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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cotton 100%. The better cotton it is, the better thread will be.
- A unique twist of Sashiko Thread. You gotta find the best twist you would like by experimenting.
- 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.