Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya offers a variety of hand-made Sashiko Art, produced by Keiko Futatsuya and her company (friends). Keiko has more than 30 years of experience in Sashiko, and last 10 years she has been enjoying her work as the Sashiko designer and Sashiko producer. Her design with deep knowledge about Sashiko makes truly exclusive Sashiko arts with Japanese vintage fabric and BOROs.
Keiko Futatsuya, the ex-unsung hero to the artist in spot lights.
Until the year of 2014, the name of Keiko Futatsuya barely shows up in the media. She worked under the Sashiko business, and every Sashiko piece she directed was introduced with the brand name; not with her name. In 2015, she started her own brand, Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya. We are so happy to be able to bring her up to the stage of Sashiko arts. Her Sashiko arts are just stunning.
Sashi.Co means a group of people Keiko depends on
When we introduce Keiko’s work, people often ask if she makes all of the Sashiko art pieces by herself. The answer is “No”. However, she directs all of the Sashiko arts. She designs, she hand-stitch Sashiko, ask her friends to do bigger Sashiko, depends on the professional for tailoring and so on. We sincerely enjoy bringing their work to the USA.
Keiko Futatsuya is a founder of Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya and a Sashiko artist herself. What makes her so special is her Sashiko designing sense. She always surprises me with her new Sashiko design. I believe she is a type of genius in Sashiko designing.
30+ years of Sashiko experience
Keiko studied a dressmaking in vocational school after she had graduated high-school. When she was in early 20’s, she married to Yuichi Futatsuya, who was the second generation of Sashiko business. First, she wasn’t allowed to make Sashiko art pieces for sale since she was an outsider and didn’t share the traditions. However, regardless of strict restriction, she learned how to stitch from other Sashiko artisans and enjoyed the beauty of Sashiko. Even when her products didn’t line up on the store shelve, she kept making Sashiko art. It is simply because she liked Sashiko.
After so many years of Sashiko experience, Yuichi and I decided to shift the Sashiko business from “making many small products as craft” to “making one-of-a-kind art.” In the process of making one of a kind art, Keiko’s sense of Sashiko designing finally got a spotlight.
It isn’t easy to anticipate the result in Sashiko
In terms of Sashiko stitching, she doesn’t have the best skill. Although her Sashiko technique is sufficient to call her artist, her significance is to anticipate the result in Sashiko and Vintage Fabric combination. For example, a woman in her 70’s, who is also a part of Keiko’s Sashi.Co team, has the supreme Sashiko technique. Her hands move like a machine and Keiko strongly depends on her skill. However, the supreme Sashiko technique doesn’t connect to the ability to make a beautiful Jacket.
*Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya is a group of Sashiko artisans. Not all the Sashiko stitchings are done by Keiko, but everything is supervised by Keiko.
Keiko’s basic knowledge of dressmaking, her 30 years of observing and enjoying Sashiko, and her design sense make this completely exclusive collection possible.
It isn’t easy to anticipate the result of Sashiko product. It may look on a paper, on a computer screen, or even on a process of matching the fabric and thread. However, the result can be very different from what we imagined after stitching Sashiko on the actual fabric. It is the beauty of hand-making art.
Things Only Keiko Futatsuya can do
In addition to her Sashiko designing sense, she has a great technique to repair the BORO.
The 2 photos below is the Boro of before and after. In order to complete this challenging repair project, the artist has to have an understanding of the vintage fabric, good Sashiko techniques, and the sense of matching all the vintage fabrics. By looking at these results, I cannot change my mind that she is the genius in Sashiko stitching and Boro repairing.
Keiko Futatsuya is a supervisor of Upcycle Stitches LLC operation regarding Sashiko such as workshops, tutorials, and articles. If you have any questions about her, please contact us. She doesn’t speak English, but I am happy to translate your question and ask her on behalf of you. Please be advised that the question and answer may be shared on this website after getting the permision.
