Sashiko Shopping Experience Cover

Sashiko Shopping Experience by Keiko & Atsushi

It is our goal to provide “everything” you need to enjoy Japanese Sashiko. We are still a group of Keiko and Atsushi (A mother and her son), and therefore we do not have enough capital to open a storefront or a physical store. However, we strive to do our best to deliver the best quality and well-thought products & tools for your Sashiko. For you as a customer, the Sashiko Shopping Experience through our website is very important. I hope you would spare some of your time to read this article for better understanding of what we provide. Since more than half of our products and items have “one-of-a-kind” character, such as hand-made and hand-dyed, we are not the same as other mass-produced, big brand, manufacture online store. However it is, our goal is to provide the best Sashiko Shopping Experience available. Enjoy Sashiko!

A choice of Sashiko Shopping Experience

Here is a list of places (websites) where you can get out products and items.

Each media has pros and cons. To provide as many options as possible is my intention to improve the Sashiko Shopping Experience.


Official Site | Upcyclestitches.Com

This is our official website and store is attached to it with using the Ecwid Shopping cart. You can use the credit card and/or Paypal to purchase our Sashiko thread, fabric, tools, and registration for the Sashiko workshop.

Since it is the official website, Atsushi will be on top of the customer service. If you have no preferences of “where” to purchase, please consider using this website for you and for me (in terms of supporting me for Sashiko activity.)

The order usually will be shipped the next business day with the shipping method you choose, and the package should be delivered within 2 to 5 days within the USA. When the order is made during the morning time, the package may be shipped on the same day. USPS pick up the packages around noon on weekday and Saturday.

Upcyclestitches.com is also a great place to purchase the special deal, such as Fukubukuro, which I offered at the beginning of 2019. We believe that the website is informative, and we intend to make the website more informative by adding many articles. Our goal is to motivate you enjoy shopping while you learn about Sashiko without any stress, so any feedback for the website would be appreciated.

I am confident with what I do, Sashiko, but not a good engineer or designer who can make the great website… I gotta learn more and more.

*Since I don’t have option to control the inventory by option via Ecwid, sometimes, it is not so convenient to use the website. For “one-of-a-kind” product (besides the Sashiko Jackets), Etsy Store below may be the better place to shop.


Etsy – Upcycle Stitches Store

We started Etsy store before I established Upcycle Stitches LLC. It was a place where Keiko and I sell something we made, as a craft-creator. In 2019, we provide a wide range of items we use in our Sashiko production.

Since Etsy is a great place to communicate to the other artists, we sell our threads, fabric, tools, and some of our Sashiko items, including “one of a kind” products. Sashiko stitched fabric, Sashiko bags, Boro & Boro inspired patchworks. It is my goal to add more items on Etsy, please follow me there to get the updates.

Atsushi in the USA will be in charge of shipping. Therefore, the same policy will be applied as the official website, upcyclestitches.com. If you make an international order, the order may be shipped from Japan. Either way, I will make sure the customer receive the 100% satisfaction.

Pop-Up Store in East Coast

Very occasionally, Upcycle Stitches offer a Pop-Up Store in NYC or in PA. In 2018, we had a great time with “75-Collective.” in TriBeCa. Please subscribe our newsletter or follow Instagram so we can send the latest information to you.

If you plan to participate one of our Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Core & Basic), we usually bring most of the Sashiko supplies and tools. Please let us know when you have specific items you would like to see in the workshop you attend.

Amazon Store, Upcycle Stitches

We also have a storefront on “Amazon.com”.

As of now, it is impossible to ignore the impact Amazon brought to this society. Not only the customers who can get the order within 2 days with Amazon-prime, the retail-shop like us can also receive a benefit that we do not need to make the individual package.

It is our responsibility to offer the options, to receive the items within the time frame the customer requirements. Therefore, I hope you can enjoy the shopping some of the Sashiko items on our Amazon Store Page. There is, however, one favor to ask. When you purchase Sashiko supply, tool, or actually anything you would need, please be attentive to “who is selling the items” before just simply clicking the “Buy” bottun.

Since “anyone” can be a seller in the Amazon, there are many “dealers” who sell Sashiko items without proper knowledge or understanding to the culture. If you find the cheaper price by a lot, it is rational reasoning to purchase it from whomever available. However, if the price is not that much different, please care “who” is the seller.

One of my goal throughout our activities is to save Sashiko industry, which include purchasing the thread, fabric, tools and other supplies from the good manufactures in Japan. When Sashiko is in the trend, many dealers join to the market. Once the trend is over, those dealers will dump the price to clear the inventory and then move onto something else. Can you guess what happen when the dealers dump the price? It could destroy the manufactures, and it lead to the loss of its culture. I have seen it before, and I would like to protect them happening. One thing you can do as a customer is to be attentive who you are purchasing items from, as we used to do in a local store when we purchase an item (pretty much anything from grocery to even a refrigerator). If you see the lower price, please let me know. It is “our” responsibility to be competitive in pricing, and it is “customer’s” responsibility to support the culture.

*Although we are still working on the limited inventory only related to Sashiko, my big picture is to introduce all kinds of Japanese hand-craft to the world. Therefore, I am providing merchandise outside of Sashiko field. The concept is all “Enjoyable Japanese Hand-Craft”. Thank you for your understanding.


Each Media may have different stock of items.

As I mentioned above, more than half of items we sell are sort of “one of a kind”. For example, the Indigo Dye Sashiko Thread (A1) we sell on our Website may NOT the same as the one on Amazon. We try our best to keep the product page & photos updated, and please use these photos for each medium. Please do not cross shop over the mediums, especially when you would like to get the specific color (or stitches) from Natural dye (or Hand-stitching). We do not take returns based on the color difference, simply because it is impossible to provide the exact same color as the photo shows. It is the beauty of hand-dyed with natural ingredients. I appreciate your understanding.

We follow this color chart for the Sashiko thread we provide throughout the Official Website. However, on Amazon, I would like you to refer to the photos which is
on each product page.

For international customers

If you live outside of the USA, the order may be shipped out from (within) Japan. Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya has their own website, and you may purchase items from there.

We try our best to match the colors on the web and the thread we deliver to you, with improving our commitment to the better Sashiko Shopping Experience.

Sashiko Workshop Schedule 2019

Sashiko Workshop Schedule 2019

Thanks to many participants who shared their great time with us in Sashiko workshops, the Sashiko workshop by Atsushi Futatsuya obtained good reviews. We intend to continue the Sashiko Workshops in NYC, and here is Sashiko Workshop Schedule 2019.

I have received many requests to come back to NYC to offer another workshop. As I mentioned in 2018, I plan to take it a bit slow in terms workshop so I can spend more time in creating Sashiko items. Although I will not be able to offer the Sashiko Workshops as much as I did in 2018, I hope you can find a spot for you.

A whole view of Sashiko Workshop Schedule 2019

You may register yourself on the Sashiko Workshop Store for your preferable workshop here.

As of now, we offer one workshop weekend in Spring, and one workshop weekend in Summer.

Please contact me if you are interested in taking the workshop in NYC, Manhattan Tribeca Area, yet your schedule doesn’t match for the available workshops in 2019. I will add you to the priority email list to let you know the availability before the regular newsletter sent out. The more people contact me, the more likely to offer them more.

 

Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Basic&Core)

 

The basic yet the core Sashiko Stitching Workshop. The well-organized, satisfying workshop is available anyone who can be in NYC for the workshop weekend. The only “fair” review is that it is a bit short (180 minutes and plus) workshop. However, you will get everything you need to enjoy Sashiko there & attentive follow-ups.

Open to Enrollment in 2019

I hope more to coming. 

Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Basic&Core and Plus)

 

The workshops below are specifically designed workshopes for the collaborators who support us to have the workshop. The participants will get everything from the Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Basic&Core), and in addition, the workshop participants will get more contents based on what I am collaborating to. The examples of extra contents are “How to transfer the pattern to the fabric” and/or “Sashiko Mending Basic”. 

