Good Japanese Vintage Fabric for Boro Cover

Good Japanese Vintage Fabric for Boro

The word “Boro (襤褸)” is a Japanese word for a piece of rag. However, the word itself may be more famous outside of Japan with various forms of interpretation. It is quite challenging to define what Boro is (because we as Japanese do not define the Boro as a form of culture yet), so please understand what I write here is not something judgemental to someone. Here, more importantly, I share what is Good Japanese Vintage Fabric for Boro making project. Following the information about Good Japanese Vintage Fabric for Boro, I will share some of my understanding of Boro.



Good Japanese Vintage Fabric for Boro

When we make a “To be Boro” fabric, we try to synchronize our stitches to the stitches done by the Japanese in hundreds of years ago. Boro is a result of repetitive Sashiko stitching out of necessity. For the purpose of survival, they used the fabric in their reaches (recycled and upcycled what they had).

In today’s society, we have a choice of which fabric we would use for the mending project. In a heart of Boro concept, it is true that we can use any kind of fabric to make “a piece of fabric looks like Boro (Boro Inspired Art)”. However, stop thinking about “what to use” by simply understanding one perspective of “freedom of Boro” is a bit superficial to understand the deep culture of Boro fabric we can see in the museum.

Therefore, for us as Sashiko artisans, the most important challenge we keep in our mind is to synchronize (revive) what the Japanese did many years ago. Above said, this is a checklist when we look for the fabric to make the Boro – the one as authentic as possible.

  1. Raw material
  2. Color
  3. Durability
  4. Stories (when applicable)


Following is the more detail in each category when we look for the good vintage fabric. The biggest difference between us and the other antique dealers with very beautiful Boro pieces would be the purpose of the fabric: Our purpose is to use the fabric in our Sashiko stitching. Some of the Boro from the pasts are too fragile to be used again. Therefore, some of them are durable only behind the glasses in the museum. We sometimes encounter very beautiful Boro pieces from the past (which is now quite expensive). However, we do not purchase the vintage fabric if it doesn’t satisfy the criteria below.


(1) Raw Material

We strongly prefer cotton fabric. Occasionally, we encounter the vintage silk cotton. Linen (hemp) fabric can be used, but not the first choice. We always avoid the synthetic [chemical] fiber because they age differently. Although there is a lot of beautiful and colorful Kimono, which many uses for remaking projects, it isn’t ideal for the Boro-reviving project.

(2) Color

Color is a great category to be creative. However, because of availability in cotton fabric in hundreds of years ago in Japan, dark shade fabric such as Indigo or Gray, would be the popular choice. If the fabric is less than 100 years old, let’s say the fabric around the WW2 or after the Meiji Restoration (the time Japan opened up its nation to the international trade – the end of national isolation), the fabric may be artificial dye. There is nothing wrong with using artificial dye fabric. However, to balance the aging speed of fabric, we prefer the Natural Dye such as Hon-Aizome (本藍染 = Authentic Japanese Indigo Dye), Dorozome(泥染め = mud Dye), and various Botanical Dye Fabric. In this era, the various dye technique was very popular, such as Katazome (型染め)and Tsutsugaki Zome (筒描き染め). It requires another article to explain the variety of colors and dye technique (and we aren’t well-knowledged enough to describe). The choice of color makes the journey more enjoyable and exciting. Our favorite part of this journey is to find the “good aged color (the color only the flow of time can make)” and dyeing our thread naturally to match the fabric.

(3) Durability

As I described above, the fabric has to be clean so that (1) we can stitch (2) the person who uses in their days. Most of the vintage fabrics from the storage area are dusty, dirty, and stinky. Therefore, the fabric has to be strong enough to be washed. We wash by hand very carefully but very thoroughly. It is the last thing we would like to do is keep stitching for hours of times with strong smell from the fabric.

If you have purchased a piece of vintage fabric with no smell, then it is because the antique dealer is very knowledgeable and attentive to wash the fabric before shipping.

We sometimes find very beautiful and artistic vintage fabric. However, when we understand that the fabric is not strong enough to be washed, we will pass it to someone who values the fabric as the art in the frame. Washing the fragile vintage fabric will end up with losing the beauty.

(Well… we make numbers of mistake. We once purchased a beautiful rain-jacket, estimating the time from before the Meiji Restoration. It was quite a big investment for us to purchase the Jacket. The jacket was, of course, dusty and stinky. We hand-washed carefully and end up losing more than 50% of the weight. It means, all the frayed thread, dust, and the particles went into the drain… We enjoy the beautiful leftover of the vintage fabric, but it is the necessary process of preparing the Good Japanese Vintage Fabric for Boro.)

(4) Stories

The 4th category is very much our personal preference. It is very fortunate to have the vintage fabric with stories attached. I believe every single vintage fabric has its own stories. However, at most cases, we only can guess the stories because the story existed in many years. Therefore, when we obtain the fabric with stories attached, we enjoy and try to synchronize our stitches to the stories with sincere respect.


Vintage Fabric as limited resource

In order to have the unique color and texture of the Vintage Fabric, the fabric has to age naturally over time. On top of that, it is quite difficult to find the same “fabric manufacture (weaving artisans)” that can make a similar fabric as the Japanese did so many years ago. Therefore, the vintage fabric is a limited resource.

It was a piece of trash when the world didn’t know the value of vintage fabric. After all, it is the used dirty fabric. In these days, because of the trend in Sashiko as well as the value as the investment commodity, the prices of vintage fabric is raising (like crazy). Some of the vintage fabric can be quite expensive because it requires not only a good taste to find the fabric but also a careful and attentive preparation. Washing and cleaning the vintage fabric can be a risky process. Please leave the comment here if you would like to purchase vintage fabric from us – the same one we use for our Sashiko and Boro making. We only provide those in-person (face to face), but we will see what we can do over the Internet.



Fabric to be Boro

The word “Boro” means a piece of dirty rag. Therefore, as you can imagine, it is dirty and very smelly (not in a good way). Some of the “Boro Art” will be destroyed by being washed, and therefore, they are displayed as the Art. Those are not the Boro we try to “revive”. The Boro we are creating is the Boro we can use in our daily life.

It has to be strong enough to be washed. Of course, it is severely damaged fabric. The friction from daily life will damage the fabric even more. It may alter the look. However, those damages are “welcomed” because that is how the Boro were made. Once we try to make the “Authentic Boro”, it required the process of using it heavily, and therefore, it requires a skill of stitching – which is called Sashiko as a form of the stitching process. Therefore, on top of sharing the culture of Sashiko and Boro, we decided to share the technique of Sashiko stitching in the in-person workshop as well as Online.


This is an On-Going Boro Jacket that Atsushi has been working with. We wear it, and when in need of mending, we perform it. We believe the repetition of the mending and stitching will make the authentic Boro.

Does it have to be Japanese Vintage Fabric

By reading so far, you may think it is too much amount of thinking to enjoy Boro. The question would be “Does it have to be the Japanese Vintage Fabric“? The answer is quite simple: No, it doesn’t have to be the Japanese vintage fabric to enjoy it.

However, as the Japanese who practice Sashiko, we would like to focus on the Japanese Vintage Fabric. We have tried to use Non-Vintage Fabric, such as the fabric the traditional weaving mill manufactures today. Although they look very beautiful as the patchwork, the problem was the difference in the speed of aging. The non-vintage fabric was too strong to be naturally damaged.

We could try to use vintage fabric from another culture. It could be a good “art” pieces with respected adventure. However, it doesn’t feel natural to us at this point. It is like a process of making Sushi without using the Japanese short-grain sticky rice. It is doable, but feel pretty strange.


Above said, I am just sharing our benchmark in choosing the Good Japanese Vintage Fabric for Boro. It is your choice to use any fabric you prefer in your Boro (or Boro inspired) project.

At the same time, I want you to know that the project of “reviving (to be) the Authentic Boro” is more than just mending or patchworking whatever the fabric we have to recycle. It is more than “recycling”.

Boro is a result of repetitive stitching in necessity – to survive through the severe winter. However, I believe, the Japanese who made the Boro wanted to be more beautiful and wealthy. Description of Boro with the simple terms of “recycling the fabric” is too shallow for me to advocate. It is more than that. They probably wanted to get the better fabric instead of recycling the fabric. We can only guess because there is no official documents left. However, the creation (either it is Authentic Boro, Boro inspired patchwork or simple Mending) can be more beautiful and sincere when we try to be mindful of what we do. It is the whole concept (and my message) as synchronizing our stitching to the Japanese who made the Boro in hundreds of years ago.


