Why Kawaii- Cute Fabric Picks

(no post yesterday, in my quest for a little balance and sanity in my life I decided Sunday is an official day of rest. no blogging or emails.)

click for source

click for source

Kawaii” is a Japanese term meaning “cute,” “loveable” and charming in a non-threatening way.  I’ve been throwing that word around a bit lately without talking about what it is, so I thought we could chat about my latest favorite fabrics from Voodoo Rabbit.  Ever since I started teaching there regularly, I keep bringing home irresistible kawaii fabrics…

my cake roll.  Loving it.  click to view Etsy listing...

my cake roll. Loving it. click to view Etsy listing…

These silly little animals came home with me to line my Cake Roll and to make sewing room accessories recently.  Every time I look at this fabric, I can’t help but smile!   Cake!  Little creatures baking!


Last week, I knew I’d be sewing pockets in the near future (I’m in production mode!) so I picked up another kawaii print.  It’s fairytales!  Like many imaginative people, I love fairy stories and folk tales.


I’m not impressed with the “Disney-fication” of fairy tales.  Disney’s renderings seemed bland to me even as a child.  I read and imagined those stories myself.   I sought them out in the library and enjoyed those “real” stories that housed hard truths and wisdom passed down through time.

the Frog Prince

Now that I have a kid myself, I can appreciate how difficult it is to find clothes/bedding/plates/etc that isn’t some bland mass-produced character “product.”  Why is that?

Tiger Lily! (?)

Tiger Lily! (?)

At any rate, it means I’ve learned to love and appreciate distinctive little prints like this and to incorporate them into my sewing.


While I wait for Pavlova to finish printing and ship (more on that this week), I’m madly sewing samples for upcoming releases.  Today I cut the first of several pocket bags from this fabric.  How many different references can you spot in one pocket?

What’s your favorite kind of print to use for pocket bags and facings?  What’s your favorite fairytale?


  1. I’m pretty sure I learn something new from you every week. Your breadth and depth of knowledge puts me to shame! ;-) These fabrics are delightful. I studied Russian for a year at Uni and one of my course modules touched on Russian folk stories and fairy tales. The characters were familiar, there is a unifying thread throughout folk tales across the world of recognisable characters, but the stories were much darker. Definitely not Disney and far more appealing.

    • I wish I knew enough about Japanese fairy tales to spot and appreciate them in print.., I guess what appeals to me so much about this print is that it’s taken a lot of those iconic characters and used traditional Japanese type prints (red riding hood for example) to make a design that’s something a bit different.. And you’re so right about universality of themes. Russian fairy takes would be fascinating to study! Neat. :)

  2. I like Japanese floral/traditional/geometric prints. That said, I only put in pockets if I think it won’t ruin ‘the line’ and remove them if I think it will. *sigh* I’m so boring.
    Only funky facings if there is no chance of seeing them. facings and pockets, they are ‘my’ dirty little secret.

    • the line? You mean the seams showing through or what?

      Heh… I made a fly shield on a pair of shorts for Stephen recently with the most ridiculous spotted/heart print. Like clown underpants. It’s fun.

      • Seam outlines showing. Weight of the pockets pulling a seam out of line etc. I’m a bit ‘particular’ about how clothes hang etc – yes I’m weird

  3. This fabric is so cute and fun! I see at least 8 tales in that pocket. I LOVE fairy tales, the darker the better but I do enjoy Disney too. Have you ever noticed how the older, original Disney movies were darker? I don’t like the newer ones they have. My little secret – when I’m sewing all day I sometimes put on my old Disney movies haha –

    • Awww! That’s precious. :) I do like Aladdin… And Beauty and the Beast. Those are 90’s Disney….

      Yeah… They’re a bit darker…

  4. That fabric is so cute. I think I counted 9 fairy tales on the pocket bag. You had questioned ‘Tiger Lily’ in one of the photos. My first thought was ‘the Princess and the Pea’. Just from the image of the little girl on all those billowing petals. I can’t wait to see what you have been up to lately. And as for the use prints as lining, I am afraid that I have been quite boring with the attitude of “if it’s not going to be seen, I can use something less appealing.” I like your thinking. Now suddenly I am invisioning all types of prints from my stash which I can reconsider uses.

    When my daughters were younger we had an annual tradition of attending the Nutcracker ballet before Christmas. It was so much fun to get all dressed up to go enjoy a nice dinner and then the ballet. Then, I read ‘Nutcracker and the King of Mice’ from The Best Tales of Hoffmann. I didn’t exactly ruin the magic of the ballet for me but, I certainly look at the story differently now.

    • 9? I think that’s about right… :) Princess and the Pea? Would she not be on a bed or something? Hmm… :)

      Oh yes! Whimsical/pretty/cute/fun linings are the BEST. :) It tends to elevate the quality of the whole garment, I reckon..

      We used to go to the Nutcracker, too. :) I like that story, is it the one with the pitched battles between the Nutcrackers and the Mice?

      • LOL! Princess and the Pea because the flower petals look so billowy to me, like pillows. But, Thumbelina makes more sense. Both were my favorites as a small child until I became overwhelmed by the thought of being so teeney, tiny in a giant world. Then that super soft bed became very appealing to me.

        And the Nutcracker story is the battle of the Mouse King and the mice. Except Clara had the dream as a result of an injury from broken glass. Kind of a feaverish nightmare.

  5. sweeter than sugar!
    most of the tales in the fabrik are german ones. “hänsel gretel”, “schneewittchen”(snowwhite),” rotkäppchen”(little red ridinghood),” froschkönig”(frogking) and what you named as tiger lily is “däumelinchen” – a thumb sized girl.
    growing up in the eastern hemisphere there was no disney. we had fairy tale books illustrated by serious art painters. some are really spooky :-)
    btw – i have a blog now!

