What Do You Do With…Japanese Fabrics?

Sometimes, you just need a fabric that’s really special and different. While there are tons of amazing prints out there, if I’m looking for something truly unique, I always check out Japanese import fabrics!

While many American designers use Japan’s manufacturing facilities for their quilting cottons, there are incredibly talented Japanese designers making fun, elegant, and one-of-a-kind fabrics too. Since Japanese import fabrics can be hard to find (we’re lucky to have a big selection of them here at Pink Castle Fabrics) and there isn’t a lot of information out there on them, here’s the rundown of what makes Japanese fabrics so great!

Are Japanese Fabrics High Quality?

In a word: yes. Japan’s textile manufacturers turn out some of the highest quality fabrics in the quilting and apparel industry (you can read a little overview of Japan’s fabrics here.) They also specialize in denim and heavy wovens, such as canvas, so you know fabrics produced in Japan will look great wash after wash and hold up for years to come.

What Kind of Prints are Found in Japanese Fabrics?

Japanese fabric designers produce a wide variety of prints, including traditional (Lecien has had great success with their more traditional quilting lines, such as Memoire a Paris) modern (like Echino) and Kawaii. The word “Kawaii” (rhymes with Hawaii) means cute in Japanese, and the term is applied to lots of products, including food, cosmetics, fashion, and fabric. Kawaii prints are fun, playful, and sometimes weird, but the story is part of the fun. Some prints contain fairy tales and stories from Japanese culture, such as the Momotaro print, which seems odd at first glance– it has polka dots containing a boy, ogres, monkeys, and more. But the folktale of Momotaro (literally translated to “Peach Boy” in Japanese) means the print makes sense. That said, sometimes the Kawaii prints are truly just fluffy fun, such as Toothbrush Sing Along. Other motifs often found in Kawaii prints are Little Red Riding Hood, Alice in Wonderland, nursery rhymes, cats (so many cats!) and other animals, and food or candy.

Other than traditional and Kawaii, Japanese prints are often modern and sophisticated, such as Echino Blossom Canvas. These prints make terrific quilts, home decor, bags, and accessories.

What Substrates are Common in Japanese Fabrics?

Most Japanese prints come in a variety of substrates, the most common being standard woven quilting cotton and oxford. Oxford is a heavier woven similar to canvas or twill, varying in weight. It’s usually still light enough to mix with quilting cotton, and makes excellent tote bags, wallets, and accessories you want to have a little more structure and body. Other substrates often found in Japanese fabrics include double gauze, bark cloth, canvas, jersey knit, french terry, and lawn.

Project Ideas for Japanese Fabrics

– Quilts! Use quilting cottons, or light oxfords (mix oxford with quilting cotton worry free.) Have fun fussy cutting!

– Bags and purses

-Wallets and pouches

– Home decor, such as cushions, pillows and curtains

-Double gauze is best for apparel and quilts, as well as baby accessories

-Bark cloth is best for bags and home decor