Rhinestic's Knick Knacks

Monday, November 10, 2014

Craft & Zakka Shopping at Tokyo! - Part 1

Finally getting this post up! Let me first apologize for the lack of photos, as I was more focused on finding the places and ogling at the crafty/designer goodness...

Before heading for our Tokyo trip, I actually bought the Tokyo Craft Guide e-book by Frances Arikawa & Angela Salisbury from here. The e-book has really nice graphics and a wealth of information. As it was published in 2013, bits of the information was a little outdated. However, it was still a good source for my list of to-go-to's as well as being handy to have it stored in my phone.

I also went through my list of liked Japanese craft pages on FB to check for more recommendations. And while I was at it, my inner "stalker" went to check out a few of my friends' similar likes. It might sound kinda shameful, but hey, I managed to find some really cool places to visit!


Tokyu Hands

Shibuya might have the best Tokyu Hands in Tokyo, but I think the Tokyu Hands in Ikebukuro is not far off the mark either. Our hotel was within walking distance from this Ikebukuro branch, and I had the luxury to make multiple shopping trips there.. If I had the ability and capability, I would love to bring the whole craft and DIY sections back home!

My only gripe was I shouldn't have been too hasty to make my major bulk of the shopping that late in the evening (on our first day of our trip... Over-excited much?). Tokyu Hands offer tax refunds for foreigners if they spend over 10000 yen on non-consumables. Which would be easily attainable if you are a "craft-spendaholic" like me. Trouble was they only offer the refund on the same day (no roll-over) till 8 pm. 

So, if you intend to spend over 10000 yen and want to get a tax refund, do so way before 8pm! Not too sure if it's the same over at other branches though.. (It was too early for closing announcement when I was at the Shibuya branch)


While planning our afternoon programme for our Mount Takao hiking day, I was torn between going back to Nippori and going to somewhere new. I eventually settled on Kichijoji since it is also along the Keio line.

We took the express train from Takaosanguchi to Meidaimae and changed to the Keio Inokashira line towards Kichijoji. We lucked out and managed to hop onto another express train.

I wanted to check out Yuzawaya but that's when the Tokyo Craft Guide failed me. The map in the e-book indicated that Yuzawaya was on level 7 and 8 within OIOI (Marui) building. The directory at the shopping mall said nothing about Yuzawaya and a number of shops were boarded up for renovation. Oh well, at least I got to take a look at Seria (similar to Daiso)!

Feeling a little disappointed, we took a walk to Nakamichi-dori where most of the indie craft and zakka shops are located.

Nakamichi Dori

It's a nice narrow street flanked by many small shops and cafes. Lots of cyclists too. I had fun looking at the vintage buttons at L. Musee, the beautiful myriad of novelty yarns at AVRIL and lots of wonderful knick knacks by known as well as indie designers at various shops. I scored a few Moomin postcards at coeur de coeur and other random goodies at Cotswolds.

The blue dots indicates roughly the part of Nakamichi dori which we walked. Zoom out to see where the Kichijoji station is.


After having a nice stroll along the street, we popped by Loft which was also in the vicinity. Loft has a similar concept to Tokyu Hands, though it lacks a proper craft and DIY section. But it makes up for it with its large selection of stationery, paper goods and souvenirs. Surprisingly, I found a small section dedicated to fine arts painting. Got my Japanese watercolors here!


While we were walking through the basement area back towards the Keio Kichijoji station, I happened to pass by a sign printed with the characters "Yuzawaya". Apparently, Yuzawaya has shifted to the 8th and 9th floor of the newly renovated shopping mall atop the train station! Called Kirarina, this shopping mall also houses a pretty huge bookstore on the 7th floor.

Kirarina Directory Pillar

I am glad I didn't give Yuzawaya a miss. It's always nice to visit a proper craft store in Japan (especially since Kinkadou closed down at Ikebukuro) and have, at one glance, a comprehensive selection of craft supplies. If I were to really compare, Tokyu Hands focuses more on the latest trending crafts and you might not be able to find everything that you need (especially yarn and fabric selection).


Harajuku might not be the first on your list with regard to arts or zakka shopping, but believe it or not, this is where a young and hip exhibition space, a really cool select shop and a Danish lifestyle store reside.

They are all within walking distances and if you do not mind walking a little further out into Aoyama, there's a shop that sells traditional goods made from originally designed textiles with a modern twist.