 

@ Purl Soho NYC | with small practice of preparing the pattern.

 

Enjoy Sashiko in Happy Holidays

Hitomezashi Sashiko Workshop (Advanced)

*Prerequisite: Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Basic&Core)

(Previous in 2018)

  • July 22nd, Sunday, 9:45 pm to 12:45 pm for 3 hours | Great success! Thank you.

(Open to Enrollment)

Please wait for the update.

 


Online Sashiko Workshop (In Progress)

For those who cannot travel to NYC, Online Sashiko Workshop is a possibility. Please fulfill the form to inform us about the preferences. The more preference we have, the easier it is to offer the Online Workshop.

https://goo.gl/forms/DJhnefzmpMLwMCnw

Sashiko Stitching and more.

As you know, Sashiko has been a big part of my life. I was born in a Sashiko family, and I grew up surrounded by Sashiko artisans and their Sashiko.

Once, I thought Sashiko wouldn’t be necessary in 20XX. In my youth, the technology and innovation attracted me and Sashiko was merely a burden to me. After several years of focusing on mindfulness, I realize that I would like to pass down Sashiko to the next generation, to the day in 20XX.

 

Sashiko is a form of stitching developed in Japan. There are many reasons why the Japanese had developed this stitching customs, and the reasons illustrate what the Japanese culture is like pretty well. Therefore, I would like to share not only the stitching techniques but also the “mindset” behind the Sashiko culture. 

I believe, our Sashiko workshop (especially Sashiko Stitching Workshop – Core & Basic) is the best place to do so. The participant will receive a whole package of what we would like to pass down.

 

No more Judging.

My goal is to stop judging myself throughout Sashiko. I hope, so is yours.

Being good at Sashiko isn’t that difficult. Sashiko is a form of stitching after all. However, we believe Sashiko is more than just mere stitching. It is the wisdom (pride and courage) from the Japanese who survived in the severe winter. There is no such a thing as “right” or “wrong” in Sashiko. However, there is techniques we developed over time to make it more beautiful, easy, and after all enjoyable.

 

Most importantly, our goal for you is to share how fun & enjoyable Sashiko can be. Sometimes, Sashiko can be too addictive.

In 2017 and 2018, I have taught Sashiko to over 100 participants to the Sashiko Workshop. Although I always get nervous before the workshop, I have a confident that everyone can have the eye-opening experience in our Sashiko Workshops.

 

Please consider our workshop as an opportunity to enjoy Sashiko more.

If you don’t know anything about Sashiko, it is the great way to start. If you already know about Sashiko, then it is a great way to add the technique and knowledge to your art-work.

 

Sashiko Workshop Schedule 2019 | Help us to have more workshops in NYC.

Since the instructor Atsushi is located in the central PA, about 4 hours of driving away from NYC,  we cannot offer the workshops as often as we would like to do. In addition, Atsushi’s main role, continuously in 2019, is to be a homemaker father (cooking, cleaning and such).

Realistically speaking, offering Sashiko Workshops 3 ~ 4 times a year is a reasonable amount to plan the schedule.

However, we are willing to offer as many workshops as possible. Even more than 4 times per year if there is a need.

In order to do so, we need a certain amount of participant in the workshops. We would like to know how many people in the East Coast are willing to join the Sashiko Workshops. Please share your passion by posting comments here and/or registering yourself to our mailing list (from the top page) with checking “Yes” to the workshop notification.

You can also email me here to let me know you are very much interested. I have a separate email list to send out the workshop specific date before writing the main newsletter. 

We are looking forward to meeting you & hearing from you!

Sashiko Fukubukuro Cover

Sashiko Fukubukuro 2019 with fortune in it.

The Japanese have an interesting custom to celebrate the new year with purchasing “lucky-bag” so-called Fukubukuro (A bag filled with fortune). A Fukubukuro contains many merchandises to start the new year’s activity. According to the documents, a draper in Edo period started selling their items in a bag on the first day of their business. I thought it would be fun to follow this custom even in the US, to celebrate the new year of 2019 with Sashiko. Here is Sashiko Fukubukuro from Upcycle Stitches.

Detail of Sashiko Fukubukuro

Traditionally, a customer will not know what is inside of a bag. The core concept is the idea of “blind bag”. However, I would like to avoid any miscommunication and disappointment… so I will introduce what will be inside the bag below. The color of the thread and which items in the bag will be the idea of “Lucky Bag”. 

*All the photos are the sample contents. Colors and items insides are subject to change, but the photo explains what you can expect to get.

*Sales starts January 4th at 1 pm EST.

A. Keiko Bag – Sashiko Thread Fukubukuro

This “A Keiko Bag” will have 7 skeins of Sashiko thread that Keiko uses every day. It will include at least 3 Naturally Dyed Sashiko thread, hand-dyed by Keiko.

Atsushi will pick up the colors. The possible colors you will get are following:

 

*The total retail value will be no less than $112.20.

As you may know already, we rarely offer the sales deal. I hope you can enjoy this Fukubukuro to try out our beautiful & the highest quality Sashiko Thread.

I prepared 7 bags. The rule of  First come First serve will be applied. 


 

The price is $98.00 including the US Domestic Shipping by USPS. I can make an international shipment, but the extra shipping fee will be applied. 

Sashiko Fukubukuro
The sample of Natural Dye Sashiko Thread. Atsushi will pick 3 colors out of these beautifully hand-dyed Sashiko Thread, including Indigo, Kakishibu, and other botanical Dyes.

B. Azu Bag – Sashiko Related Items Fukubukuro

This “B. Azu Bag” will have Sashiko related items for anyone to maximize their Sashiko experience. 

The items are selected randomly, and here is a list of the possible items you may expect to receive (Please understand that it will NOT contain everything I mention here. I will choose items from this list). 

​Please contact me if you have any questions. I will make sure to meet your expectation and exceed the item’s value. My goal is to encourage people to start enjoying Sashiko.

A possible item list. The contents will be randomly selected by these. 

  • Sashiko Needles and thimble Set |
  • A few skeins of Sashiko thread | more than $35 in value
  • Fabric for Sashiko (Manufactured in Japan) | more than $20 in Value
  • Small Vintage Fabric swatch
  • A chalk pencil
  • A Pin Cushion
  • A grip scissors
  • Supplies to transfer the patterns to the fabric

The price for the “B. Azu Bag” is also $98.00 with USPS shipping fee included.

Terms and Conditions for Sashiko Fukubukuro

Please read the terms of “Sashiko Fukubukuro” service before you place the order. It is based on a concept of “blind bag” and “lucky bag”. Therefore, we will not accept any returns for the contents you receive. We will do our best to exceed your expectation in terms of values of contents. 

 

  • The Bags will be sold between January 4th (@1pm in EST) to January 18th in 2019. The sales continue while the supply last, and it may be ended before the final date.
  • The shipping will be made accordingly to the order. However, unlike the other regular order which usually is shipped in 1 business day, this order will take longer than that (Please expect a week to 2 weeks to be shipped). Regardless, all of the order will be shipped before the end of January.
  • We will not accept any return of cancel after the shipment. If you coule like to cancel the order, please let us know as soon as possible. 
  • The Sashiko Fukubukuro Bag may contain an item without original packaging. We will re-package and will send them in a nice condition.
  • The item may be an item which was “returned” as the sellable condition. No second hand item will be included (besides the vintage fabric).

Real “Fortune” reside in the stitches

I hope everyone enjoys Sashiko stitching in 2019 and encounter(make) the special Sashiko for yourself.

The photos above are the Sashiko bag Keiko made for our dear friend. The “fortune” is in our caring spirit and each stitches, and we offer “lucky bag” to make it happen.

Happy New Year of 2019!