I have been sharing my perspective of Boro in this website. I will explain the Boro terminology and other perspectives below following to the main topic of “Good Japanese Vintage Fabric for Boro”.


Boro (襤褸) Terminology

It is quite challenging to define what Boro is. So, please let me share some of the terminologies of Boro to explain the bigger picture of Boro instead of defining Boro as a piece of rag.

In my understanding, the word Boro (ぼろ)is from an onomatopoeia of BoroBoro (ぼろぼろ). Although I used the word “onomatopoeia”, it is not a sound of tearing the fabric. The word describes the process (movement, state, or condition) of fabric getting damaged over the usages. When we keep using a piece of towel to clean many places, after some times, it starts tearing (possibly with holes). The state of being torn and damaged is described with the word “BoroBoro(ぼろぼろ)” and it became a noun to describe the Boro we know.

Here is some definition of Boro from Japanese national (comprehensive ) dictionary (encyclopedia). If you find errors in my translation, please kindly let me know. English is still my second language.


  1. Cloth with damages (like tears) after heavily wearing
  2. Useless fabric/textile after heavy usage
  3. Fabric about to be torn. Thing about to be broken. Or something useless for the purpose.
  4. Horse excrement. (糞 = shit… well…)
  5. Hidden defect. Failure. collapse

Well. As you can tell, the word itself isn’t that positive or fancy word for the Japanese. We still have the negative images to the word.

① 着古して破れている衣服。ぼろぎもの。
※雑俳・口よせ草(1736)「うりてさへ時宜するぼろを買て行」
② 使い古して役だたない布。つづれ。ぼろきれ。
※万国新話(1868)〈柳河春三編〉一「布屑(ボロ)などを以て大なる人形を造り」
③ 破れているもの。こわれているもの。また、役に立たないもの。他の名詞の上に付けても用いる。
※真景累ケ淵(1869頃)〈三遊亭円朝〉三三「寝衣の単物にぼろ袷(あはせ)を重ね」
④ 糞。特に、馬糞。
※金貨(1909)〈森鴎外〉「馬の糞(ボロ)を捨てる箱があったので」
⑤ 隠されている欠点。また、失敗。破綻。→ぼろが出る・ぼろを出す。
[補注]物が破れているさまを表わす擬態語「ぼろぼろ」から出た語。

https://kotobank.jp/word/%E8%A5%A4%E8%A4%B8-631791

Can we really make Boro in today’s society?

When we talk about authenticity, we have to be careful of what levels of authenticity we would like to follow. It is true that we cannot make the really authentic Boro in today’s society. There will be a significant difference between the Boro in the museum and the Boro we make. It is because, in order to make the authentic Boro, the flow of time (hundreds of years) would be the necessary element.

However, we can try to follow (synchronize) the process by respecting the original. We cannot make a copy of the authentic Boro that we see in museums, but we can start a process of making the authentic Boro by caring and stitching with the vintage fabric which didn’t become authentic Boro. One of the Boro Jacket I introduced above with the photo is the challenge I am working on to make the authentic Boro.

I feel… it is too superficial to define Boro as a form of mending only. It is sad to mention the impossibility of reviving the Authentic Boro without challenges. We would like to try, and respect, the beauty, and wisdom in Sashiko and Boro – Sashiko as a process and Boro as the result.

It requires time. It is the art from the Japanese who sincerely lived (survived) in many years ago. It is our time to think about what we can leave to the human being a few hundred years from now.


Authentic Boro | No line yet characteristic

I keep using the word “Authentic Boro”. Well, again, there is no such thing as “authentic Boro” in the definition. We call the beautiful Boro in the museum as the authentic simply because it is beautiful and powerful (on top of the record that the Boros are discovered by Mr. Chuzaburo Tanaka, a researcher, and collector of authentic – old Sashiko and Boro items).

To make it easier to explain my understanding of “authentic look” in Boro, let me share some photos of what we made. Below, I use two Sashiko pieces to compare what is “Authentic Boro” to explain the difference. Both of them are created by Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya (link to the Portfolio). Please understand that there is no clear line to define what is authentic Boro or not.

The significant difference is “the amount of time we use, and the numbers of times we Sashiko stitched” Again, both of them are made in today’s society (not from the vintage market). The difference is the aging process we let them have.

In short, with comparing these 2 photos, (A) and (B) are on the same timeline. It isn’t (A) or (B) – more like (B) then (A). For that, I would say, all of the Sashiko stitching we do can be categorized as the “Authentic Boro to be Fabric”. Every Boro pieces we sell online are usable in the daily life. It is up to the clients need. It is perfectly fine if they want to frame it as the art. At the same time, if they would like to use it and keep stitching by themselves, it is a good piece of “To be Authentic Boro fabric” because we sincerely respect the process of Japanese which made the authentic boro we can see now in the museum.


Other articles about Boro and Japanese Vintage Fabric for Boro

The article about the Boro in General
Another article about Boro – questioning is it really “at Random”?

Also, check the search result for “Boro” in our website. We have been adding many more articles to explain what “Boro” is for us. It became a long article. I hope I provided some clarification about the Boro and Sashiko.

Cultural Appropriation Cover

Cultural Appropriation in Sashiko

The recent discussion about Sashiko started on FB group following in Instagram & our FB group taught me a variety of views to look at things. In order to grasp this discussion, please read the articles of “Why Do you call it Sashiko” and “Mindful Reading“. These 2 articles would be good-to-read materials to understand who I am on top of what I do. Regardless, it was a necessary learning experience for me to keep this journey of sharing what Sashiko is. However, there was one assignment I took home with me to study: learning about Cultural Appropriation in Sashiko.


Japanese Cultural Appropriation

The word, Cultural Appropriation, was a too complicated concept for me to explain with the Sashiko we practice. Therefore, with knowing the recent discussion about the word “Kimono” and its cultural appropriation (My Kimono is not your couture), I couldn’t express my insights to the public. I wanted to make sure that I understand what I write before asking someone to read. A follower on Instagram introduced me the brilliant article, written by Ms. Maki – Japanese potter lives in Yorkshire. Her writing encouraged me to express how I feel about Cultural Appropriation in Sashiko.

Her powerful writing is must to read if you are interested in being creatively inspired by Japanese culture (or any other culture, for that matter). Please take a moment here to read through her writing, then please read how I feel about it. I sincerely respect her writing and appreciate her courage and time to share.


I encourage you to call it Sashiko

With my sincere respect to her writing, I encourage you to call your stitching Sashiko as long as you “try” to understand and respect the Japanese culture. I am not asking you to be a master of Japanese culture, nor practice the Japanese custom thoroughly. What I am asking is your attitude to understand who the Japanese are.

Do I sound like contradicting between what I write and what Maki wrote: “Naming DOES matter”? Please let me explain it here.


“Kimono” and “Sashiko” is a bit different

I came to the conclusion to not to consider “Calling your stitching Sashiko” as the Cultural Appropriation based on the 3 factors below.

  1. Sashiko may be too ordinary in the concept of Cultural Appropriation.
  2. Many Japanese also misuses the word of Sashiko.
  3. The word Sashiko is mainly used in the non-commercial situation.

(1) Is Sashiko Japanese culture?

Kimono is a Japanese clothing culture. When they try to research what the Kimono is, there are numbers of books and article to read. However, in Sashiko, there aren’t many documents published to understand Sashiko as the culture.

In fact, I am not sure if we can call Sashiko as the Japanese “culture” yet (therefore I keep asking to respect the Japanese culture in Sashiko – not Sashiko Culture). The ordinary Japanese practiced Sashiko in their ordinary life. The hand-stitching to repurpose the fabric was just too ordinary for the Japanese. We do not have enough documents and testimonies left to define Sashiko as the Japanese culture. However, I believe I can say that Sashiko has a lot of Japanese cultural characteristic – and without that, I wouldn’t want to call it Sashiko. (One of the characteristics of Sashiko and Japanese culture would be a concept of Animism in Sashiko.)