Design Festa Gallery

5 years ago, we passed by Design Festa Gallery. This time round, we made a point to visit the gallery. There were a few different mini exhibitions going on, showcasing mostly students' works. There's even a cafe within the gallery. While it may not be of a prim and proper "arts museum" style, it's still very interesting to see an edgier and grungier version of an arts space. Which is pretty apt for a place such as Harajuku.

Zentangle wall art

Sugar Town

Amidst what seems to be the residential area of Harajuku, a wondrous shop exists. Sugar Town, it is called, and it sells gifts of happiness.

We took a walk (while questioning ourselves if we were lost) from the Design Festa Gallery and almost missed the sign board. Sugar Town is located on the 2nd floor, and though not very big, it has a decent selection of products designed by global indie designers, including handcrafted items.

I got this really chic single-sided triangles earring by Fil et Bijou, and a piece of tenugui by our very own local Japan-based designer, Polkaros.

Flying Tiger Copenhagen

I have to admit that I only got to know about Flying Tiger Copenhagen because we passed by it while we were making our way from Sugar Town to Sou Sou. Which was a nice surprise!

While the name doesn't sound like much, this Danish craft and lifestyle store actually packs a punch! And very affordable at that! It also gives a very Ikea-ish vibe, which is always welcome in my book. :)

I actually got myself a pair of socks (with mustache prints!) because all my ankle socks couldn't make it for hiking (learnt it the hard way from our Mount Takao hike) and we would be having our next hike at Mount Mitake. While the socks cost only 300 yen, the quality is pretty decent.


SOU・SOU is not your usual shop that sells traditional goods. It is a lifestyle + boutique store which merges traditional and modern into one seamless style.

The main thing why I wanted to visit this Aoyama branch was that they have a section selling their originally designed textiles and tenugui.

More autumn yellow goodness. I also got a magenta shibori-dyed tenugui for my mum.

Friday, October 31, 2014


Happy Halloween, everyone!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Walking is Mandatory..

The other half and I were back from our wedding anniversary trip to Tokyo & Hakone and while it's hardly a revelation, our free & easy trips seemed to pack a punch of leg exercises. Perhaps it was all my bad since I did most of the itineraries..

Not wanting to be selfish and treat myself to daily craft shopping, I dedicated some days for basking in Mother nature (Ed loves nature and wildlife photography) and left the others for my crafty cravings.

With the pleasant air-con temperatures to aid us, we hiked at Mount Takao & Mount Mitake, wandered around Hakone and walked kilometers just to find all the shops in my list of must-go-to craft places (I'll have another post solely on craft shopping in Tokyo). All of these within a single short week, besides the 2 days spent mostly on flying.

And talking about flying.. We were lucky enough to miss Typhoon Phanfone by a day and it was already fine weather by the time we were going to land at Haneda. Who knew a second typhoon would hit Japan again! Thank God the tropical depression hit Tokyo while we were sleeping safely in our hotel room (I did stay up a bit.. It was weird to experience a colder version of the monsoon-like storm in this subtropical city..) and by the time we needed to take a train back to Haneda airport later in the morning, it was blue skies and sunshine.

Inariyama trail @ Mount Takao.. It's slopes, steps and more steps..

Lake Ashi @ Hakone

Owakudani @ Hakone. We could only see the bottom part of Mount Fuji.. ==

Reserved this onsen in our ryokan. Just for us! But I KO-ed in less than 10 minutes. TOO.HOT!

Was it some kind of mass school excursion day?? Students everywhere at the Hakone Open Air museum.

Zentangled~~ @ Design Festa Gallery, Harajuku

Jaw dropped at the picturesque Rock Garden @ Mount Mitake

Passed by the pristine Tamagawa while walking back to Mitake station. 

Jiyugaoka Megami Matsuri Wagon Sale

Tokyo Skytree

Okay, we did get to see Mount Fuji... From the plane..

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Honey Dahlia Autumn Dress (Selfish Sewing Week Fall 2014, a week late)

Besides the sewing done for the shop, craft markets and clients, it's been quite a while since the last time I've sewn a piece of clothing for myself.

I had been wanting to design and sew something more appropriate for Singapore weather, but was too busy with another project (stay tuned for this next week in November! Oops, I saw the date wrongly.. My bad!) to start on it.  Also, I got the dates for the Selfish Sewing Week mixed up! I thought it started this week Monday! By the time I realized it, it was already the last day of this online community event.

But hey, that can't stop me from participating in it, albeit 1 week late... To keep to the theme of Fall, I decided to self-draft and sew an autumn dress instead. Perfect for me to wear to my Tokyo trip next week!