*If you resides outside of USA and would like to check the special offer from Japan, please take a look at this article.

Is Sashiko Art Cover

Is Sashiko Art? | The origin of Sashiko as Folk Art

Well. This can be a bit surprising for some of you. When I question myself, “Is Sashiko Art?”, the answer I come up with is, “No, I do not think Sashiko is the (Fine) Art.

Sashiko isn’t the (Fine) Art for me. More precisely speaking, I would say, “Sashiko can be a form of Art, but Sashiko was not developed as the Art.” In other words, thanks to a friend of mine who gave me a good insight, “Sashiko is a form of Folk Art but not Fine Art.”

*After learning the difference between Fine Art, Folk Art, and general concept (big picture) of Art, I consider Sashiko can be the part of Art.

Some may disagree with me. I understand that the beauty of Sashiko item can be understood as the form of Fine Art. However, with considering the definition of Art and the origin of Sashiko, it is unnatural for me to say “Sashiko is the art”. 

Please bear with me here. I will try my best to explain the reasoning and logic behind it. This blog post is my challenge to explain why I say “No” to the question of “Is Sashiko Art?”


*Please understand that my intention to write about this topic is to figure out where I stand. I never intend to judge or criticize someone or someone’s art. In fact, I (Atsushi) am the one who would like to develop Sashiko as the art toward the future. However, most of the Sashiko artisans I respect including my mother Keiko, do not consider Sashiko as the Art (or Fine Art). In order to move forward, understanding Sashiko and its possibility is must-thing for me to do. I hope this article can give you another perspective of Sashiko. 

*English is my second language, and has been so long since I wrote an essay in English… forgive me any typo or grammatical error. I will do my best in correction when you point out some (but please be accepting, too. Being perfect in writing isn’t the goal here.)

 

Table of Content

  • Why do I care if Sashiko is Art or not? – my motivation
  • Art Terminology & Definition
  • Sashiko as a process of caring – not the result
  • Sashiko as the Folk Art – Mingei –
  • Categorization of Some Japanese Arts and Traditions
  • The whole discussion is for me (Atsushi)
  • The culture & Tradition alter over time. 
  • I respect not only the result but the concept behind it

 

Why do I care if Sashiko is Art?

First of all, I would like to explain why I care if Sashiko is Art or not. I understand that it is even ridiculous to define the words in Art. Understanding the Art itself is already abstract and subjective. If she/he thinks the item “A” is the art, the item “A” is the Art. 

Also, it is very true that we should simply enjoy the beauty of the result, and share the pleasure and joy of Sashiko art items. 

In 2018, throughout many Sashiko workshop opportunity, we have received numbers of compliments that we (Keiko and Atsushi) are the true Sashiko Artist. I enjoyed the positive feedbacks, and I called myself “Sashiko Artist” without even thinking deeply. I simply enjoyed what I do, and shared the pleasure of Sashiko.

Then, I just realize why I never considered myself as the artist before offering the workshop in the USA. I never thought of me an Artist in Japan. Keiko, who lives Japan, still don’t consider herself artist. 

When someone call me an artist, I have no problem with that. I don’t know what Art is yet someone find me an artist. It is absolutely fine.

However, when I title myself as the artist, I wanted to know what I meant by it. Without this, I cannot move forward to introduce the traditional Sashiko as well as possibly Sashiiko as the Fine Art (which I believe Sashiko is not).

 


Art Terminology & Definition

When we talk about the definition of an item, it is very important to make sure we all are on the same page of the other words’ definition and terminology. Here are several words I would like to define first.

Art:

The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

Fine Art

Creative art, especially visual art whose products are to be appreciated primarily or solely for their imaginative, aesthetic, or intellectual content.

Folk Art

Encompasses art produced from an indigenous culture or by peasants or other laboring tradespeople. In contrast to fine art, folk art is primarily utilitarian and decorative rather than purely aesthetic

 

I realize the definition for the general “Art” is too broad to discuss my point. So, I would like to use these 2 words, Fine Art and Folk Art, to explain my ideas.

  • Fine Art has no functions to the necessity in life, there fore it is Fine Art.
  • Folk Art is developed for the necessity and we put the value as the art later on.

Therefore, I think, Sashiko is a form of Folk Art and not Fine Art. 

Sashiko as a process of caring – not the result.

I strongly believe Sashiko is the process of needle movement rather than the results of the mass of stitches. For the achievement of Sashiko, we appreciate the result of Sashiko stitching by the nameless Japanese who performed Sashiko stitching. Some of their achievements are called Boro, and we appreciate the beauty of it.

I wonder, if the Japanese thought of “Fine Art” when they practiced Sashiko stitching in the past. Probably not. It was merely a chore to survive through the severe winter in Japan. They would probably care about the family or their friends, and made stitches rather than worrying how beautiful and inspirational it would be as the art.

(*It is not a discussion of black and white. I also believe that the women who mended fabric with Sashiko cared the result as a beautiful pieces in their capacity with limited resources and time. However, it isn’t the Fine Art since they “could have” express more if they didn’t have to work for the purpose.)

In fact, “because of this caring stitches”, I believe Sashiko is so beautiful and inspirational. I feel unnatural by saying “Sashiko is the Fine Art” because I am probably scared of losing the taste of “Caring stitches.”

 


 

There is a machine which can make the even length (fairly long) stitches so called it Sashiko Sewing machine. People sometimes ask for my opinion about the Sashiko machine. I enjoyed watching what the machine can do. However, I know I wouldn’t use the Sashiko sewing machine because it doesn’t involve the core of Sashiko – enjoying a dialogue with fabric.

I have no problem with people using the sewing machine and calling it Sashiko. However, as the one who was born in Sashiko family and still practices Sashiko, I would like to be able to distinguish the beauty in preciseness and uneven (& caring) stitches.

  • The beauty of item is the secondary.
  • The process of stitching is the primary.

Then, the question kicks in.
In order to define Sashiko as the Folk Art, the item has to be made by nameless people. I use my name, Atsushi Futatsuya, and my mother’s name, Keiko Futatsuya, to stand out in the field. Would it be called Folk Art Sashiko?

I don’t know. This is the reason I started asking the question if Sashiko is the Art.

Strictly speaking, what we are doing may not be authentic Sashiko because we use our name. Furthermore, I am the one who wants to be the artist regardless of the original figure of Sashiko. Therefore, I wanted to make sure where I stand before I move forward in 2019.
(Keiko, my mother, never thought herself as the artist. She cares much using her name neither. What she cares is how to surprise the world by her enjoying Sashiko stitching. If you behold or possesses her Sashiko items, you should be able to understand this, but her stitches are full of caring and therefore it is so beautiful.)

 

Again, it seems I am the one who would like to call Sashiko the Fine Art. However, all of my experience and knowledge says it is not. So, this is merely a start of my long journey to re-define Sashiko. 

Sashiko as the Folk Art – Mingei – do they care how it looks? No.

Mingei Art Movement in Japan and Sashiko


The folk Art in Japan has its rich history. I introduce the Folk Art (Mingei Art) Movement in Japan in a separate blog article (Above). For more details, I recommend reading one of founder’s book, Yanagi Soetsu’s book. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yanagi_S%C5%8Detsu)

 

Generally speaking, Yanagi Soetsu defined Mingei by these 8 criteria.

 

  • Practical: made for practical usage, not for the display.
  • Nameless: made by unknown craftsman, and the craft is not made to be famous.
  • Mass-produced: In order to meet the demand from the people, the item were made in mass quantity.
  • Reasonable Price: Inexpensive price so the ordinal people could purchase and use.
  • Locality: The art item has a local characteristic such as color, shape, and patterns.
  • Division of Labor: For the mass production, the art item was made in the division of labors by skilled craftsman
  • Tradition: Following the tradition and wisdom the ancestors cultivated.
  • Collectability: The creation depend on the local tradition and climate rather than the individual skill

Sashiko was discovered as the part of Mingei movement (In Northern part of Japan). Sashiko followed all of the 8 criteria above at some point. However. after the industrial revolution, we (including my Sashiko family) needed to alter its character and lost the sense of Mingei. In other words, Sashiko became unnecessary at some point in Japanese history, and only a few people kept the tradition and customs with non-Mingei reasons.

