I started providing Sashiko workshops in NYC in 2017. I was happily surprised so many people were interested in Sashiko stitching. At the same time, I learned that “upcycle and repurpose culture” for garments is getting so big and popular along to the keyword of Sashiko. Many people asked me if I can repair denim, and the requests encouraged me to offer mending jeans workshop in NYC. Mending jeans with Sashiko stitching was simply my personal hobby, and now it gets attention.
I am happy to share what I do.
In this website, Upcycle Stitches LLC shares some of our Sashiko mending/repairing projects.
What do you need for mending Jeans
Mending and repairing denim fabric requires several good quality tools. It is simply a hand-stitching process, so you can use any types of hand-sewing needle, thimble, and thread. However, we strongly recommend getting a good quality one. Otherwise, you may waste your time and damage the garment you love. If you would like to do the work we are doing in this website, please get the supplies and tools from our online store. It can protect you from the detour you may end up with by getting the inappropriate tools and supplies.
For Sashiko, we strongly recommend using tools specifically designed for Sashiko. Here is a list of the reason.
Sashiko (刺し子） is a Japanese word which means “mending garment by stitching” developed in Japan a couple hundred years ago. It is my understanding of Sashiko, but I believe my definition of Sashiko is pretty accurate. Sashiko is a good technique to repair the fabric.
Tools and Supplies for Sashiko have all the requirement to complete the mending with good results.
Sashiko needles are strong enough to stitch through several layers of fabric, even with new denim.
Sashiko thread is thick and strong enough to hold the patches or make fabric stronger. The thickness will result in beautiful stitches. If you would like to hide the stitches, you may use thin thread… but I also recommend you to use a sewing machine.
Sashiko thimble and its appropriate way of using will speed up your stitching. Also, it will give you better even stitches, which result in beautiful appearance.
Sashiko (刺し子) is a form of needlework developed in Japan a couple of centuries ago.
We can find its history in several regions in Japan, where the Japanese had to experience the severe winter. Sashiko used to be a job for women to mend men’s garments over the winter. Both men and women worked as farmers over the summer. Men worked in the wood and women repaired the fabric over the winter. The routine still exist in some places. Our partner, Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya, slows down over summer because many Sashiko artisans work as famers primary.
As long as I know, there is neither the solid definition nor the answer to what Sashiko is. Each regions developed Sashiko in their unique way, and each style of them is very beautiful. My definition of Sashiko is that it is a process of mending the fabric to repair, strengthen and warmth the garment, which family member will wear. Well, let me stop here. I am not writing a book about its history.
However, I believe it is one of my missions to explore what Sashiko is. The exploration will be a big one, so please follow the link if you are interested in understanding it. I am working on some reading materials.
Sashiko is a process, not a result. Needle movement with appreciation.
Sashiko Stitching / How to stitch
Sashiko transformed itself over the years and centuries.
We now mainly enjoy Sashiko as a decorative form of needlework. The simple stitching with the traditional combination, which is Indigo Dye Fabric and White thread, attract many people. We can find its unique stitchings in tablewares, clothes like jackets or shirts, handbags, and tapestries. I’ve had workshops for quilters, which they loved the taste of Sashiko.
There is no such a thing as “the rule”. You can do Sashiko on any kind of fabric with any color. However, there are efficient and beautiful ways to do stitching based on its history and accumurated wisdom. As a Sashiko artist from surviving traditional family in Japan, I will introduce the traditional and basics of Sashiko.
Tools and Materials to prepare in the beginning.
It is very easy to start. You do not need a huge investment to prepare what you need. Here is a list of things you would need to start. I wrote about the tools we use.
Tracing tools such as tracing paper or chalk pencil
*Each Link Above goes to our Online Store.
*Click here for little more information for each material.
Preparation, either drawing the pattern on the fabric or transferring the pattern onto the fabric, is a very important process. Either way, please make sure that the patterns are strongly visible on the fabric. Once you start doing stitching, the pattern may fade off. In case, reinforce the line accordingly. Having a good pattern on the fabric is a key to accomplish the better result.
If you are using the transferring method from patterns printed on papers, please refer to another article of mine, how to transfer the pattern onto fabric. With online video tutorial, you will be able to grasp the process of transferring the pattern with appropriate tools. If you are drawing the pattern on the fabric with using rulers and pencil, refer to the article about how to draw the symentric patterns (coming soon).
