Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Little Shifuku

My sister invited me to a tea at her church on Saturday.  We are supposed to bring a teapot and cup.  After looking through my cabinets, we decided on this cute little square teapot.  I didn't have a good way to transport it several towns away so I decided to make a shifuku for it.  A shifuku is a little drawstring pouch made specifically for this purpose and many times for a specific object as in my case.

I thought the square shape would be a perfect choice for a first time try.  I spent some time (a good part of the day) yesterday thinking about how I would make said shifuku and looking up examples on the Internet (few and a book on how to make them cost $40 plus, I didn't have time to wait for the book).  Then, it was onto what fabric.  I bought some Japanese print fabric at Joann's and then looked at my fabric closet to see what would make a nice contrast and chose this green, vintage cotton plaid scrap dissected from a thrift store man's shirt.  As I make reversible bags, I followed the way I make those except with a few variations.  Firstly, The sides aren't sewn up all the way but about the bottom third of the finished bag (it is about half way up the bag before the bottom is squared up).  The top two thirds open up, so they had to be hand sewn together.  I used a thick poly batting between the inside and outside fabrics.  (I don't know what they used in the photos I saw online but their filling seemed much denser and packed tighter plus, the shifuku should be made of old silk but I didn't want to use silk on my first try.)  I didn't like how the teapot sat in it with the poly batting, as it seemed bulky and not level, so I took it apart.  Then, I racked my brain for any kind of scrap I might have around to make a hard and level bottom.

I didn't really want to use card board, and traditionally, a Japanese paper called washi would be folded up and used.  I didn't have any spare washi laying around and even, if I did, no way!  Washi is way too beautiful to hide away in the bottom of a bag.  So, I found last year's monthly datebook with a hard plastic cover and cannabalized it.   I wrapped some flatter, cotton batting around it, sewed the sides up, trimmed the excess and inserted it in the bottom of the outside bag.  It looked like this.

Then, I stuffed the batting in moving it around squaring it to the corners of the outer bag, put in the liner bag, doing the same thing and pinned it all up making sure that the little teapot was nice and snug in the bag.  In the Japanese versions, I am sure that the bottoms aren't made this way but that a fabric covered square or round is attached to bottom.

Then, I had to make little loops to sew into the top and inserted a drawstring and voila!  Here it is, my little shifuku.  I want to get some ceramic beads for the ends of the drawstrings to finish it unless I can find something around the house (hmm, I'm guessing I can as I write this but I just have to figure out where I might have put said beads).  I also practiced mottainai which I do anyway but I didn't know the Japanese word for it.  I read about it in this unbelievable magazine I bought at the San Jose Kinokuniya bookstore called Kateigaho.  Since, it was dark after I finished, the photo is a little yellow.  I'll post some more photos tomorrow, if I have time.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Winter Garden

This is the first year I have had a winter garden.  I really should have planted it earlier, but like everything in the garden this year, I was late.  Part of my delay was in trying to figure out something to discourage the cats from using the planter boxes without spending too much money.  I decided to buy some short 2 foot t-posts (they were cheaper that bamboo sticks, figure that out) and some green plastic construction fencing.

I decided to plant some decorative kale (bought in Canoga Park at the Green Thumb Nursery on our trip home from LA) for some bright winter color.  They have a very friendly and nice staff!

Since I was rather late putting it in, I bought lettuce, broccoli, green onions and baby bok choy already started.  I did scatter some daikon, carrots and arugula seed here and there.

Oh, and those naughty chickens.  I have decided that they can roam around and try t keep the weed population down.  But, I have to keep my eye on them so they don't become gourmets on my garden or my  worm bin!  Or, worse, victims of the lurking cats.