 

The Sashiko I was grown up with is somewhat nameless (brand name with about 50 nameless artisans), somewhat Mass-produced in a capacity of hand-made craft, and relatively reasonable as the local souvenir.

 

Sashiko I practice now after the difficulty to continue the family Sashiko is not nameless (although we have nameless artisans as well), somewhat Mass-produced but mostly one-of-a-kind, and expensive (although some say super reasonable for the amount of the work required).

 

As you can tell, the Sashiko we practice is not already following the strict rule of Mingei. However, (therefore), I feel unnatural to say Sashiko is the Fine Art. I feel Keiko and I would lose the other characteristic of Mingei by defining Sashiko as the art, which I am horrified to face to the risk of losing the core beauty of Sashiko.

 

I hope I am explaining enough why I started this – this blog entry is not for judging someone. It is for encouraging myself to move forward. I could keep going without defining Sashiko if I didn’t know that so many people get interested in Sashiko. Now, thanks to SNS, because I know there are many people who enjoy Sashiko, I feel obligated to explain the origin of Sashiko – to respect and appreciate more.

Categorization of Japanese Art

 

Here is another interesting story.

If you are fascinated by the beauty of Sashiko, you may compare Sashiko to the other Japanese beautiful traditional art and culture. We can name numbers of them.

A – Family & Organization

  • Kabuki (Performing Art)
  • Ikebana – (Flower Arrangement)

B – Traditional Craft certified by Japan

  • Edo Kiriko (Glass Art)
  • Yuzen (Kimono)

C – Locally Traditional

  • Misoshiru – (Miso Soup)
  • Sashiko
  • Origami

Can you guess what the categorization I made for?

Category A is well known for the Japanese traditional Art (performing art). There are the “family” or “organization” to pass down the tradition. The one can be part of the family, but there is a very strict rule to follow.

Category B is known as the Japanese traditional Craft. Over the history, the Japanese developed so many traditional crafts with forming the artisans guild. The Japanese government certified those traditional crafts and trying to protect & pass them down to the next generation.

Category C is the other Japanese art, crafts, and culture which are not certified by Japan as the nation or don’t have the “Big (Celebrity) Family” to pass it down. The items I listed, Sashiko, Miso Soup, and Origamis are (were) so ordinary for the Japanese to form the organization to protect them, therefore they didn’t become the Japanese “traditional” art, crafts or culture, which leads to my saying, “There is no such a thing as right or wrong in Sashiko” because of this categorization.

It also explains why I feel unnatural to call sashiko the (Fine) art.

 


 

Let’s say, you are an American, and eat a slice of pizza regularly. Would you call a slice of Pizza as the art? Well, the artisan made a beautiful and skillful pizza for you. Would you feel a bit strange to call it the Art?

 

Anything can be the art. Yes.

If the artist uses Pizza to make the fine art, it can be a form of Fine Art (if the audience defines it as the art.) However, if a regular chef is merely creating the tasty and beautiful pizza, then the people started calling his work as the art, wouldn’t he feel a bit strange?

 

Sashiko isn’t Pizza. I understand. We cannot eat Sashiko, nor we cannot stitch pizza. However, this is the foundation of my question. I sometimes feel like people fantasize Sashiko. Sometimes, the saying sounds like the exaggerated phrase in comparison to what Sashiko is. It is perfectly fine that people understand anything from Sashiko. However, it is a different story if I, as the creator, start exaggerating what it is without realizing that I am exaggerating.

 

Again, I am also the one who would like to bring Sashiko to the Art. In order to do so, I need to share all of my knowledge and wisdom, then I can feel easy on moving forward.

 

The whole discussion is for me, Atsushi.

Thank you for reading this far. As you may have understood by now, the whole discussion of “Is Sashiko Art?” is for me. The more I read the comments I received on Instagram and Facebook, the more I understand that I am the one who would like to be the Artist.

You may say, “You can be the artist if you think so.”
Yes. It is very true.

However, the fabric I stitch on may not feel the same. The thread I am stitching with may disagree. The hand I am moving doesn’t appreciate the decision that I make. The 30+ years of experience in Sashiko is not all about stitching. It is the experience with Sashiko in my childhood. I believe I am the one who saw the Sashiko items the most in my generation.

I once cursed my fate. I now appreciate my privilege.
The artisans who I grow up with would not think of themselves as the artist. I asked Keiko if she would consider herself an artist. Her answer was as simple as “No” after questioning me why I ask her such a stupid question.
Following, she also explained a bit.

It is her pleasure that her clients (customers) think of her achievement as the (Fine) Art. However, I do not consider myself as the Artist. I simply enjoy the conversation with the fabric, bringing the “unused” fabric to the stage again where people would wear or use in their life. I am merely a Sashiko artisan.

I respect her as well as the other artisans I feel like the family to me. If I would follow their path, I would never consider Sashiko as the (Fine) Art. It is the end of the story, and I wouldn’t need to bring up the definition & terminology because the other’s perception wouldn’t change their attitude and understanding.

I, on the other hands, have both sides of understanding – Sashiko as the “merely” stitching and Sashiko as the “super cool” art.

In order to integrate these 2 extreme concepts, I needed to understand where I stand.

The culture & Tradition alter over time.

Over time, the culture and tradition alter its form. So does Sashiko.
Sashiko started as the wisdom in survival through the severe winter in Japan. The poor the Japanese were in the rural area, the more people needed to do the stitching. We call it Sashiko.

At the same time in the history, at other places where were a bit richer than the other places, the Sashiko formed its necessity as strengthening the fabric instead of mending or filling the gap. Also, over time, Sashiko changed its stance to decorative stitching for those who couldn’t dye patterns out.

Sashiko was developed as a form of stitching by the ordinary Japanese people. It is perfectly natural to observe some changes, and it is as perfectly natural to enjoy the transformation in this era by other people’s necessity and intention.

Again, we can call anything “Art” and they can define Sashiko as they want. I am not titled to accept or deny any interpretation of Sashiko. One can just grab the needle and make some stitches, then she/he can call it Sashiko.

Sashiko can be as simple as that. At the same time, however, for those who would like to enjoy Sashiko sincerely, I would like them to understand the primitive form of Sashiko. It is my fate to verbalize some of the shame the Japanese had been holding throughout Sashiko and Boro-Making process.

The Boro as the sign of Shame
http://upcyclestitches.com/tokiyama-sashiko/


 

Sushi started its path as the fast food for Samurai and civilians in the Edo period. The reason we use “Wasabi – the green spice” is for the bactericidal action in eating raw fish on the street. In this century, Sashiko became a synonym of Japanese food, with a hint of fancy and expensive yet healthy & popular food option available.

 

Sashiko can be like Sushi, too.
One day, people may call the process of “repurposing a garment” Sashiko. Or, simply, hand-stitching on a piece of fabric may be called “Sashiko”. I do not know how “we” transform Sashiko’s culture.

Regardless of the change, I believe, someone needs to keep mentioning the origin and the logical side of the traditional culture. Most of the traditional culture and craft, (which lead to the Folk Art) have a logic behind it. For example of Sushi, Wasabi is not only for the tasting. It has a role of protecting the customer from food poisoning. So is the same in Sashiko. The size of needles has the meaning. The thimble has its own role. The Sashiko thread has a completely different purpose in comparison to the other sewing thread.

When we know those “wisdom”, I believe we can enjoy the culture more and more.