After the pattern in nicely on your fabric, trim your fabric to appropriate size for your project. Let do actual stitching!
Stitching – How to use tools
Among several Sashiko methods, naminui method (Running Stitching) is one of my specialty. I will focus on Naminui on this introduction page. In order to perform Naminui, put the thimble as the picture below show. A round shape facing down, and the thimble is on the middle finger of your dominant hand. Try to practice hold the needle as the picture show. This is the basic and standard figure of how to hold the needle using the unique shaped round thimble.
Before stitching, after practicing the figure, do not forget to thread the needle. If you choose the appropriate needle, it shouldn’t be too difficult to thread through. Of course, you can use threader if you need support. Also, putting a hint of Vaseline on the tip of the thread may help the threading process.
Let’s start stitching
In my workshop, I always say;
“Hold the fabric and needle together with using your thumb and the tip of middle finger. The needle should be on your dominant hand. Then support the fabric with another hand. Move (push) the needle while making stitches”
Then I see confused faces in the classroom. Always.
It is pretty difficult to explain how to make Sashiko stitches in written contents. The standard form is shown in the photo below. I understand that you do not understand by looking at photos.
Since it is difficult to explain in written form, I uploaded several videos how to do Sashiko stitching. I am learning how to make videos, so it has a chance to re-upload the better videos. Check our Youtube channel for the update and more information.
Regular hand-sewing and stitching require a knot at the end of the thread to hold. However, we often avoid making the knots when we start stitching and end stitching. Instead, we make several “over-ray” stitches to hold the thread and fabric. The picture below shows a few stitches which as 2 colors, like pink and yellow, pink and light green. These are over-ray stitching and the Sashiko thread makes it possible to replace the knots. (I believe most of the(I believe most of the regular embroidery thread will not work as knots even if you make several over-ray stitches.)
The “knot-less” stitching makes fabric more smooth, and it is great techniques for projects you need to use both side of fabric. Here are some supporting links to over-ray stitching including an online video tutorial how to make over-ray stitching.
You may make as many stitches as you want as long as the needle let you do. Some artists makes as many as 30 stitches without smoothing the fabric. The unique method of Naminui and the way to hold the needle and thimble make it possible. When you work on the patterns with straight line (like the picture below) making many stitches will save you time and give you even stitches. When you work on the pattern with circles or curves, try to keep the stitches small and less stitches so you will make smooth and nice curve by stitches.
By the way, the picture above another picture showing the overlay stitching.
Here is a video showing the Naminui Stitching that I make.
Right or Wrong | Any regulation?
I personally believe there is no such a thing as “right” or “wrong” in Sashiko stitching. It isn’t structured tradition like other types of Japanese traditional culture such as “Sado / Tea ceremony” and “Ikebana/flower arrangement art.” After all, Sashiko was merely a stitching custom which the ordinary people practice daily basis. So, do not worry about doing right or wrong. Therefore, there isn’t any regulation. Just enjoy the process of stitching.
Even stitches always give you the good result.
Although there isn’t any regulation, there are a few suggestons you may take into consideration. The first suggestion is about the length of one stitch. There is no standard for the length of Sashiko. No Sashiko tell you that you have to make, let’s say, 1mm length stitches throughout the project. Just try to keep the even stitches throughout your project. Even if you have relatively big stitches for the first line, you may want to keep the same length. Even stitches always give you the good result.
You will be able to adjust the length of stitching based on what your Sashiko project require. Jeans mending require the bigger stitches. A pillow with curve line will require small and precise stitches.
Question. Which is the best Sashiko stitching?
Look at the center of this Sashiko pattern, where 3 lines cross. Which point would be the best Sashiko, either A, B or C?
Some book may say that “A” is the “right” Sashiko and “B” and “C” are not “right” so if you have B and C, you should retry it. In my opinion, B and C are also good Sashiko. Why? Because every line keeps the same length throughout the pattern.
Let’s look at another picture.
This is the exact same pattern from above. Do you even find point A, B and C? Are they that significant when you look from distance? Sashiko tend to have many stitches on the fabric. So small “adjustment” is not necessary. If you have even stitches, the result will get better.
In fact, it is up to your preference after all.
