Support Sustainable Sashiko Community Cover

Support Sustainable Sashiko Community | with you

After the article (and Instagram post) with honest feeling, I received many kind words that I can be just who I am. So, I share another honest feeling that I would like to ask for the support. I once wrote the article about supporting our activities. This is a follow-up article (with more honesty) asking you to support sustainable Sashiko community, with you.

*It is not my strength (nor culture) to ask a favor straightforward, so I wrote the previous article as a way to share the supporting options we would appreciate if you choose. However, the more we spread our activities, the more kinds of people we encounter. I know they all mean well, but sometimes, it can be stressful for us to maintain the service we provide. To continue what we are proud of, your help would be so much appreciated. This is a favor for you to support Sustainable Sashiko community.

Two major supports we would ask you

  • Spread the words, especially reviews online.
  • Be part of our community on Youtube

To be honest, keeping a “business” with Sashiko (or a hand-crafting) is not easy at all. Without my determination (the passion in Sashiko after so long & many detours in my life) and support from my family & friends, I wouldn’t choose to even start his journey.

So, I (kind of) don’t consider what I do as “business” much (When I define business as the activity to maximize the return on capital). I feel “Upcycle Stitches & What I do” is more like my life-mission for me to support everyone in Sashiko field, including Keiko as the main subject to support.

In order for me to continue this journey, a bit of your time would be a great & massive help. “Support Sustainable Sashiko Community” is more like “Please help me out to maintain the community for Sashiko practitioners and make Sashiko more sustainable.” Again, your time to read this article, and leave the feedback in the future are very much appreicated.


Spread the words

We believe that we provide the best support and customer service for one human-being is capable of. When you had any kind of business or communication with us (probably with Atsushi if it is in English), please spread the words, especially when it is a Positive experience. Your positive review on our website and other selling channel will save us a lot of troubles.

I am a customer in a different occasion, so I understand the situation very well. We, as customers, tend to leave the feedback when we encounter something disappointing (which result in leaving the negative feedback). When we receive a good service, we kind of forget to leave the positive feedback. Therefore, I sincerely appreciate those who left the feedback on our website and Etsy, where I directly communicate with the customers. It isn’t natural to do so in these busy days.


Amazon is a bit tricky because the customers do not see me as a person who is sharing Sashiko (They think they do business with Amazon). The customers tend to not to leave the feedbacks when they received the good service and what they expected. They tend to leave the “negative” feedback to seek for the solution when they had some disappointment or misunderstanding. When an issue arises, we will do out best to resolve the issue, but there are certain things we cannot help, especially when the customer didn’t read the product description or “notes” to provide the better customer experience.

Because of this ratio of positive and negative feedback available in the market, it becomes challenging to keep the good Amazon store for the small hand-crafting business owner. I would like to keep the Amazon Store running because sometimes people prefer Amazon & its fast shipping (I ship as early as within the same day, but 2 days prime is not beatable). I would like to do everything I can to support the Sashiko life. So, this is my favor regarding the spreading words: Please leave the reviews (possibly the positive one) if you had purchased something on our Amazon Storefront. It will reduce my stress and help me to keep this journey with Amazon.

On top of that, please spread the words that we (Keiko & Atsushi) exists to share the passion in Sashiko. The most active media would be in Instagram and Youtube. Since we don’t have a budget for “advertisement”, your words means a lot to us.


A community on Youtube and Instagram

The second favor is to be more active on our socializing platform. I make myself available for questions and Sashiko stories on Wednesday at 9 pm Eastern Time on Youtube. When I receive a comment in English, I would answer that by switching the language.

I may have written something scary to reach out to me. The content of the article was about the Japanese manner in contacting me for the questions and request via email being “too casua”. Instead of the email as more like a private communication method, I have SNS platform for you to be more casual and friendly and share (ask me) your questions.

The same question I got upset, like asking “What do you think of Boro” would be perfectly fine on Youtube Live streaming because I am there anyway. Unless I can keep stitching, I am happy to answer your question (Please understand that the Live-streaming is not a tutorial or workshop opportunity, so I will not answer to the request for teaching something.)

Your participation to those Youtube & Instagram would be very much appreciated to support Sustainable Sashiko Community.


Other support we would appreciate

I convinced myself to share the “favors” very specific and directly above. However, there is another list of favor that I still have the fear to show myself completely. Although I am getting better in writing “honestly” even with negative feelings (fear, anger, and such), I still cannot let myself ask you strongly to follow what I want. It is probably a beautiful part of my Japanese mindset that I respect a choice by others. So again, here is a list of options that you could support us through.