    • Well… I suppose I can concede fairytale characters to Germany, there’s such a rich folkloric heritage… AH HA! Thumbelina she’s called in English. The thumb sized girl. :)

      I used to devour books like those, too, German, Czech, Chinese, anything I could get my hands on…

      YAY! Where is your blog? I would love to read what you write, beate.

    • It’s super cute.. I am resisting making a blouse from it, I know it won’t work out as nicely as it looks in my head…

      Fiesty… I haven’t watched a new kids’ movie in ages… Stephen or his mom take Lila to the movies, I have a tendency to argue with the movie so I stay away. ;)

  6. Yea!! So glad I’m not the only adult out there that still loves fairy tales!! What a delightful print! Wondering if “Tiger Lily” could also be Thumbelina?
    Favorite fairy tale of all time for me is Beauty and the Beast.

  7. These are so cute! I love them! I appreciate that you look for things like this for Lila– it often seems like marketers are trying to cram dumbed-down kiddie entertainment down the throats of children (Hannah Montana, anyone?) from such a young age that kids become consumers instead of imagine-ers or creators. I tend to shy away from prints like this for myself, though, since I look pretty young (I got carded buying beer a month or so ago and the guy told me he thought I was 14!). I don’t want to look like a schoolgirl!

    • “from such a young age that kids become consumers instead of imagine-ers or creators.” You put it so very, very well! Yes, exactly. And when I actually sit and watch some of these shows, they’re moronic. In general. So why would I want to steep my child, my tiny imaginative active person in dross like that? We’ve been weirdly vigilant about it, sometimes it’s impossible to find things like little kid toothbrushes that don’t have a “product-character” on it… I started buying Lila’s in chinatown, with pandas and so forth on them..

      You do look so young! I would have carded you, too. ;) I get that, I completely get that about not wearing prints that play up your youthfulness.. I think I maybe probably kinda get away with it because I’m a little older? And thanks to this Australian sun, my skin looks it….

  8. Love those Kawaii fabrics! I’m definitely with you on the Disney issue. I just had baby boy and wanted to do his room in blue/orange/undersea creatures and it was impossible to find anything not related to “Finding Nemo”! Super annoying…
    Interesting little fact, I use cloth diapers and one of my favorite brands is named Kawaii, probably because baby butts are so cute in those fluffy cloth diapers! ;)

  9. It’s funny, some people love kawaii and others absolutely hate it. In Japan, these kinds of non-threatening characters are used in so many contexts, including governmental ones (e.g. a “mascot” for some program or other). It can be a bit of an overload, I guess, for some people. As for the fabric, I like it. One thing about the Japanese kawaii prints–they are pretty high quality, graphically, I mean. There’s a lot of detail in that piece of fabric. I like some of the Euro/Russian themed “folkoric” prints like matryoshka dolls and such. BTW “kowai” (very similar sound) means scary. So, perhaps some fairy tales, or Grimms tales, could be kowai and kawaii?

    As for pockets, I usually make clothes in fairly neutral colors and so I often use colorful fabrics for waistband facings, pockets and such.

    • You’re so great for adding depth! Thanks, Jen. :)

      Hehh I could see how the cute would get a little too much…

      Yes, you’re right about the quality, that’s another reason I like Japanese textile designers. Detail, detail, detail.

      I did not know that about Kowai, but I like that. There’s symmetry in it…

  10. Very cute stuff. I love Japanese prints, the linens and cottons are gorgeous. I just made a baby quilt out of six – all in gorgeous bright blues and browns. Can’t abide licenced fabrics. I think the reason they are so popular is that kids are attracted to them, being programmed to be drawn to what is familiar to them. Made that mistake early on when Amelia was about 5 – she chose a Tweenies duvet cover. Tweenies?? I don’t think she even much liked them, but it was something she recognised in the sea of choices. And if parent’s or other buyers are not aware of this tendency, they wouldn’t think to encourage other choices instead.
    Isn’t the Sumo frog prince adorable!!!

    • Oooooh Japanese linens are niiiice… :) I made a baby blanket from browns and blues last year using Japanese linen cottons… Can’t remember if it was Kokka or Echino… Anyway, lucky baby to have a MrsC quilt.

      Yes. I wondered if Lila would come home from school and want “product character” type merchandise, because I’m fairly sure we’d just have to disappoint her. So far, she doesn’t seem to care… And she doesn’t watch TV with commercials, I think that helps too.. Probably.

      He is! I love the little sumo frog prince, the little things like that make me smile… Heheh.

  11. I was wondering what kawaii meant! :) Your post has inspired me to read some Grimm’s Fairy Tales. We received a beautifully illustrated book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales as a gift my daughter while we were visiting relatives in Germany last year. As for pockets, I’ve just used the same fabric as my fashion fabric, but I’ve only sewn pockets on two garments so far.

  12. Wow, I love that fabric! I could be wrong, but I don’t think products were so commercialized when we were young? What may bug me even more is that every product is gendered: it’s only for girls or only for boys. (And the pendulum swings widely from the 90’s when gender labeling toys was so taboo). It makes handmedowns difficult and is dreadful for my dd8 who hates girly-girl. So there’s someone who appreciates my custom clothing-line (:

  13. I love the fairy tail fabric you used for the pockets. I’ve been lamenting lately that I can’t find decent clothing for my boy without it being littered with mass produced cartoon characters. Blegh! There’s lots of stuff for girls (even tons of sewing patterns and fabrics) but very little for boys. This fabric you have is wonderfully unisex.

Is it kind, useful or interesting? Great!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s