Sashiko Online Workshop Cover

Sashiko Online Class | Anywhere Anytime.

Finally. I am very happy to start offering the Sashiko Online Workshop throughout On-Deman videos on our Vimeo page. In order to avoid any unfortunate misunderstandings each other, please read carefully this “Sashiko Online Workshop Terms and Conditions” before signing up here.


What is Included in Sashiko Online Class

Online Videos to Learn Sashiko

Sashiko Online Class (Core and Basic)

  • Section.1: Sashiko Lecture about history and wisdom (about 30 minutes duration. Lecture style)
  • Section.2: Stitching Lecture about the core of Sashiko (about 30 minutes duration. First, watch the video through, then move hands with watching it for the second time.)
  • Section.3: Sashiko Lecture about how to maximize the Sashiko experience (about

*I have to admit that the video filming and editing isn’t my strength. You will have unlimited access to those videos for a year, and I will keep updating the video as necessary. If you have any questions, please feel free to share so I can improve the videos.

This is the online version of the Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Core & Basic). I still feel it is better to teach in person, but NYC isn’t the best place for everyone. The contents are very similar to the one in NYC.

Some of the topics, such as “how to apply Sashiko stitching to visible mending” or “how to stitch the certain patterns” are not included in this Sashiko Online Class. I have a plan to offer them as a subscription program. When it happens, this Sashiko Online Class (Core and Basic) will be the prerequisite to any of the workshops I offer.

**If it is extremely difficult to join the Online Session, I also understand that. In that case, the participant can send me a video of him/her stitching as I introduced in the workshop. The person has a year to join the Online session or to send me a video for checking. I am afraid but the prerequisite will not be effective until Atsushi actually confirm the stitching the way the participant does.


Materials to learn Sashiko with

  • Indigo dyed cotton fabric with Asano-ha pattern printed on.
  • Fabrics to make a tote bag (Lining and Interfacing)
  • Swatches to practice the needle movement
  • A skein of Sashiko Thread #12 – White
  • A package of Sashiko needles (3) and the Thimble
  • Sashiko Thread Bobbin Paper
  • A chalk pencil to enforce the pattern
  • PDF data of extra Japanese Traditional patterns

*If you have purchased the set of Sashiko needle and thimble, I will refund the amount as a store credit so you can purchase something in future or in the same order. Please contact me with the order number (If your purchase was from Amazon store or Etsy store, I will refund the amount after subtracting the fee for Amazon and Etsy). The same rules apply to the PDF data, if you have purchased them before. If you have purchased the #12 thread before, and would like to have the other color, please contact me as well. You may choose the other color from 15 colors collection, or other natural dye sashiko thread with the additional fee.

Support for your learning experience

  • I will be available for any questions over e-mail. If I cannot answer it over the email, I will make a video to clear your concern.
  • Unlimited access to the videos to learn Sashiko Online for a year starting from the day you receive the package.
  • For joining the section.3, 1 ticket to the Online Live-style Sashiko gathering to clear up all the questions and confirming what you learned through video.

The preparation requirement on Participant side

Please prepare the items on the list below. The tools and items below are NOT included in the Online Sashiko Class materials.

  • Fabric Scissor (or good fine scissor to cut the skein of the thread) – You may purchase one from me here.
  • Thread Clipper (A scissor above would be acceptable, but it is a good idea to have the thread clipper for better result) – You may purchase one from me here (*strongly getting the high end, like above $20).
  • Scotch Tape – Any tape is fine. We use it to secure the thread together
  • Threader – I will explain how to thread the needle, but a threader may help for the first few times.
  • Masking Tape or Vynil Tape to protect your finger nail from scratching.

*Please expect the email describing what kind of preparation we need for the Live-Style Workshop. It isn’t much, but you would need a smartphone (or a PC) and a stand (or a tripod).


A limit numbers for the sign ups

Although the most part of the Sashiko Online Class is done by you watching the recorded videos, I set the limit numbers for the sign-ups for a period of time so I can be fully supportive to the participants.

The Sashiko Online Class completes when the participants join one of the online meetings where Atsushi will confirm the hand-stitching he/she performs & answer questions. Therefore, we would like to keep the numbers as comfortably manageable. The Sashiko Online Class is the hybrid of Video Lectures (on Vimeo) as well as the Live-Style workshop.

Anyone can sign-up for the Sashiko Online Class. If you find the registration page available (in-stock), you are welcomed to purchase your spot. I also have a waiting list for those who supported (waited) me to make this Sashiko Online Class happen. If you don’t mind waiting for them, you will receive a big discount on the workshop. If you do not mind paying the full price of $290.00, and happen to find the spot open, you are welcome to jooin.

If you wish to be on the waiting list and get the discount, please answer the form here, to help us understand your preference. I will send the invitation accordingly.


Videos are strictly for the participants

Please respect these terms and condition of all the Sashiko online class materials. It is, of course, for the copyright we hold for the contents we make. It took so much effort to come up.

I am not only talking about compensation for us. Spreading the videos to the ocean of the Internet is so scary because the video can cause misunderstandings without the proper explanation. I decided to offer the Sashiko Online Class by overcoming the fear of making it on-demand Videos. The reason I could overcome the fear was the trust to the others. Your understanding to my situation would be very much appreciated.


As I mentioned above, the Sashiko online class complete when Atsushi checks the Unshin (運針)and answers all the questions about Sashiko stitching. It is the support and follow-up that makes difference. I learned that the video itself will not teach the core of Sashiko stitching 100%, and it is very important that I will meet you over the Internet.

If this video goes to public, we won’t be able to follow-up all the audiences. People will watch what they want, and they will understand Sashiko as they want. It will not achieve the goal I set for the Sashiko Online Class.