When we aren’t 100% sure to call Sashiko as the Japanese culture, it would be better to keep it as non-Cultural-Appropriation matter. Kimono is different. It is the defined clothing culture. When they disrespect the Japanese culture in Sashiko, then I would get offended. I don’t know how to call this anger or frustration yet – but probably not the Cultural Appropriation.


(2) Is Sashiko common for Japanese?

The second factor is that Sashiko isn’t so common for Japanese neither. Every single Japanese knows what the Kimono indicates. Not all the Japanese know what Sashiko looks like.

In fact, the Sashiko we practice now may be a bit different from the Sashiko the Japanese practiced a long time ago. The culture transform itself. It isn’t about good or bad. It just happens. However, there are many stories behinds each Sashiko or Sashiko related fabric. This website and our SNS accounts are for sharing those stories – like difference between hand-stitching Sashiko and woven Sashiko as well as the difference between Boro and Sashiko.

Since Sashiko isn’t so common in Japanese, it may be harsh to name someone’s stitching as the Cultural Appropriation.


(3) We enjoy Sashiko stitching with no intention.

The last factor I would like to mention is that many of us calling their stitching Sashiko do not intend to disgrace the Sashiko stitching. They enjoy Sashiko (or any form of hand-stitching) with no intention of the power of the word. I can say so because not many people use the word for the non-commercial setting.

I am aware that some companies/people use the word of Sashiko to sell their “Non-stitched” item. For that, I would get upset as the form of Cultural Appropriation (as Ms.Maki mentioned in her article). However, those who are interested in my messages are the people who simply enjoy Sashiko stitching for non-commercial purposes, so I would like to avoid scaring them to enjoy their Sashiko stitching.


The fear I experienced in the discussion

Yes. I encouraged you to call it Sashiko. However, I still have the fear I explained previously. Maki explained the fear I had experienced in the discussion very well. It is “言葉の一人歩き”.

言葉の一人歩き (kotoba no hitori aruki) literally translates as “word walking on its own”. It’s the Japanese expression of the state of misused and misinterpreted information, that has nothing to do with the origin, are spreading selfishly in the society.

https://makikohastings.blogspot.com/2019/05/naming-does-matter-my-thought-on.html

This happens when we use the word without good understanding of what it actually means. I personally feel that the word “Wabi-Sabi” is a good example of this. Interestingly, once the word start walking on its own, there is no way to stop it – because we tend to listen what we want to listen and we use the most effective aspect of the word.

If the one who uses the word is aware of their action – let’s say Sashiko is the Japanese hand-stitching culture – the word walks toward slowly implementing the other values. However, when they start using the word without knowing the background, the word rapidly and drastically starts absorbing what they want to reflect on the word.

The word is a wisdom, not a tool. However, without an attitude to understand the culture and background, it could be hurtful for many people.

A good example of this matter would be the word of “Sashiko as the recycle method.” I have read some statement that we can use “whatever we have” because Sashiko’s core principal is to recycle what we have. I do not think so. Yes, Boro is the ultimate result of upcycling and recycling what they had. However, the core message of Sashiko is to appreciate & care what they had like blanket or Jacket. In order to mend the Jacket for better use in the future, they would have used the better thread (if they had a choice.) Using whatever we have in the box because of convenience is not the Japanese culture in Sashiko. By using the supplies designed for Sashiko purpose, not only the result will be more beautiful and long-lasting, it can help to preserve the industries in Sashiko.


The words of “Respect” and “Appreciation” requires Action.

In the FB comments, I was accused of overreacting. I do not believe that I overreacted to the issues. Sashiko is something very deeply rooted in my identity.

In Zen practice, the Japanese believed that the word doesn’t contain the truth. I followed this concept, and therefore, I also practice Sashiko on top of writing and sharing. Although the word “cannot” contain the truth by itself, the word can have the power and responsibility. It leads to the concept of being mindful in our ordinary days. I hope, by enjoying Sashiko, we can be mindful and think of the responsibility of what we say/write.

Again, I do not consider someone calling their hand-stitching “Sashiko” as the form of cultural appropriation. I worry more of the cultural transformation by quick read what is available online. Therefore, I would like you to call your stitching Sashiko especially when you have read my writing this far and trying to understand the Japanese culture. Your contribution can help to preserve the Sashiko culture, and I appreciate your action very much.



 [Editor’s Note]

I am still sad and angry about the comments I have received in the previous discussion on Facebook. I felt insulted – without them even trying to understand what I am trying to do. However, at the same time, it was very grateful to experience because I receive so many more messages to encourage what I do. I receive 100 times more positive messages in comparison to those insulting comments. These warm & understanding messages are the motivation of writing this article. Here is an interesting story. Those who “care” to understand the Japanese culture in Sashiko are the one who worried if they use Sashiko inappropriately – as a form of Cultural Appropriation, like you who have been reading this far. This is the writing for you who care what I do so that you would send me the encouraging messages when I get confused. I hope this article helped you to enjoy Sashiko more. The fear I feel is not from you.

I used to suppress the negative feeling such as anger or sadness. Now, I understand those feeling is what define us as human – when someone disgrace something I value the most, I should get emotional to protect it. With the fear, I would like to be as natural as one human being can be.


The Fear of alternating Sashiko

Above, as you know, I mentioned that I wouldn’t consider “calling a form of hand-stitching” Sashiko as Cultural Appropriation. Furthermore, when you “care” to understand the Japanese culture behind Sashiko, I would like to encourage you to call your stitching Sashiko. It isn’t about the stitching result much. It is about the mindset to practice Sashiko, at least the Sashiko we would like to pass down.

Let me share, once again, that I still have the fear deep down there: Sashiko may alter its form so rapidly, by those who try to “understand” Sashiko as their own way without caring, that Sashiko may lose the original form of what it actually is (was). Therefore, I keep sharing my view of the Sashiko we practice – mainly on Instagram- to encourage people to enjoy more than just stitching but something more than that.


By the way, I do not intend to control someone’s feeling or actions. If they want to practice “Sashiko” as they want, unfortunately, I have no control over it. Because I cannot control it, I just keep sharing what I believe in so the other will receive the core messages I would like to pass down. There are always people who twist the messages I am trying to communicate.

I am an idealist but I know the reality. We have all our view to look at things. One called me that I am arrogant, and accused me of acting as the authority of Sashiko. Another commented that I am intimidating to others. Well, again, I cannot control how they receive my messages.

(However, I hope, when they read what I have been writing, the words of “Arrogant”, “Authority” and “Intimidating” are the opposite terms for what I have been doing. I can say that confidently because many more of people encouraged me to keep sharing them with appreciation. I hope you understanding my point here. If I wrote something arrogant or intimidating, please let me know with the specific part that I wrote so I can self-reflect and edit them. I am a human. I make a mistake. )


It is okay that they take my message in a different way. However, for those who do not like what I share, I don’t want them to learn the Sashiko from what I write, upload as videos, or provide workshops or supplies. If they learn the Sashiko from me yet thinking that I am arrogant, then it is the fear I am worrying the most; alternating the Sashiko culture. “Convenience” isn’t the first principal of Japanese culture.

(It is fair… right? I always provide the 3 politeness replies before I get offended. Again, everyone makes mistakes and we all deserve a chance to re-do things.)

After all, Sashiko is like my family. When I see the intentional action of alternating the Sashiko culture like above, I will fight back no matter what.

Oops. The editors note got so long. I am here to share & support the Sashiko you would like to enjoy – unless you try to “care” others. Thank you for your time to read this far.

Atsushi

Workshop at Loop of the Loom | Soul of Sashiko

It is an honor to announce the Sashiko Workshop (Core & Basic) collaborating with a beloved SAORI weaving studio in NYC, Loop of the Loom. I am very happy to share the Sashiko we practice in such a beautiful space where the owner already developed the “caring atmosphere” to the participants. In the 6-hours long workshop, the participants will learn the basic and core of Sashiko stitching – Unshin (運針)- how to move the needles. We believe Sashiko is not about making one perfect stitch. It is a process of appreciating with moving the needles. Because of this Rhythm, our Sashiko pieces look beautiful with even stitches, and so will be yours.

Loop of the loom Sashiko Workshop 22

Sashiko Workshop @ Loop of the Loom

Date:

  • August 24th, Saturday | 10 am ~ 4:30 pm
  • August 25th, Sunday | 10 am ~ 4:30 pm

Location: LOOP OF THE LOOM | 227 E 87th Street #E (Lower level)

Registration: Here on Loop of the Loom page.