*Please check the previous article for the detail.

  1. Purchase items from us
    • There are many choices to get the Sashiko items (thread, fabric, and tools) from. By choosing us, you are directly supporting our business activities. It means you are supporting the sustainablity in business activity.
  2. Be a patron via Patreon
    • Still trying to figure it out, but when we do not worry about our daily living expenses, we are sure that we can provide better service. Your support through “supporting the artist” platform would be very much appreciated.
  3. Provide us an opportunity
    • As of now, Upcycle Stitches has only Atsushi to provide the workshop and services. Toward the future, we may be able to expand… in that case, your support to provide the opportunity to talk about Sashiko & our activities in your place would be very much appreciated.
  4. Any other forms of support would be appreciated
    • In the previous article, I also mentioned about the donations and such. It is very much appreciated, but any forms of support would be great as well. We don’t have a budget to outsource any of our works, so your support in form of “Pro bono” would be sincerely appreciated. I will come up with a list of supports I would appreciated.

Support Sustainable Sashiko Community Needle
Support Sustainable Sashiko Community – We need this needle to keep our journey.

What “Support Sustainable Sashiko Community” means

There is a reason I used the word “sustainable” in this article. It isn’t because of catchy phrasing. I sincerely hope to support the “Sustainability” in Sashiko.

One of our pride in Sashiko is that we respect the other business in Sashiko industry. For thread, for fabric, for needles. We try to have business with long-established and similar-minded company.

Do you know how a traditional craft run out of its business?

Many people think the traditional business run out of business because of the financial situation, like a bankruptcy. The other may think that the business is no longer viable because of the lack of younger artisans.

However, in fact, the traditional craft run out of its business and “vanish” from the society when “suppliers” went out of business. For example of Sashiko, when the thread manufacture we have business with goes out of business, we won’t be able to continue our activities even if we would like to.

Some of the items may be pricy in comparison to the other supply or tools. There is a reason behind the pricing. We are carefully choosing the company to purchase from (mainly we ask the manufacture to make for us anyway.)

Therefore, it is so important to be attentive who you are purchasing the item from. I want you to be the part of the good action – Support Sustainable Sashiko Community – | instead of the opposite – Enjoying Sashiko but kind of destroying the Sashiko community.

Although everything is revivable,

Any culture and crafting can be revived when the strong passion arise. Sashiko is the same, too. I believe, at some point of Japanese history, many form of Sashiko was lost because the Japanese simply didn’t need it any longer back then.

However, it is much easier to maintain what we have now rather than reviving a culture from scratch. I have been experiencing how difficult it is to find “documents” about Sashiko because we once lost it.

Your help – Support Sustainable Sashiko Community – would be so much appreciated. Thank you for your time to read this article.

Japanese manner when contact

Japanese manner when contact Atsushi about Sashiko

Our goal is to share the Sashiko we enjoy & love. It is our pleasure to receive a feedback and answer questions regarding Sashiko. However, over years, I have been receiving “too casual” inquires. Although I could have just ignored these emails, I decided to spare some of my time to share what is the Japanese manner when contact someone. Sharing the Japanese culture is one of my goals in sharing Sashiko and the Japanese culture related to that.

Japanese manner when contact someone.

While I am writing this, I start thinking if this is even a matter of cultural differences… but anyway, let me share the Japanese manner when contact someone over the email.

  1. Introduce who you are.
  2. Explain what you would like to the person to do with the details
  3. Explain what is the “benefit” of the person’s doing if it is for the first time.
  4. If you ask the question, make it specific

Umm… Your opinion as “Non-Japanese” would be very much appreciated here. Is this the manner only for Japanese? I kind of doubt it now.

Anyway.

If you are not following the steps above in contacting someone for the first time, the email will be considered very “rude”. Being polite and humble is very important in Japanese culture to share something professional. The person is contacting me because he/she is interested in Japanese culture AND Sashiko AND Boro. If he/she doesn’t follow those manners, then they have something else to learn first before Sashiko and Boro.


*I am not a perfect human being, so I forget the person’s name. I usually remember the workshop participants’ name and our customer’s name, but there is a possibility that I forget. It is my rudeness to proceed conversation with this type of misunderstanding, so it is very important that you introduce yourself.

So here is the detail explanation for each step if you are writing to me for the first time. If you have met me already in the workshop, there is no need to follow the procedure below. You are my friend already.


