DIY Obi Remnant Purse

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Eons ago, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, a bunch of my friends and I went in on a huge obi bundle and separated it amongst ourselves. Mixed in with all the obi was this piece of lovely karabana fabric. It had a few small pleats in one end, and I suspect someone had grand plans to turn it into a pre-tied obi. However. there was just barely enough to make the otaiko and nothing that would have worked for the waist part. So for the longest time, it just sat in my to-do pile, while I pondered and waffled and tried to figure out what I could do with it.

As you can clearly see, I finally found the time and inclination to turn it into a very unique purse. The obi remnant was just about the perfect size to make a roomy satchel with a flap closure. My initial plan was to simply sew the back to the front and make a sort of a thin clutch-style bag. I searched for hardware at a few places here in town but wasn’t finding anything I liked. My next plan was to order parts online, but I figured before I did that I would hit up my favourite local thrift store and see if there were any bags I could cannibalise for parts. I found this absolutely perfect beige suede bag with soft gold trim and hardware that just happened to be an exact match to the soft gold in the obi fabric. The bag was under five dollars, which wouldn’t even have been enough to cover the shipping for buying parts online. It was meant to be!

Instead of just sewing the sides shut, I inserted panels from the exterior of the purse. This not only makes my bag look much more finished, it also makes it nice and roomy inside. There was also a rusty orange lining that matched the orange flowers on the obi fabric, so I carefully picked the inside apart and used the inside pockets to give myself a little extra storage and organisation. I also pulled the snap closure off the thrifted purse and inserted it into the fabric, adding a small filigree metal piece and a fabric flower to reinforce the snap closure a bit. The last touch was gluing on some ribbon trim along the top edge of the purse interior, because the fabric is quite old and I was worried about it fraying from the strain.

I couldn’t be happier with how this purse turned out. It’s a great size, my Surface even fits snugly into it for travel. My only concern is that since the obi fabric is quite old, I’m worried about snagging or staining it. If it weren’t for that, I’d be using this bag every day, I think.

Review – Obi Handbag from Sachi and Co

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When I was given the opportunity to review one of Sachi and Company‘s beautiful handbags, I jumped at the chance. The store was started by friends from Okinawa, the United States, and Canada, working together to recycle traditional Japanese textiles into gorgeous modern accessories.  They make beautiful kimono fabric scarves as well as the handbags, and they’re sold along wall hangings and traditional kokeshi dolls. Their passion for tradition and Japanese culture is evident in everything they do, and it’s infectious.

The handbag itself is absolutely amazing.  The primary maru obi fabric was clearly very carefully selected and cut in a way that shows it off very well. It’s incredibly well-finished both inside and out, being fully lined and finished with mofuku obi fabric and solid-feeling plastic handles that are very securely attached. There’s an interior slip pocket for smaller items, and the bag itself holds a huge amount without feeling overwhelmingly big. The only “issues” I had with it, minor as they are, are lack of a zipper and shoulder strap. Living in a big city, the lack of a zipper makes me wary, but I will be keeping it as a special-event handbag so security is less of a concern. It will also help keep the beautiful fabric clean. If you’re looking for a great way to inject a bit of Japan into your western wardrobe, I highly recommend checking them out!

Please forgive the sticker over my face. I used the bag when I went to see The Book of Mormon yesterday, and while I felt fantastic and confident, every photo came out with a vaguely grumpy bemused expression. I just really wanted to include a photo so you can see the size and shape of the bag, and how well it completes my outfit.

I received this item from the retailer or manufacturer for honest review purposes.If you have a topically appropriate craft, product, or service you would like me to review, please contact me.

Hey, hey, wait a minute, Mister Postman!

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Sometimes, I suspect the mail carriers in this area really dislike me. I’m constantly getting big packages. Today, I really surpassed myself with three separate deliveries! One, a book called When Art Became Fashion: Kosode in Edo-Period Japan, arrived in the regular post and I will be writing a review of it when I have time to read it properly. First impressions are very positive though.

The other packages were larger, and more unwieldy, and the mail carrier was kind enough to leave them with my neighbours since I was at the cardiologist. Getting home was like having an unexpected birthday, or Christmas come early! So much pretty stuff! Since there are so many things included here, I have used smaller-than-usual photographs. Please click on them to view big versions, they will open in a new window.

Black zori with red chirimen accents

One of the few things I actually truly needed was another pair of casual, comfortable zori. Nearly all the footwear I owned prior to this was very dressy, all in shiny metallic vinyl or silk brocade. These fit nicely and I absolutely love the colour combo and the little chirimen silk insert in the stacked heel. They were a total bargain at $10!

Grey purse with kiku and black trim

This purse, and the one below it, were being sold by one of the sellers I regularly buy kimono from. They’re modern, and made of heavy denim-like cotton, but the designs are definitely kimono-inspired. This one in particular I can definitely see using every day. I love the contrast of the soft, girly fabric and the hard leatherette and metal details.

Red purse with ume and cream trim

This purse was bought at the same time as the previous one. It’s much bigger than I anticipated (I suspect the measurements listed were off), but definitely no complaints there! It’s fun and bright and while I don’t anticipate using it every day, it will definitely be a way to add a splash of colour and personality to a quiet outfit, either kimono or western clothing.

