Tokyo Trip 2016 Part 1 - My Favorite Fabric Shop

From March 18 to April 3 I spent my time in Tokyo – to visit my sister, sightseeing (cherry blossoms blooming!), and equally importantly and enjoyably, to check out craft stores and bring home fabrics, notions, patterns and books. It’s so much fun! Tokyo is absolutely the paradise for fabric lovers and fiber snobs. I envy how the Japanese have access to high quality products that our Fabricland and Michaels wouldn’t match. I love the cotton-linen blend prints, denims and canvas fabrics made in Japan that are hardly available here in Canada. I can’t wait to share with you my unforgettable shopping experience!

And for this post, let’s talk about my favourite place. It’s the Swany fabric shop in Kamakura.

Swany - the original building

Kamakura is about 50km south of Tokyo, a lovely quaint old beach town where Swany’s original store resides. The shop is about 450m (6min walk) away from the Kamakura Station. In the past I purchased two lovely bag making books (this one and this one) they published and loved the floral fabrics used on their samples, so I knew I must visit the shop even though it is a bit far away from the city centre. However, before the visit I didn't expect that Swany is a big, big fabric store that consisted an old, original building and a new building next to it, with each having several floors, all open to the public. They have all you need for garment sewing, quilting, bag making to home furnishing. There are many things that I like about the store:

The clothing samples are for sale, too!

·         They have a vast collection of display samples on each floor for you to get inspirations and to touch and feel the drape and texture of the fabrics. These samples are pretty decorations that bring lots of charm to the store, too.

·         All merchandise are, if not all, mostly high quality stuffs. Many of the stuffs they sell are hard to find in Canada, including Japanese-made canvas, denim, laminated fabrics, and Swany's own collections. I am so in love with the linen florals, polka dots and quilting cottons from around the world. My favorite is the echino by Etsuko Furuya collection, so modern and one-of-a-kind! I see endless possibilities in turning the echino fabrics into pillows, table runners, purses and bags. In addition, Swany has a huge collection of bag making accessories and notions. It’s simply the best brick-and-mortar store to gather what you need for bag making. By the way, it is a brick-and-mortar store with a charming spirit, not a typical North American brick-and-mortar box.This is the one-stop place for souvenirs! Another place that can compete with Swany would probably be the Tomato shops in the Nipori Fabric Town, which will be discussed later.

·         The store is so clean and organized. Even leftover fabric bundles at bargaining prices are neatly packaged and displayed on trays.

The free pattern I got!

Teddy bears in Tilda fabrics.

·         You can ask for a “Swany special” pattern for free if you spend over 1000 yen (about $12 CAD). I like free stuffs. Note that hese are just patterns – no instructions. So you need to figure out how to assemble the pieces together on your own.

In summary this is THE STORE of my favourite and that I will definitely revisit on my next trip to Tokyo. You can easily spent half a day there browsing through their collection of fabrics, patterns, books and notions, and the rest of the day to stroll around the town, to see the great Buddha, the temples, or take the vintage train (Enoden) to the Enoshima Island.

Komachi St. is great as a "bundle package" for a one-day trip in Kamakura

My Itinerary was Enoshima Island – Swany – Komachi Street for a relaxing, one-day trip. The Kimachi Street is filled with a sea of people in the weekends. It’s a great place for tasting Japanese Street Food! I especially enjoyed the green tea ice cream in the boldest, bitterest flavour.

On my way to the Enoshima Island... this is so impressive!

 The island is so crowed!

The island is so crowed!

My sister, with her very limited understand of Japanese, helped me to figure out where the exhibition was located.

Oh oh oh, last but not the least, on my way to the Enoshima Island riding the Enoden train, I saw a poster about a quilt exhibition by Kathy Nakajima, who is famous for her Hawaiian Style applique. Of course I couldn’t miss this, and stopped by:

The exhibition is a bit too commercial to my taste; nevertheless it’s always nice to see and learn from other people’s handwork.

Needless to say, I had a fun day in Kamakura! I am sure that you will like the town, too!