With all of this recent talk of buying fabric for myself and buying more fabric for myself and buying yet more fabric for myself, it may seem to you that the Selfish Seamstress has lost sight of the true spirit of the holidays. But don’t you worry, dear readers, she is well aware of the fact that the holidays aren’t just about getting fabric, they’re also about GETTING OTHER STUFF. Oh yes, and I have certainly done that with the help of a couple of trips to Kinokuniya, the Japanese bookstore near Bryant Park that is a sewer and crafter’s dream come true.
They have a beautiful selection of Japanese and non-Japanese fashion books and publications (dare I say I found their selection more interesting than nearby fashion publication mecca Around the World?):
No matter what your fashion interest, they have a book on it. Jeans? Check. Flowered dresses? Check. Kimono design? Check.Cynthia Rowley? Check. Judaism-themed shoes?
They even have two entire racks of Japanese men’s fashion magazines. Notice that unlike many American men’s “fashion” magazines, the covers actually feature (gasp!) men wearing (gasp!) clothes, rather than nearly naked women! [Note to Rihanna: If you’re reading this, the Selfish Seamstress is no Puritan, but did you really have to be that naked on the cover of this month’s issue of GQ? Do you really think the readers of GQ deserve that much of your 21-year old goodies? And no, the unzipped hotpants do not qualify as “clothes.” P.S. Thank you for reading my blog, Rihanna, I love “Umbrella”!]
(Oops, I think this was the point at which I realized that photos are not permitted in the Japanese bookstore. Sort of ironic, actually. Sorry, Kinokuniya- let me know if you want me to delete the photos!)
And of course the craft and sewing sections were enormous, with all of the usual suspects like the Pattern Magic and Bunka series, Mrs. Stylebook and Lady Boutique, as well as tons of pattern books:
Fortunately for my already-depleted wallet, I didn’t have too much trouble resisting the dozens of books full of dress, blouse, and skirt patterns. I do like Japanese pattern books in theory and the sizing certainly works for me. But I find that many of the mainstream clothes in Japanese pattern books have a gently relaxed, almost smock-like fit (dirndl or a-line skirts that hit below the knee, jumper-style dresses) that is cute but don’t do any favors for my decidedly little-girl-not-yet-a-woman figure. Doll-like is not the aesthetic I go for, and I much prefer the more sophisticated styles in Japanese pattern magazines like Mrs. Stylebook. Still, I thumbed through just about all of them with delight.
There were also a few fantastic men’s pattern books featuring wonderfully classic patterns and even (on the left) the Book of Aprons for Men. That’s right, a whole book full of apron patterns specifically for men. How great is that?
The book on the right is full of coat patterns for men- trenches and car coats, duffle coats and overcoats, each one perfectly classic with all the traditional details. I thought about getting this to make some coats for Dan (interestingly, Dan cooks without an apron and probably would be perfectly fine with a unisex one if the occasion called for it!) but decided that the Japanese sizing might not work so well on him. He flipped through it himself and didn’t get too excited over anything so we left it behind. And oh yeah, making coats for him would interfere with my busy schedule of sewing exclusively for myself.
I did snag a couple of books. First off, the delightful Drape Drape pattern book, which I have coveted ever since reading about it on The Slapdash Sewist. My assessment of the book is pretty much on par with hers (I covet dress number 5 and find most of the others wonderfully artistic but unwearable from a practical standpoint unless I get a job that requires the regular exposure of my bumcrack). Here’s dress number 5:
And because the Selfish Seamstress is incapable of being positive about something without getting in a jab or two, I’d like to point out that this book features some freaky thin models in some kooky childlike poses:
I also picked up a book of hat patterns, which I think will be a good way to use up some of my nice wool scraps and remnants. The patterns range from adorable and practical:
To flowerpot-shaped (i.e. also wacky):
Many of the photos make me excited to sew some cute accessories (which I rarely do), and all of them make me want to break out my curling iron.
On your next trip to the garment district, be sure to swing by Kinokuniya for more irresistible sewing and crafting treats. And even if you don’t pick up any pattern books or sewing magazines, you’ll have a hard time passing up the other adorable items like Totoro stuffed animals in every size imaginable. And fortunately again for my wallet, my 15″ laptop would not fit in this, otherwise Professor Elaine would be lugging her computer to lectures in a most childish and inappropriately cute Jetoy kitty cat case:
As you can see, the Selfish Seamstress knows that the holidays are more than about just getting fabric. Kinokuniya bless us, every one!