Stitched Sashiko and Woven Sashiko

Stitched Sashiko and Woven Sashiko in History

I received a question regarding “Aikido Gi (合気道着 = Uniform for Martial Art called Aikido)” with Sashiko. The famous fashion website, Heddles.com, released the article below, and I understand why I received a question about what we do in Sashiko. Although I don’t find it much value in categorizing many forms of Sashiko, I have been trying to “define” what Sashiko is. I thought it may be a good opportunity to introduce my understanding of the difference between “Stitched Sashiko and Woven Sashiko.” There is one basic distinction there.

 

The History of Sashiko – Repair, Decoration, and Martial Arts

 

Stitched Sashiko and Woven Sashiko 3

 

 

 

As the article says, “Sashiko Style” it is.

First of all, please understand that I am NOT making any criticism of the article. The article is very well-written and accurate in my understandings. A few “wording” could confuse the readers, and I believe the question I received is because of “good editing (The article didn’t fully explain to make the article compact and improve the readability)”

 

As the article says,

The martial arts Gi worn in Aikido has been, for quite some time, woven in the sashiko style.

 

This pretty much answers to the question. The martial arts Gi were “woven” in the Sashiko “Style”, not Sashiko stitched. In order to clarify what Sashiko is, I define Sashiko is the “Stitched” items. Therefore, I do not categorize Woven Sashiko as the authentic Sashiko.

Woven Sashiko is often called “Sashiko-Ori” or “SashiOri”. It creates the Sashiko-like looking with the unique technique to make the textile. It is not the matter of which is better or not. It is the matter of preference and the difference of origin & its purpose.

 

Regardless, please understand that I have sincere respect for those who continue producing the woven Sashiko. It requires a lot of skill & techniques, and only honorable artisans can do that.

 

History of Martial Arts and Sashiko

I just wanted to make sure if I appropriately understand the timeline (history) of Sashiko and martial arts. This is a result of quick research.

*Please kindly let me know if I made a mistake in the description below. I do not mean to disgrace the history or someone’s culture.

 

Many Japanese Martial Arts formed “Do (道 = Way)” after Edo period after Japanese opened the country over the national isolation. Sashiko was largely performed in many areas in Japan over the national isolation, which is before the martial arts start forming their own way. The most popular martial arts in Edo period was with a sword, which leads to Kendo later on (剣道 = sword fighting). We can find the hand-stitched Kendo Gi (Uniform) in the history. Also, the firefighter in Edo period wore the jackets with hand-stitched Sashiko.

After the Meiji period, the weaving and textile manufacture started producing the textile inspired by Sashiko stitching. They used the unique technique to weave the stitched patterned textile. Because of its thickness and durability, people started using the textile to make their Dogi (道着 = martial arts uniform). We can see it in Aikido, Judo, and Kendo.

 

I believe the hand-stitched martial art uniform still exist. However, it is not the mainstream because of its price. Instead, the Dogi, which requires a type of mass-production use the weave Sashiko textile. That’s the hisotry behind the sentence of Haddels, “Sashiko Style.”

 

 

The difference between Stitched Sashiko and Woven Sashiko

My intention to write this article is to share my understanding of what is the difference between Stitched Sashiko and Woven Sashiko. Please understand that I am not comparing and ranking these two cultures. Both of them have a great history, and both of them are great Japanese culture. After all, it is about your preferences and availability in the society.

Here, I would like to mention a few points that differentiate Stitched Sashiko and Woven Sashiko significantly.

 

Stitched Sashiko and Woven Sashiko 5

 

Sashiko stitching for the ordinary people. Anyone can do that

I believe Sashiko was (is) an ordinary needlework that the ordinary Japanese practiced in the necessity. The people performed Sashiko for the purpose of mending, repairing, strengthening, and decorating the fabric. Anyone could do that in their household, and anyone can enjoy Sashiko without much preparation now. This simplicity is one of the key point of Sashiko; that one person can make stitches for their need.

 

I call the process, “Caring”, that the person is thinking of someone by making Sashiko stitch. It was a culture within a household for a long time. In contrast, Woven Sashiko requires machines and investment. It is a culture of industrialization, I would say.

 

Stitching for Caring. Woven for Spreading

 

Again, there is nothing wrong with industrialization. The woven Sashiko requires a lot of skill and experience to produce. Woven Sashiko spread the Sashiko Style Textile in martial arts uniform and it created its name, “Sashiko Ori”. They are beautiful, and I have some items with Woven Sashiko.