Furthermore, as a sort of conclusion, this is the reason I do not categorize Sashiko in the Fine Art. Fine Art, the artist doesn’t need to explain anything (in my understanding.) It can be conceptual as well as inspirational. Sashiko… as long as I know, Sashiko still requires some explanation to be “stunningly beautiful”.

Again, please understand it is NOT about good or bad. Fine Art is fantastic, and so is Folk Art. I am here to explain the difference so that I may be, one day, start calling myself “Artist” instead of “craftsman or artisan”

*I have called myself “artist” before without knowing the definition at all… so, here I am now.

 

I respect not only the result but the concept behind it


I understand Sashiko is getting popular because of its simplicity, beauty, and idea of visible mending. I respect those who translated and introduced the idea of Sashiko to their own culture and developed it. One day, I would like to meet everyone who enjoys Sashiko and talk about Sashiko and its cultural meaning to us.

For me, Sashiko is a whole package of ordinary Japanese days for the ordinary Japanese people. Sashiko communicate the women’s pride in the severe condition. We can learn how Japanese people behaved throughout learning the mindset of Sashiko. Therefore, I respect not only the result of beautiful stitching but also the concept behind Sashiko.

Here is a list of mindsets I am determined to share throughout Sashiko, this website and our Sashiko Workshops. I have been saying it over the Instagram & Youtube live streaming, and I will do so in 2019 as well.

  • There is no such a thing as Right or Wrong in caring someone (and oneself).
  • The Caring is the best thing we can do. The emotion doesn’t have to be positive. It can be sometimes negative like jealous or hatred. I believe the opposite of Love is not “Hatred”, it is “Ignorance”
  • We would like to introduce a moment of “no more judging”, to someone, and especially to oneself throughout Sashiko. The Sashiko stitches are merely the result of needle movement. No one, including oneself, would judge it good or bad. Instead, we would like to think of someone who may be happy by looking at the stitches.


In summary (long story short)…

  • No right or Wrong.
  • Be mindful about what you feel.
  • No more Judgement (Observe what you do)


I believe you know an activity which satisfies the three criteria above. It is a “meditation”. I feel Sashiko is a very good meditative stitching. Probably, the Japanese people in the past used Sashiko for the meditative purpose (I don’t know if it is true). For more stories about Sashiko and meditation, please wait for my next writing.


I hope I have explained enough why and how I think Sashiko is not the (Fine) art, (yet). As I mentioned in the beginning, writing in English is always a big challenge to me. I will proofread over and over again, and probably change some of the writing. Regardless, what I wrote here is my sincere message & honest understanding about Sashiko.

Please leave a comment if you agree, disagree, got inspired, or even found a problem. I am open to correct (if I find it a problem) and discuss further more.

Thank you for reading this long blog entry.

Enjoy the rest of 2018, and Happy New Year of 2019.

Happy Sashiko New Year
Basic Sashiko Denim Mending Cover

Basic Sashiko Denim Mending | Quick Patching

One of the reasons that the word of Sashiko gets spread is a slow-fashion movement with Denim Jeans Mending. I once put a distance from Sashiko, and Sashiko Mending brought me back to this field after a year of absence. Sashiko Denim Mending is one of my (Atsushi’s) passion and I still enjoy it. Here is a quick video of Basic Sashiko Denim Mending.

 

A Procedure of Basic Sashiko Denim Mending

 

 

Here is a sample how it works.

  1. Prepare the fabric for the ideal Sashiko Mending
  2. Place the fabric nicely and comfortably.
  3. Enjoy Sashiko Stitching
  4. Make sure the fabric is nicely attached & keep enjoying the Sashiko Stitching.

 

Workshop of Basic Sashiko Denim Mending.

We proudly offer our first Sashiko workshop to work “Basic Sashiko Denim Mending” with you in 70 minutes. Atsushi will explain the basic of Sashiko history and will work with you as he worked in the video above. The participants will receive all of the supplies they would need to enjoy the basic Sashiko Denim Mending and the follow-up to keep enjoying it.

 

The workshop is offered as the part of pop-up, 75 Collective in NYC.

75 COLLECTIVE x Sashiko Workshop

 

Make sure to register your seats for the workshop:

A hint of Sashiko Denim Workshop 

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hint-of-sashiko-denim-workshop-1-hours-short-sashiko-workshop-75-collective-tickets-52975487108

 

In order to maximize your Sashiko

The sample work of Basic Sashiko Denim Mending took about 50 minutes to complete, from cutting the fabric to the whole stitching. The core enjoyment of Sashiko is its rhythm and needle movement. Sashiko is all about hand-stitching, but it isn’t about making one perfect stitch. It is about making fabric repurposed.

 

In order to experience the whole picture of Sashiko, please consider participating in the Full-Length Sashiko Workshop, so-called Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Core & Basic).

 

Information & Tutorials Available Online

The joining the workshop & getting the instruction from Atsushi directly is the best way to enjoy Sashiko & Denim Mending. However, we understand that not everyone can travel to NYC for the workshop.

I will keep updating the website with more information & tutorials like below.

Sashiko Mending Tutorials | Upcycle and Repurpose

 

Your support would be very much appreciated. The best support is to spread the words that Upcycle Stitches is here to support anyone’s Sashiko. The next thing would be supporting me throughout being patron through web service (Being a Sashiko Patron).

 

Thank you & Enjoy Sashiko.

Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ Cover

Back Order Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ

We. as Sashi,Co & Keiko Futatsuya as well as Upcycle Stitches, make several Sashiko Jackets (or Sashiko Coats) per year when Keiko and/or Atsushi get some ideas that we would like to make it happen. Simultaneously, we are often open to accept the Back Orders Sashiko Jacket based on the client’s request. The whole process takes about a year to complete. However, we will listen to you and make your dream happen by starting with collecting the most appropriate vintage fabric. Of course, we will perform our Sashiko stitching on the jacket.

It is our pleasure to make the “one of a kind” Sashiko Jackets with listening to the client’s preference. We had a great opportunity in 2018 as well, and I would like to share the beautiful achievement with the client, Back Order Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ.

 

A story of the Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ

In January 2018, a gentleman contacted me if one specific type of Jacket, which I had introduced on the website, was still available for sale. Interestingly, the inquired jacket was just sold 2 days before his inquiry. We decided to offer the option to customize the Jacket with the preference of their choice.

 

The clients provided us their preference of the favorite Sashiko patterns, types of vintage fabric such as Katazome or Kasuri, and overall taste they had in their mind.

After listening to the preferences and image of the clients, it is our job to understand and visualize them in our mind with communicating the fabric. It is almost impossible to make the exactly the same thing as the client is imagining in their mind. Our job is to exceed their expectation by creating something “Wow” with following their preference and expectation.

 

When the backorder is assigned to Keiko after the listening phase, it is Keiko’s world until it gets completed.

 

How the “Back Order” works

 

Please contact Atsushi to tell us that you are interested in placing the back order.

Then, Atsushi will get back to you with specific questions such as the following:

  • The sizing | Possibly the photo of the client
  • Sashiko Pattern Preference
  • Vintage Fabric / Japanese Fabric Preferences

Based on the project, we may ask you for the additional notes. The more information we have in the initial stage, the better the outcome can be. Once Keiko starts her project, she doesn’t change her blueprint. She has the “Completed Image” in her mind when she starts, so we would ask you to provide all the possible information before that.

 

Pricing and Expectation

The price for the Back Order is about $5,000.00 USD per Jacket.

For making the similar item of Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ, the rough estimate is about 4,880.00 USD per Jacket.

The price varies based on the types of vintage fabric you prefer, the amount & pattern of Sashiko stitching, the sizing, and also the exchange rate for the JPY=USD. We used to provide the cheaper price, but the vintage fabric in Japan is getting so expensive. We hope the vintage fabric will not be more expensive than as is now (which is super expensive for my sense…)

 

Once we all agreed to the preference and pricing, we will give you the rough estimate of delivery. It usually takes about 10 months to 15 months, and based on the preference, it could be longer than that.