We sincerely appreciate your understandin. Please do not share the passwords to watch the video because those who just watch the video will not receive the follow-up session from me. Someone misunderstanding what I really would like to share by watching the “free” video is the last thing I would like to experience throughout this new challenge.I know the people who read this terms and condition will not do something against our will. However, I want you to be extra careful when you handle the password.


How the Lecture videos Work

By agreeing and paying the fee, I will add you to the Sashiko Online Class mailing list (or a Group-chat App). Your access to the On-Deman videos is valid for a year. Within the year, you can watch the videos of Sashiko Online Class (core & basic) as many time as you need.

I know I am not good at filming the video. Therefore, I plan to update the videos every once a while, and as necessary. Every month, I will send you the new password every month to secure the community. So please make sure that you have your email address available for the Google Group email. The access for the videos can be extended for the extra fee (significantly small fee in comparison to the first registration fee because you know it already.)

The Password will be on the package slit for the first time access. After that, I will update the password by sending the notification via email.

You also receive 1 ticket to join the Online Sashiko gathering, where you can ask any questions. I will also make sure that you learned everything I introduced by checking your hand-posture and stitching. You may receive the 2nd ticket if I find any problems or concerns that need to be resolved. This Online Sashiko gathering will take about 30 minutes to upto 120 minutes, depends on the person’s level of understanding.

Don’t worry. My goal is to help you to master the Sashiko stitching.

*You may purchase the 3rd or 4th ticket to join the Online Sashiko gathering for the extra fee. Please let me know if you are interested. I haven’t come up with the pricing. Ideally, I hope that the videos and one-time live-style workshop are good enough so you won’t need an extra ticket. Watching my live-streaming would be just enough to make sure you are doing appropriately.


Discount Coupon for Sashiko Online Class

I would like to provide some discount for those who have been supporting me and waiting for me to make this Sashiko Online Class happen. I will send you the personal invitation to those who filled the questionnaire regarding Sashiko Online Class in the order of receiving the answers (First-come, first receive the email from me.) In order to be on the list, simply go to the link above and fill out the form. It will express your caring to others who have been waiting for the Online Workshop.

When the time comes, please look for the email from Atsushi (sashikoatsushi @ gmail.com) saying “Sashiko Online Class – Thank you for waiting“. I will mention the coupon code in the invitation email.

Extra discount for being a “Trial” Student.

I provide a bigger discount if you would agree to be a “Trial” Sashiko Online Class student. The trial students will get “everything” as the normal participants do. The only difference is your understanding & a bit of time to help me out in improving the Online Sashiko Class. I am planning to update the video as often as I can, and as necessary as it happens. Your feedback and continuous support would be an asset for me.

The total discount is $139.00. So the actual workshop price will be $151.00 after discount.

*I am releasing this without confirming it is “perfect.” As much as I would like to publish the perfect version, I figured it is better to be on-time rather than being perfect. The Sashiko Online Class will be perfect after receiving your help.

Agreement for the discount.

By choosing the ‘Trial student discount”, we will consider that you agree with the condition below.

  • After you complete your workshop at your pace, please leave the review on this registration page. (within a year)
  • I plan to introduce how the workshop can be used for participants. Please provide me some photos that you may take during or after the workshop.
  • Understand that Atsushi makes mistakes (and probably a lot of typos). So your forgiveness for the errors and allowance for me to fix it.
  • Spread the words as much as you can.

It isn’t crazy amount to ask, I hope.


Sashiko Online Class 2

Terms and Conditions for Sashiko Online Class

  • All the participants of the Sashiko Online Class read this article & registration carefully and agree with the contents.
  • No images or videos is allowed to be shared online or with others unless the person has written permission (email) from Atsushi and Upcycle Stitches LLC.
  • All contents throughout the Sashiko Online Class is protected by copyright to Upcycle Stitches LLC
  • All purchase is final, and there is no refund avaialble unless Atsushi made a fatal mistake in his explanation.

Cancel and Refund Policy

Since this workshop includes a lot of materials delivered to you prior to the actual workshop, we do not accept the cancellation and refund after the package is shipped out. The subscription will start the day you receive the package from us.

You may reschedule the Online Sashiko Class “Live Style” to check up your progress, but please respect us and the others who join the workshop on the same day. So please let me know as soon as possible. In extreme case scenario, I will accept the reschedule of the appointment, but please be reasonable for that.

I am afraid to share this, but there is a slight possibility of me canceling the Live Style check up as well (I am still a homemaker for my family). I will let you know as soon as I find out, and I will of course reschedule you to the other time frame.

Your understanding and cooperation would be very much appreciated.

I am looking forward to meeting you!!

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 Workshop Schedule 2019

Sashiko Workshop Schedule 2019

Thanks to many participants who shared their great time with us in Sashiko workshops, the Sashiko workshop by Atsushi Futatsuya obtained good reviews. We intend to continue the Sashiko Workshops in NYC, and here is Sashiko Workshop Schedule 2019.

I have received many requests to come back to NYC to offer another workshop. As I mentioned in 2018, I plan to take it a bit slow in terms workshop so I can spend more time in creating Sashiko items. Although I will not be able to offer the Sashiko Workshops as much as I did in 2018, I hope you can find a spot for you.

A whole view of Sashiko Workshop Schedule 2019

You may register yourself on the Sashiko Workshop Store for your preferable workshop here.

As of now, we offer one workshop weekend in Spring, and one workshop weekend in Summer.

Please contact me if you are interested in taking the workshop in NYC, Manhattan Tribeca Area, yet your schedule doesn’t match for the available workshops in 2019. I will add you to the priority email list to let you know the availability before the regular newsletter sent out. The more people contact me, the more likely to offer them more.