Introduce who you are

Please, please introduce who you are.

If you are writing for the first time, introduce who you are. Starting the email with “Hi Atsushi,” and ending the email by “Thanks! ○○○.” are considered very rude in the first communication.


Explain what you would like me to do with the detail.

You are contacting me because you want me to do something. I understand that. So, be specific. If you want me to write an essay of what I think about Sashiko, then share where those writing will be published (or even copy and pasted). If you would like to meet me or Keiko in person, then explain where, when, and the reason for your visit.

I was wondering you would want to meet me for the interview about Sashiko” is rude even if you own a publication. There should be a formal procedure to make things happen.


Explain why I should answer to your request

It is so surprising to me why everyone thinks I would like to work for them for their interest. Yes, it is my goal to share what Sashiko we enjoy is. However, the “too casual” conversation is already outside Sashiko mindset, so please do not misunderstand that I am a “google” who can provide the answer.

Therefore, explain the reason why I should work for your request.

Again, if you are a graduate of my workshops or a customer from my website, there is no need for the explanation. It can be a part of customer support and I would like to do as much as I can for the support I receive.

However, if you are the first time visitor, then what is the “benefit” I get for that kind of time that I use for your request.

Interestingly, there is a common thing for those who write the rude emails. They never offer the “commission” for what I do. The inquiry I receive with asking for the estimate of “commission” or “fee” are typically very polite and humble.

I am not asking for the money here. I am happy to work for free of charge if I can contribute something I value.

For example, if you are part of academic research (in an University) researching about Sashiko, I am happy to provide what I know.

If you are part of Non-profit organization to support the people (let’s say with hand-disability to do the rehabilitation), then I will do whatever I can without asking for the fee.

However, if you are just writing a blog or a book, or an editor on the web magazine, or an instructor of a hand-stitching workshop, then convince me why I would like to work for you with the detail.

It is just shocking to receive these email with many requests & “without the details”.


And lastly, and this is what makes me upset the most.

Make your question specific

Come on. If you are sending a professional to ask a question, be specific. I get numbers of questions saying

  • What do you think about Boro and/or Sashiko
  • Why do you think Sashiko and/or Boro is popular in Western Culture.

The worst question is

  • What is Sashiko? Can you explain that?

Just READ this website… or even watch the youtube… I started writing this blog in order to share the Japanese manner when contact to someone. Now I just realize this may be something universal… are those considered to be okay in the western culture…?

What a world do we live in now.


I am not that friendly after all.

I try to be as friendly as possible. However, I am not “everyone’s friend” after all. If the person took my workshop, I consider him/her friend. You can just email me saying, “hey, what’s up!”.

If the person has purchased some items from my website, I consider him/her as the supporter (Purchasing item from me means he/she is supporting my activities). The appreciation for support leads me to consider him/her my friend, and I will be happy to answer his/her questions and requests.

Interestingly, those who send me “casual (rude in Japanese culture) email” are the people who haven’t done anything above. I sometimes feel that they do not even read my website or follow SNS (Instagram & Facebook) to understand what I do.

If the one is looking for the “instant answer” by finding some of the photos about Sashiko or Boro, then I really do not want to answer the emails because those “instant communication” is the last thing I would like to share throughout Sashiko.

Also, those people who seek for the “instant answers” usually do not make a follow-up to the replies I make. I spent a good amount of time to reply to the email. Sometimes, I even make research to answer the questions. It is just unbelievable, and I sincerely hope it is more like the individual issue rather than the cultural issues.

By reading this article, if you think you are the one of many who made the mistake (and not have followed-up to the reply), please take this advise and do not make the same mistake again, especially because you are “interested” in Japanese culture.


I am upset and it is good that I care

I am pretty upset in writing this article.

However, I believe this anger is a positive emotion because I still CARE those who are interested in Sashiko. If a person is contacting me about Sashiko, I would like him/her to understand the humbleness & politeness in the Japanese culture (or for that matter, in non-Japanese culture as well).

As I keep saying, Sashiko is a process of stitching with CARE.

The contact I described above happen because the person with question didn’t have enough care to me and my time. I would like to change that. Be respectful to someone & his/her time would make this world a bit less stressful.

Again, I could have (and may have in the future) chosen the path to ignore these rude emails. However, it is not part of my activities of sharing the Sashiko we love. I hope we can learn from each other.

