Posts Tagged ‘accessories’

Saisei: the beauty of vintage kimono, reborn

Monday, March 27th, 2017

Saisei means “reborn” in Japanese, and it’s a name which perfectly reflects Wellington maker Hana Yoshida’s work. Hana’s beautiful clothing and accessories were born from her grandmother’s collection of vintage kimono and they continue today with the vintage kimono and fabric she still sources from Japan. Hana says: “When I unpick kimono, I think of somebody in Japan who spent days to hand sew the kimono for her loved ones. I think of someone who wore it with much care and love.”

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saisei rings

What do you make?
I upcycle and repurpose vintage Japanese kimono fabrics into modern and stylish clothing and accessories.

How did you get into your craft?
I am originally from Japan. When I went back to Japan last year, my mum mentioned loads of kimono that were left in my grandmother’s wardrobes. They had been there for decades since my grandmother passed away. As a lot of women did in the old days, she used to hand sew kimono for her whole family. She was a very good seamstress, so that often kimono retailers asked her to make kimono for their clients when they received custom made orders. She also taught students how to hand sew kimono at her home. My father still remembers her students coming to their house to learn kimono making. I was blown away by the beauty of the craftsmanship and fabric itself and decided to bring some back to New Zealand.

I have been always into making stuff myself. When I was kid, I used to knit a lot of things and I learnt basic sewing skills at my university. My earliest memory of recycling is making a bag out of my old jeans. So when I got my grandmother’s kimono, I started making some scarves and cushion covers with them. This is how it all started last year. Now I used up all of my grandmother’s silk, so I purchase fabric in Japan and get it shipped to New Zealand.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
No, except for at my university when I learnt basic skills as part of my Education/Teaching course. I’m self taught, so learnt a lot by trial and error! I also take private lessons from professionals.

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saisei textiles

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
My favourite material is pre-loved and antique kimono silk. It’s getting rarer because most modern Japanese people have stopped wearing traditional kimono except for special ceremonies or events. So traditional kimono hand-crafting is in decline and there are fewer people who can pass on the techniques of crafting and dyeing kimono to the next generation.

Aizome boro cotton is also special to me. “Boro” means patched. In the old days, when the fabric was damaged, people didn’t throw it away. They patched the damaged area and kept on using it for a long time. So the cotton has a huge amount of character and really interesting textures. Nowadays, these textiles are loved and highly regarded by many all around the world.

My favourite process is creating the right patterns. It takes a long time and uses a lot of paper and sample fabrics. I repeat amending the patterns until I make the right ones. It is a long process, but really satisfying in the end.

Tell us about the techniques involved in producing one of your pieces
I purchase vintage kimono fabric from Japan. Some are actual pre-worn kimono and some are vintage kimono silks that are in bolts and never sewn or worn before.

The sewn kimono are unpicked (this can take around four hours) before being hand washed. Then they are dried in the shade and ironed gently. This is done before making anything. To make my capes, I make outer wool fabric and linings separately. The vintage kimono silk is used exclusively to make the linings of the capes. Because of the width of the silk (usually around 36cm), I cut up the silk into 8-9 pieces and sew them together to make one lining. Then darts and a collar are made. Finally I sew the lining, the outer wool and collar together.

saisei cutting

saisei cape

saisei capes

What inspires you?
Tattoo arts, 50s-70s vintage fashion.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
I would like more people to enjoy the beauty and craftsmanship of kimono fabric in their daily life.

Tell us about your pets:
We have a cat called Rika. We got her from the Cat’s Protection League as a kitten back in 2002, so she’s an old cat now. We have two little kids so Rika gets less attention than she used to, however when the kids are in bed she likes to sit on my lap and fall asleep.

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
A flowering branch necklace on Felt from a maker in Nelson. This pendant top was about 6cm and looked just like plum flowers. I liked the oriental feel to it. I wear it on my market days.

What’s in store for the rest of 2017?
There will be more capes and reversible silk cardigans. I would like to add dresses as well, but I will see. Also men’s organic cotton T-shirts with Aizome cotton pockets.


Hana will be holding a stall at Wellington Underground Market on Saturday 1 April, from 10am to 4pm. This is one of only a handful of markets that Hana will do this year, and it’s a good opportunity to see and try on her garments. Hana will also have sample fabrics on the day, so you can choose fabrics for you own special cape or cardigan.

Hana has also very generously offered a prize for one lucky Felt reader of this lovely autumnal scarf. This vibrant silk scarf with an orange leaf pattern, measuring 17cm x 180cm, was made with 100% vintage Japanese kimono silk. The silk was hand woven and hand printed in Kyoto, Japan.


To be in to win this gorgeous handcrafted prize, simply leave a comment telling us what appeals to you about Hana’s story and her reborn creations. The draw will be made on Friday 7 April and is open to New Zealand residents only.