 

Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Basic&Core)

 

The basic yet the core Sashiko Stitching Workshop. The well-organized, satisfying workshop is available anyone who can be in NYC for the workshop weekend. The only “fair” review is that it is a bit short (180 minutes and plus) workshop. However, you will get everything you need to enjoy Sashiko there & attentive follow-ups.

Open to Enrollment in 2019

I hope more to coming. 

Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Basic&Core and Plus)

 

The workshops below are specifically designed workshopes for the collaborators who support us to have the workshop. The participants will get everything from the Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Basic&Core), and in addition, the workshop participants will get more contents based on what I am collaborating to. The examples of extra contents are “How to transfer the pattern to the fabric” and/or “Sashiko Mending Basic”. 

 

@ Purl Soho NYC | with small practice of preparing the pattern.

Enjoy Sashiko in Happy Holidays

Hitomezashi Sashiko Workshop (Advanced)

*Prerequisite: Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Basic&Core)

(Previous in 2018)

  • July 22nd, Sunday, 9:45 pm to 12:45 pm for 3 hours | Great success! Thank you.

(Open to Enrollment)

Please wait for the update.

 


Online Sashiko Workshop (In Progress)

For those who cannot travel to NYC, Online Sashiko Workshop is a possibility. Please fulfill the form to inform us about the preferences. The more preference we have, the easier it is to offer the Online Workshop.

https://goo.gl/forms/DJhnefzmpMLwMCnw

Sashiko Stitching and more.

As you know, Sashiko has been a big part of my life. I was born in a Sashiko family, and I grew up surrounded by Sashiko artisans and their Sashiko.

Once, I thought Sashiko wouldn’t be necessary in 20XX. In my youth, the technology and innovation attracted me and Sashiko was merely a burden to me. After several years of focusing on mindfulness, I realize that I would like to pass down Sashiko to the next generation, to the day in 20XX.

 

Sashiko is a form of stitching developed in Japan. There are many reasons why the Japanese had developed this stitching customs, and the reasons illustrate what the Japanese culture is like pretty well. Therefore, I would like to share not only the stitching techniques but also the “mindset” behind the Sashiko culture. 

I believe, our Sashiko workshop (especially Sashiko Stitching Workshop – Core & Basic) is the best place to do so. The participant will receive a whole package of what we would like to pass down.

 

No more Judging.

My goal is to stop judging myself throughout Sashiko. I hope, so is yours.

Being good at Sashiko isn’t that difficult. Sashiko is a form of stitching after all. However, we believe Sashiko is more than just mere stitching. It is the wisdom (pride and courage) from the Japanese who survived in the severe winter. There is no such a thing as “right” or “wrong” in Sashiko. However, there is techniques we developed over time to make it more beautiful, easy, and after all enjoyable.

 

Most importantly, our goal for you is to share how fun & enjoyable Sashiko can be. Sometimes, Sashiko can be too addictive.

In 2017 and 2018, I have taught Sashiko to over 100 participants to the Sashiko Workshop. Although I always get nervous before the workshop, I have a confident that everyone can have the eye-opening experience in our Sashiko Workshops.

 

Please consider our workshop as an opportunity to enjoy Sashiko more.

If you don’t know anything about Sashiko, it is the great way to start. If you already know about Sashiko, then it is a great way to add the technique and knowledge to your art-work.

 

Sashiko Workshop Schedule 2019 | Help us to have more workshops in NYC.

Since the instructor Atsushi is located in the central PA, about 4 hours of driving away from NYC,  we cannot offer the workshops as often as we would like to do. In addition, Atsushi’s main role, continuously in 2019, is to be a homemaker father (cooking, cleaning and such).

Realistically speaking, offering Sashiko Workshops 3 ~ 4 times a year is a reasonable amount to plan the schedule.

However, we are willing to offer as many workshops as possible. Even more than 4 times per year if there is a need.

In order to do so, we need a certain amount of participant in the workshops. We would like to know how many people in the East Coast are willing to join the Sashiko Workshops. Please share your passion by posting comments here and/or registering yourself to our mailing list (from the top page) with checking “Yes” to the workshop notification.

You can also email me here to let me know you are very much interested. I have a separate email list to send out the workshop specific date before writing the main newsletter. 

We are looking forward to meeting you & hearing from you!

Sashiko Fukubukuro Cover

Sashiko Fukubukuro 2019 with fortune in it.

The Japanese have an interesting custom to celebrate the new year with purchasing “lucky-bag” so-called Fukubukuro (A bag filled with fortune). A Fukubukuro contains many merchandises to start the new year’s activity. According to the documents, a draper in Edo period started selling their items in a bag on the first day of their business. I thought it would be fun to follow this custom even in the US, to celebrate the new year of 2019 with Sashiko. Here is Sashiko Fukubukuro from Upcycle Stitches.

Detail of Sashiko Fukubukuro

Traditionally, a customer will not know what is inside of a bag. The core concept is the idea of “blind bag”. However, I would like to avoid any miscommunication and disappointment… so I will introduce what will be inside the bag below. The color of the thread and which items in the bag will be the idea of “Lucky Bag”. 

*All the photos are the sample contents. Colors and items insides are subject to change, but the photo explains what you can expect to get.

*Sales starts January 4th at 1 pm EST.

A. Keiko Bag – Sashiko Thread Fukubukuro

This “A Keiko Bag” will have 7 skeins of Sashiko thread that Keiko uses every day. It will include at least 3 Naturally Dyed Sashiko thread, hand-dyed by Keiko.