Learning Sashiko

What means by Learning Sashiko

“Sashiko & Boro is getting so popular, especially in Western Textile Culture.” The numbers of questions I receive tripled in 2018. Our goal as Upcycle Stitches is to introduce the beauty of Sashiko stitching and its mindset (culture & philosophy) behind it. I am happy to answer the questions regarding Sashiko. However, please understand that I (Atsushi) is the only one who can answer these questions in English among Sashi.Co & Upcycle Stitches. It would be great if viewers, readers, workshop participants, and ultimately anyone who is interested in Learning Sashiko read our website first before asking questions. Here is a list of things I want you to understand in Learning Sashiko.

It is also our responsibility to make it easy to find the answers. Here is the list of answers for the Sashiko frequently asked questions.


First of all, most importantly, please understand that What I want to share is NOT ONLY the technique but also the Culture (mindset and philosophy) of Sashiko.

I do teach Sashiko technique, but it isn’t everything. There are many stories to explain Sashiko, Boro and the Japanese people who developed this beautiful culture. I hope you enjoy learning Sashiko, not only the technique but also the culture & mindset.

You can find a series of stories in writing as well as on Youtube.


Learning Sashiko with Atsushi

It would be great to read this article before you jump into asking the questions. This is more like a manual to learn Sashiko from Upcycle Stitches & Sashi.Co (Keiko & Atsushi Futatsuya), with respecting each other, us and you.

1.  Most of the questions are explained already

I understand that it is my responsibility to make all the information accessable to find the answers easily, yet, most of the questions are already explained on this website and our Youtube Channel. Please spare some of your time to search the keywords in the website or read through some of the latest blog posts. You probably will find the answer to a question you have right now.

Anyhow, it is my job to make it easy. I am working on another website with easy categories & FAQ page where you can find answers very easily.

Beta Version of Upcycle Stitches Sashiko Databese here.

The most Sashiko frequently asked questions (which you can find the answers here) are:

  • How to transfer the pattern onto the fabric
  • Why does Atsushi leave a loop in Sashiko Stitching
  • How to not to make knots in the beginning and ending of Sashiko Stitching

The workshop (Online and in NYC) will teach you everything in the well-organized package. At the same time, if you read all of the blog posts I write and watch all the tutorials video I upload, you can get a good grasp of what you need to know in enjoying Sashiko. It takes some time in learning Sashiko.


2. Understanding Sashiko Prerequisite.

Upcycle Stitches offers several kinds of Sashiko Workshops. We ask all the participants to take the Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Core & Basic) regardless of the level of participants’ sewing skill. It seems that “Unshin (運針) = the needle movement to make running Sashiko stitch” is quite unique for many people. After sharing the Sashiko workshop with more than 150 participants, I have never met anyone who knew or mastered the needle movement prior to the Sashiko Workshop.

You may have learned Sashiko from other instructors. You may have been enjoying Sashiko based on books of how to do Sashiko for more than decades. I respect those instructions and your skill. However, in order to be fair to everyone who takes the Sashiko Workshops that Upcycle Stitches offers, “Everyone” needs to be on the same page. So please consider taking the Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Core & Basic). If you aren’t 100% sure how to use the thimble, the workshop will be an eye-opening experience.

If you are 100% confident that you know how to use the round-shape thimble and the needle with appropriate posture, please contact Atsushi with a video filming your hand-stitching. I am happy to review the video and decide if you can be qualified for the other Sashiko Workshop. Please make sure you watch some of Atsushi’s stitching on Youtube before sending the video.

[Side Note]

Some people seem to understand that I set this prerequisite because I just want to do more basic and core workshop. No, it is NOT about my preference. I hope I can share the various Sashiko Workshops to anyone who is interested. However, I can anticipate (and had experienced) that the participant without the basic understanding Sashiko will take other participantsants‘ time in the advanced workshop. I proceed the advanced workshop as everyone knows how to use the thimble and needle. And the one without the proper information & practice will have a pile of questions. The Prerequisite is NOT my personal preference. It is the requirement to keep my workshop fair to everyone who respects what I would like to share.

Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Core & Basic) doesn’t have any prerequisite or previous experience. It would be nice if you have the basic sewing skills such as threading the needle and such, but not necessary.


3. Sashiko Philosophy comes before Business

Some people may find me difficult to work with. In 2017 and earlier 2018, I thought it is because of my unique personality or character that is making some communications difficult.

However, at the same time, it is interesting to find out that I have had no problems with some people (customers & workshop organizers). In contrast, I could feel that some of them were frustrated to work with me, like emailing or phone conversation. I barely experienced it when I was working in Japan, so I kept thinking how I could improve it. It is always good to have the smooth and comfortable conversation, right?

