May 31, 2010

the awesome grad gift project: お守り (o-mamori) tutorial

(as requested by valerie co... because she said it would be awesome if i did a tutorial)

first of all, i'm happy that the grad gift project is no longer a secret, since i'm posting this. i'm glad that they're finally out to the people i intended to give them to and i hope they find some sort of use for it.

so first of all, what IS an Omamori,?

in simple words, they're Japanese good luck charms, but i'd rather feed you more info about it.

according to wikipedia:

Omamori (Japanese: お守り, o-mamori) are Japanese amulets dedicated to particular Shinto deities as well as Buddhist figures. The word mamori (守り) means protection, with omamori meaning honorable protector.

and its main function is...

The amulet covering is usually made of cloth and encloses papers or pieces of wood with prayers written on them which are supposed to bring good luck to the bearer on particular occasions, tasks or ordeals. Omamori are also used to ward off bad luck and are often spotted on bags, hung on cellphone straps, in cars, etc. for safety in travel. Many omamori are specific in design to the location they were made.

They often describe on one side the specific area of luck or protection they are intended for and have the name of the shrine or temple they were bought at on the other. Generic omamori exist, but most of them cover a single area: health, love, or studies, to name only a few. It is said that omamori should never be opened or they lose their protective capacities. Amulets do not expire, however they are commonly replaced once a year to ward off bad luck from the previous year. Old amulets are usually returned to the shrine or temple so they can be disposed of properly.

i had the idea of making one when i saw kate had one dangling from her id strap. obviously, it was hand made (and it was made pretty well too -- i commend the person who made it) but i never got to ask who made it for her (although i think... i have my guesses :P). i was thinking she would've helped a lot but... oh well.

i'm don't have a pretty clear idea how to actually make one, but after a bit of research, a bit of guessing and totally rummaging the drawers for some material, i was able to think of a way to create an omamori. so, as a disclaimer, this isn't the OFFICIAL way you make an omamori, and moreover, this idea was born out of pure desire to create a grad gift suitable and presentable enough to my beloved friends.

with that said, let's start!

things you need:

pattern paper (i used some extra board paper i had left)
a ballpen/pencil
cloth -- something that won't fray at the edges (i used canvas)
some pretty paper you want to write your prayer/message on

(trivia about the cloth i used: while looking for some material, since i didn't have enough money to buy, i came across that place mat. yes, it's a place mat and i've had it since kinder. i used to bring it to school when i ate lunch and another when i had art :) i have two of these but since my mom requested that i should keep one, i only made use of one place mat. it's all right :) -- i think :P)

so first of all, you get your pattern paper and draw a rectangle that's at least as big as your palm. Omamoris are supposed to be as big as your palm (and no bigger), but if you like the cute and tiny sized ones, then by all means, draw a small rectangle :)

after drawing your rectangle, snip off two sides in a way that it'll look like this

and then get a longer piece of your pattern paper and draw your pattern two times, the square ends connected together

next, get your cloth and trace the pattern at the back with your pencil

after tracing, you go ahead and grab your scissors to cut them out

if you're making a lot then continue until you've finished cutting every one of them and then set them aside

next, take out a small piece of paper -- the one that you're going to put inside the omamori itself

fold it in half and then put on top of the first pattern you made, make sure when you put the paper on top, there's a bit of an allowance at the sides

obviously, if the paper's too big, you have to trim it :)

to make it a bit clearer, i've put the paper inside the second longer pattern we made

now go ahead and keep/throw the patterns if you want since we won't need them anymore.

so now, depending on how many omamoris you're making, you cut a few more of the ones we tried 'fitting in'. since i'm lazy and bad with the scissors when it comes to paper, i used a paper cutter instead ;)

(a lot of em for me :P)

you take out your ball pen and write something on the paper. when i say 'something', it means you have to write a prayer of some sort, wishing the person you want to give the omamori to with something. you can go ahead and write 'pass the exam' or 'find true love' or even 'sleep well at night' ;) it depends on what that person needs praying for.

you take out the cloth we cut awhile ago and fold it in half, right side out then bring out your pins, needles and thread :) sew the edges except for the top part of the cloth.

(in short, follow the red lines at the edges and sew on that area until the broken lines :D)

insert  your paper inside. if both your material and paper are too thin, then opt to slip board paper the same size of your prayer paper inside as well, so that the omamori would be sturdier -- it does need to be some sort of flat board  and not just some thing you can crumple in your hand :)

now to sew the top! this time, use small stitches -- the ones that you can barely see -- at at the edges. this is also a good time to sew in a looped thread that will serve as the 'handle' of the omamori.

you can also opt to just sew in a smaller loop and go buy yourself the ones that they use in cellphone straps :) anything actually can do for this one -- it just depends on how you'll use the omamori (remember, you can attach it to your bag, to your cellphone and even to your car)

now then, i've been looking at a lot of omamoris and i noticed that it wouldn't be complete withouth the the knot at the top. i looked for something similar and ended up using this butterfly cut-out i found :) hahaha. i stuck with it since it looked fine eitherway

so you sew it at the top (avoiding the paper) and there you have it! an omamori!

usually, it has something written on it at the front, but i found it heard to sew japanese characters on the cloth so i gave up :| i didn't want to ruin it further anyway :))

now, you have to educate the person you're supposed to give an omamori to.

of all the rules, you should tell them that an omamori SHOULD NEVER BE OPENED no matter what. having an omamori as good luck is fine, but if opened, it would have the opposite effect.

another is that you shouldn't have two omamoris at the time, since they would ultimately fight each other and would be then useless -- they won't work.

lastly, omamoris amazingly have a life span of one year :) usually, omamoris are returned to the shrines you brought them from after one year because by then they would lose their effectivity :) -- but since i'll be giving them out, i guess after a year, they can go ahead and keep it as some sort of keepsake or momento :))

the awesome grad gift project has now come to a close :) yey! on to the next project!



  1. Yay xD Congrats on making the grad gift! But I didn't get one ;o; Oh well :)) I want a paper cutter too! <3

    Good tutorial. b(^o^)d Although I would rather use running stitches on the wrong side of the cloth so it would look neater. ^_^ But in your case, sewing outside works too as the pink thread also acts as a design xD

    ~Eiri <(^o^)>

  2. soo cool:3 My mom gave me 2 omamori. good luck in studies and another one for my health:3

  3. uh.... are there suppose to have pictures?

  4. excuse, because there are no pictures?