Sew Kawaii! was published in December 2011, and before the book I was making cute clothing and accessories as a hobby for my Etsy store, craft fairs, and anime conventions. I was approached by Fox Chapel Publishing to write a book about all the cute things I was making and this is what I came up with!
Contents: 6 Chapters:
Chapter 1: Dumpling plush, Strawberry plush, Layer cake plush
Chapter 2: Electronics cases (3 sizes), Flap purse (3 versions: bird, seal, and platypus), Jellyfish purse, Cube purse (3 versions: fox, bunny, and tofu square)
Chapter 3: Character hats (4 versions: zombie kitty, broken bunny, fox, and strawberry kitty), Arm & Leg Warmers (with 3 decorating options), Animal scarf (3 versions: vampire bunny, panda, and cat)
Chapter 4: Blob plush (3 versions: cat, rabbit, and onigiri), Octopus plush, Platypus plush, Sitting plush (4 versions: elephant, cat, bunny, panda), Llama plush
Chapter 5: Character hoodie accoutrements (includes tail, ears, wings, and faces), Poncho (2 versions: devil kitty, angel bunny), Jellyfish dress
Chapter 6: Log pillow (3 versions: fox, pig, cat), Square pillow (3 versions: squid, bear, raccoon), Towel Caddy, Sushi Quilt
Project info: Projects are illustrated through numerous full-color photographs explaining every step.
Pattern info: Patterns are printed in the back of the book to be enlarged at home or your local copy shop. See my own tutorial on enlarging craft book patterns for help!
Sew Kawaii! was my first book, and as such it has so much of my heart and soul in it //^w^// The projects are things I’ve been making for years just for fun, so it fills me with such joy to be able to share them all with you.
Of course the name, kawaii, is Japanese for cute, and is used much the same way in English to describe everything that’s sweet, adorable, or loveable. I’ve been a fan of kawaii style since I was a child, and it has unknowingly become a huge part of my life! At the young age of 5 I used to troll through the flea markets with my family and I would come across imported goods from Asia, and I was always mesmerized by the kawaii characters they used to decorate their packages.
It wasn’t until I was 9 that I found a few limited Hello Kitty items in a small gift shop during a school field trip. I didn’t have the money to buy them, so I just sat and stared at the adorable tiny figurines and stationery until our chaperones called us to leave. I remember explaining to my friend how much I wanted those trinkets and I didn’t know why. I learned later it was the sweet and simple design so prevalent in kawaii style that had fully captivated me.
I found my first Sanrio store at age 12, and I saved every bit of allowance money I had to stock up on stationery of Badtz Maru, Little Twin Stars, and Chococat. I was completely smitten at this point and there was no stopping me. By high school I had learned about anime and manga, and really started to immerse myself in Japanese culture, truly expanding my own sense of style and design so I could incorporate it into the things I made.
So this book is a culmination of all those things. Each project is an example of how kawaii style has affected my life and my aesthetic. In it I show you how to make adorable keychains and charms, which are perfect for beginners, all manner of accessories with awesome kawaii characters and decorations, as well as a few pieces of clothing or two. While you need a little bit of sewing familiarity to get started, I try to break it down to make it as simple as possible to make these projects and really sink your teeth into decorating them with awesome characters and designs.
I think seeing a face smiling back at you while you make these projects is what helps keep you going as a sewer! Instead of seeing a bland length of fabric getting shaped into a dull coat or pair of pants, you have a sweet little panda or kitty cheering you on! Now you’ll have projects that are as fun to make as they are to finish and wear, and when it’s hard to get the motivation to do something yourself, every little bit helps!
The creation of my animal hat projects came together during my times spent at anime conventions. Fans really loved dressing up as their favorite characters, though some of them were the cute mascot characters that were often cats, bears, rabbits, etc. I found a quick shortcut could be to make a simple fleece beanie with attached ears so you could embody your favorite character quickly and easily without donning a full costume!
Making the hats for all other kinds of animals seemed like the next logical step, so I created interesting characters like the Broken Bunny hat, Strawberry Kitty, and very popular Zombie Kitty >w< They’re perfect for kids because they’re fun and cute (and maybe a little edgy and cool for the older kids!) but also adults that are just kids at heart and love to wear things that attract attention. They’d be great for snowboarding and ski vacations since there’s an earflap variation you can try, as well as just a fun day out on a breezy day spent in your favorite quirky part of town!
For those that aren’t too crazy about walking around with bunny ears, I developed projects for awesome accessories too! I created helpful cases that feature cute kawaii style motifs like onigiri and jellyfish, as well as tons of purses! There are purses in all manner of different shapes to serve as a perfect buddy for taking around with you and holding your stuff ^w^ They’re much like the popular stuffed animal bags of yesteryear, but much cuter and more chic ^-~
There are projects for a Jellyfish purse, a flat purse with bird, seal, and platypus variations, or a cube purse that can be made up into a fox, bunny, or block of tofu. Though you can really use your imagination and decorate them any number of ways!
Perhaps my favorite chapter is the one for plushies. Ever since I got started sewing I had been wanting to make my own stuffed animals, and if you try making them on your own you’ll see it’s tough! There’s usually a lot of meticulous hand sewing involved as well as a lot of times when you need several sets of hands to hold everything in place while you sew ;o; Getting the look just right can depend on how you held your pieces as well as how meticulous your eye is while you attached them together.
I knew that when I worked on this book, I wanted to take the guesswork out of sewing plush animals. The patterns are very simple and straightforward and don’t use a lot of hand sewing. Though you could certainly substitute it for hand sewing if you wanted! The pieces line up as they should so you know that your end result will look just as cute as the picture. Also the faces are applied with fabric and machine stitches rather than fussy hand-sewing and embroidery, which can be really difficult to get the hang of if you’re new to embroidery!
Making your own plush animals is even easier with all the new wonderful faux furs that are on the market now ^-^ Fabrics like minky rival the feel of cashmere at a fraction of the price, and in my book I’ll show you how to use them to your advantage! You can make some truly cuddly friends that look much better than any carnival-won plush toy – and they’ll last forever too because you made them with your own hands! You can make them in the colors you like and just the right smile.
You’ll see projects for making an octopus, llama, platypus, and an adorably squishy blob plush. Lastly there’s also the sitting plush, which is probably my favorite. It looks just like a classic kawaii character with its oversized head and little body. With a heapful of beans in his behind he sits perfectly upright to keep you company at your desk or bedside, and there are options to make a panda, bunny, kitty, or even an elephant!
The end of the book really goes out with a bang by including some fabulous home decorating projects, including a set of throw pillows, a fabulously plush log pillow, and a bathroom caddy with amazing character appliqués. Though my favorite by far, is the Sushi Quilt! It’s a cuddly soft lap quilt covered in 9 blocks with different sushi appliqué. I absolutely love quilts, and this embodies a lot of my loves: food, Japanese culture, and kawaii style, all wrapped up in a cuddly blanket.
So all in all, despite being my first book with lots of emotional ups and downs, I really put all I had into this book. I hope you’ll consider buying it for yourself or someone with a fun and quirky sense of style. And as you flip through the pages you’ll enjoy everything I have to offer to introduce you to how awesome kawaii style can be! It can be fun, playful, cute, quirky, edgy – all the facets of wonderful people who worn and purchased my products over the years, and now you can show of those sides of you too!