Sunday, 20 January 2013

Becoming a needle geek

When you live in Japan, sooner or later you become an otaku (geek in Japanese). The more I sew/craft and the more I develop my skills, the more I prefer working with higher quality materials and tools. Lately, I have been focusing on needles and little by little this passion has transformed me into a needle geek.

My latest discovery is Misuyabari, a needle shop which has been in the industry since 1651. They were the official needle-makers for the Emperor's palace!

On their website alone, you can count 79 types of needles (there are more in the store), and after one hour of browsing I felt overwhelmed. I ended up ordering a kit with different types of needles. From right to left in the picture below: silk needles, tsumugi needles (for thin wool and cotton), cotton needles (for wool, cotton and hemp), okuke needles (for very thin fabric), a sashiko needle, dress-making pins and thread scissors.

The distinctive feature of Misuyabari is quite a wide eye. This picture from their website showcases an average needle (on the left) and Misuyabari one (on the right). This makes it easier to thread.

Now, I want to go to Kyoto just to buy more needles! Meanwhile, I will be working with the ones from the kit and documenting my experience. Although Gillian won't see my sewing dare finished today (SORRY), I am using the silk needle to finish my dress.

The needles felt kind of lonely in their paper envelopes and begged me to make them a nicer house. Inspired by Kyoto, the needles' place of origin, I made this tiny needle holder.

I even dared to embroider the needles' names in kana and kanji!

These are the Japanese sewing needles which I sell in my Etsy shop
Allow me a few more weeks to work with more materials and understand the needles a little bit better, and I'll give you a deeper overview of these little darlings.

Is anybody else a needle geek? Or are you nerdy about something else?


  1. I think you are making us all a bit more into needles with these posts! Your little needle case is adorable. I'm nerdy about Liberty fabric, but that was obvious. I'd like to get nerdier about other fabric and really get to know the content of fabrics and their 'properties'.

  2. Oh, wow! I was not in to needles at all but that set looks delish! so lovely!

  3. Wow! I had no idea that there was so much variety in needles! To be perfectly honest, before I ordered a set of needles from you, I did all my hand sewing with needles from those little sewing kits you find in hotel rooms... I'm sure they're terrible quality!

  4. Wow! I had no idea there were so many kinds of needles either! I wonder what other sewing mysteries I was missing by not being able to read kanji? (Lazy, lazy me.) I think that felt and wool roving is another niche where Japan excels... I've never gotten anything nearly as nice in stores or online in north america!

  5. Today you can find bits and pieces of Japanese hand-craft tools and materials online. But, I agree with you, there is no one place you can find all (or most) of them. As for kanji, you can always study kanji, ne?

  6. If you used needles from hotel kits to make some of your clothes, I am really impressed ^^

  7. Oh my. 1671 you say? That just boggles my mind! I totally love your felt needle storer.... a while ago I got sick of constantly losing my needles and I bought a 'needle nook' (cute name) - basically a triangular case with a lid and a magnet at the bottom to rest your needles on. But colourful felt is just so much prettier!
    I started using your basting cotton the other day and I've got to say - i LOVE it :) Haven't yet tried the gorgeous little packet of needles - but soon!!

  8. Same story with loosing needles. I've got lots of inspiration on Etsy!

    Glad you like the cotton thread! ^^ What are you basting with it?

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