Atsushi will pick up the colors. The possible colors you will get are following:

 

*The total retail value will be no less than $112.20.

As you may know already, we rarely offer the sales deal. I hope you can enjoy this Fukubukuro to try out our beautiful & the highest quality Sashiko Thread.

I prepared 7 bags. The rule of  First come First serve will be applied. 


 

The price is $98.00 including the US Domestic Shipping by USPS. I can make an international shipment, but the extra shipping fee will be applied. 

Sashiko Fukubukuro
The sample of Natural Dye Sashiko Thread. Atsushi will pick 3 colors out of these beautifully hand-dyed Sashiko Thread, including Indigo, Kakishibu, and other botanical Dyes.

B. Azu Bag – Sashiko Related Items Fukubukuro

This “B. Azu Bag” will have Sashiko related items for anyone to maximize their Sashiko experience. 

The items are selected randomly, and here is a list of the possible items you may expect to receive (Please understand that it will NOT contain everything I mention here. I will choose items from this list). 

​Please contact me if you have any questions. I will make sure to meet your expectation and exceed the item’s value. My goal is to encourage people to start enjoying Sashiko.

A possible item list. The contents will be randomly selected by these. 

  • Sashiko Needles and thimble Set |
  • A few skeins of Sashiko thread | more than $35 in value
  • Fabric for Sashiko (Manufactured in Japan) | more than $20 in Value
  • Small Vintage Fabric swatch
  • A chalk pencil
  • A Pin Cushion
  • A grip scissors
  • Supplies to transfer the patterns to the fabric

The price for the “B. Azu Bag” is also $98.00 with USPS shipping fee included.

Terms and Conditions for Sashiko Fukubukuro

Please read the terms of “Sashiko Fukubukuro” service before you place the order. It is based on a concept of “blind bag” and “lucky bag”. Therefore, we will not accept any returns for the contents you receive. We will do our best to exceed your expectation in terms of values of contents. 

 

  • The Bags will be sold between January 4th (@1pm in EST) to January 18th in 2019. The sales continue while the supply last, and it may be ended before the final date.
  • The shipping will be made accordingly to the order. However, unlike the other regular order which usually is shipped in 1 business day, this order will take longer than that (Please expect a week to 2 weeks to be shipped). Regardless, all of the order will be shipped before the end of January.
  • We will not accept any return of cancel after the shipment. If you coule like to cancel the order, please let us know as soon as possible. 
  • The Sashiko Fukubukuro Bag may contain an item without original packaging. We will re-package and will send them in a nice condition.
  • The item may be an item which was “returned” as the sellable condition. No second hand item will be included (besides the vintage fabric).

Real “Fortune” reside in the stitches

I hope everyone enjoys Sashiko stitching in 2019 and encounter(make) the special Sashiko for yourself.

The photos above are the Sashiko bag Keiko made for our dear friend. The “fortune” is in our caring spirit and each stitches, and we offer “lucky bag” to make it happen.

Happy New Year of 2019!


*If you resides outside of USA and would like to check the special offer from Japan, please take a look at this article.

Is Sashiko Art Cover

Is Sashiko Art? | The origin of Sashiko as Folk Art

Well. This can be a bit surprising for some of you. When I question myself, “Is Sashiko Art?”, the answer I come up with is, “No, I do not think Sashiko is the (Fine) Art.

Sashiko isn’t the (Fine) Art for me. More precisely speaking, I would say, “Sashiko can be a form of Art, but Sashiko was not developed as the Art.” In other words, thanks to a friend of mine who gave me a good insight, “Sashiko is a form of Folk Art but not Fine Art.”

*After learning the difference between Fine Art, Folk Art, and general concept (big picture) of Art, I consider Sashiko can be the part of Art.

Some may disagree with me. I understand that the beauty of Sashiko item can be understood as the form of Fine Art. However, with considering the definition of Art and the origin of Sashiko, it is unnatural for me to say “Sashiko is the art”. 

Please bear with me here. I will try my best to explain the reasoning and logic behind it. This blog post is my challenge to explain why I say “No” to the question of “Is Sashiko Art?”


*Please understand that my intention to write about this topic is to figure out where I stand. I never intend to judge or criticize someone or someone’s art. In fact, I (Atsushi) am the one who would like to develop Sashiko as the art toward the future. However, most of the Sashiko artisans I respect including my mother Keiko, do not consider Sashiko as the Art (or Fine Art). In order to move forward, understanding Sashiko and its possibility is must-thing for me to do. I hope this article can give you another perspective of Sashiko. 

*English is my second language, and has been so long since I wrote an essay in English… forgive me any typo or grammatical error. I will do my best in correction when you point out some (but please be accepting, too. Being perfect in writing isn’t the goal here.)

 

Table of Content

  • Why do I care if Sashiko is Art or not? – my motivation
  • Art Terminology & Definition
  • Sashiko as a process of caring – not the result
  • Sashiko as the Folk Art – Mingei –
  • Categorization of Some Japanese Arts and Traditions
  • The whole discussion is for me (Atsushi)
  • The culture & Tradition alter over time. 
  • I respect not only the result but the concept behind it

 

Why do I care if Sashiko is Art?

First of all, I would like to explain why I care if Sashiko is Art or not. I understand that it is even ridiculous to define the words in Art. Understanding the Art itself is already abstract and subjective. If she/he thinks the item “A” is the art, the item “A” is the Art. 

Also, it is very true that we should simply enjoy the beauty of the result, and share the pleasure and joy of Sashiko art items. 