Hand-stitched Sashiko wouldn’t be able to spread that much since it takes so much time to make one Jacket. If a Dojo (道場 = a training hall) has 30 students, let’s say, hand-stitched Sashiko wouldn’t satisfy their need so efficiently.

 

One of the beautiful Japanese mindset that I like is Chudo (中道 = Middle way).

In other words, we (the Japanese) sometimes do not make the final decision of black or white and keep it in gray color. In modern society where the solid answer and solutions are required, it won’t lead the person to the success if he/she doesn’t have the logical and clear conclusion.  However, when we care someone, it is good to have this non-dualism mindset. So, please understand that I am not saying which is better or not, either Stitched Sashiko and Woven Sashiko.



							
Sashiko Rules Asanoha Pattern

Sashiko Rules | Right & Wrong in Sashiko Stitching?

One of the frequent questions I receive when I actually show my Sashiko stitching is that I am not following the “correct way of Sashiko.” In conclusion, I believe that there is not such a thing as Sashiko Rules. Therefore, there is No “right” and “wrong” in Sashiko Stitching. No regulations. No Bad Sashiko.

What I teach & share is a technique (hint) to make the better Sashiko, more beautiful Stitches, and Sashiko stitching with comfortable hand-movement. It is an advice, not the rule. It is always your choice to follow any information. I just simply prefer the way my Sashiko goes.

 

 

 

Should NOT lines cross in Sashiko Rules…?

“I learned that you should not cross the lines with stitches.”

Yes. Some Sashiko books & articles online suggested not to cross the stitches when the 2 or more lines cross. You may have understood that it i the absolutely bad thing to do to make the line crossed.

 

Me? I don’t really pay attention when the lines cross. What I pay attention to is if I can keep the same length of beautiful stitches. Here is a reason below.

 

Which Asano-ha do you prefer?

The reason is pretty simple. Which Asano-ha Sashiko patterns do you prefer?

I “can” follow the so-called the Sashiko rules of Asanoha pattern Sashiko to not to cross the lines. However, the Sashiko following the specific length and modify it leave the feeling of “artificial.” I would like to decide the size of stitching based on the project theme, not based on the Sashiko rules or regulations which someone made. I simply prefer the center or right Sashiko pieces on the photo. That’s why I keep saying there is no such a thing as Sasiko Rules.

 

Sashiko Rules Asanoha Pattern

 

Also, “No Rules Sashiko” is another reason I strongly recommend to learn how to transfer the patterns onto the fabric by yourself.

It is easier to purchase the “pattern pre-printed fabric” to have good Sashiko time. However, by learning how to draw & transfer the Sashiko pattern on the fabric, you will have the infinite possibility of your Sashiko project. Again, there are no rules. You can do whatever you want.

 

 

Sashiko is too ordinary to be the way of art.

 

Besides my personal preferences, I have several reasons for my belief that there is no rule for Sashiko.

Unlike Ikebana (Flower Art) and Chano-Yu (Tea Ceremony) which became considered as the way of Japanese art, Sashiko was too ordinary for many people to give it art status. As long as I know, there is no school for Sashiko, and there isn’t an organization to offer the types of certification. Sashiko was too ordinary for the Japanese to consider as the art.

 

In fact, the Boro, in form of the result of continuous Sashiko stitching, represented the poverty, and it was shameful for the Japanese to own so much Boros in their house. The people even buried the Boro fabric under the ground to hide the shame.

Sashiko Rules Boro

 

Since Sashiko was too ordinal, there are many kinds of Sashiko in Japan. I would say, the rural location with snowy winter & surrounded by mountain (or ocean) have the Sashiko culture or similar to that. The limited logistic to the fabric supply & limited opportunity for the winter labor developed the culture of Sashiko. In Japan, as you can see on the map, there are many locations that fulfill the requirement to be “Sashiko Place.” 

 

It is simple. Therefore you can make your own Sashiko.

 

It is interesting to see people disappointed when I tell them that there is no rule in Sashiko.

Well. Sometimes, it is easier to learn the new craft when rules and regulation limit your ideas. It is easier to follow the direction rather than creating your new one. I understand that. I try to answer the market demands by creating the DIY Sashiko kit and starter kit.

 

You may have some fancy image in Sashiko.

In reality, Sashiko is merely a technique of hand-stitching the Japanese developed from poverty. I respect Sashiko. However, I believe Sashiko shouldn’t something you should suffer to learn for decades. It is very simple. Therefore, there is infinite of possibility to apply Sashiko to any other crafting, embroidery, and any kinds of project. My goal is to share the enjoyment of Sashiko. The mindfulness of hand-stitching, and the beauty of Sashiko & Boros.