 

You may have a question of how we make a transaction.

We will NOT ask for the deposit and will NOT ask you to promise us to purchase it after the completion (although please be serious in placing the order.) It is our responsibility to exceed your expectation, and we will do everything to make it happen. At the same time, once Keiko starts creating the one, she doesn’t share any progress updates. This is to avoid the third party voice to her creation. Trust me. It is much better when she is completely free from any requests and responses. She will follow the initial preference and will talk to the fabric, thread, and probably the clients non-verbally throughout her process.

Because of this Keiko’s production style (some people call it like an artist), she often make 2 pieces based on the same preference, just in case one is not following (or exceeding) the client’s expectation. The process time of 10 months to 15 months are for making 2 or more items for the one backorder request.

 

 

Photos of the Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ

With the generous understanding from the client, we are happy to share some of the photos of these exclusive Sashiko Jackets. The clients will send me more photos from their days, which is the most important for us because we believe that Sashiko exists in the ordinary days & when it is been used instead of behind the glass showcase.

 

Enjoy the beautiful Photos.

 

*Please understand that I am not criticizing the museum quality Boro or Sashiko Jackets. There are reasons that they have to be displayed behind the glass. They could be fragile. We are simply proud of ourselves that we can “make” the museum quality Sashiko Jacket from one piece of fabric.


Photos from the Client

Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ From J

 

Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ From J2

 

 


Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ _MN

Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ _MN 2 Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ _MN 1 Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ _MN 3


Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ _FO

Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ 3 Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ 2 Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ 1

 


 

Sashiko with Keiko Futatsuya

It was such a wonderful 10 days enjoying Sashiko with Keiko Futatsuya. She had traveled from Japan between November 14th to 25th to supervise Atsushi’s Sashiko Workshop as well as to help more Sashiko production in the USA. With stitching Sashiko together with her, I remember the origin of our Sashiko, which is “caring” and stitching for someone.

 

Sashiko with Keiko Futatsuya

Surprisingly, it was my first time to enjoy Sashiko with Keiko Futatsuya. After all of these years with Sashiko, interestingly, we sit down together and enjoyed Sashiko stitching for the first time in 30 years.

 

Before my father passed away, Keiko and I worked for him in a company that provide Sashiko items and supplies. My father was the president of the company, and I was the head of sales, and my mother took care of many kinds of administrative works. In between those tasks, of course, we Sashiko stitched. Since I found out how talented Keiko is after seeing her artworks, I had asked her to focus on Sashiko works more than other daily tasks. I tried to help her by me doing these tasks, and she created very beautiful Sashiko pieces even before 2013.

 

Regardless, we didn’t have chance to sit down together and share the moment with Sashiko stitching when we were working for the company.

 

After my father had passed away, we rarely see each other. I haven’t been back to Japan for 5 years, and it was her 2nd visit after the one in 2016.

 

So, it was a privilege to share the Thanksgiving holiday with her stitching and talking over thread and fabric. I believe, it is the origin of Sashiko. Talking and stitching together with enjoyment (or sometimes, it could be some negative feelings).

 

 

Sashiko with Keiko Futatsuya

 

 

Enjoy Sashiko, as simple as that

 

What makes Keiko so talented?

You will find the answer if you have a chance to look at & touch her Sashiko achievement, but this is my quick summary.

 

[Her enjoyment of Sashiko makes her Sashiko so different from the others]

 

I believe I am good at Sashiko stitching. However, there is a huge gap between my works and Keiiko’s work. Please do not misunderstand that it isn’t about good or bad. It is about the preferences, and some people may say that they like my Sashiko items better. However, “I” feel that there is a big, and almost impossible to fill, gap between her work and mine, which is the “Enjoying Sashiko”.

 

I enjoy Sashiko, of course.

At the same time, I also enjoy sharing Sashiko to the others. In other words, I feel so happy when I see my students’ great achievement, and purely happy for them.

 

Keiko also enjoyed the other’s achievements and got so much inspired. You know what my mother said when she saw some of my student’s great achievement?

She said:

 

“I am so jealous of them. I would like to see what I can do after seeing their works”

Then, right after we come back from NYC, she started the Boro project like below.

 

I don’t know anyone else who is enjoying Sashiko more than Keiko. Enjoy Sashiko. As simple as this.

I am perfectly happy with me introducing her enjoyment, the Sashiko with Keiko Futatsuya.

 

Enjoy Sashiko with Keiko Futatsuya

Not only the Sashiko technique

 

Sashiko is merely a form of stitching the Japanese used to practice in their ordinary days. Ultimately speaking, the name of Sashiko is for the stitching only.

However, what I would like to share throughout Sashiko is not only the techniques but the mindset, culture, and the enjoyment I described above.

 

After offering many workshop in NYC starting 2 years go, I now have confidence that “I can give you the eye opening experience in the Sashiko workshop.” 

 

I have this website for the articles, Youtube Channel for the video Tutorials and LiveStreaming, and Instagram & facebook for sharing photos. My goal is to share the Sashiko as a whole, not only the stitching but also the Japanese culture which could be a hint to ease some of the struggle we have in the current society.

 

I also offer the Sashiko workshops to share everything I have → Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Core & Basic)

It is the best way to connect me and understand the core technique and wisdom of Sashiko.

 

 

 

Well…. It was a great, eventful, and super exciting Thanksgiving week, enjoying Sashiko with Keiko Futatsuya.

I will keep working hard so that I can invite her again to do another great visit, and next time, sharing Sashiko with Keiko Futatsuya & You.

 

Enjoy with Keiko Futatsuya Jacket

 

Enjoy Sashiko in Happy Holidays

Enjoy Sashiko in Happy Holidays

Leaves on trees get colored then fall down. We expect the snow soon and we kind of stay inside more in North East of the USA. It is the best time to sit and stitch. I am happy to announce that the great Fashion designer, Indi Kids, will have me for their wonderful event in December. The Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Core & Basic) will be available on December 8th and 9th. I hope you can find the time for your busy yet fun season. Enjoy Sashiko in Happy Holidays.

 

The Detail of Indi Kid Event

 

Sashiko Workshop Schedule

The detail of the workshop can be found on the workshop registration page.

 

  • Dec. 8th, Saturday, 9:30 am to around 1 pm for 3 hours + α | 

or

  • Dec. 8th, Saturday, 3 pm to around 6:30 pm for 3 hours + α |

or

  • Dec. 9th, Saturday, 1 pm to around 5:30 pm for 4 hours + α (Bigger Group)| 

 

I hope to meet you & see you there.

Since this is a day-long event, we are brainstorming the other workshops/offers we can make. Keep eye on our newsletter so you will not miss the information.

 

Enjoy Sashiko in Happy Holidays

Holidays can be pretty busy, too.

At the same time, you may have some time off from your routine days. I hope you will find some time to reward yourself by enjoying Sashiko. Sashiko can be very relaxing, meditative, and mindfull.

 

Sashiko makes great Gift

Enjoy Sashiko in Happy Holidays

 

 

One of the workshop participants who took the Sashiko Stitching Workshop in September shared her beautiful result. By learning Sashiko basic and core, you can make this kind of Tote bag and keep enjoying your own Sashiko projects. There aren’t many techniques you need to master to maximize the Sashiko experience. However, there is some eye-opening technique that I would like to share to enrich your Sashiko project. We hope that all of us enjoy Sashiko in Happy Holidays.

 

 

 

Top 5 Sashiko Tips Cover R

Top 5 Sashiko Tips | Common Misunderstanding

Sashiko is a form of simple hand stitching developed in Japan. It is relatively easy to start, and we can keep enjoying its meditative stitching in various way. Here is top 5 Sashiko Tips to make your Sashiko experience much more comfortable and your Sashiko stitching results more beautiful.

