Blackcabbit (aka. Dionnie Takahashi) is an illustrator living in Japan. She loves drawing whimsical animal characters, as well as doing handmade crafts to beautify the world she lives in.
For the past few months, my life is nothing short of excitement (ya, and stress). With all the hustles of migrating to a new world with numerous culture shocks; surviving on my stagnant & pathetic Japanese; being a novice housewife learning how Japanese sort their garbage; surviving my first winter (brrr!)… Ah, all that is enough to zapped my soul and sent me into hibernation!
Woken only after spring is almost over, the artist-entrepreneur in me started to bud. I want to create stuffs and sell them. As I grew intensely fond of handiwork made with Wa-nuno (Japanese fabric), I treaded into the unfamiliar world of fabric handicrafts. Fortunately for me, I stumbled upon many wonderful craft books that provided me with the possibilities of producing a wide range of Wa-nuno goodies (e.g. hair accessories, purse, bags, home interior products etc.). Hopefully, I can have my store up and running soon.
Though my love affair with Japanese designs or patterns (和柄 Wa-gara) goes way way back, my interest in Japanese fabric is relatively new. As I diligently seek out suitable textiles in preparation for my Wa-nuno projects, I came across many types of Japanese fabric. The following list is by no means exhaustive, so feel free to comment if you have more to share. ^_^
Aizome (藍染め): Indigo-dyed fabric using natural plant dye from the leaves of the indigo plant (Ai – 藍).
Chirimen (縮緬): (Silk) crepe with crease-like, slightly uneven surface.
Donsu (緞子): Damask (silk); satin damask.
Kasuri (絣): Ikat; splashed / dyed pattern; using pre-dyed fibers to weave patterns into a fabric.
Kasuri Tusmugi (絣紬): Splashed patterned pongee.
Katazome (型染め): Stencil dyeing method, used to decorate fabrics (e.g. linen, silk).
Komon (小紋): A fine delicate patterns (on kimono material).
Meisen (銘仙): Interesting decoration made by pre-dyed threads.
Obiji (帯地): Obi (kimono sash) cloth material.
Omeshi (お召し): High quality silk crepe (fabric).
Oshima Tsumugi (大島紬): Pongee in variety of brown shades; a product of Amami Oshima (奄美大島) in Kagoshima prefecture (鹿児島県).
Rinzu (綸子): Figured satin.
Ro (絽): Silk gauze.
Sashiko (刺し子): decorative stitching or embroidery; commonly using white cotton thread on indigo-dyed fabric (See aizome).
Shibori (絞り): Using tie-dyed methods such as pressing, folding, stitching, twisting etc., to creating the fabric with slightly raised and wrinkled surface.
Syusuori (繻子織): Satin weave.
Tsudureori (綴織): Figured (hand-woven) brocade; tapestry.
Tenugui (手ぬぐい): A (hand) towel; face cloth.
Yuzen (友禅): Kimono dyeing technique with intricate patterns that are hand-drawn and dyed; invented by Miyazaki Yuzen Sai (宮崎友禅斎) in the Edo period.
Some of the above mentioned textiles have a high reputation of craftsmanship, while others are extremely rare. Hence, they can be overly pricey for any craft project. Fortunately for us who love wa-nuno, there is a reasonably priced alternative that also has a strong “Japanese feel” – the Wachyou Momen (和調木綿) – cotton printed with japanese designs/pattern.
Alternatively, if you are in Asakusa (Tokyo) or Kyoto, do check out any store that sells kimono or wa-nuno handicrafts. You may find packs of kimono scraps with assorted designs and colors. A pack may cost around 500–1500 yens, which is pretty reasonable for good quality kimono fabrics, and is sufficient for any small wa-nuno project.
Kiryudou (桐生堂) – One of the stores in Asakusa, selling a good collection of wa-nuno handicrafts as well as fabric scraps. Here is a link with a list of such stores (in Japanese).
Wa-project – featuring a vast horde fabric collection (lots of pictures too).
Great online resource on “Dyeing & Weaving” categorized by Japan regions (English version available).