Fabric Shopping in Japan: Liberty!

Fabric Shopping in Japan

I found this store completely by accident; I decided to walk down one side of the street rather than the other so as to stay in the shade, and, idly glancing through the shop windows, saw this:

Fabric Shopping in Japan

Of course, agonizingly, the store wasn't open for another ten minutes. So I went and browsed through a children's clothes store across the street, afraid to roam further afield in case I lost my way and couldn't make it back. I did cleverly take this picture for directional reference (the shop is at the very corner of this street and the main Nippori drag):

Fabric Shopping in Japan

When the shop finally did open (on the dot of 10 a.m., just as the sign said), I was the first one in the door — to look at this:

Fabric Shopping in Japan

and this:

Fabric Shopping in Japan

and this:

Fabric Shopping in Japan

The gentleman who was running the store when I was there was very helpful — I asked permission to take these pictures, which was originally refused … until I whipped out my handy Dress A Day business cards, after which everything was copacetic. I tried to explain "blog", but since I often have a hard time explaining "blog" in English, my hand gestures were not up to the task. So when he said "Magazine?" I said "Yes, computer magazine," and left it at that.

I ended up buying three meters of this:

Fabric Shopping in Japan

Here's the selvage:

Fabric Shopping in Japan

I am thinking that some of these patterns are Japan-only … I haven't seen them anywhere else, not on Ebay.co.uk or on the new Liberty website. And it does say pretty clearly "Printed in Japan". Does anyone know for sure?

As Liberty goes, this wasn't hideously expensive — I think it was about 2900 yen/meter, so about $29. Cheaper than Liberty in the U.S., that's for sure — if you could even find it!

I accepted a business card but am unable to read it — am posting it here for any scanlation help:

Fabric Shopping in Japan

This store is the one closest to the top edge of the card, on this little map (you can get your orientation from the train station). Worst-case, you could always print this image and give it to the hotel concierge or cab driver — that should get you to one of these stores!

Aside from Liberty, the store carried a lot of very high-end cottons — including that red and yellow French-provincial stuff that handbags are made from, whose name I always forget — and some wools and linens. I didn't spend a lot of time browsing other than among the Liberty, since I knew buying that piece of Liberty had already strained my fabric budget a bit …

While I was paying for my fabric, the clerk even offered me a piece of chocolate. This is my kind of fabric store, I tell you.

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55 thoughts on “Fabric Shopping in Japan: Liberty!

  1. Re Liberty fabrics and Japan, my understanding is that a range of Liberty fabrics geared to Japanese tastes with similar but different designs, e.g. including Hello Kitty, are produced in Japan under licence for the local market by a company called Sanrio. A few years ago Sanrio celebrated a major anniversary and to mark the event released a range of special Liberty designs, which were also available overseas; hence the sprinkling of Japanese designs you might have noticed.
    Some examples are sold on Etsy. I have bought Japanese Liberty lawn via Etsy once only; my experience is that the quality is every bit as good as usual but the fabric is narrower, which is infuriating if you forget when estimating the quantity you need.

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  2. An Etsy merchant with a particularly good range is Lilymeru. She lists her stock as fat quarters or small pieces. If you wanted continuous yardage, you would have to ask her whether she had it.

    I am not sure whether Japanese Liberty fabric is still narrower or whether it is now the same width as elsewhere; you should check when buying.

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  3. I live in Japan and buy Liberty prints at my local Yuzawaya, but have seen them available in most good fabric shops. Yes, the fabric life here is heavenly. My stash is embarrassing. A recent favorite obsession of mine is the Liberty print double-fold bias tape, 1.5m for $3.70. Not cheap, but oh-so lovely.

    Years ago someone asked about Japanese Liberty width. It’s still narrower here than the UK: 106cm (41.7″), while in the UK, width is 137cm.

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