Temari Stitches on a Kimekomi Ball

My latest idea was to add some simple temari stitches to a kimekomi ball. I had to use a double layer of quilt batting between the foam and the fabric so that I could actually sew the design while the fabric was on the ball. A more flexible needle might have made it a little easier, but I think in the end it turned out pretty well.

The thread I used for the stitches was specifically made for temari and it’s very appropriately called “temari thread” in Japanese. It’s 100% polyester which gives it a nice sheen. You will probably have a hard time finding this exact stuff outside of Japan.

In both Suess’ and Vandervoort’s books on Temari, they suggest Pearl Cotton #5 thread. I suggest you use whatever you think will be pretty. This is not an exact science.

I referred to Suess’ Stitch Directory in the back of her book, to make my stitches. It’s a variation of the starburst stitch.

Now, I’m off to buy an embroidery hoop and some thread. I’m going to teach myself to stitch some simple flowers and use them in a picture window ornament. This should be fun.
Until next time. πŸ™‚

Easter Egg Sagemon

Hey everyone! I know it’s been several weeks since my last post. I just started a new part-time job teaching English to kindergarten kids and have been busy with training and my first lessons. We’ve also been experiencing strong aftershocks here in Japan. We had a 5 + as I was writing this post. Life is still a little weird and it’s been difficult getting back into my old routine. Anyway, enough excuses.

Introducing Japanese Sagemon!

In the time of the Samurai, in castles and wealthy households, nannies made sagemon for the children in their care to enjoy. Sagemon literally means “hanging stuff” in Japanese. They are mobiles made of traditional Japanese toys and may included temari, kimekomi balls and little fabric dolls of popular insects, birds, fish, etc. A mobile with 50 hanging toys was made for a child in hope that he or she would live 50 years, which during the Edo period was full life expectancy. Each ornament and doll had a meaning of some kind. For example, a cicada has a relatively long life for an insect, living 7 years underground, and when they emerge from the ground their noisy singing means they are strong and healthy. Just as the strong cries of a baby at birth is a sign of good health. There is even a specific order the different items should be hung in. Birds and flying things should be hung at the top, and so on. (Info translated from http://sagemon.net/sandai/)

Nowadays they are typically hung for Hina Matsuri, aka Doll Festival or Girls Festival and the traditional meanings behind this ancient craft have been lost within the general population. However, they are still a popular craft and the craft stores carry kits for simple sagemon, as well as individual kits for the little cloth animals, simple temari, and kimekomi balls.

I’m not so interested in the little fabric dolls. They are cute but not really my thing. I did however like the idea of hanging ornaments in a mobile. Why just hang ornaments on a tree or put them in a basket? Let’s think outside the basket!

Since it’s April, I decided to make an Easter Egg Sagemon. Luckily the small foam eggs I use already have holes in them.

I made 10 random Easter egg ornaments of varying styles and colors, using designs and techniques I have shown you in previous posts. I then strung them onto 4 pieces of thin cord, along with some beads, and attached them to a hoop using tape.

I used a thicker cord for the top hangers. I measured the diameter of the hoop and cut the thick cord twice as long. I then I sewed the cords together in a cross and taped the ends to the hoop.

I then strung a key ring at the cross point and tied a bow of pink cord around the hanging cords to create a loop.

The hoop I used was originally intended as a handle for a handbag. The clear plastic hoops were much cheaper than embroidery hoops or the hoops being sold specifically for sagemon. It doesn’t really matter what you choose to use because you’re going to cover it up anyway. I used a long piece of wide white ribbon to wrap the hoop. I sewed the end of the ribbon on the inside of the hoop with white thread.

Then I remembered I had this green beaded fringe from a project I did years ago. I sewed the fringe to the ribbon on the outside of the hoop.

That’s pretty much it! Add some silk flowers or stuffed bunny’s and chicks if you wish. Hang a large egg in the center. There are so many possibilities. Be creative and have fun.

May I also suggest you do a Google image search for “sagemon” or “さげもん”. You might be able to copy and paste those Japanese letters into your search bar. There are hundreds of wonderful pictures to gain inspiration from.

Got a question about this or another project? Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Picture Window Easter Egg

White rabbits are a common theme in Japanese art. Apparently, it comes from an ancient Japanese myth about rabbit that lives on the moon and makes mochi (Japanese rice cakes). The Japanese also adopted the Chinese zodiac in ancient times and according to that calender 2011 is the year of the hare. I’ve encountered a lot rabbit motif fabric in my search through the fat quarter bins at my local craft store. I bought some of this fabric earlier this year knowing it would be perfect for Easter.

The little rabbits on the fabric I got were perfect for a small picture window egg. I’ve seen picture window ornaments in various shapes and sizes throughout my kimekomi research. It’s a very common design. I was inspired by what I have seen others do but I came up with the “how-to” totally on my own. You can easily change the measurements to change the size and shape of your window.

Materials & Tools Needed:

  • ball point pen
  • tape measure
  • craft knife
  • tucking tool (I use a straight upholstery needle)
  • liquid whiteout
  • glue stick
  • smooth foam egg
  • cotton fabric, one with a rabbit theme and another complimentary pattern and color
  • 5mm sequins in the complimentary color of your choice
  • 1/4 inch sequin pins*
  • 15/0 clear iridescent seed beads*
  • 2 pearl topped corsage pins
  • 2 plum blossom sequins in the complimentary color of your choice

*Purchased from Cartwright’s

Basic Instructions:

  1. Divide your egg into 8 equal sections.
  2. Using your tape measure, measure the height of your egg from the top point to the bottom point. Divided the height by 2 to find the midpoint.
  3. Mark the midpoint on every other line.
  4. Divide your midpoint by 2 to find the quarter point.
  5. Mark the quarter point twice, once measured from the top and once from the bottom, on the lines without midpoint marks.
  6. Using your tape measure as a straight edge, connect the dots. Midpoints to quarter points, creating diamond shapes on 4 sides of the egg.
  7. White out the line in the center of each diamond.
  8. Cut foam along all remaining lines.
  9. Make a cutting pattern for your window fabric with tracing paper or clear vinyl.
  10. Cut out 4 panels of fabric, with your desired image at the center, using the cutting pattern.
  11. Spread glue on the foam, lay the fabric over the top and tuck in the edges. Do this for all 4 windows.
  12. Glue and tuck the second color of fabric onto the remaining exposed foam.
  13. Pin sequins along all the seams except for the seams along the midpoint lines.
  14. Pin a plum blossom sequin at the top and bottom of the egg with a peal topped corsage pin.