Fabric shopping in Tokyo

After all that I’ve heard about fabric shopping in Tokyo, I couldn’t go there for a few days and not hunt out some craft shops, now could I?!? (Silly question, right?!)

Before I left, I went hunting online for where to go, and all the blogs I found and advice I was given pointed to two places – Tokyu Hands for all sorts of craft stuff, and Tomato in the Nippori fabric district for fabric. Luckily for me, my long-suffering partner let me indulge in hunting down those places – thanks, darlin’! 😉

First stop was Tokyu Hands. There are several of these stores around Tokyo, and we went to two of them. The first one, in Shinjuku, was really disappointing. (Even though our guide book said it was the best and biggest one….) There wasn’t really any sewing-related things at all – various jewellery findings, leather working stuff, and lots and lots of rows of iPhone 5 cases. (Turns out customising your iPhone 5 is a common hobby in Tokyo….) But no sewing stuff at all. *sad face* I left, wondering if maybe the craft boom had vanished from Tokyo, with sewing replaced by iPhone accessories….

Turns out that’s not the case, thankfully! We stumbled upon another Tokyu Hands in Shibuya, and much to my happiness it had a smallish but cute selection of buttons, trims, and other fun sewing things. Yay! (The good thing about buttons – they don’t take up much space in one’s suitcase, so it’s very very easy to justify buying a whole bunch of them as “souvenirs”….)

buttons and bias binding

Tokyu Hands haul – buttons and bias binding

They weren’t the cheapest buttons in the world though, so I was very good and only got three sets, plus some bias binding.

Metal buttons

Metal buttons with woodland creatures from Tokyu Hands – too cute to leave behind!


Bias binding

Printed bias binding from Tokyu Hands


wooden buttons

Wooden buttons from Tokyu Hands – toadstools and flowers!

And then there was the Nippori fabric district. Oh my! So many shops bursting with fabric and trims and other glorious things!!! Sadly (although perhaps luckily?!) our little guy wasn’t feeling all that well, so I didn’t have a huge amount of time to look around before we had to get him back to the hotel for a rest. I only made it into one store – the big Tomato store that everyone seems to recommend (second Tomato on the left when you’re walking away from Nippori train station. It’s got 4 floors, and a big display of 105-yen-a-metre fabric at the right of the street level floor). And can I just say – I was in fabric heaven!! So many glorious, glorious things! Floor after floor of them!!! And sooo cheap (or at least, super cheap compared to fabric in New Zealand). I wandered around happily for a good hour or so, trying to decide which ones were going home with me from the huge selection I wanted to get. (I’d promised my Other Half earlier that I was only going to get three lengths of fabric. He was so impressed with the selection at Tomato he didn’t bat an eyelid when I may have walked away with seven lengths in two bags….. *ahem* So much for that fabric-buying ban….)

Shopping at Tomato

Helping choose fabric at Tomato

Interestingly, there seemed to be a large selection of cotton/linen blends. (At least, I think that’s what they were? Next time, I’ll find out what the various fabric compositions are in Japanese beforehand so I can read the labels…..) Lots of block colour bright prints too.

Fabric from Tomato

Pretty fabric from Tomato – two linen/cotton blends, and a shirting weight cotton with little cats on it

I indulged myself a bit and bought some Echino fabric. Sure, you can get it over here, but it’s so expensive I’ve never been able to justify buying the stuff. In Tomato, it was less than half the price we pay for it at home. (E.g. the cotton ones were $10/m in Tokyo, vs. $32/m in Wellington.) And I’ve had my eye on the Buck print fabric for quite some time now, so I was determined to buy it if I could find it for a decent price. (Yay! Success!! 😀 )

Echino fabric

Echino fabric – including Buck print in black

(In fact, I may have started making the Buck fabric up into something already…. But you’ll just have to wait and find out what it’s going to be. 😉 )

But oh! There were so, so many pretties that I had to leave behind!! Next time, I’ll be taking an empty-as-possible suitcase with me, so I can fully indulge. 😉

Fabric that I didn't buy

The ones that got away….

