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Art and Craft with Japanese Fabric

Japan has some amazing Japanese fabric, plus art and craft techniques such as Yuzen dyeing and Katazome stencil dyeing that add richness and beauty to its fabrics.

Chirimen, cotton, hemp and silk are also beautiful textiles for creating furoshiki wrappings, kimono, kanzashi flowers, noren screens and more modern Japanese-inspired patchwork.

Don't forget about stitching the fabric too! Read about sashiko embroidery, boro sashiko and sashiko designs as well.

Personally, I have developed a keen interest in Japanese cotton with indigo dyeing and the huge range of blues to blue-greens that this natural dye can create.  Did you know, there are only a handful of traditional indigo dye farmers in Japan these days?  I found this out watching a short YouTube video on indigo. The real indigo is hard to come by these days as it is most commonly a man-made dye in the modern world.

But, Japanese fabric arts are more than just indigo!

When you're looking for "Japanese fabric" you really need to decide whether it is the fabric itself that you're interested in (such as silks, hemp or cotton), or is it the patterns and techniques used to create designs that are Japanese (such as shiborisashikokanzashi, hand dyeing or prints). Perhaps you just like something because it is "made in Japan", but not necessarily a traditional Japanese art?

Things you can do with fabric that imbibe a Japanese feel about them include making Western-style or Japanese-inspired clothing such as happi coats, yukata or kimono, home decorations, bags, jewellery, wrapping items with Japanese furoshiki, the list is as long as one's imagination!

My mum is a crafter and seamstress and has made many quilts using Japanese fabric ranging from kimono silk off-cuts, to cotton sashiko prints and has an impressive collection of Japanese silks and Japanese prints in cotton in her craft room.  She has made me and herself a wall hanging fashioning together different fabrics, patterns and shapes to recreate her travels through Japan in a "quilted diary" a few years ago.

Here in Australia I have access to many small businesses that import Japanese fabrics ranging from pre-made kimono and yukata in silks and cotton to fat quarters of unique Japanese patterns. Additionally, the roving craft and handmade markets nearly always have one or more Japanese fabric stands. But, if you want to buy Japanese silks or other fabrics in Japan one of the coolest places you would have to visit would be the Kyoto Handicraft Center! I could spend days in there...

You might like these

  • Japanese Furoshiki

    Japanese furoshiki wrapping cloth can be so pretty and so versatile. On this page, I'll show you some of the work I've done with them!

  • Yuzen Dyeing from Japan - Information and Techniques

    Have you ever heard of yuzen dyeing? In Japan, it is regarded as the quintessential art of painting silk for kimono.

  • Melinda Heal Textile Artist

    Melinda Heal is an Australian textile artist who has spent many years studying the techniques of Katazome stencil and Yuzen dyeing.

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