The fabric that I used here was actually intended for another drafting project I had in mind. But I thought the material (a stretchy cotton blend fabric, I believe) was suitable for the transitional season (weather is just getting a little chilly there, still on the warm side) and the mustardy honey color was perfect for fall.

I drafted the bodice based on a top I have, but I altered the neckline and length. The skirt with pockets and mini curved side slits was drafted from scratch. Before sewing the pieces, I screen-printed my dahlia design onto part of the bodice and 1 of the sleeves.

The bodice was lined and I added buttons and button holes to the slits so that they can close up and create a slight balloon shape silhouette. The buttons are a variation to my handmade "Beady-eyed" acrylic resin buttons which can be found on my Etsy shop.

Handmade this necklace too!

Pattern: Self-drafted
Fabric: Stretch cotton blend, screen-printed with my own dahlia design
Notions: My handmade acrylic resin buttons (variation of my Beady-eyed buttons)

Preparing to fly. Preparing to paint.

A little nerve-wrecking, what with the pretty recent news about the eruption of Mount Ontake in Japan. Plus the news of typhoon which will be making landfall on Tokyo later today.. At least the weather seems to look good for the few days after. *Fingers crossed*

XB and I will be flying to Tokyo for a short vacation the coming week. Amidst the research on craft places and mountains to visit, I was contemplating on getting a watercolor travel kit to jumpstart the habit of doing some kind of fast illustration/artwork daily by getting my feet wet during this trip.

I must have not been looking hard enough, but I had a tough time searching online for a local arts supplies shop that sells renowned brands of water color travel kits. 

I tried looking at Art Friend, but couldn't find any at the Clementi branch (I went back to the Bras Basah branch a few days back, and I saw that they had restocked the Daler Rowny full pans kit). "Overjoyed" near Little India MRT station stocks only Pebeo brand, which I am not too sure if it is any good since there is almost zero reviews on it..

Out of exasperation, I almost bought the Akashiya Watercolor Palette Box from Jetpens.com while toying myself with the idea of also getting the Sakura Koi Watercolor set to justify the high shipping cost from the US. 

Eventually, I managed to find a local art store (one with a pretty long history too.. Since 1967..), Straits Art Co., that sells a large array of paints, brushes, papers and canvases. The lady recommended the Van Gogh (from Royal Talens) watercolor pocket box kit for beginners like me. Apparently, this is a student grade watercolor paint higher up on the quality scale as compared to other student grade brands.

Let's see how this goes!

Friday, September 05, 2014

Craft x Chill

2 weekends back, I met up with my dear friend, XZZ, for our own crafting session. She got this macaron coin case kit, and she needed a bit of help with the Japanese instructions and some of the hand-sewing techniques.

We tried this 'pay-on-demand' cafe called Coffeemin where you pay by the hour ($6 for the first hour, $1 every 10 minutes after, capped at $30) and you can do whatever you want as long as you don't create chaos. There are also free-flow drinks and cookies as well as a variety of facilities.

Overall, it's a nice place, though I won't call it a place conducive for "zen" time during the weekends. Not when you have groups of excited teens playing card games.

They have nice utensils.

Cute cushion! (It's quite a cozy place, really)

Let's start crafting!

Here's the completed macaron coin case!

The inside. With room for a single coin.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Commission: Washi Tape x Watercolor Mini Clutch Wristlet

Hi peeps! Have been busy with custom orders for the past couple of weeks and one of them is a commission to create a custom design for my washi tape mini clutch wristlets. I was given free play based on the theme of "simple and elegant".

For some reasons, I was feeling the nature vibe from the client, so I was thinking either florals or feathers. I had wanted to cover the whole piece with large floral/feather cut-outs but wasn't too sure if that would be "simple" enough.

Eventually, I decided to do a watercolor background on rice paper and have it as the highlight of the wristlet. And then, to add some elegance, I cut out pieces from washi tapes to form some kind of a focal floral scene. To finish off, I gilded some tiny 18K gold leafing dots to tie in all the gold bits together. I then went through the same process of laminating to make the rice paper water-resistant and sewable.

This time round, I added some zipper ends to neaten things up and followed this sewing technique that prevents dents where the ends of the zipper and the corners of the fabric meet. What I wasn't too keen was the hand-sewing on the laminated rice paper. Though I must say the technique makes the wristlet look more finished. I also made the strap and added a butterfly charm to it. :)

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