[From April Issue 2012]
Since the morning drama show “Carnation” began to air on NHK in October 2011, a quiet sewing machine boom has been taking place. Because of its gripping storyline, the program has also become popular with viewers who wouldn’t usually be interested in such dramas. Inspired by the heroine who is both a dressmaker and shop owner, the numbers of people beginning to use a sewing machine, or taking up handicrafts has risen.
Those who don’t own a sewing machine can enjoy crafts at a sewing machine café. These cafes offer not only sewing machine rental, but also plenty of workspace in which to do things like cutting out large amounts of fabric or ironing. These cafés also host workshops for beginners that start with teaching basics, such as how to set up the thread, and it’s possible to take part while enjoying a cup of tea in the cafe.
Sewing Machine Café & Lounge nico is one such place. The café is equipped with more than ten sewing machines of various types, including home use, lockstitch, and industrial machines. The café provides various kinds of services including one-on-one instruction courses for beginners, and a basic sewing machine and workspace rental package.
The shop’s owner ‘nene’ says, “Of course the drama made an impact, but I feel that the desire to treat things with care became stronger since the big earthquake. The majority of our customers are beginners or those who haven’t used a sewing machine in a while. Most of our customers start out with something basic like a bag for knickknacks or a lunch box case. In March we started up the ‘free sewing’ workshop which people can casually take part in.”
People can also take lessons at Okadaya, a specialist haberdashery store. Knitting classes and seasonal events are held there. A wide range of people, from beginners to advanced, from children to senior citizens, attend the classes. They also have a sewing machine rental service.
ISHIGURO Tadashi of the Okadaya Product Development Division says, “Products for updating and customizing clothes are popular; our bestsellers are laces and buttons that can be used to make easy alterations. After the earthquake, there were many people who took up handicrafts in order to make scarves and vests to send to the devastated areas. Some of those customers turned into regulars.”
Other popular handicraft cafés provide embroidery, beading, and metal engraving experiences. But the most popular handcraft café found all over Japan is the knitting café where one can start out with just a pair of knitting sticks. It seems that these are popular because customers can ask for advice or knit something new while enjoying a cup of tea.
Text: HATTA Emiko