I prefer the Sashiko with “even stitches without adjusting much.” Some people may prefer adjusting stitches with almost perfect pattern looking.The beauty of Sashiko is partically because of its inperfectionism, so I always teach my student to not to worry about the small detail. In stead of redoing the Sashiko, I will move on to another project so you can stitch more and more. Trust me. If you keep the even stitches with appropriate length for your project, the result will be great.
A series of my exploration to Sashiko history and definition.
I strongly recommend using “Sashiko thread” for the best results. Sashiko requires a series of think and unique stitches for better appearance as well as strengthing the fabric simultaneously. The regular embroidery floss may be a bit inappropriate for its purpose. You can find more information and articles about Sashiko thread we prefer in our website.
Cotton Fabric is always a good choice for Sashiko. We have used other types of fabric such as silk and linen. However, the cotton fabric will result in the beautiful stitches. Heavy fabric, such as hard denim, may be difficult for the beginners since it requires finger power to push the needle. Light fabric, such as cotton poplin, may require you some practice because of its thinness. The thin fabric is perfect material for stitching double layers. There are more information and articles about the fabric for Sashiko.
About preferable fabric for Sashiko stitching
Picking a good needle is a very important process.
For the better result, the needles should be long enough to hold several stitches. The needle I recommend, which is the one I use, has about 5 cm (2-inch) length. It is longer than usual hand sewing needle. I explain why you need this long needle in other articles and also in a youtube video. The needle should have a relatively big eye for thicker thread. At the last, the needle should be tough enough to stitch the several layers of fabric, and yet flexible enough to keep several stitches.
A thimble surprises many workshop participants. This round shape made from metal thimble are not common in other types of stitching. It requires a lot of practice to get used to making stitches with this thimble. One of my workshops focuses on how to use this thimble. Learning how to use the thimble will speed up your stitching and will give you the better result.
Any patterns would be great on Sashiko stitching. Japanese geometric patterns are the all-time favorite, but we also get inspiration from other stitching and embroidery culture. It is always a good idea to start with basic and fundamental. In order to learn Sashiko basic, I recommend using some of Japanese geometric patterns. They are available in our online store for download.
Patterns for Sashiko? What is good and what is bad?
At last, but not the least, getting the appropriate tools for tracing the pattern is another very important process. There are no needs to get some special tracing tools. Chalk pencil, a tracing wheel, safety pins, and so on from a local hobby store would be just fine. I learned that some supplies and tools are difficult to get in the United States, so here is a list of things we carry in our inventory.
Carbon Paper (Transfer Paper)
Mylar Paper (Poly Sheet)
For the tutorial how to transfer the pattern onto the fabric, please refer the other articles I wrote as well as the youtube video. I also sell the kit to practice how to transfer the pattern. You can use the Indigo Dye fabric for Sashiko after you practiced transferring pattern onto the fabric.
Surprisingly nice warm day in February of Pensylvania. I decided to do a small Sashiko mending project in a warm sunlight. What do you do when you find a hole in your jeans? I repair it with Sashiko stitching. Sashiko Mending Project, here it goes!
Sashiko Mending Process with pictures
Match the Sashiko fabric to jeans. Ah… it is so bright and warm outside. I have been waiting for this warm day over severe winter in Central PA.
The Sashiko fabric in the photo is the leftover (the edge after trimming) from different Sashiko project by “Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya.” Preparing and making the Sashiko fabric is the most enjoyable part of Sashiko… and picking the best matching fabric is the most exciting time. I choose this Japanese vintage fabric, layered with red vintage one.
Preparing and making the Sashiko fabric is the most enjoyable part of Sashiko… and picking the best matching fabric is the most exciting time. I choose this Japanese vintage fabric, layered with red vintage one.
The fabric has 2 layers. It looked a bit frayed on the edge.
Therefore, I used a sewing machine to trim the edge for easier repair.
Next… Prepare the needle and thread.
Use any thread to do Basting. It will be removed after performing actual Sashiko.
No need to do it if the project is simple. I still need to do basting to get the better result… more practice.
I used blind stitching technique here to attach the fabric to the jeans.
Yes, I am patching the fabric from the back so the jeans will have the main fabric from the hole. I also used the Natural Indigo Dyed Sashiko thread here. The better Sashiko thread I use, the better result I get. Don’t forget to use our Sashiko thread for the best purpose.
Sashiko Mended / Repaired Jeans is cool, I believe.
Done! I am pretty satisfied the result. It will get better by using this pair of jeans since the damage will make it more natural.