Why Workshop with Loop of the Loom?

You may remember my words in the beginning of 2019 – “I plan to focus on my creative activities, so I will offer as less workshops as possible.” You may be surprised that I decided to offer the workshop with Loop of the Loom.


SAORI and Sashiko

I only have read a few articles about the founder, Ms. Misao Jo. Although my knowledge is limited, I feel there are similarities between SAORI and Sashiko. It is a great opportunity to share Sashiko with resonating the similar message in Japanese culture in well-known SAORI studio in New York City. I appreciate Loop of the Loom to find us and organize such a wonderful opportunity.

Learning instead of following the direction

It is easy to simply follow the direction. You come to the workshop and enjoy Sashiko for a few hours with following the direction of the instructor. Sure. It can be fun. However, what I would like to share is more than that. I want you to be able to continue Sashiko after the workshop. The workshop is only the gateway for the Sashiko we practice.

Some workshop organizers had contacted me to offer the Sashiko workshop as the entertainment opportunity for their customers. It is perfectly fine for me to commercialize the Sashiko workshop and market it as the weekend entertainment. I would offer that type of workshop if I have unlimited time. However, becuase our capacity is very limited, I would like to focus on the “Learning opporunity” rather than “the entertainment.” Don’t worry, though. The Sashiko workshop is both entertaining & educational. I am just taking about the “purpose” of the workshop (not the contents of the workshop).



Natural Dye and to-be-Boro

Loop of the Loom also offers the Natural Dye such as Bengala and Kakishibu. We also hand-dye our Sashiko thread. Loop of the Loom will provide various kinds of swatches for the participants. I will bring my collection of Natural Dye Sashiko thread for sampling (some will be available for sales as the skein of 145 meters). Also, I will bring some samples of vintage Japanese fabric to see why we use the Natural Dye thread for some projects such as mending to make it Boro-like fabric.

Regarding this Natural Dye theme, I will talk about the Boro and its history. This “Natural Dye and to be Boro” lecture will be only available for those who register the workshop. Don’t miss this opportunity.


Eye opening day for anyone who is interested in Sashiko

After offering the Sashiko workshop to close to 200 people, I am confident to say that the Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Core and Basic) will be your eye-opening day for your Sashiko journey.

I look forward to meeting you at Loop of the Loom.

Sashiko Denim Jeans Cover

100 of Sashiko Denim Jeans Journey

One Denim Jeans with Sashiko stitching completing within 4 days. A story from my dear friend, Dag Force, motivated me to unrealistic work. After the 4 days, I realized that I underestimated my ability in Sashiko. At the same time, I learn that I can improve my Sashiko. The 4-days of intensive Sashiko Denim Jeans Journey taught me my potential and possibility. I want to be better, so here is an announcement of the 100 of Sashiko Denim Jeans Journey.

What did I do in 4-days?

With spending about 20 hours in 4 days, I completed adding the whole Sashiko on one-leg (both front and back) and some small Sashiko mending. You may check the whole process on Youtube as a series of live-streaming or a video below as the preview of 20 hours stitching.

https://youtu.be/rWXmY6q0N5w | 1/100 of Sashiko Denim Journey

I would like to continue stitching on the denim. However, I do not have 100 of denim jeans because I decided to purchase no more clothes in 2017. I would like to work on your denim jeans, especially the one you have a story to tell. It could take 10 years of my time to complete 100 of Sashiko jeans, and I would like to work on the denim they value so much that they want to keep for a long period of time. I appreciate your understanding of this massive labor on one denim and its value.


Project Outline

X/100 Sashiko Denim Jeans Journey

Atsushi will perform Sashiko stitching on your used denim with minor mending if necessary.


The fee for the project

About $150.00~ | $7.83 ($7.25 * 1.08) multiplied by actual hours spent on. The total fee will depend on how much of stitching & mending the denim require. The fee for the denim on the photo is $156.00 + shipping of $7.80.

Production time / duration

2~20 weeks from the day of denim-jeans delivery to Central Pennsylvania.

Notes & condition

  • The pair of denim jeans need to be heavily used. I do not (cannot) stitch on the new denim because the fabric may be too thick. Also, the denim has to be cotton 100% and non-stretchy fabric. If you are concerned it is lightly used and not thin enough to perform the stitching, please let me know when you contact us.
  • Please allow us to broadcast some or whole of the stitching on your denim on Youtube and/or Instagram.
  • Please wash the denim jeans thoroughly so that all of the smell and dirt will be washed away before stitching. If the smell is too strong, we may wash it in our house ($20.00 extra fee applied).
  • Please share your story on the Denim to me in writing over the email. I would like to prioritize the denim with a more inspirational story as the priority.
  • The regular price is about $580~ for these types of commission. If you would like to support us with the full commission, please let me know. I will work on it as the priority commission. Also, any types of support (in a form of donation or tips) would be appreciated.
  • For the design, I will provide some geometric pattern preference. I can work on the pattern you would like to have, but it could end up with more time to work on and result in higher pricing.

How to be part of 100 Sashiko Denim Jeans Project

Simply contact me mentioning that you are interested in the 100 Sashiko Denim Jeans Project. I will reply to you from our Gmail account. 

I would like to consider it as my lifework instead of “work to make a profit.” Therefore, I would like to know who is asking me to do Sashiko stitching, why, and the stories behind the denim I will be working on. 

 


Stories of 100 Sashiko Denim Jeans Project

  1. Dag Force Sashiko Denim – Footage – Completed
  2. NK – pure power to encourage the others – Working

I appreciate to be part of this 100 of Sashiko Denim Jeans Journey.


Another Sashiko Denim project is coming up

This project, 100 of Sashiko Denim Jeans Journey, is a project that Atsushi will work on YOUR denim to reinforce the stories.

As a synchronizing project of Sashiko Denim Jeans Journey, we can work on the “used denim in the market” and practice “Full Sashiko Stitching with necessary mending” provided by Atsushi’s student in Japan. If you are interested, please contact me saying “More information for the Full Sashiko Stitching Denim.” More information will be coming up soon.

Mindful Reading – Follow up of Why Do you Call it Sashiko.

Thank you for all of the comments for the previous post, “Why Do you Call it Sashiko?“. I learned a lot from your insights. Many comments encouraged me to keep my journey. Don’t worry. I will not change anything to share the Sashiko we enjoy.

To be honest, the original discussion was a confusing & heartbreaking one that I didn’t expect. I moved on, thanks to many heartwarming and constructive advise. Yet, however, for the purpose of improving my understanding of both Japanese and non-Japanese culture, I cannot stop thinking of the possible missing link that I couldn’t realize. Some part of me says that I could have communicated better within these 3 Budda’s smile phases (not after the 3 strikes). I know it sounds crazy to you, but hey, I am a Japanese after all, who naturally feel shame on things to worry if they may have embarrassed themselves or not.

I have been thinking and thinking, though days and nights, I may have found the missing link. 


Mindful Reading and Quick Reading.

The missing link is the word I came up with: “Mindful Reading

* (I apologize if I am using someone’s word. I do change the name if it is not appropriate.)


“Why do you call it Sashiko?”

From this sentence, when you read it at first glance, what do (did) you think (feel)? I sincerely hope that you understood my intention of “a pure question out of curiosity” with reading the before & after contexts instead of the “Atsushi – accusing – you” comment, like “how can you call it Sashiko”. There was no intention to accuse anyone and anything they do. I simply wanted to know what is the motivation and reasons (why) they call their stitching Sashiko, only because they did not try to understand the Japanese culture or characteristic.

Over reading their comments many times, I came to one hypothesis: what if they read the sentence, “why do you call it Sashiko?” (by without getting the context) as an accusation? then, the question itself triggered their defensiveness? Moreover, what if, in the Western (American) culture, it is not okay to ask about the personal motivation or reasons, although it is okay (or even recommended) to ask the technical or knowledge-based questions?

What I received as their offensive comments are not still okay because I provided enough polite explanation (contexts) of why I pointed out the concern. Many comments I had received from the previous post assured me that my English was not a significant problem. However, I thought, this hypothesis may a good start to find the missing link that has been bothering me. This realization leads me to the keyword: Mindful Reading.


