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.


Judith said...

Wow what a great job. Thank you for posting this. Have been looking for some simple instruction for a shifuku.
I just love your blog.

Homebody at Heart said...

Hi Judith,

Thanks for stopping by and posting a comment! Interestingly enough, I went to San Francisco this weekend and found out a little more about making traditional shifukus. There is special fabric, special cording...It was very interesting and I bought some traditional silk cording. I may have to buy that book after all if I want to make traditional shifukus but this was just a fun trial for a church tea.

Ruth ROSANT said...

I was so interested to see your post.I live in France and have been making shifuku for some years to wrap small ceramic pots made by a potter friend of mine. It took me ages to work out how to do it, fortunately with some help from a Japanese student. My problem is that I'm running out of the special cord for the knots and I would like to know where I might be able to buy some via the internet. Could you help?
Ruth Johnston

Homebody at Heart said...

HI Ruth,

I am sorry that I can offer very little in the way of help. I used to buy the cording from Studio Aika (sashiko designer) but she doesn't carry it anymore because they manufacturer stopped making it. I have bought some cording from Soko Hardware in Japan Town in San Francisco but it was made of poly not silk. The specialist cording I bought was from a little gift store in Japan Town, too. Sadly, I think that many traditional items made in Japan are now being made in China because it is cheaper, even kimonos. Perhaps Ichiroya (kimono site) may have it. Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

Homebody at Heart said...

One last note. The Japanese cording is called edo-uchi-himo (rayon) and the silk pre-made cord somada hiuro.

Ruth ROSANT said...

Thank you Homebody, this information is really useful as I didn't know the Japanese name for the cord. It may help me get some sent from Japan via a local contact. The first time I bought some was in Kyoto and they were really hard to find even there.