 

I respect all the Sashiko works in the world. I may mention my preferences. However, I strongly believe there is no such a thing as “Wrong Sashiko” and “Correct Sashiko.”

I hope you enjoy Sashiko more with ease in mind.

 

Sashiko Pattern Preprinted or Transfer Pattern Yourself

I frequently get a common question when I talk about the process of preparing Sashiko project. “Which is better, to get Sashiko Pattern Preprinted Fabric or to transfer patterns oneself?”

My answer is always on the one with transferring pattern by yourself. Why? It is simply more fun when you have better control on your own Sashiko project. Sashiko isn’t only about stitching. It is about making your own favorite item with stitching your own preferable patterns. Therefore, I recommend learning how to transfer the Sashiko pattern onto your fabric. It isn’t difficult at all.

 

Easiness of Sashiko Pattern Preprinted Fabric

At the same time, however, I understand it seems like easy to just purchase the Sashiko Pattern Preprinted fabric. You can start stitching right after your package arrives.

There are many options available in the market. Especially for those with Japanese semantics patterns are very popular. When we had a shop in Japan, it was one of the best-selling items in the DIY section. Upcycle Stitches LLC carries some Sashiko Pattern Preprinted Fabric, too. Regardless of my preference or recommendation, I would like to follow the customers’ need.

 

Please do not ignore, however, that it is quite simple to transfer the pattern on the fabric. Although it may take a bit of practice to make it neat, the practice will be rewarding in your long journey with Sashiko.

 

Upcycle Stitches provide the tutorials online

Well. Yes. It may be easy for me to say it. I understand your worries.

Therefore, I uploaded a free online tutorial video how to transfer the Sashiko pattern onto the fabric. In the video, I introduce all the necessary materials to process it. Upcycle Stitches even sell the DIY kit for the practice of transferring the pattern with a reasonable budget.

Once you get used to it and keep the essential items in your box, it is completely up to your imagination to have Sashiko pattern on your Sashiko project. I want you to enjoy the freedom and the result with it.

 

 

 

Silk Screen the pattern for the bigger project.

 

The more I introduce Sashiko among my workshop participants, the more we understand the needs for Sashiko Pattern preprinted Fabric. Therefore, Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya and I start considering to invest into silk screen printing. This allows us to prepare a bulk number of pre-printed fabric for customers without adding enormous variable (labor) cost.

 

It is, however, going to be a big investment, and we would sincerely appreciate your support on our Patreon page. You will get the exclusive deals there, too. Also, we would like to know what kind of patterns would suit to the U.S. market. Would you prefer the traditional geometric patterns? Or something I like such as Kamon family patterns? I wouldn’t make the picture based patterns since the customers’ preferences would vary a lot.

 

  • A.Traditional Geometric Pattern

Sashiko Pattern Preprinted 2

  • B.Kamon Japanese Family Pattern

Sashiko Pattern Preprinted 3

 

 

 

Please let us know by leaving the comment. Which do you like better? Geometric or Kamon?

 

 

Sashiko Q&A cover

Sashiko Q&A | to introduce what Sashiko is

Here is a Sashiko Q&A to give you a general understanding of what Sashiko is. Please contact us if you cannot find the answer here. I will update the Q&A periodically to answer questions.

*Revising Ongoing. Send us your questions to enrich the Sashiko Q&A contents.

 

What is Sashiko? What is Boro? Any difference?

Sashiko is a form of stitching developed in Japan a few hundreds years ago.

In my definition, Sashiko is a process of repairing, mending, reinforcing, strengthing and decorating by hand stitching. Boro is a result of Sashiko or a piece of fabric work in the process of Sashiko. Boro (mean worn fabric in the Japanese language) doesn’t mean the technique or process. Sashiko doesn’t mean the product of Japanese symmetric patterns. Sashiko is a process, and Boro is the result. This is my definition in between them. You may use any kinds of fabrics, threads, or how many layers of fabrics to do Sashiko (typically 1 or 2 layers of fabrics). Boro can be anything unless it is the result of mending or repairing with patches: patching the worn part of the fabric.

 

I am still on the research to understand what Sashiko and Boro are. Please refer the links below to read more articles about Sashiko and Boros.

 

 

Where can I purchase your products listed online?