Atsushi Futatsuya offers Sashiko Workshop mainly in East Coast of the USA, NYC and Brooklyn Area. (Atsushi lives in PA, 4 hours driving from NYC.) In order to learn Sashiko from him, attending the in-person workshop is the best way. Alternatively, the Online Sashiko Class is available for those who wish to learn without traveling.
Sashiko Workshop Update in Covid-19
Under the pandemic of Covid-19, in order to secure everyone’s safety, all of the In-person Sashiko Workshop has been cancelled for 2020. Instead, I had spend as much effort as possible for developing the better Online Sashiko Class. After sharing the Online Sashiko Class with more than 50 students (who are now my friends), I believe I can deliver the same contents via Online. Please check our Online Sashiko Class.
Let me please introduce myself to share why I am running this website to share what Japanese Sashiko is.
I was born in Sashiko Family
Did you have a “planned future” in your childhood, that your family kept mentioning?
I was born in a surviving Sashiko Family in Gifu prefecture, Japan. In my childhood, my friends were Sashiko artisans who worked in our family business. There was a pile of fabric, scary numbers of needles and thimbles, and so many colored threads. I strongly remember many people told me that I will take over the business when I get older. It was the Japanese tradition for the first-born child to take over the family business, especially in the traditional crafting family.
And, of course, I hated my fate.
Regardless of my Sashiko techniques I naturally learned, I purely didn’t want to be in the Sashiko business in my adolescence. It wasn’t easy to get out of the rails many people prepared, so I decided to get out from the country. I decided to go to the university in the States.
Sashiko Business to Sashiko life-style
After I had graduated from the university, I started working in Tokyo. I still didn’t want to take over Sashiko business. My parents were still 50’s, and I thought I could avoid a serious conversation about who would be responsible to the family business later on.
However, in 2008, my father called me if I could help him to run the business. The business went into a bad debt, and they could use some help from financial aspects. After deep consideration, I decided to go back to the family business mentioning that I am only doing so to “help,” not “take over.”
Sashiko as Business is very difficult to operate
After I spend some weeks checking the financial sheets, I realize that the Sashiko as a business could be very difficult to operate. In Sashiko, almost everything is hand-made. The keywords for business models of ordinary manufacture industry such as productivity, cost reduction planning, just-in-time system, and a lot more didn’t apply. I tried to understand the reason of debt. After all, recalculating all the possible cost, even if they are all done by hand and unique by one, helped to figure the “right” price. After two years of looking Sashiko with numbers, the company could avoid the bankruptcy. However, I couldn’t see the future. I didn’t find the possibility of growth.
Share what we are proud of
In 2010, I changed my mindset. Instead of focusing on growth, I started planning on “soft landing” of the business. It is almost impossible to make a fortune of money. However, I thought, it may be possible to “soft-land” the business so everyone can avoid the miserable bankruptcy. At that point, my mind shifted from numbers to what Sashiko actually is. I realize the beauty of Sashiko. It is the time I start trying to repair my denim jeans.
Around this time, I started introducing Sashiko in English. Then, I had opportunities to perform workshops in the Netherlands.
Why am I doing this?
As much as I enjoyed introducing Sashiko, the beautiful culture we were proud of, I started to wonder if why I was doing this besides the fact I was born in the family. I couldn’t find the purpose of sharing Sashiko, especially after I realize that Sashiko as a business may discontinue after elderly artisans stopped working for us. I coulnd’t reason myself to continue Sashiko business with sacrifice my days in 20’s.
Then, the Tohoku Earthquake occurred in 2011.
By supporting Tohoku throughout Sashiko, I realize the meaning of continuing Sashiko culture, to pass down the culture to the next generation.
After my father had passed away
In 2013, on October, my father had passed away unexpectedly.
Although my mind wasn’t ready to take over the business without my father, I had a determination that I was the one to take over his will to the company. I didn’t hate the fate I had as Sashiko Business Manager.