The other great thing about going fabric shopping in Tokyo? Going on a quest for something that’s not in the usual tourist to-do list takes you to places you’d never go to otherwise, which can be quite fun. Adventures are great!

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40 responses to “Fabric shopping in Tokyo

    • Aren’t they gorgeous?! I may have had them sitting around in a pretty stack for the last week so I can admire them all the time. 😉

  1. Sounds like a great exploring ground. Not just buck print but bucks in glasses!!!

  2. Great to get the little guy educated right about fabric stores!!! Love the choices of fabric and can not wait to see the final made up results.

  3. Wow! Love the fabric you chose!

  4. Oh, I don’t know how I could have chosen in a short time when faced with that much fabric joy! I do love those bias bindings and the flower buttons especially (but then I’m always a sucker for a floral!). Yay for sewing adventures!

    • There was definitely a certain amount of time pressure involved in both shopping locations! Possibly just as well though, as I could quite easily have gotten lost amoungst all the pretty fabric for hours…. Mmmmm…… Which wouldn’t have been a bad way to spend a day, really. 😉

  5. How exciting! Love your little button choices and the fabrics look tantalizing! Amazed you could be so restrained.

    • I only managed to keep it that little due to lack of luggage space! Even with that stash, it was a squeeze getting it into our suitcases. Oops! 😉

  6. what an exciting trip! love those notions and fabrics, and can’t wait to see what they all become!

  7. I just died from the cuteness!

    • I did think of you when I saw the geometric print with kittens on it! (And also regretted lack of luggage space, or I would have bought you back some. Maybe next time…. 😉 )

      • Yeah it was the kittens that did me in, waaaay too cute! I wouldn’t have let you use up any of your precious fabric space in your luggage for me anyway, I’m just glad SOMEONE I know has geometric kitties!

  8. Such amazing finds- I’m heading to Tokyo next year so these are some great tips!

  9. Wow! What gorgeous fabric! Doesn’t fabric make the best souvenir?!

    • Oh yes, fabric and notions! Plus it’s a good excuse to break a fabric buying ban – after all, you’ll never see it again so have to seize that opportunity! 😉

  10. Those woodland creatures buttons are so amazing! And well everything else too. Sounds like so much fun!

  11. I love that kitten print one, so cute!! I love shopping for fabric overseas, it’s so nice to bring back something useful instead of a tacky souvenir that gets put in a drawer. At least you can stroke and admire fabric purchases!

  12. Oh My Goodness, Tokyo has THE cutest things! I want to squeeze all of these fabrics and buttons’ cheeks. Great haul!!

  13. Fabric shopping in Tokyo, how divine! I really like the buck and polka dot fabric – looking forward to see what you do with that one 🙂

    • I’ve nearly finished making it up, so you’ll get to see it’s new form in a week or so once I’ve caught up on blog posts. I’m rather pleased with how it turned out! 🙂

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  15. Christine Miller

    Hi, compulsive fabric shopper here (in recovery . . .? not really).
    Just wanted to say what an adorable wee lad you have – the fabrics are fantastic but he is exquisite. Is he dating yet? Shall I leave my number 🙂 ?
    Bless. Please tell him he has a following already. xxx

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  17. fun!! That print bias tape is pretty rad. love all the fun printed fabrics too, like the pink airplanes!
    It is so cool to buy fabric on vacation. I’ve only done it a couple times but it’s great when the memories come back as you’re sewing and ultimately wearing the final garment.

    • I can’t believe how long it’s taken me to really think about buying fabric when traveling, it’s totally on my things-i-must-do-when-i-go-anywhere list now!

  18. So much loveliness! I’d have been hard pressed not to go mental. And now I want to go to Tokyo even more than ever

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