It took about 1 ~ 2 hours to complete the mending and repairing process, including the matching the fabric time and excluding the Sashiko fabric preparation. Again, It doesn’t include the time of preparing Sashiko fabric.
Upcycle it to get another value.
Sashiko is a process of repairing/reinforcing the fabric to repurpose. Upcycing the fabric is our daily mission.
I hope this small project will share some insight into the beauty of Sashiko and mending.
We started carrying some of Sashiko Art Pieces as inventory in USA. Sashiko Tote Bag (#004) by Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya is one of the bags I love the most. The indigo color and natural pink color dyed with Western Madder looks so beautiful.
Japanese Vintage Fabric and Natural Dye (Hand-Dye) Sashiko Thread
Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya focuses on repurposing the fabric.
Kimono, a Japanese traditional garment which many Japanese put on every day, now become special garment to wear for the special occasion. Some Japanese do not wear Kimono at all throughout her/his life. In these transition of culture, Kimono became a treasure no one sees in the dresser.
Keiko focuses on putting the spotlight to Kimono with good quality fabric.
They (In fact, I help so “we”) collect goo Japanese vintage fabric, we dye thread by hand with using natural dyes and stitch it up with Sashiko techniques. These products are one of the kinds product, and it is impossible to make the exactly same product. (We try to make the similar one, but it is impossible to get the exactly same fabric since they are only found in the antique market.)
Sashiko makes fabric stronger. Since every process is done by hands, it is relatively easy to mend when it get torn. The more the bag is used, the more bag looks natural, exclusive and beautiful. I hope you will have a chance to get one of these Sashiko bags. It will be your life-long partner.
A round-shaped Sashiko thimble is one of the challenging tools to get used to in practicing Sashiko stitching. However, it is a very helpful tool when you learn how to use appropriately. One of the main topics in my Sashiko Stitching Workshop is to share how to use the thimble (and needle) comfortably. It is a bit difficult to share the details in writing, so please check the Youtube video for more information.
In order to learn how to use the thimble comprehensively, please register you for coming up Sashiko workshops. I will teach you how to use it, step by step, with directing your hands and fingers together.
Push the Needle with Sashiko Thimble while Stitching
The key concept of using the Sashiko Thimble is to push the needle while stitching. In order to push the needle while holding the fabric and stitching simultaneously, a thimble is a necessary tool. I hope the video can give you some understanding of what I am trying to explain by “pushing the needle while stitching.” (The video is NOT about stitching, but you can see the process I am stitching with using Sashiko thimble.)
“Even Stitches” and “Speedy Stitching” are two good keywords to define a good Sashiko artist. This thimble is necessary to have the best result in Sashiko stitching.
One fits all. Practicing only makes it easier
The ring is adjustable so it should fit most of the finger’s size. Make sure it is nice tight to secure the thimble and keep pushing the Sashiko needle. As the picture above show, the round-shape should be on the palm, not on the finger.
Once you get used to the way I share, making as many as 30 stitches become possible. It is hard for Sashiko beginners, especially if you have good amount of experience from other types of embroidery or hand-sewing experience.
I hope you will have a chance to try one of these, and fully enjoy the Sashiko.
Sashiko is a simple stitching technique from Japan. It requires a few tools to start without investing a fortune. It will provide the luxury time like meditation. What you need to start Sashiko are, a piece of fabric (or your garment), Sashiko thread, a Sashiko needle and a round dish shaped thimble. Although there is no restriction that you have to use tools for Sashiko, it is important to have good quality tools to get you rewarded
Sashiko requires you to invest a lot of time. We would like you to get the good result by using proper tools and supplies. In this article, I introduce what is a good needle for Sashiko.
Our Needle is available on our web store. It is a package comes with Sashiko thimble. If you use our needle, we strongly recommend using our thimble, as well.
A Good Sashiko Needle among so many choices.
There are many kinds of choices for needles in the market. Even limiting to Sashiko purpose, there are several types of Sashiko needles you can choose from. We are using the needle from a needle company with more than 100 years of its history in Japan, and specially designed for meet our standard to Sashiko stitching. Choosing our needle would be the easiest option, but here is a list of things you need to check when you pick a good Sashiko needle.
Is needle sharp enough to stitch through several layers?
Is needle strong enough to make many stitches? Sometimes we make more than 20 stitches at once.