Before explaining about the Mindful Reading and Quick reading in contrast, as a side note, I would like to share the comment I receive in the post I asked: “why do you call it Sashiko?” I received a comment saying: “I use the word for the Instagram hashtag.” I liked how pure it is. I am NOT offended by this comment at all. Since my goal is to share the Sashiko AND Japanese culture, I asked him if it is possible to try to understand Japanese culture. He generously says “Yes”.

This “Yes” is all I wanted from the original discussion. I asked the person in the original discussion to practice Sashiko (move hands for some amount of time) first instead of asking many questions, then ask thoughtful questions. Asking the questions is not the problem. Asking questions without thinking of someone’s time (the possibility of troubling someone) is one of the “non-appreciated” action in courtesy of Japan. If the person says “I am doing Sashiko”, I wanted them to try to understand this courtesy of Japan.

Unfortunately, the discussion didn’t go that way. So I started wondering why they call their stitching Sashiko. I honestly and sincerely didn’t understand why – which I still don’t. I can only guess the other reasons such as “because it looks pretty” or “I just saw it”. Anything is acceptable. Only thing I don’t understand is why they do not provide me their response… (Well, I got one answer that she thinks what she does is more like an embroidery – then I replied her that I had no problem then if she thinks what she does is an embroidery).

I kept thinking and thinking, then I realize that reading is a subjective action. It reflects how the person usually perceives reality and react to the events. The contexts and my polite explanation didn’t matter because they acted as their unconscious behavior.

Well. That’s why I would like to share the importance of the Sashiko as the process, not only the result or practical techniques.


Sashiko as a mindful stitching.

I see many people enjoy Sashiko as the mindful stitching. Although I am not sure if the Sashiko was developed as the way to be mindful, like meditation, I feel the same for the Sashiko as the mindful stitching. In fact, I enjoy the meditative characteristic of Sashiko stitching, and it influences my other daily activities. Sashiko helps us to be mindful in other activities.

So, I would like to share the concept of Mindful Reading.

I would like to use the word of Quick Reading in contrast to the Mindful Reading. Mindful Reading may be described in other terms such as careful reading, slow reading, or as my favorite, a dialogue to the author. Quick Reading may be described in other terms such as efficient reading, speed (fast) reading, or personal preference based reading.

In this my personal description, Quick Reading is the key to be successful in this world. I personally enjoy the Speed-Reading (Photographic Reading?) in Japanese, and I used to read at least a book per day. I enjoyed the amount of knowledge and information I could accumulate in my brain – I felt that I was reaching to the success (that I defined – pretty much money and wealth) every-time I read. I still enjoy it when I make a research on specific subject.

Ever since I started practicing Sashiko as my life mission, I naturally withdraw myself from doing the Quick Reading. It is interesting to realize this difference after 5 years of my reading habit transformation. Again, I still do the Quick Reading when I choose. However, in daily life, I try to be mindful when I read someone’s writing. (This may be significantly affected by the Inter-cultural marriage life. It isn’t easy sometimes. hahaha.)

I would like to recommend the beauty of Mindful Reading for those who would like to practice the Sashiko. I am not saying you should learn how to meditate and sit down on the floor when you read. It is just about being mindful (that you are there with the book) while you read. You may question yourself if you are reading what the author intended to write. You may ask a question to the author in mind, and the author may describe it later on in their writing. Mindful Reading makes a beautiful dialogue between you and the book (or blog, writing, or even a memo on the post-it).

Does it sound difficult for you to practice? Don’t worry. there is an easy way to practice Mindful Reading. “Breath slowly intentionally & fully” when you read. The slow breathing will remind you that you are there to read.


We (the human being) used to search for the information by reading books or records. Now, we choose the information because of the Internet – too much information available. The more information is required to be successful, then it leads to the necessity of increasing the speed in reading. For efficiency and productivity, in such a busy day, Quick Reading is a must-have skill to be “better”.

However, with Sashiko as mindful stitching, I here sincerely hope to share the beauty of Mindful Reading. I occasionally feel that I am talking to the author when I read – even when I read the novel. It gives me so much appreciation and insight.

With the Internet and speed-oriented society. some of the writing does not deserve the Mindful Reading. You may end up with wasting your time with Mind Reading by reading some trashy writing. It is okay as the learning opportunity. However, for those who practice Mindful Reading, I am pretty sure you can distinguish the writing worthwhile for the Mindful Reading. One exception would be the writing in another language and from other culture. The author may be writing in the non-mother language. In that case, the Mindful Reading will provide more insight from. As my personal impression, the writer has to be pretty mindful when they write sentences in the non-mother language 🙂

SNS is a bit difficult place to do Mindful Reading, again, because not many writers are in the status of mindfulness. However, defining that “All of the writing in SNS are not worthwhile for Mindful Reading” is also not in a category of being mindful… I assume.

We all make mistakes

As my conclusion, the original discussion missed the concept of Mindful Reading. I asked them to read my comments several times, and they said they did. They indeed did read my writing, but not Mindful Reading. Therefore I felt confused by 2 different types of feedbacks – many feedbacks of saying I have nothing wrong, and a few saying that I am rude. This confusion may be explained by the categorization of Mindful Reading and Quick Reading.

*When I write this kind of article, some of you may feel that you did Quick Reading and feel sorry for not doing the Mindful Reading for my writing. Well, do not be sorry because the feeling you had for me is already a dialogue between me and you. It is Mindful Reading. Also, the person with only Quick Reading ability wouldn’t be reading the whole article – because it is too long and the sub-heading tells “another story”. (It is interesting if you get my trick here.)


I welcome any feedbacks

It would be so helpful to share your insight here. Some say that I do not welcome any questions and feedback, but I do. Criticism and questions are both welcome as well. If you ask a question, please think through first so if you are not troubling my time more than necessary (Courtesy of Japan). If you make a criticism, please provide the concrete reasoning and examples backing up your criticism. I got some comment (on FB) that I am rude at some posts, but they never provided me the actual posts I shared… so I cannot even self-reflect and prepare for an apology because I don’t know what they are referring to.)


I also learned that some may think that I am trying to be an authority in Sashiko. I have a favor to ask for this – please try to understand that I am just a man who happens to be good at Sashiko. It is perfectly fine when someone gives me the title of Artist, but I really don’t consider myself as the artist or Sashiko master.

I write a lot of my philosophy on Instagram. It would be nice to follow, and when you have time, please check the post I made already there.


[Side note] I want you to listen…?

I have been happily married for about 9 years with a western woman. It is a marriage, so we have numbers of arguments and discussion, and I always learn something from them (by admitting that I was wrong. lol. just kidding.)

One of the significant learning was that: when she says, “Hey, I want you to listen”, then start talking about her day, it does not mean that she is asking for my reply nor advise. She just wants me to listen.

In Japanese culture, this doesn’t happen often because not many married couples talk like we do in the western culture (in my understanding – of course, depends on the couple). The wife doesn’t ask him to listen much. She doesn’t even expect him to listen even though she may keep talking to him.

I did the same once – pretending that I was listening to my wife. It was a bad idea. So I changed my understanding that I need to listen carefully when she ask me to listen. So I nod and say some exclamation words as naturally as possible (it wasn’t my strength). I shared my caring and I did care what she said. However, in my cultural understanding, caring required some participation – so when we got into the fight by me commenting on what she wanted me to listen, it was total confusion.


This is an example of how “cultural difference” can affect communication. Being mindful is a great way to mend the troubles. I accept to change myself in any situations because I choose to marry a western woman and live in America. Since we are talking about Sashiko, the Japanese stitching form developed in the Japanese culture, I would like to ask anyone who enjoys Sashiko to “try” to understand the Japanese mindset bt being mindful what they are reading, listening, and enjoying.

Again, when I said, “why do you call it Sashiko?”, I asked from the out of pure curiosity. It is still the same. I am very curious why the person call their stitching Sashiko (if they do not try to understand the Japanese culture). If your answer is “because I like Sashiko and would like to (try to) understand Japanese culture”, I am here with you. If not, I would like to know why you call it Sashiko so I can learn from you and move closer to you.

I hope this article cleared some of the confusion. It certainly did to me like “Aha!” moment.

Why Do You call it Sashiko?

