japanese crafts

Today I want to welcome Marisa, based in Toronto, Canada, Marisa writes Omiyage Blogs and with her husband runs Omiyage, an online shop full of charming things from Japan,

After living in Japan for a number of years, I’ve become rather passionate about the country and can be found sharing my love for Japan, Japanese culture and craft with anyone who’ll listen! One Japanese thing I love is zakka. And what a thrill to be asked to guest post for Whip Up. Thanks so much Kathreen and hello to all you Whip Up-er’s!

Zakka – one of the most wonderful, yet confusing, terms to come out of Japan. I’m often asked “what is zakka?” The explanation that has always stuck with me is that zakka is something that makes your life simpler and warms your heart at the same time. Sounds great, right?

If you have the chance to visit Japan, you will find store after store (after store) filled with zakka. From pillows shaped like turtles to toothbrushes with faces to sweet characters on pretty much everything, there certainly is no limit to the cute and quirky! But the zakka which interests me the most is handmade zakka. Simple projects with a little extra flair – clever patchwork, kawaii fabric choice, applique, unique form.

And because who doesn’t want to craft up something which will both simplify their life and warm their heart – here are a handful of sewing tutorials with zakka flavour – these are pictured above in order:

1- Scrappy Mug Rug – Stash Manicure
2- Pin Cushion Cuff – Keyka Lou
3- Zakka Inspired Pencil Pouch – Noodlehead
4- Bento Box Lunch Bag – Pink Penguin
5- Sweet Bunny Sachets – Craft Passion
6- Patchwork Camera Strap Cover with Lens Cap Pocket – lbg studio


Creative Paper Cutting: Basic Techniques and Fresh Designs for Stencils, Mobiles, Cards, and More (Make Good: Crafts + Life) by Shufunotomo. Trumpeter (2010)

I love the crisp simplicity and the soft and quirky originality of these paper cutting projects. This latest book in the sought after Make Good: Crafts + Life series of Japanese books translated into English, is a welcome and fresh addition to the series. With traditional Japanese paper crafts inspiring us ever more to experiment with paper cutting and folding techniques, paper newbies and more experienced aficionados will fall in love with this book.

With very easy to follow instructions to make a variety of fun and interesting cut out designs, even primary school aged children will use and love this book. Together with the hand-drawn illustrations, clear how-to photos, templates and plenty of inspiring projects this book makes an excellent addition to our families growing papercraft book shelf.

[PS. you can see more loveliness inside this book at the Shambala website]


I Love Patchwork: 21 Irresistible Zakka Projects to Sew by Rashida Coleman-Hale. Interweave Press (December 1, 2009).

Rashida Coleman-Hale writes an inspiring blog at Iheartlinen where she showcases her linen and patchwork sewn goods. I fell in love with this blogs minimal style and so was excited to see that she has written a book. The book has a definite Japanese aesthetic, with simple sweet projects, a minimal style incorporate natural materials and cute fabrics.

The projects in the book are mostly simple – with a few suitable for more advanced sewists, but none really that are too hard. As you might guess from the title the projects are patchwork based – but not necessarily quilts – there are cushions, toys and aprons and a couple of simple quilted throws.

I will let the pics do the talking as they are lovely too!


Felt Me a Smile: Heart-made Projects to Make and Give by Toyoko Sugiwaka. Potter Craft; (March 2, 2010)

Felt me a smile, was originally published as ‘Pass me a smile‘ last year in Australia and the UK – it is the same book – just a different cover – I think I preferred the original cover image – and the project that appeared on the Au and UK cover is available as a how-to at the storque.

This book has been described as quirky, and it does have that cute minimal Japanese craft book feel – not surprising considering that the author is originally from Japan, although now resides in Australia. Her adorable little felted projects are accompanied by funny little quotes – it is all rather endearing. I did have a little trouble with the not too clear photos on some of the projects – making them quite difficult to make out at times. But overall this is a special and quite lovely book.


These are super lovely! Link to tutorial, thanks Hoppo Bumpo