Is needle soft (flexible) enough to have many stitches at once?
Is needle long enough to perform fast running stitch?
Is the size of needle eye appropriate? Too small eye will damage the thread and too big eye will damage the fabric.
The size of the eye is one of the most important factors, yet not many people realize until they spend so much time in Sashiko. We recommend about 3 mm length and 1 mm width… just because it is the best suitable size for the Sashiko thread we use.
The most frequent question | the length of Sashiko Needle
One of the most frequent questions I get regarding Sashiko is the length of Sashiko needle. Because of many choices in the market, it seems like choosing “right” needle for each project matters a lot. The answer is simple. We, as Upcycle Stitches and Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya, uses one size needle for every project we work on.
This size needle fits perfectly to most of people’s hand I have taught. It seems a long needle, but the length is necessary to use the Sashiko thimble appropriately.
I will introduce our Sashiko thimble in the next article. I hope we answered the concerns people have regarding Sashiko needles. If you have more questions, please feel free to leave the comment so I can follow up.
One of our excellence in Sashiko is the selection of Natural Dye Sashiko thread. Upcycle Stitches LLC and Sashi.Co are groups of Sashiko professionals and we practice Sashiko daily to create more Sashiko pieces. At the same time, we fulfill the need for the best supplies by creating “one of the kind” materials. Natural Dye Sashiko thread, dyed by Keiko’s own hands, is one significant product we are very proud of.
We restocked three colors of Natural Dye Sashiko Thread by Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya. They are available at our online store, our Etsy-Store, and Amazon. We hope that many people can enjoy the beauty of the nature. They are just so beautiful in Sashiko stitching.
Why Does Keiko create Natural Dye Sashiko Thread?
We have 22 colors of Sashiko thread in the selection. For most projects, Keiko was happy with using the colors we had. About 10 years ago, we significantly started focusing on Japanese vintage fabric, so called Kofu. Ever since, Keiko and I have been wondering if there are other colors available in the market which matches the color of vintage fabric, which is “faded color / the color only time can make”.
Natural Dye Sashiko thread was our answer.
No matter how strict we control the condition, some of the colors are almost impossible to recreate. Every time Keiko dyed, she got different color by the same natural dyes. And these “One Time Color” matched the vintage fabric very well.
A couple of years ago, Keiko succeeded in stabilizing the process and color of thread. Then, we started providing the Natural Dye Sashiko thread to our customers. Some colors are still challenging for Keiko to create the same results, and therefore, there is a limited number of stocks every time they become available online. Keiko now can restock some colors when she focuses on creating the thread.
Beauty from Nature. Beauty in Nature.
Sashiko piece with vintage fabric and Natural Dye Sashiko thread stands up in the sunlight. It is so beautiful to see the reflection of bright sunlight on the Indigo color fabric and natural dye color.
I hope you can find the natural color you like and apply it to your project.
One of the most important preparations for Sashiko stitching is transferring Sashiko pattern onto the fabric. I wrote the article about it and made a tutorial video on youtube. However, it is a bit troublesome to get every materials and supply ready since some of them are imported from Japan. I made a kit (Sashiko Pattern Transfer Practice Kit) for those who would like to try and practice how the Sashiko pattern transferring process would work.
I believe this tutorial explains the steps well. Here is a list of what you need to prepare and what you can expect in the practice kit package. Every supply and materials in the video will be available online soon (some are already available).
Indigo Fabric / We have some in stock. Please contact me for the detail.
It will expand the possibilities. Sashiko on anything.
There are some Sashiko Kit with a pattern pre-printed on. Sometimes, the pattern has the stitches on it. It looks very thoughtful. I am thinking to make one of these “pre-printed pattern” Sashiko kits.
However, before I release the kit, I wanted to share this kit to share the idea of how to transfer the pattern onto the fabric. It is very important to learn how to follow the steps in order to enjoy Sashiko continuously. By learning this steps, you will be able to work on any fabrics with whatever pattern you would like to try Sashiko with.
I hope this kit will satisfy your first step needs and will expand the possibilities of Sashiko.
With materials I introduced, you can make anything Sashiko!
Let’s see if I can share the clarification of Sashiko Definition. In this page, I try to navigate you to understand what Sashiko is.
