Tokyo's Textile Highlights!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Hi all! I had an amazing afternoon of fabric shopping in Tokyo on our recent trip to Japan. To round off a series of posts about handmade in Japan, I thought that my fellow dressmakers might like to see a couple of my Tokyo textile highlights, including my modest but much loved fabric haul from fabric super store Tomato!

In textile town!

Tomato can be found in Nippori, which is also known as Textile Town (my kind of place)! I'd done a bit of research prior to travelling out there as I didn't want to bore my fellow non-fabric-loving travellers with hours of trawling, and I'd heard Tomato was 'THE ONE'. Well there are actually 3 Tomato stores (as well as many other fabric shops) on the same road. One seemed to specialise in curtain/upholstery fabric, one looked like the 'bargain' shop, but the best of them all had (I think) 6 floors of AMAZING choice and that's where my haul came from.

Tomato haul!

What to buy?

It was so hard to pick the right balance of fabrics that are both unusual or hard to find in the UK, but would still make into wearable garments for the climate back at home. I went with some loose projects in mind, but that all went out of the window when I saw how much there was to choose from.

Browsing the Nani Iro
I'm sure many of you would have loved the fabulous selection of Nani Iro fabrics that you can see me browsing here. And I'm sure many of you will think I'm absolutely crazy for bypassing the lot! It was hard to not be inspired by the soft and breathable cottons used for many of the chicest Japanese summer garments. In fact, I loved making this Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt in Atelier Brunette double gauze just before going on holiday, but we don't get much 30 degree+ heat at home, which for me, is what it seems most suited to.

Browsing but not buying!
The jersey floor had the widest colour selection I've ever seen. I always find that good quality jersey in the best colours is quite hard to come by at home, but I would've been there all day trying to pick, so I gave it a miss, more for the sake of my wonderfully patient boyfriend who was waiting for me outside.  


It's probably worth noting that none of the fabric on offer was particularly cheap. Each of the fabrics I bought cost on average around 1,500 Yen p/m which worked out at about £10 p/m with the exchange rate at the time I was there. On the plus side, the choice and quality well exceeded anything I've ever seen at home, plus I'd budgeted a huge chunk of holiday money for fabric, so I'd say it was entirely worth it! It's also worth noting that the Nani Iro did work out much cheaper to buy in Japan than it would at home!

What did I buy?

My selection!
With no real projects in mind at the time of buying these four fabrics, I went for a stab in the dark 2 metres of each (which I'm sure I'll live to regret when I find the perfect pattern requires 2.5m...). Here's a closer look:

This textured crepe is one of the most vibrant mustards I've ever seen, and I love mustard. It's a mid weight and is destined for a Ready to Sew Jane Shirt with Jazz Jumpsuit sleeves (see the Ready to Sew blog for pattern updates that make the mash up possible)!

I have absolutely no idea what to make with this swirly print poly. I'd expected to see more geometric-style prints, but this one was shelved with the more traditional oriental prints and seemed to bridge a bit of a gap between the two for me. It's mid weight with an amazing drape - suggestions welcome!

I very rarely wear white, and this might seem a really boring purchase to some, but I promise this mid/heavy weight cotton has the most amazing texture! On the day I bought this, I saw a Japanese woman wearing the perfect oversized white shirt, open and layered like a jacket, and it was made from something similar. I'm desperate to make my own version and on the look out of an oversized shirt pattern - I'm thinking something like the Simplicity 8340, but again, any recommendations are welcome!

And finally, this beautifully vibrant oriental-print poly, which I love deeply, but it was always destined to be a gift for my mum who has just started sewing (hi mum)! I think it would make a great True Bias Sutton Blouse, but the choice is all hers :)

And in other textile highlights...

As I've mentioned a couple of times, the fashions over in Japan were so inspiring. Nearly everyone is impeccably dressed and looks chic at all times, in all weathers. I caught a few candid snaps in the Instagram post below, but the level of style really has to be seen to be believed.

A post shared by Shauni S (@shaunimagnifique) on

Finally, I absolutely loved that the (GIANT) Muji in Shibuya had an in-house 'customize studio' where you can personalise the things you buy with embroidery, printing or engraving. I was desperate to try it for the novelty, so I got my name and a lucky cat embroidered on a mini tote and I'm pretty thrilled with it! If only we had one of these at home. (Errr maybe I should be looking at upgrading my machine big time for embroidery purposes...)

I'm sure my textile experiences in Tokyo are only just touching the very surface, but I wanted to show you what I got up to! I'm sure we'll be returning to Tokyo at some point so if you have your own highlights then I'd love to hear them!

Stay in touch!

You Might Also Like


  1. Fantastic haul, and so restrained! Tomato didn't have what my partner and I call "a boyfriend chair?" It's a must; where else would my partner sit while I made my way through the options? I lived in Japan (Okinawa) when I was a teen and then my parents were outside Tokyo for year or two. I'm dying to go back, but right now, it's out of the budget. Your posts (IG & here) make me want to play the lottery (as opposed to actually saving money - hah!).

    1. Haha 'boyfriend chair' made me laugh. I don't normally take him with me to save him the boredom. I bet you had such an amazing time living out there! We visited family who have moved to Japan and they're having a great time. It's out of our budget to go back soon too, but we'll be saving for it. Fingers crossed for your lottery win :) x

  2. What lovely choices. I would have been sorely tempted by all that Nani Iro!

    1. Thanks Sarah! I'm feeling like I probably should've picked some up for the stash now, but there's always next time (hopefully after a bit of saving up!) :)


Thanks for visiting!

Thanks for visiting!