 

  1. Get Sashiko Thread | Not a thread even with the same thickness
  2. Get the needle to minimize the stress
  3. Don’t pull the needle. Pull the fabric
  4. Make sure to smooth the fabric after stitching
  5. Push the needle instead of making a stitch | Sashiko isn’t about making a stitch

 

Top 5 Sashiko Tips Details

 

These top 5 Sashiko tips are based on our 30+ years of experience in Sashiko stitching. Please understand it is not about being right or wrong, or good or bad. The purpose of this blog is to share the tips, not to judge others or yourself.

 

I cover every Top 5 Sashiko Tips in the Sashiko Stitching Workshop I offer. You may learn the brief summary of these tips here. Enjoy Sashiko!

 

1. A reason to call it Sashiko Thread

(Get Sashiko Thread | Not a thread even with the same thickness.)

 

Sashiko thread isn’t defined as Sashiko Thread only by the thickness. The trick is “how the thread is twisted” to form the yarn. Sashiko has a various and different purpose in comparison to the other hand-sewing project. For example, making Kimono requires a completely different thread so-called sewing thread instead of Sashiko Thread.

Any kinds of the thread may make good stitching. However, when you would like to enjoy the whole benefit (original purpose) of Sashiko stitching, we strongly recommend using the Sashiko Thread even if you have the same thickness thread.

 

*More information about the Purpose of threads is in this blog post.

Why Sashiko Thread | Compare to the other

 

2. Needle matters

(Get the needle to minimize the stress.)

 

The selection for the needle is very huge. The cheapest needle can be found by less than a dollar or even less, and the expensive one can be $3~4 dollar a piece (possibly more). For the purpose of regular hand-sewing, any kinds of the needle would work. However, for the better experience of Sashiko stitching, I strongly recommend getting the needle for Sashiko Stitching.

A few topics to consider are below.

  • The length. My favorite length is 51.5 mm.
  • An appropriate size of the needle eye. The big eye may destroy the fabric.
  • The good snap of the needle

Here is my recommendation for the Sashiko Needle

 

*I have heard that some people sharpen the needle with the small cushion attach to the pincushion in the market. If you purchase the Sashiko Needle from us, DO NOT sharpen your needle unless you feel the dullness of the needle in stitching. The needle is sharpened nicely by professional in the original condition. The process of sharping the needle by yourself will, in fact, make the needle dull. If you enjoy Sashiko stitching a few hours every day for a few months, you may feel the dullness of the needle, then you may use the needle sharpener. At the same time, it can be a good time to change the needle after using that heavily.

 

3. Pull the fabric, not the needle

When you make numbers of stitches, it can be challenging to pull the needle through the fabric.

The needle is pretty thin, and the thread is pretty thick. The size of the needle and the thread is to avoid destroying the fabric. However, it is a bit more challenging to pull the needle with the thread. There is an eye-opening hint for this. Don’t pull the needle.

 

To minimize the difficulty, keep this one thing in your mind.

Pull the fabric instead of pulling the needle.

 

*It is difficult to explain in writing. Please check the video I made.

 

4. Smoothe the fabric

After making numbers of stitches and pull the needle through, you must make sure to smoothe the fabric. This process is called “Itokoki (=糸こき)” in Japanese. By Itokoki, the thread and fabric match better and avoid the tension on the fabric. Without this process, the fabric may be tensioned or twisted in an unlikable way.

Even I, as the Sashiko professional, I occasionally experience the insufficient Itokoki. To avoid it, I often make loops when I change the stitching direction to avoid the unlikable mistake (like an insurance). → The article about Why Loops?

Why loops in Sashiko Running Stitching

 

*It is also difficult to explain Itokoki in writing. Please check the video I made.

 

5. Learn how to push the needle

Sashiko isn’t about making one stitch. It is a movement of the needle to achieve purpose such as repairing, mending, and strengthening the fabric. It is the core of Sashiko to learning how to push the needle with the thimble.

 

We found that teaching  (& sharing) how to use the thimble and move the needle is quite difficult even with videos. The goal is to share the appropriate method, posture, and movement of the needle with the thimble with us continuously checking your stitching. We would like to make sure the participants understand and master the movement instead of sharing information and spreading the movement we do not intend to. Please consider taking Atsushi’s workshop in NYC or Online Sashiko Workshop.

*The free tutorials are available on our Youtube Channel for those who prefer that way.

 

 

 


 

I hope you enjoyed this blog post of Top 5 Sashiko Tips.

As I keep mentioning on this website, I believe there isn’t such a thing as “Right Sashiko” and “Wrong Sashiko”. However, there are numbers of tips, techniques, and wisdom that we would like to share to pass down Sashiko. Please share your questions in Comments so I can follow up with more information.

 

While writing this article, I realize it is quite difficult to share the points just in writing with considering my English ability as the second language. Please enjoy the quick video I made to explain the Top 5 Sashiko Tips

 

 

 

+++++ The script of Youtube just in case my English is difficult to understand

Hello, this is Atsushi. Thank you for watching the Top 5 Sashiko Tips video.
I am happy that many people would like to learn how to do Sashiko beautifully and efficiently. Here are the Top 5 Sashiko Tips to make your Sashiko experience more enjoyable.

1. Get Sashiko Thread.
You may use any kinds of thread for the Sashiko project. However, if you would like to get the same result as we do, then, using the thread designed for the Sashiko purpose is necessary. I had written several articles about the difference of Sashiko thread and the other threads on our website, upcyclestitches.com. The main difference is the twist. The Sashiko Thread has the unique twist to be the part of the fabric. The main purpose of Sashiko thread isn’t connecting a few pieces of fabric together, it is to make the fabric stronger.

2. Sashiko Needle
A good quality Sashiko needle can improve the Sashiko stitching by A LOT. My recommendation is.

A. The length of 51.5 mm
B. The small eye to avoid destroying the fabric, yet big enough to accommodate the Sashiko Thread.

Trust me. It is significant.

3. Pull the fabric, not the needle

After making many stitches, you may experience the difficulty to pull the needle through the fabric with the thread. It is understandable because the Sashiko thread we use is pretty thick and the needle eye is quite small.

Here is a tip.
Do not pull the needle. Yes. It sounds strange. You will pull the needle eventually. However, first, try to pull the fabric to get the needle eye through as the video shows. This is one of the reasons I made this video on top of the actual blog post on my website. I hope you get what I am talking about by watching how I do it.

4, The movement of smoothing the fabric.

In my Sashiko workshop, I always tell them to smooth the fabric.
I came to realize that I am not 100% sure if I translated the meaning of words from Japanese to English. Since I cannot find the exact word for that, I will use the Japanese for this movement. It is called “Itokoki.”

Itokoki is the movement of smoothing the fabric to avoid the tensioned fabric like the video shows. It will make your fabric more smooth and beautiful.

5. Unshin

In my opinion, Sashiko is not about making one stitch. Sashiko is about moving the needle, and as the result, making the numbers of stitches. To follow what the Japanese used to practice, understanding and learning the needle movement is important. In Japanese, we call the needle movement, Unshin.

We do Unshin and make numbers of stitches, then make sure that fabric is smooth by doing Itokoki. We repeat the process and create a simple, yet beautiful pattern.

Alright.
Let’s review Top 5 Sashiko Tips

Getting good Sashiko thread and needle is pretty critical to have the good Sashiko stitching. As I have shared in another video on this channel, the fabric quality is not as significant as the thread and needle. Of course, I prefer the fabric made in Japan following the traditional way. However, a piece of the swatch from Walmart for a couple of bucks was okay for the Sashiko stitching. When the budget is limited, I would allocate more resources for the thread and needle.

This video is for the 3rd and 4th tips in the list of Top 5 Sashiko Tips. In order to explain what Itokoki and how to pull the fabric, I thought it is the best to film myself.