As a foreword of this serious of articles, I shared my conception and understanding of Sashiko first. It would be great to spare your time to read it through in order to avoid unnecessary misunderstanding. My goal is always simple. It is to share the joy of Sashiko. Therefore, our mission is pretty simple as well. It is to provide the good quality information to make Sashiko more public (open-source). I hope this page will provide some clarification.
Here is a serious of articles about a question of “What is Sashiko?”
“What is the difference between Sashiko Stitching and regular stitching?”
I often receive the question. It is difficult to exclusively distinguish what is Sashiko and what is Not sashiko, so let’s start the serious with my challenge of explaining the terminology and definition of Sashiko.
According to the Wikipedia
Sashiko is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching (functional embroidery) from Japan. Traditionally Sashiko was used to reinforce points of wear or to repair worn places or tears with patches. This running stitch technique is often used for purely decorative purposes in quilting and embroidery. The white cotton thread on the traditional indigo blue cloth gives sashiko its distinctive appearance, though decorative items sometimes use red thread. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sashiko_stitching)
This description is quite accurate.
A few key phrases are;
It is a functional embroidery to strengthen the fabric.
It is a technique to repair, reinforce, and mend the worn places and tears on fabric.
Recently, it is used in quilting and embroidery for decorative purpose.
Technically speaking, as long as the products use the fabric based on this concept, we may call anything Sashiko. One thing I would add is that all stitching in Sashiko is hand-stitching. Although there is an option to use “Sashiko machine”, I personally do not want to call it Sashiko if it is done by machine. The beauty in perfection is another key in Sashiko culture.
In fact, if we follow the primitive concept of Sashiko to mend the damaged fabric, probably using sewing machine will destroy the fabric more by using strong needles and bobbins. It is a side note.
Sashiko as a process
Until 2014, I explained the Sashiko definition like I did above paragraph. Sashiko is a form of stitching, and I thought of the result: the result in form of fabric with Sashiko on.
Recently, however, I start realizing Sashiko is not only the result, stitched fabric, or stitching techniques, it is but also a process of mending the fabric.
A few hundred years ago, women repaired men’s jackets. When they stitch, they thought of men who work hard outside. They patched the fabric with hand-stitching. They tried to make it more beautiful with limited resources such as just indigo dyed fabric and white thread.
I believe this process is called Sashiko, not only the result with stitching.
In order to explain the deeper side of definition and process of Sashiko, I would need to share the history of Sashiko. Let’s do it next time.
As a Sashiko artisan, I would need to answer to a fundamental question; “What is Sashiko?”
The answer to this question would require a serious of explanations on its background. Yes, this website “Upcycle Stitches” has the exact mission to explain and share what Sashiko is. Before establishing the database of Sashiko history and culture, I would like to share my conception of Sashiko. For the series of articles to define what Sashiko is and for the answer to the question of “what is Sashiko ?” please visit our cornerstone page for Sashiko definition and terminology.
Sashiko is a Process, not a Result
Sashiko is a form of stitching.
The purpose of stitching originated from repairing, mending, patching and reinforcing the fabric. Also, in some regions, the Japanese performed Sashiko for the decorative purposes. In the current society, we enjoy Sashiko to decorate the fabric like embroidery. We also use Sashiko techniques to repair the damaged fabric to recycle (upcycle) and repurpose the fabric to something unique. We can see the Sashiko stitching in Fashion Industry Trend.
There are various styles of Sashiko stitching. The Japanese developed Sashiko in many locations in Japan. Wherever a town (or a village) is surrounded by mountains and had a lot of snow over the winter, the place likely to have the Sashiko culture or similar stitching customs. In short, Sashiko is a culture developed in poverty and inconvenience because of poor logistics. The Japanese who originally performed Sashiko didn’t have enough fabric to make the new clothes.
We can see more than 100s of patterns in the Sashiko history. Sometimes, it doesn’t require the pattern to make beautiful Sashiko stitching, especially when they focus on mending and repairing the fabric. It is not productive to discuss what is Sashiko and what is NOT Sashiko based on the patterns and stitching techniques. However, to clarify the understanding of Sashiko a little bit more clearly, here is the list of aspects (elements) of what Sashiko is, and a list of what is NOT Sashiko.
Appreciation to the fabric
Concept of Mottainai – too good to waste
The main purpose is repairing and/or decorating the fabric
Repetition of mending, repairing and using the fabric
*There is a Sashiko sewing Machine. Personally, I do not think it is Sashiko.