In 2018, throughout many Sashiko workshop opportunity, we have received numbers of compliments that we (Keiko and Atsushi) are the true Sashiko Artist. I enjoyed the positive feedbacks, and I called myself “Sashiko Artist” without even thinking deeply. I simply enjoyed what I do, and shared the pleasure of Sashiko.

Then, I just realize why I never considered myself as the artist before offering the workshop in the USA. I never thought of me an Artist in Japan. Keiko, who lives Japan, still don’t consider herself artist. 

When someone call me an artist, I have no problem with that. I don’t know what Art is yet someone find me an artist. It is absolutely fine.

However, when I title myself as the artist, I wanted to know what I meant by it. Without this, I cannot move forward to introduce the traditional Sashiko as well as possibly Sashiiko as the Fine Art (which I believe Sashiko is not).

 


Art Terminology & Definition

When we talk about the definition of an item, it is very important to make sure we all are on the same page of the other words’ definition and terminology. Here are several words I would like to define first.

Art:

The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

Fine Art

Creative art, especially visual art whose products are to be appreciated primarily or solely for their imaginative, aesthetic, or intellectual content.

Folk Art

Encompasses art produced from an indigenous culture or by peasants or other laboring tradespeople. In contrast to fine art, folk art is primarily utilitarian and decorative rather than purely aesthetic

 

I realize the definition for the general “Art” is too broad to discuss my point. So, I would like to use these 2 words, Fine Art and Folk Art, to explain my ideas.

  • Fine Art has no functions to the necessity in life, there fore it is Fine Art.
  • Folk Art is developed for the necessity and we put the value as the art later on.

Therefore, I think, Sashiko is a form of Folk Art and not Fine Art. 

Sashiko as a process of caring – not the result.

I strongly believe Sashiko is the process of needle movement rather than the results of the mass of stitches. For the achievement of Sashiko, we appreciate the result of Sashiko stitching by the nameless Japanese who performed Sashiko stitching. Some of their achievements are called Boro, and we appreciate the beauty of it.

I wonder, if the Japanese thought of “Fine Art” when they practiced Sashiko stitching in the past. Probably not. It was merely a chore to survive through the severe winter in Japan. They would probably care about the family or their friends, and made stitches rather than worrying how beautiful and inspirational it would be as the art.

(*It is not a discussion of black and white. I also believe that the women who mended fabric with Sashiko cared the result as a beautiful pieces in their capacity with limited resources and time. However, it isn’t the Fine Art since they “could have” express more if they didn’t have to work for the purpose.)

In fact, “because of this caring stitches”, I believe Sashiko is so beautiful and inspirational. I feel unnatural by saying “Sashiko is the Fine Art” because I am probably scared of losing the taste of “Caring stitches.”

 


 

There is a machine which can make the even length (fairly long) stitches so called it Sashiko Sewing machine. People sometimes ask for my opinion about the Sashiko machine. I enjoyed watching what the machine can do. However, I know I wouldn’t use the Sashiko sewing machine because it doesn’t involve the core of Sashiko – enjoying a dialogue with fabric.

I have no problem with people using the sewing machine and calling it Sashiko. However, as the one who was born in Sashiko family and still practices Sashiko, I would like to be able to distinguish the beauty in preciseness and uneven (& caring) stitches.

  • The beauty of item is the secondary.
  • The process of stitching is the primary.

Then, the question kicks in.
In order to define Sashiko as the Folk Art, the item has to be made by nameless people. I use my name, Atsushi Futatsuya, and my mother’s name, Keiko Futatsuya, to stand out in the field. Would it be called Folk Art Sashiko?

I don’t know. This is the reason I started asking the question if Sashiko is the Art.

Strictly speaking, what we are doing may not be authentic Sashiko because we use our name. Furthermore, I am the one who wants to be the artist regardless of the original figure of Sashiko. Therefore, I wanted to make sure where I stand before I move forward in 2019.
(Keiko, my mother, never thought herself as the artist. She cares much using her name neither. What she cares is how to surprise the world by her enjoying Sashiko stitching. If you behold or possesses her Sashiko items, you should be able to understand this, but her stitches are full of caring and therefore it is so beautiful.)

 

Again, it seems I am the one who would like to call Sashiko the Fine Art. However, all of my experience and knowledge says it is not. So, this is merely a start of my long journey to re-define Sashiko. 

Sashiko as the Folk Art – Mingei – do they care how it looks? No.

Mingei Art Movement in Japan and Sashiko


The folk Art in Japan has its rich history. I introduce the Folk Art (Mingei Art) Movement in Japan in a separate blog article (Above). For more details, I recommend reading one of founder’s book, Yanagi Soetsu’s book. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yanagi_S%C5%8Detsu)

 

Generally speaking, Yanagi Soetsu defined Mingei by these 8 criteria.

 

  • Practical: made for practical usage, not for the display.
  • Nameless: made by unknown craftsman, and the craft is not made to be famous.
  • Mass-produced: In order to meet the demand from the people, the item were made in mass quantity.
  • Reasonable Price: Inexpensive price so the ordinal people could purchase and use.
  • Locality: The art item has a local characteristic such as color, shape, and patterns.
  • Division of Labor: For the mass production, the art item was made in the division of labors by skilled craftsman
  • Tradition: Following the tradition and wisdom the ancestors cultivated.
  • Collectability: The creation depend on the local tradition and climate rather than the individual skill

Sashiko was discovered as the part of Mingei movement (In Northern part of Japan). Sashiko followed all of the 8 criteria above at some point. However. after the industrial revolution, we (including my Sashiko family) needed to alter its character and lost the sense of Mingei. In other words, Sashiko became unnecessary at some point in Japanese history, and only a few people kept the tradition and customs with non-Mingei reasons.