After several unfortunate and uncomfortable experience, I learn what is the cause of this difficulty.

I put Sashiko Philosophy first before making it Business (=convenience to the customer).

Upcycle Stitches LLC is a for-profit legal entity. Please do not misunderstand that I work as a Non-Profit or other mutual organization. I work as a business, make a profit out of my activity, and pay Tax and support sashiko culture in Japan & in the world. However, Upcycle Stitches & myself (Atsushi) have a very vivid and strong philosophy in our business activities = introduce Sashiko and its mindset (Culture). In order to achieve this mission, our philosophy comes first before making our activity profitable (business-like), like making it convenience or attractive to the customer (& participation).

I share a few examples.

Easy to get a replacement but it is NOT Sashiko.

When a person takes the workshop after the first “Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Core & Basic)”. I always ask him/her to bring the needle & thimble I provided in the first workshop. I do not include the needle and the thimble in the second or 3rd workshop.

Some participants may think: “why is Atsushi making it so difficult? It is only a thimble and a needle. Why isn’t it available in the workshop and why do we have to bring these?” Some organizer may feel: “It is wrong to put customer convenience so low. It is the organizer’s responsibility to make it easy and, if the cost of preparation is not significant, it should be available regardless. It will lead to the better customer satisfaction.”

Yes. I understand that the business is about how to make the customer happy. If there is a way to make a customer happier, we should follow that. I agree with it and I am trying to do as much as I can for that. However, when customer convenience across the sashiko philosophy I would like to share, I respect the philosophy first.

Sashiko was a form of stitching developed in “Poverty.” They probably didn’t have the second needle because of their situation. Therefore, they appreciated what they had: fabric, a thimble (probably not metal), thread, and everything they used. The Japanese believed the Animism, in which every material have a spirit (God) in it. Providing the materials for the workshop participants are very important. However, I cannot agree with the idea of “getting everything ready for you without respecting the culture they are about to learn.” Sashiko & Boro, the basic concept is “Repair (Mend) instead of Replace.” Why do I encourage the participants to replace what they already have?

I am not saying it is the absolutely bad thing to NOT to bring the tools she/he received.

The accident can happen. They can lose them unintentionally. It could bend, damaged, destroyed, anything. I will prepare the numbers of tools ready before the workshop for “Purchase” just in case someone had an unfortunate event to lose them. Telling the participants that they do not have to bring anything, in fact, encourage people to “forget about what they already got”, and that is what I would like to avoid.

For the “professionalism” about me as the lecture, you can trust what I provide as a professional Sashiko lecture. I will do everything to deliver what we agree on regarding Sashiko. For the topic above, “wasting what they have” is one example of communication error which could potentially develop a bigger conflict.

Reusing the Packaging supply

For some of the Online Orders, I reuse the packing supply we got from our private (or business related) purchase from other online businesses. Of course, the accurate delivery with clean and neat packaging is the must for business. We set the standard, and yet, we try to reuse the packaging supply.

It is easy to dispose of things now.

However, we would like to try to balance it out, as much as we can, to be customer friendly and ecologically.

(Please don’t worry to much. I am not trying to go extreme on this. We package every box/envelops very carefully. The water damage is the worst so we seal them very tightly. Although It may not be “fresh shipping supply,” we try 100% our best to “Care” how you would receive the package. We put care rather than using the brand new clean packaging.

I would like you to understand that even one packaging is an opportunity of Learning Sashiko.

4. Try to be “reasonably” responsive

You will be surprised how quick I make a reply to the emails or inquiries. Some of you may have experienced it, and you will receive the email as fast as in a few minutes. The reason is that I cannot “hold” tasks and work something else. I receive so many emails every day and if I do not reply it when I see it, I will probably forget to reply it after all. So when I get a message, I just reply without even prioritize it.

Please respect this “a bit crazy” e-mail exchange, and try to be on-Time (reasonably responsive).

I am not saying you should be replying to me in hours. However, please make a reply within a few days if you are interested in receiving more information. After a few days, like 5 days, I will lose the concentration to the topic and you may not get the full response.

And, PLEASE READ WHAT I WRITE.

English isn’t my first language. As much as I would like to make it simple and short, the writing tends to be long, especially when I need to explain the situation more. Please read them even if the email is long. If I wrote it that long, it means there is something YOU NEED TO KNOW in that email.

