20 Ornaments in 20 Days Challenge

20 day challenge

I’ve got to get my butt in gear if I’m going to have anything to sell by Christmas. So, I’m going to challenge myself to make 20 ornaments in 20 days. Starting today, June 7th and ending June 26th at midnight, I’ll post a picture of each new ornament on my new Instagram account, Twitter and Facebook.

https://www.instagram.com/ornament.designs/
https://twitter.com/OrnamentDesigns
https://www.facebook.com/OrnamentsByAlyx/

‪#‎ornamentchallenge‬

Here’s day 1-4. Be sure to follow me to see the rest.

Day 1
Day 1

Day 2
Day 2

Day 3
Day 3

Day 4
Day 4

My Itty Bitty Workspace

I live in Yokohama, Japan. My husband and I live in a 2 bedroom apartment, which for 2 people without children is considered a lot of space. Our apartment is about 60 square meters and I believe that number includes our very spacious balcony. Within this small apartment is my very tiny ornament workspace. I’ve got one large bookcase for storage, work table with some drawers underneath and computer. That’s it!

workspace1
workspace2

As you see in the pictures I’ve got it nice and organized now. That will never happen again. As soon as I get back to making ornaments, which will be very soon, it will be a mess.

The opposite side of the room that you can’t see in the pictures is stuffed with personal items like books and clothes.

Best of Tokyo Craft Shops

Sometimes finding tools and materials for your crafting project can be difficult when you live in Japan but don’t read or speak much Japanese. For most people finding the local craft store is just a quick google search away, but for us gaikokujin, it’s a bigger challenge than that. After living in the Tokyo area for quite a while now I’ve figured out the best places for finding the things I need to make my ornaments. I hope this list might make your search a bit easier. Ganbatte ne!

Many of the links below are in Japanese and might be difficult to navigate if you can’t read Japanese, even with the help of Google translate. I recommend finding someone who reads Japanese to help you.

Yuzawaya

http://www.yuzawaya.co.jp/

The best place to find foam balls, cord trim, colored pearl head straight pins, embroidery thread and quality crafting tools. They also have a nice selection of fabric. There are many locations all over the Tokyo area. Usually located in the 0101 Department Store. I recommend signing up for a discount card if you are a frequent shopper here.

Shimojima

https://www.shimojima.co.jp/eng/index.html

I buy all my ribbon at Shimojima. It’s also a great place to find packaging supplies.

Tomato

http://www.nippori-tomato.com/

More fabric than you could ever possibly need or want. I usually spend most of my time on the top floor. It’s worth a stroll up and down the street to visit the other Tomato branches and other fabric shops in the area.
Here is a fabulous guide in English to all of Nippori Fabric Town.
http://www.tokyocraftguide.com/nippori-fabric-town/

Sanki

http://www.fi-sanki.co.jp/shoplist/index.php

Sanki is a super cheap clothing, home textiles, and other various junk shop. The few locations I have been to also have a craft supply and fabric corner. They have fat quarter discount bins that sometimes have awesome finds, but it can be hit or miss.

Craft Town Group Shops

http://www.crafttown.jp/

I don’t go to these shops very often but occasionally when I am out and about I will run into one just to see what they have. Sometimes their selection of cord colors are better than at Yuzawaya and I’ll get a color or 2 I don’t have.

And last but not least, the 100 Yen Shop!
Daiso and Seria
&

Get tools like measuring tapes, upholstery needles and slider type cutter knives. Beads and sequin shapes can also be found here in the crafting section. Take a look in the gift wrapping section for unique ribbons too.

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This is just my list of the best places to find craft supplies in Tokyo. Surely there are more. If you know of a shop that is not on this list please leave a comment and let us know about it. 🙂

2015 Tools and Material Preferences Survey Results

Tools and Materials
In an effort to get a better idea where my followers are buying their ornament supplies and which tools they prefer I ran a survey from May-August 2015. I received 30 responses in total. Not all answered every question in the survey and some added to there responses in the comments. The majority of my followers are from the United States so the answers reflect that.

Here’s what I learned:

Kimekomi is the most popular type of ornament made and sequined ornaments are the 2nd most popular type.

Most people prefer to shop at a physical store for there materials as opposed to an online shop. Generally, the most popular stores are Michaels, Jo-ann Fabric and Craft and Hobby Lobby.

Foam Balls:
Michaels was the favorite for foam balls, followed by Jo-ann and Hobby Lobby.
Walmart was an unexpected surprise answer.
Craftmill was the answer from a UK based follower.

Sequins:
Michaels, Jo-ann, Walmart and Hobby Lobby were all evenly preferred for sequin purchases.
Cartwright’s Sequins was the clear online winner, and my personal favorite.
Hobbycraft was the answer from a UK based follower.

Sequin Pins:
Michaels and Jo-ann were the clear favorites for sequin pins.
Hobbycraft for the UK.

Pearl Pins:
Jo-ann was the clear favorite for pearl head pins.
Hobbycraft for the UK.

Tucking Tool for Kimekomi:
There were only 10 responses to this question.

6 people use a straight upholstery needle.
2 people use a traditional tucking tool from Japan.
1 person uses an awl or dental tool.
1 person uses a metal fingernail file with a plastic handle.

One added “also use a sculpting tool with a flat side”.

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I would like to thank everyone who participated in the survey and if you didn’t have a chance to participate but would still like to add your recommendations and/or preferences please leave a comment below.

Ornament Storage

Over the years I’ve seen lots of ornament storage options. There are many companies selling expensive storage boxes that include easy access drawers and dividers, stackable containers, etc. But ornament storage doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. All you need is some tissue, packing paper, a cardboard box and some closet space.

Keeping the bows nice is always the biggest challenge when storing ornaments. Even if you use a fancy box with dividers your probably still going to end up with squashed flat bows if you don’t do something to help them keep their shape. I use plain lotion-free sent-free tissues to stuff my bows to prevent them from going flat. I do this for storage as well as when I ship the ornaments I sell. Every Christmas when it’s time to decorate the tree I am always pleased to see that the bows look just as good as the day they were made.

stuff bows with tissue
stuff bows with tissue

Once I’ve stuffed all the bows I wrap them in paper and then stack them in a cardboard box. You can use proper packing paper if you want. Buy it anywhere that sells moving boxes and shipping supplies. Or, if you are cheap like me, you can use newspaper advertisements. I prefer the glossy ads as opposed to the newsprint because I feel like there is less change the ink with transfer from the paper onto the fabric of the ornament. Some of the ads here in Japan are only printed on one side. I collect these throughout the year and use them for packing paper. I wrap it so the blank side of the ad touching the ornament.

ornaments wrapped in paper and packed in a box
ornaments wrapped in paper and packed in a box

Then I store the box in a climate controlled space. Attics can get so hot and basements can be damp. Climate control is key to keeping that musty smell away. You know those little packs of silica that you find packed with new shoes? Put a few of those in your box to combat the humidity especially if you live in a wet climate.

silica gel packs