Thank you very much for reading our website & Instagram (FB) posts. I really would like to ask for your help here. With encountering one discussion on Facebook, I am confused about what I am doing (saying & writing). It leads to the fundamental question, why do you (they) call it Sashiko? Is my English is so bad that I need to re-start learning how to write?

If this confusion is the matter of me writing too much (or in bad English), and encouraging them (the people who replied) not reading what I wrote, I can understand that. However, if it is actually me that creating confusion – contradicting with each other between what I write & what I say (do), then it is a big problem. Your help would be very much appreciated to share your insights. 


No intention to offend someone particularly.

It is NOT my intention to offend or disrespect anyone. It is the first goal. I am simply so confused. Again, since it isn’t my intention to create the further argument, if possible, please share your comment here or on where you are from (Instagram or my Facebook Page), not in the Facebook page that I will refer to with actual comments.

To follow what is going on, you can check the FB group of “Sashiko” and find the thread started “May 12 at 12:49 AM“. That’s the pretty much only one thread I left the comment, so you should find me (Atsushi Futatsuya) writing a long reply to the conversation starter. I will try to copy and paste as much as I can.

Why Do you call it Sashiko?

In my fundamental understanding of Sashiko trend in non-Japanese regions, they are interested in “Japanese Sashiko”, right? I mean, they use the Japanese word of “Sashiko (刺し子)” so they are trying to learn the Japanese Sashiko. If they are trying to learn the Japanese Sashiko, it is safe to assume that they are interested in the Japanese culture… right?

Otherwise, why do they call it Sashiko?


For those who do not wish to visit Facebook, I try to explain the situation as “objectify” as possible here. After all of the long, many proof-read comments, a person stated that I am NOT generous to share the knowledge. On the other hands, on Instagram, numbers of people show their appreciation that I am generous to share the Sashiko we practice. My confusion is here. What did I miss on the discussion thread? Is it my English? Or, is it (again) that the people will only read & understand only what they want to read & understand…? Please, please help me out here. Since I can “subjectively” look at what I wrote & what I uploaded on Youtube, I cannot find the remedy to this confusion.


On facebook group(s), I come across a lady who asks many questions. As I had replied to her later on, it is okay to ask questions. However, I wanted to share that, in courtesy of Japan, the main principle to be polite is “to avoid troubling the others”. Therefore, the questions should be well-thought and well-researched, as much as their capacity. Also, the person mentioned my stitch as “precise”. As you know, the result of “precise” is NOT the message in the Sashiko I would like to share. She had contacted me directly twice before this Facebook discussion so she should know that I exist & offer a lot of information, yet she didn’t come to understand the most repeated message…? Therefore, after considering thoroughly, I left the message below.


I am sorry to mention this, but I think you need to “practice” before asking questions around. I received 2 messages from you. I see your questions all over the several groups. In my understanding, “Sashiko” can be only learned by practice. Someone with a lot of experience like Sashi.Co or _________ can do the Sashiko which you are looking for. It is getting a bit frustrating (for me) because I felt you are expecting to complete the Sashiko by asking. You need to move your hands and learn from the practice.


There is information to avoid unnecessary detours. The workshops. The books. Videos Online. We try out best to provide them, too. Read Susan’s book carefully over and over again. Watch Sashi.Co videos carefully (although we do not teach specifically like the workshop, there are people who learned a lot & very good at Sashiko now), or take workshops with someone experienced. You need to invest either “time” or “money” to get what you are asking.


Sashiko is well-known as a craft. It may seem to be “a quick hobby to learn”. I am not 100% sure how Sashiko is treated in non-Japanese culture. In my understanding, however, Sashiko is more than a hobby. Since it is more than a hobby, I just wanted to share that, asking the numbers of questions before looking into the information already available can be considered somewhat “rude” in Japanese culture.
I am only saying this because you are trying to learn Sashiko – the Japanese culture. As I keep mentioning in my account, Sashiko is more than “stitching” – which include the appropriate manners of the Japanese culture.


Learn by practice. Steal the technique & wisdom instead of asking. That’s how Japanese mastery developed over time.

The people in this group are very nice. I enjoy the questions and answers here a lot. I learn from the Q&A as well.

However, I couldn’t stop myself to point out this concern from my Japanese cultural perspective. It is not my intention to offend you. I really would like to share the “Sashiko” as the Japanese culture, more than stitching, and would like you to learn it – if you call what you do as “Sashiko”.
To admin: I thought of writing this quite long & decided to do so to advocate the Sashiko we respect. Please delete it if you think it is not appropriate to this group.


Then the lady replied, “It may be more accurate to refer to what I’m trying to do as embroidery.

Well. If so, I have nothing to say more. If she thinks what she does will be categorized non-Sashiko embroidery, my sincere favor to understand the Japanese culture wouldn’t be necessary. My question, “Why Do you call it Sashiko?” will be invalid because she thinks it may not be it.

I thought it was the end of the story. Then, another person shared her question that what I write contradicts. Her comments cited as is below.


I am truly confused. You ask people to learn about Sashiko & the “appropriate manners of the Japanese culture”, but you are not welcoming to her questions. It seems both ideas are in conflict with each other. How is she expected to learn all aspects, without asking questions to the masters?


I understand her confusion, especially in current result oriented society, the answer (to be provided) is very important. So, I try to explain the Japanese culture & manners in asking questions as much as possible. It is quite long. However, I didn’t want to be silent here because “The silence” could alter the culture itself (at least I thought).

Here is a copy of my reply.

I believe 2 ideas are not conflicting with each other. I will explain why.

First of all, I do not intend to discourage the questions in this group. This is a fantastic group to share ideas and questions. I learn a lot by reading questions and answers. Q&A here motivates me to keep uploading more videos and information.

Above said, I will explain (1) about “Japanese Sashiko & Courtesy of Japan” and (2) why I pointed out on this thread. Although it is a quite long reply already, I hope you will read through.

1 – Japanese Sashiko & Courtesy of Japan

Learning Sashiko (indirectly or directly) equals to the understanding (at least respecting & trying to understand) the Japanese culture. One of the significances of Japanese culture would be a unique courtesy. Since I believe Sashiko is more than just stitching technique, I want to share the cultural perspective of Japanese Sashiko. Otherwise, what is the point of calling it “Sashiko”?

One of the main principles of the Japanese courtesy is “Avoid troubling the others”. Asking questions is perfectly fine, but the question needs to be well-thought and well-researched. “Not-knowing” is NOT the problem. Asking questions is NOT the concern. “Taking someone’s time ‘more than necessary’” is the point I tried to share in the previous post. Also, some reasonable appreciation to the one who spent time to answer the questions would be very important.

By the way, in some craftsmanship, “asking questions expecting to get answers” is already considered as “rude”. Well, we (as the Japanese) won’t contradict to you because “contradicting” isn’t in our culture already, but you will be “out-pictured” even if you would like to get the answers from the master. The master will be smiling and the student will get nothing unless they follow the courtesy. The Sashiko I am from is also like that. However, over the Internet where anyone can say anything, it is more valuable to speak up & I made up my mind to “share” the Sashiko we enjoy & practice, which includes the Japanese culture.

I welcome the questions when the question is well-prepared. Of course, I do not expect “everyone” to know me. Therefore, I usually just read through and try to learn from the Q&A, and never pointed out someone’s questions like this before. I share Sashiko so people can learn & I welcome the well-thought questions.

Here is the reason why I pointed out _____’s question regardless of my “welcoming questions” attitude.

1 – She has contacted me twice (and I replied that I do not answer the technical questions because my capacity is limited – I am only available for the workshop graduates for now.) It means she knows that I exist & share A LOT of information on my website, Instagram & FB, and Youtube (I know it isn’t well-organized, but some – many of the answers are available already there).

Then, (I wouldn’t & didn’t point out her comments UNTIL) I saw her one sentence, “He (Sashi.Co) is SO precise”

This sentence is the second reason.

The core message of the Sashiko we practice is, “Sashiko isn’t about making one perfect (precise) stitch. It is about appreciating the fabric & care for others.” By “practicing Sashiko”, by moving the needle (making dialogues to the fabric), then we can fully enjoy Sashiko & its side of mindful stitching. This message is very important to me since it contains so many messages, and it is everywhere on my website & SNS. It made me very sad that I couldn’t communicate to her what Sashiko really can be… so I wrote the comment after thinking thoroughly.