Explore Hana Yoshida’s beautiful work on Felt »


saisei cardigan

The ancient art of shibori

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

Woman's peach shibori scarf by Ruru Textiles

Not only is this scarf completely gorgeous, it also has a fascinating story, which all good accessories should. Rosemary of Ruru Textiles in Rotorua dyes her textiles using the ancient Japanese art (as far back as the 8th century!) of shibori, a range of techniques that produce more or less intricate designs on fabric. Isn’t it a stunning effect?

Carnival colour

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

How’s this for a fancy frock for a wedding, the races, or perhaps a posh picnic? This vintage-inspired taffeta and silk knee length dress from The Frock Closet is inspired by an early 1960s Simplicity pattern. We’ve teamed it up with a touch of Aotearoa style – a capacious pink harakeke kete from Souly Fibre.

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soulyfibre pink doodle kete


See more from The Frock Closet here »

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Beautiful fabric with a beautiful history

Saturday, October 15th, 2016

Hana Yoshida of Saisei (meaning ‘Reborn’) upcycles elegant scarves from her grandmother’s handmade kimono. These lovely vintage fabrics are prized not just for their durability but also for their imperfections.

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This scarf is made from upcycled vintage Aizome (Japanese indigo dyed) cotton fabric. Cotton becomes durable once dyed with indigo (Ai) so, in the old days in Japan, people used these kimono as daily clothes as well as special occasion outfits. When the fabric was damaged, it wasn’t thrown away. The damaged area was patched, and remained in use for a long time. Nowadays this patched fabric is called Boro, and is loved and highly regarded.

Hana Says: “I feel privileged to give a new life to these fabrics that used to be worn and loved. When I unpick kimono, I think of somebody in Japan who spent days to hand sew the kimono for her loved ones. I think of someone who wore it with much care and love.”


See more from Saisei here »


Hellooo Froctober!

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

Yes, that’s right, it’s our favourite frocky time of year, when we bring you great gowns, delightful dresses and fabulous frocks – all month!

Starting the ball rolling is this stunning vintage-style wedding dress from Rowan Design. This dress is cut to skim over the body and comes complete with an ivory satin slip. Delicate lace motifs are hand sewn to the neckline and waist area.

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We’d pair this frock up with these gorgeous ivory rose hair pins from Blossom Road – wouldn’t they make the perfect ensemble for a spring wedding?

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See more from Rowan Design here »

See more from Blossom Road here »


Tui towel? Tui tote? Absolutui!

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

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superfabjess1 blog


See more gorgeous native bird print tea towels and totes from NineteenA Design »


Get yer cosy gloves here!

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Brrr! Feeling the chill? Talented glove knitter Maggie Js has just the thing for frosty fingers. We love these gorgeous retro-looking rose detailed gloves, but make sure you browse her Felt shop for all her lovely styles.

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Starring the locals…

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

The pukeko has got to be one of the most stylish birds out there, and we think these pook-patterned purses from Craft Me Up are an awesome smile-inducing gift for Kiwi friends at home or far away.

These gorgeous, practical purses are made from 55% hemp and 45% organic cotton, and the pukekos are screen printed in environmentally friendly inks. They’re fully lined and the perfect size to fit your cards, cash and keys.

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See more from Craft Me Up here »


Nature, culture and symmetry in print: art and textile design by Jill Butler

Monday, July 18th, 2016

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From her home studio in Auckland, Jill Butler designs and screen prints fabric, which she then makes into homewares, accessories and stationery items. Jill used to dream about having a place to sell her work where no door knocking was required, and where she could have total control over the colours, design and pricing of the screen printed products she sells.

The simplicity of having an online shop is really appealing to her. She feels that small business owners, with craft/art businesses, are so lucky now to have the opportunity to sell online. “With the internet and online sales platforms we have a wonderfully simple business structure, where we potentially just make stuff… and sell it. We can focus much more attention on making, rather than trying to gather our courage to knock on the doors to get retail outlets! I also like the direct contact with customers.”

Cosmetic bag by Jill Butler

What do you make?
I am a surface designer and screen printer. Mostly I screen print fabric, using my own designs, which I make into items such as gift cards, cushions, scarves and makeup bags. I also print my designs onto wooden coasters and placemats.

How did you get into your craft?
Years ago I did a two day batik course and fell in love with the idea of being able to put my own designs onto fabric. I was working in a library at the time, feeling really uncertain about what I wanted to do as a career. The excitement of designing fabric took hold and though I have had many other ‘day jobs’… in HR, banking, sales and currently gardening, designing fabric has always been there. Sometimes it has been pushed into the background more than I would have liked, but it has always been the work that has given me the most pleasure.

I fell in love with the idea of being able to put my own designs onto fabric.

After a few years of doing batik, a friend who I shared a studio with showed me the basics of screen printing, and from then on screen printing had me hooked.

