Sea Green and Sapphire

A blog about a love of colour, addiction to fabrics and joy of crafting…

Japanese Cottons with Traditional Patterns

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Japanese cottons Yesterday I blogged about my not so successful attempt at buying Japanese fabrics. I eventually decided it’s probably best if I try to order some directly from Japan. The first online shop I came across in Google was Fabric Tales.  Although their website is hard to navigate, their selection was very good (although more recently they seem to have had less stock).

 I wanted some fairly traditional Japanese fabrics , but unfortunately I had to stay away from the beautiful Kimono fabrics. They were dry-clean only and I wanted my fabrics to be easily washable as I wanted to make various types of household items from them. In addition to the more traditional Japanese prints, Fabric Tales also had a nice selection of very cute children’s fabrics which the Japanese seem to do particularly well (I particularly like these owl prints). Cute Japanese fabrics

Japanese fabrics seem to fall into two broad categories. The first group consists of flamboyant prints typically featuring flowers in lovely bright colours (I’ll blog about these in a few days time) and the second group has more simple patterns, often in red, navy, gray  or autumnal shades. There are matching cotton solids which have a particularly nice texture to them (as in the olive fabric in the picture above). This second group of fabrics, in their simplicity, appeal to the Scandinavian in me and I think they particularly suit Finnish homes.

A detail of a patchwork quilt made from Japanese cottonsThose people familiar with sashiko embroidery will recognise some of thetraditional Japanese patterns shown on the left. I’m by  no means an expert in Japanese culture, but there is an interesting historical background to these fabrics (as well as sashiko embroidery).  Apparently there used to be a law in Japan a few hundred years ago that forbade lower class people from wearing clothing made from elaborate colourful prints. As a result this law gave rise to navy linen clothing that was decorated with simple white embroidery. And later this must have lead to the same patterns being used in cotton prints. And apparently this law was also responsible for the multi-layered look of traditional Japanese costumes: the simple prints would be shown on the top, hiding the more colourful prints that were worn unerneath. A Throw made from simple Japanese cottons

Because these fabrics are not frilly and romantic, they are particularly good for making things for men. I used the navy and red fabrics to make a fleece-backed throw for my dad  as a Christmas present last year.

For my brother and sister-in-law I used the autumnal shades to make table mats. Their taste is very Scandinavian, and the understated beauty of these fabrics suit their home very well.

A Table mat from simple Japanese cotton prints


Author: Heidi

I love colour wherever I find it, in art, photography, gardens, nature. I also love all kinds of fiber arts; spinning, dyeing, knitting, felting, sewing.

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