I do not expect everyone to follow the Japanese mastery of “steal the technique by looking and never ask questions”. However, a bit of time to read someone’s wisdom would be the “care” we can do in “result-oriented society”. There are many great books in English, videos, and information out there to find the wisdom (& technique) of Sashiko. I hope the comment wasn’t the form of offending her of asking the questions. I wanted to “educate” her that, ONLY BECAUSE she is interested in Japanese Sashiko, her action may cause unnecessary issues somewhere.

Lastly, I am sorry for naming _____ in my comment. ______ isn’t the only one… in fact, I receive so MANY messages without even “hello” and the same types of questions. To be honest, I am pretty tired of sharing the information to those who wouldn’t show the respect to the Japanese culture (courtesy), Only reason I haven’t stopped is that I feel it isn’t fair to ask someone to understand one culture without us (the Japanese) explaining it. I am now writing how Japanese culture, courtesy of Japan, and Sashiko relates to each other. I hope anyone who is reading my comment this far can check my updates on FB or IG to understand the bigger picture of Sashiko.

As _____ says, if the person thinks “It may be more accurate to refer to what I’m trying to do as embroidery”, I have no problem or frustration. There is nothing to say because I value her/his philosophy and cultural perspective.


In that case, however, one question arises… Why do you call what you do, “Sashiko”?

—–

Again to Admin (or anyone else). Please let me know if this comment is offending someone. It isn’t my intention at all. I have never thought of leaving this kind of comment before, even when the discussion is heated like “what is Sashiko and what is not”. In spite of my strong hopes in Sashiko based on more than 30 years of experience, I believe everyone can have their own Sashiko – after all, Sashiko was an ordinary practice that the ordinary Japanese practiced – there are no rules in Sashiko. I couldn’t, however, to let this go because it is very fundamental of the Sashiko I would like to pass down to the next generation – and share everyone here. If I remain silent, I thought my silence could create “another standard” – which will be an obstacle to learn Japanese Sashiko or bizarre feeling to call your work  “Sashiko”


Thank you for reading this such a long comment. Although I wanted to make it shorter (& I did make it shorter a lot), I still feel a lot of concepts are missing here.

Anyway, as far as my understanding (of English) goes, the comment I made is not asking for the argument… is it? After this long reply I made, I received some of the comments & angry faces from others.

A few examples would be…

Your logic makes me think of this question. Are only experienced & educated chefs allowed in the kitchens? Is a mother not allowed to prepare a simple meal for her family?

Well, did I mentioned that the only experienced & master are allowed to do Sashiko… in this reply? Did I write that? I even say I welcome the question – the one well-prepared. She understood my logic completely opposite. My reply to her is below.

Any mother can prepare a simple meal (or a great meal) for her family. So is (was) Sashiko. Anyone can do Sashiko stitching for anyone.


However, when the mother is preparing a simple “Japanese food” for her family with explaining this is Japanese food, I want her to share the Japanese culture & its tradition as much as possible, especially if the mother has resources to learn.


My point is not being a master or not. It is about the “appreciation” to the culture you are about to learn. Again, if you do not call it Sashiko, I have no problem. I just don’t know why you call it Sashiko without the will to learn Japanese culture. The culture can be changed so easily so I couldn’t be silent.

Then, the discussion leads to the statement that there are other Sashiko teachers more generous than I am. Well, probably. However, this sentence indicates that I am NOT generous… seriously?


What am I missing here?

I sincerely believe that the comments (replies) I made above are the same as what I usually say on Instagram, my facebook page, and on Youtube. I re-read my comments so many times that I cannot find any “missing link” to be a remedy for my confusion.

I do not want to use this excuse, but “English” is my second language. So, it could cause the misunderstanding and results in the contradiction (which makes me pretty sad for that matter…). If it is a case that “Atsushi’s writing is too long so that they got only what they wanted to get”, then it is fine. I understand that everyone has the different value.


Culture can be transformed easily over Internet

There is a reason (motivation) that I started speaking up online – offering tutorials, information, wisdom, and pretty much everything I do (an unedited version of stitching) for free.

I am afraid of the possibility of “Culture transformation without us realizing it.” Over the Internet & Social Networking, the quick & easy (flash) solution gets more value. Google & Alexa will answer any kinds of questions when you ask. We barely doubt that the answer Alexa speaks to you is culturally appropriated (appreciated) or not. Once it is shared, then it becomes the culture.

The Japanese is so bad at “debating” to defend its original form. In some cases, we accept the change and try to protect it within the Japanese (with sometimes labeling the non-Japanese culture as “fake”). The inability to debate is strongly related to the Japanese first history book – Kojiki (written in 712) and related Japanese myth. I am in process of explaining the whole picture of Japanese spirituality and hand-crafting… yet it is so much to share.

I could have remain silence in this case. However, my goal is to share the Sashiko we practice to the world – which is more than stitching – so I decided to step up. I do not want to change the Sashiko culture. It is a pride and dignity as the one who decided to live with Sashiko.


Again, my goal is not to determine which is right or wrong. If they do not agree with what I wrote, that’s perfectly fine. They can find their own “Sashiko” and I am happy with that. I am not THAT kind person & I am perfectly okay with being misunderstood.

HOWEVER, if my writing can cause the confusion for those who have been reading my website & Instagram (&FB) posts, then I CARE. I need to re-write them & apologize for making confusion.

Please, please let me know if you find any mistakes I made in the above replies. I would like to continue this journey of sharing Sashiko, and your help to improve my “expression technique in English” would be very much needed.

Thank you very much for your time to read this much.


Sincerely,

Atsushi Futatsuya

Sashiko Practice Kit 2019 Cover

Sashiko Practice Kit 2019

It is our pleasure to announce the new release of “Sashiko Practice Kit 2019” as a set of “everything you need to start Sashiko”. Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya did a great job to make it happen.

If you haven’t tried the (traditional) Sashiko stitching the way we enjoy, it is a great set to start with. The needle, the round-shape dish thimble, Sashiko thread & great fabric for Sashiko stitching: everything is included in a package. You do not even need to spend some time to transfer the pattern before actual stitching.

If you have been enjoying the Sashiko as we do, let’s say after Atsushi’s workshop or watching our Youtube Channel repeatedly, this is a great project to experience how to combine several Japanese geometric patterns into one pieces. Also, it can be a great gift for your friends who are interested in the Sashiko you enjoy.


Some information available Online

This kit doesn’t have a written Sashiko instruction included (we explained the reason below). Instead of the instruction, we share the whole process of Atsushi’s stitching on Youtube. Also, the other techniques that you would need in Sashiko stitching are already shared on Sashi.Co Youtube Channel. Please consider taking the workshop (in-person/online) if you would like to learn it faster & more efficient.

Atsushi’s Sashiko stitching for this practice kit


Easy and Quick Fun!

It is a great way to jump into Sashiko stitching. Again, everything is included.

We had a bit of discussion if we should release this types of “kit”. We learn that there is a huge market for the kit & panel (fabric with pattern pre-printed). This is our answers to those needs.

However, we also believe it is very important to learn how to transfer the pattern on the fabric & prepare the fabric by yourself. Therefore, we wanted to make sure we communicate both of the beauty of “Easy and Quick Fun” and “Ability to be creative.”

https://upcyclestitches.com/sashiko-pattern-preprinted/

Yet, we don’t want to limit you

We would like to share the fun of infinite possibility – that you can do whatever you want in Sashiko stitching. Pre-printed & prepared fabric is fun to stitch, but it is also limiting your creativity.

Yet, we wanted to enjoy the Sashiko we practice… as a result, we decided to offer the Sashiko Practice Kit 2019 with no written instruction. Please find the article explaining the reasons why we do not include the written Sashiko Instructions.

https://upcyclestitches.com/sashiko-instruction-learn-the-best-strategy/

Following Sashiko Practice Kit 2019

After all, our goal is to share the Sashiko we enjoy. We believe it is okay to provide many kinds of choices as long as we explain the reasons behind it. Since we are sort of “artisans”, we tend to be (very) stubborn. However, we also understand that flexibility is the key to share the culture and its craft. So, please let us know if you have a specific design or idea of what kind of Kit you would like to try next – as the following items of Sashiko Practice Kit 2019.