Your favourite materials, tools, processes?
My favourite tool is my black pen and a ream of photocopy paper. I love drawing with a black pen. It’s the starting point of all my designing. I like to draw on the photocopy paper because it’s cheap and cheerful. I don’t feel the pressure to make a perfect drawing first up, as I would with more expensive beautiful paper. Mistakes and scribbles are made and abandoned without guilt.


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What inspires you?
I love gardening, and drawing plants and flowers is almost my default setting. But I’m pretty much open to anything. Geometrics have intrigued me in the past, and lately I have been inspired by the designs on old plates, tapestries and Chinese embroidery. These are things just floating around in my head right now and I’m longing to spend some time, pen in hand, seeing where they take me.

Describe your creative process?
Oh dear, I am a bit haphazard… not very methodical. It’s all based on enthusiasm. I get an idea, and go for it. It propels me forward until it’s either finished or I take a wrong turning somewhere and I come to a standstill. At that point if I don’t know what to do next, I put it aside and it can rest… as a drawing or an incomplete piece of work… as I mull… sometimes for months… until the solution appears and I can complete it. So I suppose part of my creative process is letting my subconscious get to work on one project while I get on with another.

As far as the day to day work goes, I’m a list addict. Lists motivate me to get through the work. I love crossing off the things I’ve completed.

Describe your work space
I have a lovely studio that was originally a storeroom at the back of my carport. I am lucky that it has masses of deep built in shelving, sky lights and a concrete floor so I don’t have to worry too much about spills and splatter.

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jillbutler9 blog

What other creative projects have you enjoyed working on?
I’m a real fan of the 100 Days Project, where you commit to doing a particular creative thing every day for 100 days. One year I did a doodle a day and the next year I did a small painting a day. Both times I have only managed to get to the 50 day mark, but loved the practice of drawing or painting daily. The organisers have recently announced this year’s start date in August. So I’m thinking about whether to do it again and if so, what my project will be. Perhaps not quite as time consuming as my other two, so that I have a better chance of completing the full 100 days.

Another crafty thing I have done lately is make peg angels. One of my gardening clients gave me a huge box of old lace and trims, which is perfect for their dresses.

What are you currently listening to?
Lately I have become addicted to listening to podcasts and TED talks while I work. There are so many wonderful podcasts out there, but one I have found inspiring recently is a series about living creatively without fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert, called Big Magic. They are podcasts based on the book she wrote by the same name, which I highly recommend to any stuck creatives out there.

As for TED talks, I recently worked my way through the top 10 most popular talks of all time. When I’m designing or writing I prefer silence.

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What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
The Red Balloon, by Albert Lamorrisse. It is the story of a lonely boy in Paris and his friendship with a big red balloon. Based on an award winning film, the book is illustrated with photographs that had been taken while filming. I loved the story, but it was the photographs of old Paris that I adored.

I still have my very old copy of the book and I’ve sometimes thought I’d like to frame some of the photos to hang on my walls. I can’t quite reconcile the thought of cutting up my old book, but maybe I’ll take photos of some of my favourites and do it that way.

What are you reading now?
The Castle on the Hill by Elizabeth Goudge. The story is takes place in London and the Southwest of England during the blitz (1940). It’s a gorgeous, meandering story. The writing and characterisation is superb. But it is the details of what it was like living in England at that time that really sets the book apart, as it was published in 1941, so Elizabeth Goudge was writing about current events, so there is a real authenticity about her descriptions of life at that time.

A favourite quote?
“What you resist persists.” – Carl Jung. So, so true!

Tell us about your pets?
I have a little old lady cat called Whisper. When I got her she was almost a year old and had been abandoned, and by her nervousness I would say she had had some rough treatment. She was for sale in the shop attached to a vet practice in Newmarket, Auckland. The group of vets working there at that time rescued strays and found them homes. I was working nearby, and went in my lunchtime to buy a kitten and came out with Whisper. She was too cute to resist.

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What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Trust your instincts! I’m not saying there aren’t times when you need advice and help, but remember you are the expert about your business, about you, about your goals and motivations. Everyone you talk to will have an opinion, but only you have all the facts about you and your business.

What’s in store for the rest of 2016?
I want to hand paint more screens. So basically, more designs, and I want to add to my product range. I’m keen to make more cushions and scarves… and a few Christmassy things towards the end of the year.

Jill has very kindly offered a prize for one lucky Felt reader of a set of her gorgeous white rose coasters (below). These stylish screen printed wooden coasters are varnished four times to protect them, and backed with felt to protect your table. To be in to win this lovely prize, simply leave a comment telling us what you like about Jill’s story and her designs. The draw will be made on Friday 29 July and is open to New Zealand residents only.

See more from Jill Butler on Felt »

jillbutler rose coasters blog


Introducing Felt Jewellery & Fashion emails

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

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Junk Store Junkie - Tote Bag by Odd One Out
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Aqua Cotton Crochet Poncho by Cup of Tea and Yarn


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