Long story short, life is full of dramas, my mother and I were fired by the new stakeholders who found out that the company had some cash. We knew the reason for this inhuman action. My mother and I were troublesome to deal with. We didn’t care about the short-term profit. We focused on how to continue the culture in form of a business entity. In 2013, I lost the identity as Atsushi Futatsuya as Sashiko business manager.
Upcycle & Sashiko Culture as Atsushi Futatsuya
After the unbelievable moment that our life changed, I decided to move to the United States. It was just too painful to stay in Japan. I told my mother that she could come with me, but she decided to stay in Japan. She had many friends, her precious dog, and my brother who just jumped into the society. She couldn’t just leave things behind. As much as I worried about her, we decided to start our new life without Sashiko.
Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya started in 2015
About June in 2014, my mother called me with a serious voice, saying “I would like to do Sashiko…”
She loves Sashiko. She couldn’t live without it. She could enjoy just stitching, but she also wanted to make big pieces and entertain people who love Sashiko. She asked me if I could help her to make her Sashiko as a business again. Although I was expecting to be a stay at home dad in the coming year, I agreed to help her to be Sashiko business owner. Then, she started the project called, Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya ~ Designing a life with Sashiko ~ with many helps around her.
What can I do as Atsushi Futatsuya?
Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya is getting bigger, and my mother enjoys her projects more and more. She provides beautiful Sashiko fabric to a fashion brand, she repairs the most beautiful vintage fabrics for a fashion designer as “To-Be-Boro”, and she makes great Sashiko pieces with her friends. Her income itself isn’t enough to support her days yet, but her enjoyment is what I value the most.
In 2017, I established a company called Upcycle Stitches LLC. This website is the company’s website.
I host Sashiko workshops. I provide Sashiko supplies and materials with sharing Sashiko techniques and skills. Based on my experience, it is my time to think what I can do as Atsushi Futatsuya, not as the 3rd generation of Sashiko business family.
It is our new journey to embrace Sashiko. My mission is to share what Sashiko is, to the world. Again, Hello world. This is Atsushi Futatsuya. I am a Sashiko Artisan and Curator of Sashiko Story.
Support Atsushi & Keiko’s Activity
In 2019, I learned that there is a platform to support the artisans/story-teller. It is called “Patreon”. We made a platform mainly to support Keiko, and I share many Sashiko stories on there (As of November 2020, I have about 100 stories to read). Those stories are not about “How-to do Sashiko”, but more like “What is Sashiko in the Japanese culture”. I have many more stories to share to the world. Your suppport is very much appreciate for us to continue our activity.
The founder and producer of 1883 Indigo.Dyeing., Takeshi Udo, enjoy Natural Botanical Dye.
He was born in a small village in the mountain in 1983. Both his parents are the craftsmen. His father was a furniture upholsterer and his mother, she’s still on active, is a dyer. Because of such home environment, he has been familiar with making something by hands and liked to create things.
After he graduated the high school in his hometown, he went over to the U.S and he had spent about 5 years there. Then he came back to Japan and started to live in Kyoto. In Kyoto, he had worked for textile design studio for about 4 years. From that experience, he got interested in fashion and fabrics.
In 2015, he decided to learn dye from his mother and started to create natural-dyed product under the name of 1883. He always has wanted to make something by his hand for a long time, and he finally found “the something” has been very close to him.
1883 is named after a year when the chemical structure of Indigo was established. As it happens, it’s exactly 100 years from Takeshi’s birth year. 1883’s products are all natural and hand dyed using indigos, herbs and seasonal plants. Some of those plants are grown in Takeshi’s parents’s garden.
The main products of 1883 are scarves and stoles. For my products, Takeshi selected high quality and pleasant feel fabrics. They are made from organic cotton, linen, silk and wool and most of them are weave in Japan. Some products are hand stitched. Takeshi wants you to feel the warmth of the handmade and blessing colors of nature from 1883’s works.