enoki, Shimeji, and Maitake which you may know as hen-of-the woods are also lined up. Indeed, it is exhaustive collection of mushrooms!

Since mushrooms are a popular motif with crafters, it attracts more attention especially in fall. The toadstool pendant necklace in the above picture was made by the jewelry maker named “hirokoto-no-niwakara”. The chain is combined with a metallic piece of squirrel motif. She says, “I used an acrylic film to transfer the image of toadstool for the pendant. It’s the scene where a squirrel is looking at poisonous mushrooms.”

Her website “hirokoto-no-kusojikkenshitsu” includes web content of mushrooms. The site features pictures of various mushrooms and items & fabrics of mushroom motif. Check it out if you are a mushroom lover!

For more info about the projects by “hirokoto-no-niwakara”,
go to

Inspiration 25
Halloween dollhouse miniatures


Halloween is coming soon! Many shop windows are decked out for Halloween. Stores are decorated in black and orange, and seasonal packaged candies have appeared on shelves. Turning my eyes to a Jack-o’-Lantern displayed here, he looks back at me with an evil smirk.

Halloween is an event as big as Christmas for crafters. The above picture shows the dollhouse titled “Halloween Witch”, created by the dollhouse artist Teruyo Niwa.

With the hope that her dollhouse miniatures kit will make it easier and more enjoyable for people to create a dollhouse, Niwa has designed kits for each season and presented workshops with the kits.

Niwa describes the ‘Halloween Witch’: “I visualized a room of a girl who is waiting to dress as a witch for Halloween. The items here are what the girl would enjoy, such as a cutie-witch costume, accessories, and Halloween treats.”

The outfit of a striped jacket and a pair of polka-dotted pants are designed and made by Niwa herself. The orange clothes with black stitches give it snap. “Dressmaking was my hobby when I was single. I learned sewing by watching my mother who always made my dresses. I have made most of my own clothes since my junior high school years, even my clothes while working for a company after college. The experience obviously has been helpful for making dollhouses. I use a glue, not a sewing machine though.” Niwa says with a laugh.

How about having a mini-Halloween party with various miniature costumes you make at random? Little trick-or-treaters would be so excited to get such a small costume stuffed full of candies.

You can see the website of Teruyo Niwa at

Inspiration 24
A reworked chair with echino’s glasses print


October – it is going full-fledged into fall and getting chillier. Even though you have been too busy to take out your summer clothes and items from the closet, it’s that time already to change your wardrobe to fall/winter.

Don’t you want to rearrange your room at the time of koromogae* ? For the coming season, lacy café curtains could be replaced by cotton or linen ones in muted color. Or, how about making placemats to complement hot meals like a soup?

Probably fabrics will be so useful for redecorating your interior… How exciting! Well, what’s the first project?

While thinking a lot about it, I received an email saying “I recreated a chair!”. It was from the handmade craft artist Anri, who had made a glasses case and a lampshade for our Craft & Sewing column with echino’s newest prints. Look at the above picture of a bar stool reworked by Anri. The fabric of seat cover is the one from echino’s nico collection she used for the glasses case.

Anri said, “This bar stool had been my husband’s before we were married. It was put away for a long time due to stains on the seat of synthetic patent leather; we could not throw it out. One day, an idea crossed my mind, ‘why don’t I replace the seat cover so we can use it again?’ ”

Anri shows how she reworked it in her blog;
1. Unscrew the seat (to replace the cover easier)
2. Cut out the fabric to be a size larger than the seat
3. Fold the row edge in three at 1.2cm approx.
4. Put a string through the opening, cover it over the seat, and tie it up
5. Screw the seat to attach to the stool

According to her, it took almost 2 hours totally to rework this and another stool.. She also advised, “Elastic would eventually stretched and become misaligned. I believe a string is more suitable to fit it tightly and rightly.”

Since it is easy to put on and take off, you can wash it or change the cover with the seasons.

About this rework project with pictures and a diagram, go to

*) “koromogae” is a custom in Japan on or around June 1st and October 1st, which means seasonal changes of clothes to suit the season. The change is visible mostly in schools and companies where they have uniforms. Summer uniforms are worn from June 1st to Sep.30th. On October 1st, they are switched to another uniforms for cooler months until May 31st. (Some schools may have different dates but most ones stick to these days, probably to avoid confusion.)