Interestingly, Sashiko is so natural to me and my mother.
So sometimes, we do not realize that something we do very naturally is the answer to someone who started Sashiko stitching.

In fact, the Japanese have an interesting craftmanship that master does not teach how to do the crafting. The students, pupils, or apprentices are supposed to learn by just looking and observing what the master does. So, I didn’t get a structured “lesson” or “workshop”. What I do is something I learned by doing and looking, and therefore, sometimes I do not realize what I do is special to someone.

So feel free to ask the questions. Your question may teach me what the audience is looking for as the answer.
However, please check this channel and our website first to look for the answers. I have been answering many questions, and the common questions are probably answered already.

Well, I will improve my website so viewers can find the answers more easily. But, let me have more time for that.

Alright.
Enjoy Sashiko.

Why Sashiko Thread Cover

Why Sashiko Thread | Compare to the other

In the Instagram Sashiko Live-Streaming (in Japanese), we had a great talk about the reasons to use Sashiko thread instead of other types of thread and yarns. There is a reason why Sashiko thread is different from the other thread.

Sashiko was developed in the necessity to survive through the severe winter in Japan. In order to satisfy the Sashiko’s original purpose, the Japanese have been spending a lot of time to create the appropriate Sashiko thread for the project. I hope you enjoy the beauty of its Sashiko Thread.

 

View a Story of Sashiko Thread by Atsushi

 

The script of Atsushi’s Story is available at the end of this article.


Shop Sashiko Thread in Upcycle Stitches

 

Why Sashiko Thread Comparison

 

The twist is why Sashiko Thread is unique

The Sashiko Thread we carry has the unique twist. Most of our Sashiko threads consists of 4 thin embroidery floss, and they are twisted in a very unique way. This twist makes it thread as the Sashiko Thread, and it is the reason why Sashiko thread can make beautiful Sashiko stitches.

 

In the market, you may find the similar thread/yarn with the similar thickness. I have read some articles talking about the alternative of Sashiko Thread. Please do not misunderstand that I am NOT saying the alternative is bad or wrong. Based on the type of project, I use the non-Sashiko Thread to maximize the purpose. What I would like to share is the background story of why Sashiko Threads have been used by so many Sashiko practitioners.

 

Thread as a method to strengthen the fabric

As you may have learned in this website, Sashiko original has (had) a goal to achieve: to strengthen or to mend the fabric.

 

Usually, the sewing thread is used to “patch” or “connect” 2 or more fabric together. In order to make a dress, the seamstress needs to sew the patterned fabrics together to form the dress. The threads have to be strong enough to hold them together. Therefore, the regular sewing threads have a very tight twist. Regardless of the thickness, most of the non-Sashiko thread has the tight twist to serve its purpose.

 

The main purpose of Sashiko Thread is NOT to patch or connect the fabric. It is to make the fabric stronger. In other words, the Japanese wanted Sashiko Thread to be the part of fabric eventually. Therefore, Sashiko thread has uniquely designed “soft” twist. By this unique twist, the thread becomes part of the fabric over time, and therefore the fabric gets stronger before the Sashiko Stitching.

Why Sashiko Thread Tickness

 

It is not about good or bad.

The point is what is the purpose (goal) of using the thread you have. If you would like to follow the original Sashiko & make fabric stronger with beautiful patterns, we strongly recommend using our Sashiko Thread. The tightly twisted thread tend to stay as the thread over time, and sometimes, the tightness may damage the fabric.

 

Making a Knot of not

The topic either making a know or not in Sashiko stitching can be a pretty big discussion sometimes. I have written the blog post about “How to NOT to make the knot” along to the Youtube Video.

Yes, I share the technique. However, without understanding the reason why Sashiko Thread is so different with its background story, the technique wouldn’t work at all. If you use the tightly twisted sewing thread, you would need the knot. I always make a knot when I use non-Sashiko Thread. It simply doesn’t work because of the character of the thread: which is the purpose of the thread.

 

I hope this blog post explains the reason why Sashiko Thread is different from the stories behind it.

 


 

Sashiko Story Vol.3

Welcome to Sashiko Story Volume 3. Below is the script of the video

 

 

Today, I would like to talk about the thread for Sashiko. I know. It is pretty hot topic, especially if you are looking for the “correct answers” for Sashiko stitching.

 

As you can imagine, this is one of the frequent questions I receive.

“What kind of Sashiko thread is the best for my Sashiko Project?”

 

The answer is pretty simple. It is about your preferences and the purpose of your project. I am so sorry for disappointing you by not providing the solid answer… but it is really up to your preference.  However, to help you to find the best Sashiko thread, here is a Sashiko Story.

 

  1. Understanding the purpose of Sashiko.

 

The main (and original) purpose of Sashiko is a bit different from the other types of hand-stitching. It is to make the fabric stronger and during instead of patching or connecting two fabrics so-called patchworking or tailoring.

 

Let’s say, in order to make a dress, we need a tightly twisted thread, which tends to be firm and thin. A sewing machine also use this kind of tight and thin thread to make good sewing stitches. For that, We do not want the thread to be frayed or loosen at all when a person wears the dress. Also, when the thread is old and weak enough, it should be easy to be cut off for the repair.

 

The main purpose of Sashiko thread, instead, is to be the part of the fabric, yet not completely frayed over time. Therefore, the Sashiko thread has the unique twist to keep the stitches beautiful (not frayed) yet soft enough to merge into the fabric over time.

 

A good Sashiko pieces, including some of the nice Boro pieces, has the pattern as if they are not “stitched”. It is the beauty of Sashiko thread to alter itself to be the part of the fabric.

Also, the tight twist of the thread is sometimes too strong for the vintage fabric. Instead of being a part of the fabric, the thread could just tear the fabric. We avoid using the tight sewing thread for mending Boro like this.

 

So, you may want to make sure what is your purpose of Sashiko stitching. If you are mending denim with denim patch without caring the pattern, any kinds of threads would be just fine. However, if you would like to have good looking Sashiko stitches to make fabric stronger, then get the thread designed for Sashiko.

 

  1. How do you want to age your thread?

 

The color is very much up to your preferences. In our online store, UpcycleStitches.com, we have more than 50 colors available to choose from.

 

I personally prefer the natural dye Sashiko thread because we work on a lot of Japanese vintage fabric. The beauty of vintage fabric is the color created by the time passing, aging. In order to match the color of vintage fabric which the time created, the natural dye is the best choice: the synthetic dye can be too strong in contrast to the soft and aged vintage color. Another great point of using the natural dye is that the thread also changes colors over time. The beauty of fading color together, vintage fabric and natural dye thread, with integrating each other because of the unique twist is the most important concept for our Sashiko project. We believe the beauty of Boro is there as well.

 

The quality of synthetic dye Sashiko thread is as good as the natural dyes. It is just the difference of colors and dye materials.

 

All of those said I recommend the thread satisfying these following qualifications.

 

  1. Cotton 100%. The better cotton it is, the better thread will be.
  2. A unique twist of Sashiko Thread. You gotta find the best twist you would like by experimenting.
  3. How much it gets frayed over stitching. Not too much being frayed. I do not like the frayed thread. However, not too tight to avoid any damage to the fabric as well as enjoying the Sashiko result.

 

The Sashiko thread we sell to in the USA as well as worldwide is satisfying all of the qualifications I mentioned. We sell them simply because we like them. We use them on a daily basis and we are confident that the customers will be happy with the quality. Also, we can share some techniques and wisdom by providing exactly the same Sashiko thread as we use.

 

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that.

All of the tutorials I share on Youtube and my website is based on the fact that the viewers are using the same supplies and tools. For example, Kasane (The overlay stitching to not to make the knot) may not work with non-Sashiko Thread. I can assist you if you have a problem with that technique in using our thread, but if you are using other brand thread, the first thing you can try is to switch the supply. It may be the thread not doing the job instead of you doing the overlay stitching in wrong way.