Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New sewing project

Even after sewing so many pieces for my Shikishidate Goshokago, I was still in a sewing mood. And I wanted to use the beautiful cha-ire (pottery container for thick tea) that I bought last fall, but it didn't have the required shifuku (bag).

It's challenging to follow the instructions on how to measure, and draw the custom-fitted pattern even though the pictures are very detailed. Two friends have helped me translate the Japanese text and I added my own notes in English as I went through the process to help me remember details.

Below are some in-progress photos. I didn't photograph the failed attempt caused by trying to conserve fabric. I cut out the pattern with a minimum seam allowance that frayed, and the bag was too small.

Before cutting the next attempt, I ironed on a very light weight fusible fabric to the back of both the outer fabric and lining, and left a generous seam allowance that could be trimmed away after sewing. Since the fabric I chose was rather stiff and the fusible backing gave it and the lining extra stability, it didn't add the usual thin layer of padding between the layers.

The pattern I made from measurements.
Measuring the chai-re
The bag lining ready for its bottom to be sewn on.  
The bag, inside out, with bottom sewn in. 

Hurray, it fits!

My home-made marudai

After basting the lining to the bag, I put it aside and made the kumihimo braid for the drawstring cord on my home-made marudai (frame for braiding). The first silk cord I braided with 8 bobbins/strands of 3ply silk, which turned out to be too small in diameter. I went back to The Needle Works here in Austin for some 6ply red-brown silk embroidery thread, which is better, but still little bit thinner than the cord on my "real" Japanese shifuku in the photo below. I read that I could vary the counterweights to change the thickness of the braid and will experiment with some Perle cotton thread before I work in silk again. 

Photo below: 
Upper left - the new basted shifuku ready for loops and cord, with red cord.
Lower left - my "real" Japanese natsume shifuku for comparison, and the first gold cord that is too narrow.  


  1. The kumihimo could become an obsession for me. Love your home-made marudai.