 

The Sashiko I was grown up with is somewhat nameless (brand name with about 50 nameless artisans), somewhat Mass-produced in a capacity of hand-made craft, and relatively reasonable as the local souvenir.

 

Sashiko I practice now after the difficulty to continue the family Sashiko is not nameless (although we have nameless artisans as well), somewhat Mass-produced but mostly one-of-a-kind, and expensive (although some say super reasonable for the amount of the work required).

 

As you can tell, the Sashiko we practice is not already following the strict rule of Mingei. However, (therefore), I feel unnatural to say Sashiko is the Fine Art. I feel Keiko and I would lose the other characteristic of Mingei by defining Sashiko as the art, which I am horrified to face to the risk of losing the core beauty of Sashiko.

 

I hope I am explaining enough why I started this – this blog entry is not for judging someone. It is for encouraging myself to move forward. I could keep going without defining Sashiko if I didn’t know that so many people get interested in Sashiko. Now, thanks to SNS, because I know there are many people who enjoy Sashiko, I feel obligated to explain the origin of Sashiko – to respect and appreciate more.

Categorization of Japanese Art

 

Here is another interesting story.

If you are fascinated by the beauty of Sashiko, you may compare Sashiko to the other Japanese beautiful traditional art and culture. We can name numbers of them.

A – Family & Organization

  • Kabuki (Performing Art)
  • Ikebana – (Flower Arrangement)

B – Traditional Craft certified by Japan

  • Edo Kiriko (Glass Art)
  • Yuzen (Kimono)

C – Locally Traditional

  • Misoshiru – (Miso Soup)
  • Sashiko
  • Origami

Can you guess what the categorization I made for?

Category A is well known for the Japanese traditional Art (performing art). There are the “family” or “organization” to pass down the tradition. The one can be part of the family, but there is a very strict rule to follow.

Category B is known as the Japanese traditional Craft. Over the history, the Japanese developed so many traditional crafts with forming the artisans guild. The Japanese government certified those traditional crafts and trying to protect & pass them down to the next generation.

Category C is the other Japanese art, crafts, and culture which are not certified by Japan as the nation or don’t have the “Big (Celebrity) Family” to pass it down. The items I listed, Sashiko, Miso Soup, and Origamis are (were) so ordinary for the Japanese to form the organization to protect them, therefore they didn’t become the Japanese “traditional” art, crafts or culture, which leads to my saying, “There is no such a thing as right or wrong in Sashiko” because of this categorization.

It also explains why I feel unnatural to call sashiko the (Fine) art.

 


 

Let’s say, you are an American, and eat a slice of pizza regularly. Would you call a slice of Pizza as the art? Well, the artisan made a beautiful and skillful pizza for you. Would you feel a bit strange to call it the Art?

 

Anything can be the art. Yes.

If the artist uses Pizza to make the fine art, it can be a form of Fine Art (if the audience defines it as the art.) However, if a regular chef is merely creating the tasty and beautiful pizza, then the people started calling his work as the art, wouldn’t he feel a bit strange?

 

Sashiko isn’t Pizza. I understand. We cannot eat Sashiko, nor we cannot stitch pizza. However, this is the foundation of my question. I sometimes feel like people fantasize Sashiko. Sometimes, the saying sounds like the exaggerated phrase in comparison to what Sashiko is. It is perfectly fine that people understand anything from Sashiko. However, it is a different story if I, as the creator, start exaggerating what it is without realizing that I am exaggerating.

 

Again, I am also the one who would like to bring Sashiko to the Art. In order to do so, I need to share all of my knowledge and wisdom, then I can feel easy on moving forward.

 

The whole discussion is for me, Atsushi.

Thank you for reading this far. As you may have understood by now, the whole discussion of “Is Sashiko Art?” is for me. The more I read the comments I received on Instagram and Facebook, the more I understand that I am the one who would like to be the Artist.

You may say, “You can be the artist if you think so.”
Yes. It is very true.

However, the fabric I stitch on may not feel the same. The thread I am stitching with may disagree. The hand I am moving doesn’t appreciate the decision that I make. The 30+ years of experience in Sashiko is not all about stitching. It is the experience with Sashiko in my childhood. I believe I am the one who saw the Sashiko items the most in my generation.

I once cursed my fate. I now appreciate my privilege.
The artisans who I grow up with would not think of themselves as the artist. I asked Keiko if she would consider herself an artist. Her answer was as simple as “No” after questioning me why I ask her such a stupid question.
Following, she also explained a bit.

It is her pleasure that her clients (customers) think of her achievement as the (Fine) Art. However, I do not consider myself as the Artist. I simply enjoy the conversation with the fabric, bringing the “unused” fabric to the stage again where people would wear or use in their life. I am merely a Sashiko artisan.

I respect her as well as the other artisans I feel like the family to me. If I would follow their path, I would never consider Sashiko as the (Fine) Art. It is the end of the story, and I wouldn’t need to bring up the definition & terminology because the other’s perception wouldn’t change their attitude and understanding.

I, on the other hands, have both sides of understanding – Sashiko as the “merely” stitching and Sashiko as the “super cool” art.

In order to integrate these 2 extreme concepts, I needed to understand where I stand.

The culture & Tradition alter over time.

Over time, the culture and tradition alter its form. So does Sashiko.
Sashiko started as the wisdom in survival through the severe winter in Japan. The poor the Japanese were in the rural area, the more people needed to do the stitching. We call it Sashiko.

At the same time in the history, at other places where were a bit richer than the other places, the Sashiko formed its necessity as strengthening the fabric instead of mending or filling the gap. Also, over time, Sashiko changed its stance to decorative stitching for those who couldn’t dye patterns out.