 

Almost every product I list online is for sale. If the price is listed, it is the last product the producer (either me or Keiko) decided the artwork is in the completed shape. If the price is not listed, the artwork is still under the small process to make them better. When the photos are listed, the product is almost ready to be in completed shape. Usually, the price is not listed because we feel “we could do something more.” Please contact us for the further details if you find something interests you. We will send you more information with the price.

Our artwork is “one-of-a-kind” product. Once it is gone, we will not be able to create the exact same one. We may ask you to let us have some time to take photos for the records.

Sashiko Thread Bulk Discount

Sashiko Thread Bulk Discount for Stitchers

Thanks to customers finding our Amazon Store, I am enabled to build a much bigger inventory for Sashiko thread. Since we have some allowance for the inventory, I will provide some Sashiko Thread Bulk Discount. A purchase of our Sashiko threads excluding  (Now including) the Natural-dyed thread throughout this website will be eligible for the discount based on the amount of your order. Please contact me first if bulk discount matches your interest, or simply use the coupon code available below in the rate table.

Without the effective code, the discount will not be applied.

 

Sashiko Thread Bulk Discount Rate

Here is a price table for the bulk discount. If you have question, please make sure to contact me first by mentioning “bulk discount,” and shop throughout the online store by using the discount coupon I issue to you, or available here.

Order of 10 Sashiko Thread Skeins  5% Discount*

Code: MANYTHANKS_5

Order of 20 Sashiko Thread Skeins 10% Discount*

Code: MANYTHANKS_10

Order of 50 Sashiko Thread Skeins 15% Discount*

Code: MANYTHANKS_15

Order of 100 and more Sashiko Thread Skeins  20% Discount*

Code: MANYTHANKS_20

*Depends on the stock, we may make the shipment from Japan. In that case, we cover all the possible shipping fees, custom, and duty.

*No other seasonal coupon may be used with this bulk discount.

*The coupon will deduct the percentage amount from the total price of your order of the Sashiko Thread on our online store.

 

Sashiko Thread Bulk Discount 2

 

A regular skein of our Sashiko thread has the length of 145 meters / 475 feet.

This is long enough to complete a few small Sashiko project. However, if you would like to try Hitomezashi stitching or a larger project such as Sashiko jackets, a few skeins would be great to keep in stock. Although I may promote our products with some seasonal discount on this website, such as Black Friday Deal, I promise that the discount code will not be more than 20%.

 

 

 

Sashiko Thread Wholesale

Upcycle Stitches LLC has not obtained the license for the wholesale business in the U.S. Therefore we do not offer an option to make a wholesale deal besides Sashiko Thread Bulk Discount. However, although we do not offer the wholesale price for now, please contact me if you would like to sell our products in your store and meet the requirement below. I may be able to help you as a curator to make a deal with Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya and other manufacturers in Japan.

Some of the possible agreements are following;

  • Agreement to purchase more than $2,000 of thread and/or products for the initial order. The wholesale rate varies depending on the amount of your purchase history.
  • Own a retail store with a physical store front.

 

I would love to visit your store to discuss not only the financial deal but the support we can provide regarding Sashiko. Please read the article about my plan, the Sashiko Road Trip.

 

This offer only applies to personnel/company who has the address in the US. If you live outside of US, and interested in being a distributor, please contact Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya for more information. We are happy to discuss the detail. For wholesale option in Australia, please contact our representative in Australia.

 

 

 

 

Sashiko Tools I recommend | I use them, of course

The word “Sashiko” is getting popular. There are several choices when it comes to choosing the tools. I occasionally get an inquiry about the Sashiko tools and materials I use. So here is the list of Sashiko tools I recommend, which is, of course, the Sashiko tools I use.

 

4 Sashiko Tools / Materials you need. Basically, that’s all you need.

 

  1. Sashiko Thread
  2. Fabric for Sashiko 
  3. Sashiko Needle
  4. Sashiko Thimble

*Each link goes to product page in our online store

 

You can use any kinds of thread clippers, but please be picky about these 4 Sashiko tools and materials. The result is hugely depended on the quality of these 4 things.

 

(1) Sashiko Thread

 

Sashiko Tools thread 1

 

Sashiko thread is the most important factor to get the best result after so many stitching. Coron Sashiko thread is one of the best quality Sashiko thread you can get, and the Sashiko thread we (as “Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya” and “Upcycle Stitches“) use daily. The Sashiko thread by different manufacturers are available online; but don’t risk your time-investment. This skein has 145 meters (475 feets). After all, the price isn’t that expensive in comparison to the thread from the other brands.

