More Japanese craft books – handmade wallets

I did not mention in my previous post that, when I bought those Komihinata books, I also bought two other Japanese craft books about small things (or “komono,” as we call them in Japan).  These books are both on handmade wallets. One book is called “Handmade Wallets,” and the other one is called “More! Handmade Wallets” – both published by Vogue Japan. It’s pretty rare that I buy craft books on such specialized items, but I was hoping to learn all the high-level skills associated with wallet making. You can tell I was obsessed with wallets when I was making these mini wallets.

Two Japanese craft books on wallet making
I was pleasantly surprised to find a wide range of wallets discussed in these two books. There are traditional folded wallets with many compartments, L-shaped ones, clutch purse-like ones, ones with metal frames, and even those tiny “macaron” coin purses that have been wildly popular in Japan for the last few years.

Here are some pages from the books.
A page from a Japanese craft book on handmade walletsA page from a Japanese craft book on handmade wallets

A page from a Japanese craft book on handmade walletsA page from a Japanese craft book on handmade walletsA page from a Japanese craft book on handmade walletsMacaron coin purses from Handmade Wallets bookBeautiful, aren’t they? In addition to the many designs the books contain, I love that the publishers included several fabric variations for each design. You can see how a wallet would look completely different when the fabric choice is different.

So how many of these have I made so far? None. That’s right, not one. It probably has something to do with my laziness in following other people’s sewing instructions, compounded by the inherent complexity of wallet making. I mean, just look at this page from the “how to make” section.

Instruction page from Handmade Wallets book

Does it make your head spin? It totally spins mine. Look at the sheer number of little fabric pieces to cut…. I did read most of the instructions though. I pored over them at every opportunity over the summer holidays, when I did not do any sewing. I do this a lot with craft books actually – just read the instruction pages like a novel, without making anything.

But these wallets are just too beautiful. So yes, one of these days I will make one. One of these days…



New Japanese craft books – handmade by Komihinata

I have a very soft spot for Japanese craft books. I learned how to sew by reading those books. But over the years, I have accumulated quite a collection of Japanese craft books (and to tell you the truth, not just Japanese ones), it’s been hard to justify buying any more. I mean, my ever-overflowing craft books and supplies have often caused domestic discord.

But last year around Christmas, when I was in the phase of making little things like wallets and phone cases, I came across these Japanese craft books – and I just had to have them. They are called “Little Handmade Things by Ms. Komihinata,” and “Little Handmade Things by Ms. Komihinata – a Collection of Popular Items.”

Images of two Japanese craft books by Kominitana

Mioko Sugino, the author of these two books, started out by writing a crafting blog called “handmade things by Komihinata” (“Kominihata” is her made-up stage name). She made something new and showed it on her blog every single day for years. Or maybe she missed a day or two, I’m not sure. Her blog became so popular in Japan, she was eventually asked to write these books. Now she is a popular craft instructor, pattern developer, as well as an author. She still updates her blog almost daily – just amazing.

As you can see from the book covers and the titles, the things Ms. Sugino likes to make are small things, like mobile phone cases and little zippered key pouches. I love all the details and embellishments – and the fact that she makes everything look super adorable while mostly using a basic selection of fabrics, like stripes and dots.

pages from a Komihinata book

a page from a Komihinata book - a key pouchOver the years her creations got smaller and smaller, until she was well known for her miniature creations – like miniature tote bags that fit on the palm of your hand. Or miniature furniture made of fabric, fit for a doll’s house. 

a page from a Komihinata book - miniature tote bags


In her books, Sugino selects designs that were voted most popular by her blog readers, and explains how to make them. She makes them sound very easy… but if you’ve ever tried making little things, you know how fiddly they can be. Just look at this little case for a lip moisturizer, for example….

a page from a Komihinata book - lip cream case

It has a zipper closure. And a perfect cylinder shape, not to mention the lining. I wouldn’t even attempt to make that one – it’ll only end in tears. Whether one really needs a specialised case to carry her lip moisturiser is totally beside the point – although Ms. Sugino does explain that one of her friends was inseparable from her lip remedies, but kept losing them – so she created the case to hang it from her tote bag handle for easy access. Makes sense now, doesn’t it?

I initially bought these books to learn new techniques.  And I have learned a few tricks by browsing through the instructions. But really… the main thing about owning these Komihinata books is that they make you very happy, just flipping through the pages and admiring Ms. Sugino’s awe-inspiring skills and creativity.

Be sure to check out her blog, and don’t worry that it is in Japanese – I know you’ll love it anyway.