In addition to the rows and rows of beautiful fabric, Karen is intrigued by everything else Japanese fabric stores display and sell. Karen lives in Japan and blogs at Seam Ripper; she offered to show us some Japanese fabric shop snapshots and we jumped at the chance. Later this week we’ll get a view of the European sewing scene too.

Do you have photos or details to share from the Japanese fabric and sewing scene?! Share in the comments!

From Karen:
Domo Arigato, Japan!

Two things I’ve noticed about Japan since I moved here a year ago are that (1) Japanese stores provide amazing customer service, and (2) in this country, there is a high value placed upon training and learning of any kind. These two factors are apparent to anyone walking into a Japanese craft store, since not only will you find the usual selection of fabrics, patterns, and notions, but you’ll also find fun craft kits assembled by the employees for sale in the store to help crafters complete projects on their own.

In my local craft store, the shelves hold finished products– like these pouches– with packets underneath filled with all the fabric, notions, and illustrated instructions you will need to make them yourself.

The craft samples are displayed in a variety of colors and patterns so you can decide which kit you want. Some of the kits I found in this particular store contained materials to make several different sized bags, fabric book covers, tissue pack covers, pouches, and decorations like these squid and fish hanging on lines.

Some of the kits must be unique to this part of the world– Like kits containing everything you need to sew the surgical masks so many Japanese people wear during flu season.

I brought home a kit to make a little change purse with some cute Japanese linen in a Red Riding Hood print. The packet came with two fabrics, a stiff lining, and the snap. The illustrated instructions with cute pandas and rabbits showing me what to do helped me along, even though I don’t read Japanese.

With a little squinting and guessing, I made it work. A cute new place to keep my yen!

Making the purse made me want to run out and get more kits, but before I take on a more complex sewing kit, I definitely need to hit my Japanese books and learn to read!