We have a selection of Coron Thread like below:

  • 15 mono-color (solid color) thread.
  • 5 variegated color thread
  • 2 Sashi.Co Original color thread
  • many kinds of “natural dye” thread (dyed by hands)

 

(2) Sashiko Fabric

 

Sashiko Tools Fabric

 

Although we use many kinds of fabric for Sashiko project, cotton fabric is always our preference. Cotton fabric with good amount of weight makes Sashiko stitching more beautiful in the result. Also, the contrast with Indigo-dyed fabric and white thread is one of the most well-known Sashiko combination.

 

(3) Sashiko Needle

An article about Sashiko needle

A long, sharp, and strong needle is necessary for Sashiko. Since the Sashiko thread is thicker than the other embroidery thread, the eye should be a bit bigger than the regular needle. If the eye is too big, however, the needle may destroy the fabric and stitching. Pay attention to the size of needle-eye, when you pick the needle.

 

Sashiko Tools needle

 

I use this needle. One size only. I do not change the size of the needle based on the variety of projects. The needle top is extremely sharp, so make sure you do not poke your finger to keep your fabric from dyeing to red.

 

(4) Sashiko thimble.

An article about Sashiko thimble | 

 

A dish-shaped, round thimble is the only thimble I use for Sashiko. I strongly prefer the metal thimble since it lasts longer. When you find a hole in the dish-shaped metal, replace it. It won’t happen so easily, but it definitely will happen if you spend a good amount of time for Sashiko.

It is unique for many hand-stitching people.

Using the thimble and needle is one of the core materials in my workshop. For those who cannot come to the workshop, I shared a tutorial video how to make Sashiko stitching with this thimble and needle. Check out our Youtube Channel.

 

The other tools and materials

I will make another blog to introduce the tools and materials I use. However, the difference between what I use and the one you use would be less significant comparing to these 4 key items I introduced today. Sashiko requires you a lot of time investing. I strongly believe that you should be rewarded for the time you spent on Sashiko. You enjoy doing Sashiko, and you and your surroundings enjoy the result.

I hope sharing my tools would help your Sashiko life.

 

 

Thread, Fabric, Needle and thimble are available online for purchase. Please check our store. If you don’t find it, leave the comments so I will add the item right after your comment. The most beautiful products we sell is “Natural Dye Sashiko thread dyed by Keiko Futatsuya. (The photo at the beginning of this article is about the Natural Dye Sashiko thread” They are so beautiful that some customers don’t want to use it. Well… I will write a blog about it, too.

 

Enjoy Sashiko!

Speech at FIT 2

Great questions in F.I.T Speech / Sashiko Presentation

More people are interested in Sashiko presentation, more than I thought.

 

I received many great questions in Sashiko Presentation. Now I need to answer after thinking through it.

 
To be honest, I didn’t think that people would be so interested in Sashiko presentation. Therefore, I tried to make it fun, to entertain the audience rather than boring “informative” presentation. I may have made a mistake. I probably should have made Sashiko presentation more informative and specific about Sashiko.

 

 

Sashiko Presentation

 

Regardless, I enjoyed the Sashiko presentation VERY MUCH. The audience made a nice welcoming atmosphere. I sincerely appreciate Joshua, who invited me, to Faces and Places in Fashion, at Fashion Institute of Technology.

 

Answering Questions is my responsibility

 

I feel that I didn’t answer to all great questions with my best possible answers. So I will use this website to share the questions from the audience and my sincere answer. I don’t have to make a joke to escape from tension (I always try to make people laugh when I am nervous on stage….)

 

I am not a professional designer or tailor, but I practice Sashiko as the professional.

Since there is an interest in Sashiko, it is my responsibility to share the answer. In other words, this could be my contribution to the society.

 

I will try to remember and list all the questions I received. However, if you happened to be one of the audiences of my Sashiko presentation, and found that I miss the question, please comment on any posts. I will definitely follow up. The blog will be in the category of Sashiko Q&A.

 

A Power of Repurpose.

The theme of my Sashiko presentation was “A Power of Repurpose”

Fabric gets value when we repurpose it; when we repair it with appreciation. I believe Sashiko is a process of repurposing the fabric. The power of purpose apply not only to the fabrics, but also everything around you, including human.

 

Making a public speech about Sashiko may be my life-work to introduce what Sashiko is, and how beautiful “repurpose” can be.

 

 

Please contact me if you are interested in my speech. I would love to talk to you and your friends.