If you do not receive the reply within a few days from me, the reply would be sent to your junk email box or some other accidents happened in email delivery. Please contact me for the follow up. When I do not receive the “reply” to the reply I make, I understand that the conversation is completed.


5. Learn by just Watching

Can you guess why I offer the “Live-Streaming” without any editing or modification? One live-streaming is at least 60 minutes long, and it may not be enjoyable video because I mainly talk in Japanese. However, I write the title in English, and I want everyone, including those who do not understand Japanese, to watch it and learn it. There is a mindset even in Learning Sashiko or other Japanese culture.

The Japanese craftsmanship (artisanship) has a tradition of “Learn by watching what the teacher (master) does.” I didn’t have any “class” or “workshop” in my life. I just watched the other artisans do Sashiko, and had to learn by just watching.

This applies to many Japanese professions. For example, in a traditional Sushi, a disciple for the first year will not be able to touch the rice or fish. For more than a year, he/she will be only allowed to wash the dishes and clean the restaurant. While he/she does his job, he is “allowed” to watch what master do. he/she may learn something by eating what the master didn’t finish.

Someone may think it is not efficient at all. They may say it is a waste of time and the masters should make a school where the disciples can learn how to make Sushi within a year or so with a well-organized curriculum.

To be honest, I agree with both.

I believe there is something one can learn by just watching what the teacher does for a long time, like thousands of hours. It is probably not only about the “technique” they can “learn” in the curriculum. I appreciate the wisdom we can get by spending so much time in one thing.

At the same time, to pass down the culture, it is also important to organize the information, technique, and skills into one package. A school, a workshop, a class… when they are well-organize, it is the most efficient way to learn something new.

Since I agree with both approach, I offer the both. The opportunities for anyone to watch what I do without editing and modifying. By watching what I do in Sashiko for more than so many hours (like more than 1,000 hours), you will probably get the core of Sashiko.

I understand that not everyone have more than 1,000 hours to watch my stitching. Therefore I have the workshop to systematically teach the participants Sashiko: what I learn by spending more than 30 years of my life.

The goal of Upcycle Stitches is to share Sashiko as well as the Japanese culture behind Sashiko. As much as I am an amateur in marketing and advertising, I try my best to put thoughts into what I do. From time to time, I get emails or contacts giving me some advise, like “You should make a short version of your stitching so the video catches the viewers attention.” Or “I don’t have time to watch your long videos. Make it shorter and direct to the point.”

Well… I guess I do not have to actually write what my replies to those “advice” will be like.

I hope I shared the mindset I developed over time in Learning Sashiko. The online workshop will be ready soon, Spring 2019.

Sashiko Frequently Asked Questions Cover

Sashiko Frequently Asked Questions

Since I started introducing Sashiko online (here and Youtube)in 2017, I have been receiving many questions. As a group of Sashiko artists, we would like to provide all the answers and solutions regarding Sashiko. To achieve the goal, please take a look at this list of Sashiko Frequently Asked Questions. I have been receiving similar questions, and your question is probably someone’s question. I will keep updating this list of Sashiko Frequently Asked Questions

[last updated in 2019]

Sashiko Frequently Asked Questions

Please find your question and the answer to that below. If you do not find the answer, please contact Atsushi for more information. I will add your question to the list to make an answer.

About Sashiko Supply and Tools


What kind of thread can I use for Sashiko Stitching?

Frankly speaking, you can use ANY KIND of thread for Sashiko stitching. However, in order to fully enjoy the Sashiko experience we would like to introduce, please consider getting the Sashiko thread from us. Some of the technique and wisdom do not function when you use non-Sashiko thread or even the Sashiko thread from the other manufacturers.

This is one of the most frequent questions. Please find the article explaining about the Sashiko Thread.

I also explain “Why” Sashiko thread is so important on Youtube. It is because of the purpose of the thread, not only the quality but the thread itself have a different purpose in stitching.


What kind of fabric should I use?

To be honest, any kinds of fabric would be fine for Sashiko stitching. I prefer the good quality cotton 100% fabric, preferably woven in the Japanese traditional style. However, any kinds of fabric, silk, canvas, and anything else you have in your house may work as a good Sashiko fabric.

For some tips, if I had the same budget, I would spend it toward the thread. The appropriate Sashiko thread makes a lot of difference in the result.

Please find the video of me enjoying the “cheapest fabric” that I can get from the retailer.


Sashiko Stories


What is the difference between Boro and Sashiko?