What is NOT Sashiko
Printed Pattern | Some says that the printed Japanese geometric patterns are Sashiko.
Decorative Embroidery (They are beautiful, but not Sashiko)
Products made from Sashiko Weave Fabric
*The list is based on Atsushi’s understanding. No intention to deny anybody’s understandings.
*Sashiko Weave Fabric is the sheet of textile woven imitate the Sashiko Stitching.
In the market, there are many products named Sashiko.
I am fine when the seller mentioned “Sashiko-Like” on the product description. However, when I see people using the word of “Sashiko” for only the marketing purpose, I feel pretty irritated. Sashiko isn’t about neither the Japanese geometric pattern nor the fabric similar to Sashiko hand stitching. It is about the hand-stitching with appreciating the fabric as well as the people who wear the fabric we stitch on.
Sashiko isn’t the result. There are Sashiko products made AFTER the Sashiko stitching, and we call it “Sashiko Jacket” or “Sashiko Bag.” However, Sashiko cannot be Sashiko without the process of appreciating the fabric and hand-stitching it. Therefore, my conclusion is that Sashiko is the process.
Sashiko is the process, not the product.
I hope we can share the fun process of Sashiko and the beautiful result of sashiko stitching.
*Well known Boro is the ultimate result of Sashiko.
Enjoy Sashiko | with thinking less of Right or Wrong
There are many tutorials in form of books, DIY kit, and online materials such as video and websites. You may have arrived this website by searching what is the correct way to do Sashiko.
I usually tell my students that there are no rules or restrictions in doing Sashiko. It is much more important the people continue enjoying stitching than giving up continuing because of its obstacles such as regulation and rules. In short, I believe there is no such a thing as “Right or Wrong” in Sashiko.
However, please do not misunderstand my words. I am not saying that the books and tutorials about in the market are “mistaken” because some of them explain the rule, like what to do and what not to do. In fact, I sincerely respect the contribution to this Japanese stitching culture from many people, in and out of Japan. I am happy that I am part of it to embrace this beautiful upcycle and repurposing culture.
I am not saying that the books and tutorials about in the market are “mistaken” because some of them explain the rule, like what to do and what not to do. In fact, I sincerely respect the contribution to this Japanese stitching culture from many people, in and out of Japan. I am happy that I am part of it to embrace this beautiful upcycle and repurposing culture.
Some rules. No restriction. Never Right or Wrong
What I try to share is the most efficient and enjoyable way to embrace Sashiko from my family’s experience. I will share some of the rules to make looks better. Many of books and online tutorials are sharing their perspective to make stitching more beautiful. It is up to you to decide what is beautiful or not. So, I want you to feel free to investigate as many techniques as possible to expand the experience.
There are some rules to make it better, but no restriction you have to follow. There shouldn’t be any “right” or “wrong” in Sashiko art. As long as the art has the purpose of “appreciating the fabric by repairing, stitching, and strengthing.”
Make it available (Open-Source) for people who wish to enjoy
One of my goal of establishing this website is to make Sashiko open source, available for anyone who would like to enjoy. The best way to learn from me is to join the workshops. However, I understand that not everyone can make a trip to wherever the workshops are available. Also, I would like people to have access to the information so they can continue enjoying Sashiko.
Please visit my tutorials to enjoy the technique and its culture.
What I am trying to do is simple. I want to share the joy of Sashiko to as many people as possible. I hope you can be part of the movement, to appreciate the fabric and make what we have to beautiful and wonderful art. Upcycle and Repurpose it.
I am still looking for the answer to “What is Sashiko?”
I am sorry that I didn’t provide the complete clarification of what Sashiko is. What I could provide was the pieces of information and my understanding toward Sashiko.
In summary, I wanted to share the fun of Sashiko by simply enjoying stitching instead of worrying what is Sashiko. At the same time, I understand that there is a need to define what Sashiko is, with perfect clear clarification.
I used to have the solid definition of Sashiko . However, after learning other types of Sashiko in Japan and learning their culture, I start doubting myself. It is a good thing to doubt and re-define what Sashiko is. I am still on a journey of looking for the answer to the question. “What is Sashiko.” You are now a member of this jouney. Thank you for reading the long article.
I hope I can reach to the definition with you, by enjoying the research on Sashiko and creating more Sashiko Pieces.