Sashiko was developed as a form of stitching by the ordinary Japanese people. It is perfectly natural to observe some changes, and it is as perfectly natural to enjoy the transformation in this era by other people’s necessity and intention.

Again, we can call anything “Art” and they can define Sashiko as they want. I am not titled to accept or deny any interpretation of Sashiko. One can just grab the needle and make some stitches, then she/he can call it Sashiko.

Sashiko can be as simple as that. At the same time, however, for those who would like to enjoy Sashiko sincerely, I would like them to understand the primitive form of Sashiko. It is my fate to verbalize some of the shame the Japanese had been holding throughout Sashiko and Boro-Making process.

The Boro as the sign of Shame
http://upcyclestitches.com/tokiyama-sashiko/


 

Sushi started its path as the fast food for Samurai and civilians in the Edo period. The reason we use “Wasabi – the green spice” is for the bactericidal action in eating raw fish on the street. In this century, Sashiko became a synonym of Japanese food, with a hint of fancy and expensive yet healthy & popular food option available.

 

Sashiko can be like Sushi, too.
One day, people may call the process of “repurposing a garment” Sashiko. Or, simply, hand-stitching on a piece of fabric may be called “Sashiko”. I do not know how “we” transform Sashiko’s culture.

Regardless of the change, I believe, someone needs to keep mentioning the origin and the logical side of the traditional culture. Most of the traditional culture and craft, (which lead to the Folk Art) have a logic behind it. For example of Sushi, Wasabi is not only for the tasting. It has a role of protecting the customer from food poisoning. So is the same in Sashiko. The size of needles has the meaning. The thimble has its own role. The Sashiko thread has a completely different purpose in comparison to the other sewing thread.

When we know those “wisdom”, I believe we can enjoy the culture more and more.

Furthermore, as a sort of conclusion, this is the reason I do not categorize Sashiko in the Fine Art. Fine Art, the artist doesn’t need to explain anything (in my understanding.) It can be conceptual as well as inspirational. Sashiko… as long as I know, Sashiko still requires some explanation to be “stunningly beautiful”.

Again, please understand it is NOT about good or bad. Fine Art is fantastic, and so is Folk Art. I am here to explain the difference so that I may be, one day, start calling myself “Artist” instead of “craftsman or artisan”

*I have called myself “artist” before without knowing the definition at all… so, here I am now.

 

I respect not only the result but the concept behind it


I understand Sashiko is getting popular because of its simplicity, beauty, and idea of visible mending. I respect those who translated and introduced the idea of Sashiko to their own culture and developed it. One day, I would like to meet everyone who enjoys Sashiko and talk about Sashiko and its cultural meaning to us.

For me, Sashiko is a whole package of ordinary Japanese days for the ordinary Japanese people. Sashiko communicate the women’s pride in the severe condition. We can learn how Japanese people behaved throughout learning the mindset of Sashiko. Therefore, I respect not only the result of beautiful stitching but also the concept behind Sashiko.

Here is a list of mindsets I am determined to share throughout Sashiko, this website and our Sashiko Workshops. I have been saying it over the Instagram & Youtube live streaming, and I will do so in 2019 as well.

  • There is no such a thing as Right or Wrong in caring someone (and oneself).
  • The Caring is the best thing we can do. The emotion doesn’t have to be positive. It can be sometimes negative like jealous or hatred. I believe the opposite of Love is not “Hatred”, it is “Ignorance”
  • We would like to introduce a moment of “no more judging”, to someone, and especially to oneself throughout Sashiko. The Sashiko stitches are merely the result of needle movement. No one, including oneself, would judge it good or bad. Instead, we would like to think of someone who may be happy by looking at the stitches.


In summary (long story short)…

  • No right or Wrong.
  • Be mindful about what you feel.
  • No more Judgement (Observe what you do)


I believe you know an activity which satisfies the three criteria above. It is a “meditation”. I feel Sashiko is a very good meditative stitching. Probably, the Japanese people in the past used Sashiko for the meditative purpose (I don’t know if it is true). For more stories about Sashiko and meditation, please wait for my next writing.


I hope I have explained enough why and how I think Sashiko is not the (Fine) art, (yet). As I mentioned in the beginning, writing in English is always a big challenge to me. I will proofread over and over again, and probably change some of the writing. Regardless, what I wrote here is my sincere message & honest understanding about Sashiko.

Please leave a comment if you agree, disagree, got inspired, or even found a problem. I am open to correct (if I find it a problem) and discuss further more.

Thank you for reading this long blog entry.

Enjoy the rest of 2018, and Happy New Year of 2019.

Happy Sashiko New Year
Basic Sashiko Denim Mending Cover

Basic Sashiko Denim Mending | Quick Patching

One of the reasons that the word of Sashiko gets spread is a slow-fashion movement with Denim Jeans Mending. I once put a distance from Sashiko, and Sashiko Mending brought me back to this field after a year of absence. Sashiko Denim Mending is one of my (Atsushi’s) passion and I still enjoy it. Here is a quick video of Basic Sashiko Denim Mending.

 

A Procedure of Basic Sashiko Denim Mending

 

 

Here is a sample how it works.

  1. Prepare the fabric for the ideal Sashiko Mending
  2. Place the fabric nicely and comfortably.
  3. Enjoy Sashiko Stitching
  4. Make sure the fabric is nicely attached & keep enjoying the Sashiko Stitching.

 

Workshop of Basic Sashiko Denim Mending.

We proudly offer our first Sashiko workshop to work “Basic Sashiko Denim Mending” with you in 70 minutes. Atsushi will explain the basic of Sashiko history and will work with you as he worked in the video above. The participants will receive all of the supplies they would need to enjoy the basic Sashiko Denim Mending and the follow-up to keep enjoying it.