Sashiko is a form of hand-stitching (=process), and the Boro is an ultimate result of repeating Sashiko. The definition of each word, Sashiko and Boro, can be wide-interpreted, but Sashiko and Boro are not equal. In the Japanese language, Sashiko can be a verb, but Boro doesn’t work as the verb.

More information can be found on Youtube Video.


Sashiko Wisdom


What is Sashiko? Your Sashiko looks different from mine.

It is a whole purpose of this website to introduce the Sashiko we enjoy. For the quick start, please watch the Youtube video here.


Which side of the fabric should I draw/transfer pattern on?

Traditionally, we draw/transfer the pattern on the “hiding” side. The “hiding” side can be called “wrong side” or “bad side”. In short, we transfer the fabric on the side people will not look at much. The finished side will be on the other side of stitching. However, there is no rule for that. You can stitch from either side. I simply follow the tradition, and the Japanese traditionally performed Sashiko from the “hiding” side because they wanted to both side beautiful (presentable) in a poor economic situation.


Why do you make loops during the stitching?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions from our Youtube Channel. I understand it because I often make loops when I make stitching in Live Streaming. I wrote a blog post about it to share the reasons for loops.


What do you do with the thread tale & loops after Sashiko.

We stitch from the back side (wrong side = hiding side with lining) fabric. All of the thread tales from the Kasane (Overlay stitching) and loops are going to be on the back side you are looking at.

We clip all of the thread tales and loops after the stitching & putting the fabric into the water. By doing Kasane, when you use the appropriate thread, the stitches will be secured in a process of putting the fabric through the water and drying it.

When we plan to use both side as the finished side, we clip all the Sashiko thread tales and loops (In fact, when we use both side as the finish side, I do not leave the loops). However, it is more common to put lining on the back side, so we leave some amount of thread tales and loops.


How do you stop the stitches without a knot?

There is no problem of making a knot when you end the stitching with Sashiko. However, traditionally, we do not make a knot to secure the stitching. Please find a video of “how to NOT to make a knot.”


My fingers and wrist hurt after making the stitch. Is it normal?

Umm… the pain isn’t normal. I can keep on stitching for hours of times and will not have any pains on my finger or wrist. Please check my actual stitching, and see what is the difference. If you can take my workshop (In NYC or Online), I should be able to give you more specific solution.


In order to grasp the quick overview of Sashiko, Youtube videos are the best way. I have been creating some videos explaining what Sashiko can do, so please take a moment to watch the Sashiko “Stories”.

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 Challenge Jacket Cover

Sashiko Challenge Jacket – Connecting Artisans

Sashiko existed in ordinary days of the ordinary Japanese people, hundreds of years ago when Japan was still isolated from the other part of the world. We, as Sashi.Co & Upcycle Stitches, try to trace how the Japanese have created some Sashiko big pieces, like a Jacket or patchworked tapestry. Back in 17 century, Sashiko was either a product within a family or by a group of women in a local community. In 2019, Keiko and I try to make “it” happen by connecting artisans over Internet and logistics. This is our Sashiko Challenge Jacket by Atsushi’s friends in Japan, class of 2018.

*The blog is mostly translated from the Sashi.Co Article in Japanese.

Sashiko’s transition in its history

Sashiko was probably like a house chore for women. A not long time ago, in some region, the Japanese women were not allowed to sit down while the other family members were awake; the only time the women could sit down was when they use the bathroom, and stitch. It is a story from my friend.

Some women were proud of what they did, by being good at stitching. Asking mother-in-law to help her to stitch was so shameful for a Japanese woman. Therefore, they visited stitching (Sashiko) master and asked for the advise, like sharing their hand-moving and the patterns for Sashiko. As long as I assume, they didn’t have a type of “class” or “workshop”, so they visited the skilled friend and asked them to stitch together, so they could learn by just watching what the master (so-called) does.

After the severe era ended, Sashiko became more like a culture instead of survival. As Sashiko became a choice instead of necessity, the Japanese started forming a “guild” and “company” to enjoy Sashiko more, to pass down Sashiko to the next generation. We have several guilds left, and my family is one of those who tried to apply Sashiko to the new form.

At the same time, Sashiko became somewhat a form of “Community”. Both in necessity and culture, it was their enjoyment to make something together, sharing the stitching experience. Sashiko probably started its form as the individual work, but then Sashiko extended its possibility to be a medium of sharing the experience, both positive and negative, happiness and complaints in the ordinary days. We can see many beautiful pieces that the “community” made a long time ago.