Now comes the find of the month, a bundle of five vintage obi for a total of twelve dollars (plus S&H). They were listed as “scrap fabric,” but as you’ll see four of them are completely wearable as-is, and the fifth one I am going to attempt to salvage and turn into a two-part easy obi.

Vintage cream nagoya obi with fans, thread spindles, and flowers

This is the main reason I bid on the bundle in the first place. I am just head over heels in love with this obi. The colours and style of yuzen make me suspect it’s late Taisho or early Showa, and even if it’s not it still evokes the feel nicely. I plan to wear it with my indigo Taisho houmongi sometime soon.

Mustard obi with flowers

I openly admit I am not very fond of the base colour of this obi, it’s a sort of a strange gold/mustard, but the woven flowers are very pretty and versatile, so I’m sure I will find a good use for it.

Cream obi with orange and silver waves

I’ve wanted something with a smooth wave motif for a while now, and this more than satisfies my urge. It’s vibrant and graphic and I like it very much.

White obi with red and gold flowers

The auction photos really didn’t do this one justice. It looked like a cute but relatively boring obi with some gold weaving and round dots. In person, both the gold and the red have such a rich silky shimmer to them that they look like rubies set in gold filigree.

Blue obi with herons

This was dubbed the Narwhal Bird Obi by my friend Kansai_Gal and I can totally see why XD. Unfortunately, it’s also the obi that is severely damaged – the silk is shredded to ribbons right above the folded area where the main heron is. Hopefully, I will be able to carefully cut it and sew it into a two-part obi. I will record my attempts and write an entry about that sometime in the near future. If worse comes to worst, I will simply turn it into haneri and possibly an obiage. The fabric will get used, one way or another.

A girl can never have too many shoes or purses!

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Even when it comes to kimono! Typically, the only proper shoes to be worn are zori, a sort of platform sandal made of leather, vinyl, or brocade silk, or geta, a wooden sandal with fabric thong hanao (straps). Zori are dressier, geta are usually worn with yukata, though with a more vintage or experimental outfit, they can be worn with kimono. Handbags are usually clutch-style, small enough to fit in a hand. Sometimes they’ll have a small strap or chain, but not always. For dressier outfits, you can get matching sets, but like western wear, it’s not necessary to have your shoes and bag match, and in some cases can even seem old-fashioned.

I have large feet, even by North American standards, so finding footwear that fits is always a challenge. Thankfully, traditional Japanese footwear is worn with the heel hanging off the end of the shoe, so wearing them too small is not a huge issue, so long as they are comfortable. I’ve lucked out and found a few pairs I quite like, but I am keeping an eye out for more.

Pastel Saga-nishiki set

This a very dressy set, good for furisode or tomesode. The zori are a bit tight, but they’re not something I wear often, so I can deal with it.

Gold and orange Saga-nishiki set

Another dressy set, but the colours are a bit more subdued so these get a bit more exposure. There’s a cute little mirror in the bag, and when I got it it was stuffed with newspapers from the early 1950s, which I found awesome.

Gold vinyl zori

My largest pair, and one of my most versatile. The hanao and the heels have inserts of red and black with little gold sakura on them. They’re comfortable, and by kimono standards, neutral.

Silver vinyl zori

Another large, comfortable, versatile pair. I took a risk on these – the auction listing just said “Japanese sandals” and the picture was iffy. There was also no size listed. I’m quite shocked at how large they are!

Black zori with woven hanao

These poor babies get more use than the town bicycle. They’re comfortable and casual, and since there are so many colours in them they match so many outfits. If they ever fall apart I will be devastated.

Black ukon geta

A great little versatile pair of black geta. I’m planning on changing the hanao on these ones eventually, the green does not match anything I own XD

Blue modern geta

Slightly dressier geta (carved heel, gold accents on the hanao) that I sometimes wear in inclement weather, or with older kimono. They’re a little slippery, which makes them hard to wear with tabi, but a quick spritz of hairspray fixes that.

Casual Hello Kitty geta

Big, floppy, noisy, knockoff Hello Kitty geta. For yukata only, and even then only in a very casual situation!

Black arabesque clutch bag

I love this bag so much. I snagged it for $0.99, I cannot believe how lucky I was. It’s a lovely soft black silk with woven swirls, and a snowflake-like design in silver. The top is an awesome reddish tortoiseshell Bakelite and the leather handle can also be tucked into the purse and hidden.

Mauve handbag with black trim

Yet another $0.99 find. It’s a pretty dusty mauve rinzu silk with black leather trim and a celluloid and metal clasp. It’s also quite large, about 25cm long. There was a cute little mirror tucked into one pocket when I got it.

Leather bingata-style clutch

Another amazing $0.99 find. I seem to have a knack for snagging bags nobody else bid on. I’m not sure if it’s real leather or vinyl, but it’s soft and supple and has an awesome Bingata-style stencil print and metal hardware.

White and silver clutch

Strictly speaking, this is not a kimono bag at all. It’s actually a promotional makeup clutch from MAC cosmetics. XD However, it’s got a great little rococo feel and fits perfectly into the sleeve of a kimono. It was never used for cosmetics, and so is good and clean. It’s pretty casual, but cute.

Striped tsumugi wallet

Just a simple little jewel-toned flat pocket, good for holding cards and cash and tucking into the front of my obi, or washi paper for sweets during a Japanese-style event.