Sashiko Instruction Cover

Sashiko Instruction | Learn the best strategy

Unlike the other major Sashiko companies, we do not offer many “Sashiko Kits” for customers. We know that there is a demand for the kit, but we have been hesitant to do so for some reasons. Well, we finally come up with one in 2019. However, even we offer the Sashiko Practice Kit, we do not include a piece of paper with Sashiko Instruction written on. Here is an explanation of why we prefer not to provide the Sashiko instruction of how to proceed with a Sashiko Kit.


The “best” instruction is up to you

Many people think that there is “absolute answer” or “right way” in Sashiko stitching. We believe there is not. Each pattern, each project, and each material requires the different instruction of how to proceed with the stitching. The most appropriate Sashiko instruction is determined what is your preference, personality, the mood in the day of stitching, and more importantly, how you would like to communicate to the fabric.

Therefore, I would like you to come up with your own Sashiko instruction (of how to proceed the stitching) based on your preference & condition. By us providing the written instruction, it limits your possibility and creativity.

There is some instruction for basic Sashiko techniques & wisdom. Please check our Youtube Channel to find the video for your need, or simply take the Sashiko workshop to get a full package of Sashiko technique.


No rules and regulation in Sashiko

We often say that there is no rules and regulations in Sashiko. The Sashiko instruction contradicts the saying above a bit. Yes, we can recommend one of the appropriate Sashiko instruction as the sample. However, it also encourages Sashiko stitchers to give up researching or learning by watching videos or other information sources.

The Sashiko instruction could imply the rule. We don’t want that. Instead, we offer the sample video of us actually stitching. We believe it is better than the written Sashiko instruction.

Youtube video coming-up soon.


We teach how to come up with own Sashiko Instruction

Each pattern has its own appropriate Sashiko instruction. We teach how to come up with it by yourself in our Sashiko workshop (Online Class or In-person).

The reason I do not share it here is it may require the personal attention to explain throughly – otherwise, without the follow-up, it could cause the misunderstanding. The misunderstanding based on what we write & share is something we would like to avoid the most. Therefore, please consider taking the workshops for more information & follow-ups. It is quite easy, yet core in Sashiko stitching.


Why kit? Your possibility is infinite

Keiko & I occasionally discuss why the market demands the Sashiko kits so much. We believe that it is much more enjoyable when the person can stitch what they would like to have on their every project instead of the kit pattern someone decides for you.

It isn’t difficult to transfer the pattern at all. We have a Youtube Video of how to transfer the pattern on the fabric (It is Youtube. It is free of charge). We even offer some videos of how to drew the Japanese geometric patterns directly with using chalk pen and rulers. We still do not understand why kits have so much popularity.

By learning the basic of a simple technique, the possibility in Sashiko projects can be infinite. I hope you will get the “technique and wisdom” instead of “a written direction made by someone”

[After note]

It is kind of strange to encourage the market to “not to purchase the practice kit” even though we also have an article of advertising the new releasing Sashiko Practice Kit. Well, the Sashiko practice kit is a good value set for anyone who would like to enjoy Sashiko stitching, especially those who already took the Sashiko workshop. I just wanted to explain the background of the reasons why we do not offer written instruction. It isn’t about us being mean or secretive. It is about the message we would like to pass down in Sashiko stitching.

Sashiko Thread Spring 2019 Cover

Sashiko Thread Spring 2019 | Quick Update

I used to stick to only one type of Sashiko Thread. After opening the online store in the USA, I spent some time and investment to provide the more variety of the great thread for Sashiko. Here is a quick update for the Sashiko Thread Spring 2019.


4 Choices | Sashiko Thread Spring 2019

We carry several types of Sashiko thread. Please check the numbers to understand our preference and standard.

  1. Keiko’s Hand-Dye & Coron Synthetic Dye Sashiko Thread
  2. White Collection & Unique Color Maru Sashiko Thread
  3. Variety of Yokota Sashiko Thread
  4. Kakishibu Fujix Thread

Ideally speaking, the Sashiko thread we carry need to fulfill the standard we expect: to be the part of the fabric. I am sure that the Sashiko Thread (1) will do the job we set as the standard. After all, it is our regular Sashiko thread. The thread (2) is also sufficient for all of the characteristic of Sashiko. It has been about a year since I start using the Sashiko Thread (2), and it is always a pleasure to work with.

The Sashiko Thread (3), Yokota thread, and the thread (4) from Fujix are very good quality thread manufactured by a long-established & big thread company. I use both of them occasionally and enjoy the stitching. The overlay stitches perform its function. However, I cannot declare that it is 100% satisfactory to our standard as of now because it has been only a few months since I started using it. The Yokota thread in “thin” thickness may be our least preference for Kasane & denim stitching, but great for the smaller projects.

Regardless of my honest confess above, I believe all of 4 threads are fulfilling the expectation to be a good Sashiko thread.


How about the other Thread?

I am aware that there are many other Sashiko threads available in the market. As I always say, you can use any kind of thread you would like. There is no such thing as right or wrong Sashiko. You don’t need to purchase the new thread for the Sashiko purpose if you have other thread.

However, please understand that the technique and wisdom I introduce “may” not work with the thread I do not carry. Also, in order to our Sashiko – which focus on the appreciation to the fabric, and as the thread to support the fabric, I strongly recommend using in the thread above.

I tried some of the thread and didn’t like some of them. For the others, I simply do not feel the needs of trying it. There are reasons why we have limited kinds of Sashiko threads, and I want you to have the best out of the best since you would spend so much time in Sashiko.


Enjoy One of a Kind

I am so proud of the Natural Dye & Hand-dye Sashiko thread produced by Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya. It is all “one of a kind” because they are hand-dyed with natural dyes. However, those with “gradient color” are the significant one of a kind color. Enjoy the Murazome while supplies last. We try our best to keep offering the similar threads, but it requires “luck” to make it happen as well.


Sashiko Workshop Availability Update 2019 Cover

Sashiko Workshop Availability Update 2019

Thank you for reaching out to us for the information about Sashiko Workshop in 2019. To be honest, I wasn’t ready to receive so many inquiries about the Sashiko workshop. Although it is a pleasant reaction and really appreciate it, I would like to spend a bit more time in my creative activity (it is the whole reason that I am not offering the workshop more often). If you are interested in Sashiko Workshop, provided by Atsushi in NYC, NJ, PA area, please fulfill the google form below. We will inform you of the priority when we confirm the details. This is a notification about how to be in the priority mailing list for the Sashiko Workshop in NYC as well as the Sashiko Workshop Availability Update 2019.

*If you have received Atsushi’s reply saying you are going to be in the priority mailing list, there is no need to fulfill the google form. You will receive the email, once we confirm the date and time, by the order I have received the message.


Sashiko Workshop Priority List Form


Workshops are available throughout the year

As I mentioned above, the reason I am offering fewer workshops in 2019 is that we would like to focus on more creating activities to make more of our Sashiko items. As much as I would like to meet you in person sooner, we would like to respect ourselves as the “stitcher” instead of being “teacher.”

It requires a lot of preparation and administrative works to have a workshop in NYC. If you are willing to take the Sashiko workshop (privately or semi-privately) in the city where Atsushi lives, the workshops are available throughout the year, mainly on weekdays from 9 am to 4 pm. The price of workshops depends on the numbers of participants we would have, but we will do our best to advertise so we can offer the lower price. For the pricing benchmark, if you are a group of 3~4, then the pricing will be the same as the one in NYC. Please contact Atsushi with the specific preferences if you are interested in visiting Atsushi in person.

Or, you may simply consider inviting Atsushi to your group. For 2019 and 2020, the weekend schedule is pretty packed and I cannot promise anything, but I am happy to see what we can do if you are willing to have me as the guest lecturer. Please check the conditions and terms for the private workshop managed by you.


Online Sashiko Class

Alternatively, I now recommend the Online Sashiko Class, which I started offering in March 2019. I was nervous if I could deliver the same experience over the Internet. However, the feedback from some of the participants is encouraging me to say, “it is as good as the in-person” workshop.

Although it is online class, I have a limit number of participants for the specific time period so I can sufficiently support the learning process. Please read the article carefully and sign up through the google form and/or the registration page.

A review from one participant. I also enjoy it too.

So, Sashiko Workshop Availability Update 2019

I look forward to meeting you & sharing the Sashiko we love, in any way of meeting either Online or in person, in 2019 or even after that. Enjoy Sashiko!