I learned the power of “Community and Sashiko” throughout the experience in Northern part of Japan after the Earthquake in 2011. Although Sashiko is ultimately a time by oneself, stitching with the needle on the fabric, we can share a lot of fun and create something incredible by getting together.

It was the life-changing experience for me to support the Tsunami Survivor in Norther part of Japan, in 2011 and 2012.

Internet makes “it” happen.

In order to fully enjoy the “Community Sashiko,” he/she had to be in the community physically. Unless he/she lives in one of the small towns famous for Sashiko stitching, it is difficult to even find a friend who shares the same enjoyment of Sashiko. (You are lucky if you have someone who can share the same passion!) Therefore, many people tend to think Sashiko is just making a small coaster or kitchen items. It is more than that.

Now, the Internet can change this restriction. It can form a “community” without being there physically. “Sashiko Challenging Jacket” is a project of connecting Atsushi’s friends in Japan, all over Japan, to one place where Keiko lives, and then we make a Jacket together, over the Internet and logistics – until the day we all got together for one Sashiko project.

UnshinKai – Brief Sashiko Workshop

As a part of my activities to introduce Sashiko to the world, I had offered several “Brief Sashiko Workshop” in my mother language, Japanese, so-called Unshinkai (運針会 = a gathering for needle movement). UnshinKai is also the preparation & practice process of Sashiko Online Workshop in English and Japanese.

UnshinKai is Atsushi’s activity to share how fun the “moving a Sashiko needle” is. Because of the rich information availability (Books, Videos, and kits) in the Japanese language, there are many Sashiko fans who know about Sashiko. UnshinKai is a place to share (&teach) how to move the needle efficiently, rhythmically, and with more fun. Technically speaking, the participants are Atsushi’s students. However, since I do not like being called as teacher (and Sensei), I prefer considering them as my Sashiko friends.

Sashiko Challenging Jacket” is a project by Atsushi’s Sashiko friends. If I use Music as the analogy, Keiko (as the designer) is the conductor and my friends are the musicians on the stage. They have their own rhythm and favorite stitching size. Keiko only provide the instruction of pattern and colors of thread. The speed, size of stitch, and how “unique” it is would be their musician’s choice.

The packages of materials are dispatched already. Some of the fabric with their own Sashiko stitching are coming back. It is Keiko’s work to combine together, and make a Sashiko jacket out of community over Internet. Sashiko Challenge Jacket is coming in 2019.

Sashiko Challenging Jacket -1
Each pattern is different. They are designed by Keiko to be part of her idea – Sashiko Challenging Jacket – with hand-dye Sashiko Thread.
Sashiko Challenging Jacket -2
So far, 15 of us. It will be quite something.

To the world. With more friends.

The Sashiko Challenge Jacket is our first step to make my dream come true. To make a community where people can join with just one common thing – a love to Sashiko: without any pressure, fear, worry – completely judgemental free zone.

It is very important for me to secure the community first before opening it to the public. Therefore, I wanted to start with the “beta-version” with my friends who understand our philosophy and Sashiko.

The experience from UnshinKai (& Online Workshop in Japanese) and Atsushi’s Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Core & Basic) will be combined soon so we can offer the long-waiting, Sashiko Online Workshop.

After the online workshop (or Atsushi’s Sashiko Stitching Workshop in NYC), I would like to make a community where people can share their passion to the Sashiko. I hope, one day, I can offer the similar project to the world. (There are many more challenging because of international logistics are not as easy as domestic one.)

Sashiko Challenging Jacket
We all can be the part of this. Bear with me.

Bear with me. We are not gonna go anywhere.

After all, I am Japanese.

I view things from Japanese cultural perspective, and my expectation to the things are the same as the other Japanese. I feel easy in speaking Japanese, and therefore most of my live streaming is in Japanese.

My goal is to share Sashiko to the world. As much as I try to be open-minded, I would like ask people to understand us.

If my goal is to share only the technique, I probably can do a workshop as quick as tomorrow. However, I want people to understand the background, and mindset of Sashiko when they enjoy Sashiko stitching. I am moving forward, little by little, but surely. I will update the information of this Sashiko Challenging Jacket as well as the future project in English here.

One day. We will enjoy Sashiko more, “together”. Until then, please follow us to understand what we think, feel, and value on. After so many life-events of dispatching us from Sashiko, we decided we will not give up on our fate.

Keiko’s unique pattern, with collaborating the traditional pattern. Sashiko Challenging Jacket is based on this pattern. The difference is, we will do it “together”.