 

The workshop is offered as the part of pop-up, 75 Collective in NYC.

75 COLLECTIVE x Sashiko Workshop

 

Make sure to register your seats for the workshop:

A hint of Sashiko Denim Workshop 

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hint-of-sashiko-denim-workshop-1-hours-short-sashiko-workshop-75-collective-tickets-52975487108

 

In order to maximize your Sashiko

The sample work of Basic Sashiko Denim Mending took about 50 minutes to complete, from cutting the fabric to the whole stitching. The core enjoyment of Sashiko is its rhythm and needle movement. Sashiko is all about hand-stitching, but it isn’t about making one perfect stitch. It is about making fabric repurposed.

 

In order to experience the whole picture of Sashiko, please consider participating in the Full-Length Sashiko Workshop, so-called Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Core & Basic).

 

Information & Tutorials Available Online

The joining the workshop & getting the instruction from Atsushi directly is the best way to enjoy Sashiko & Denim Mending. However, we understand that not everyone can travel to NYC for the workshop.

I will keep updating the website with more information & tutorials like below.

Sashiko Mending Tutorials | Upcycle and Repurpose

 

Your support would be very much appreciated. The best support is to spread the words that Upcycle Stitches is here to support anyone’s Sashiko. The next thing would be supporting me throughout being patron through web service (Being a Sashiko Patron).

 

Thank you & Enjoy Sashiko.

Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ Cover

Back Order Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ

We. as Sashi,Co & Keiko Futatsuya as well as Upcycle Stitches, make several Sashiko Jackets (or Sashiko Coats) per year when Keiko and/or Atsushi get some ideas that we would like to make it happen. Simultaneously, we are often open to accept the Back Orders Sashiko Jacket based on the client’s request. The whole process takes about a year to complete. However, we will listen to you and make your dream happen by starting with collecting the most appropriate vintage fabric. Of course, we will perform our Sashiko stitching on the jacket.

It is our pleasure to make the “one of a kind” Sashiko Jackets with listening to the client’s preference. We had a great opportunity in 2018 as well, and I would like to share the beautiful achievement with the client, Back Order Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ.

 

A story of the Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ

In January 2018, a gentleman contacted me if one specific type of Jacket, which I had introduced on the website, was still available for sale. Interestingly, the inquired jacket was just sold 2 days before his inquiry. We decided to offer the option to customize the Jacket with the preference of their choice.

 

The clients provided us their preference of the favorite Sashiko patterns, types of vintage fabric such as Katazome or Kasuri, and overall taste they had in their mind.

After listening to the preferences and image of the clients, it is our job to understand and visualize them in our mind with communicating the fabric. It is almost impossible to make the exactly the same thing as the client is imagining in their mind. Our job is to exceed their expectation by creating something “Wow” with following their preference and expectation.

 

When the backorder is assigned to Keiko after the listening phase, it is Keiko’s world until it gets completed.

 

How the “Back Order” works

 

Please contact Atsushi to tell us that you are interested in placing the back order.

Then, Atsushi will get back to you with specific questions such as the following:

  • The sizing | Possibly the photo of the client
  • Sashiko Pattern Preference
  • Vintage Fabric / Japanese Fabric Preferences

Based on the project, we may ask you for the additional notes. The more information we have in the initial stage, the better the outcome can be. Once Keiko starts her project, she doesn’t change her blueprint. She has the “Completed Image” in her mind when she starts, so we would ask you to provide all the possible information before that.

 

Pricing and Expectation

The price for the Back Order is about $5,000.00 USD per Jacket.

For making the similar item of Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ, the rough estimate is about 4,880.00 USD per Jacket.

The price varies based on the types of vintage fabric you prefer, the amount & pattern of Sashiko stitching, the sizing, and also the exchange rate for the JPY=USD. We used to provide the cheaper price, but the vintage fabric in Japan is getting so expensive. We hope the vintage fabric will not be more expensive than as is now (which is super expensive for my sense…)

 

Once we all agreed to the preference and pricing, we will give you the rough estimate of delivery. It usually takes about 10 months to 15 months, and based on the preference, it could be longer than that.

 

You may have a question of how we make a transaction.

We will NOT ask for the deposit and will NOT ask you to promise us to purchase it after the completion (although please be serious in placing the order.) It is our responsibility to exceed your expectation, and we will do everything to make it happen. At the same time, once Keiko starts creating the one, she doesn’t share any progress updates. This is to avoid the third party voice to her creation. Trust me. It is much better when she is completely free from any requests and responses. She will follow the initial preference and will talk to the fabric, thread, and probably the clients non-verbally throughout her process.

Because of this Keiko’s production style (some people call it like an artist), she often make 2 pieces based on the same preference, just in case one is not following (or exceeding) the client’s expectation. The process time of 10 months to 15 months are for making 2 or more items for the one backorder request.

 

 

Photos of the Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ

With the generous understanding from the client, we are happy to share some of the photos of these exclusive Sashiko Jackets. The clients will send me more photos from their days, which is the most important for us because we believe that Sashiko exists in the ordinary days & when it is been used instead of behind the glass showcase.

 

Enjoy the beautiful Photos.

 

*Please understand that I am not criticizing the museum quality Boro or Sashiko Jackets. There are reasons that they have to be displayed behind the glass. They could be fragile. We are simply proud of ourselves that we can “make” the museum quality Sashiko Jacket from one piece of fabric.


Photos from the Client

Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ From J

 

Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ From J2

 

 


Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ _MN

Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ _MN 2 Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ _MN 1 Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ _MN 3


Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ _FO

Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ 3 Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ 2 Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ 1