Sashiko is getting its popularity as “Sustainable Fashion” or “Stitching for Recycling the fabric”. Sashiko is indeed for sustainability, and we reuse the fabric a lot. However, it is important to understand why we have specific tools & supply for Sashiko. The Japanese who practiced Sashiko accumurated their expertise in the tools & supply, and I would like to be mindful in “Cultural Sustainability” as well. I keep speaking up the importance of Sashiko Thread. Sashiko Threads DO Matter (Link: Youtube Video explaining why Sashiko Thread). How about Fabric? This is a brief explanation of the suitable Fabric for Sashiko.
Imagine what “would” be Suitable Fabric for Sashiko
First, I would like you to imagine what would be the suitable fabric for the Japanese people who practiced Sashiko. With imagining their situation, to be honest, fabric can vary based on our situation & preference. Threads DO Matter in Sashiko, but the choice of fabric can be based on our preference.
However, it doesn’t mean that “Any Fabric” is good. There are good/preferable fabric that the Japanese artisans have been engaging in. It is my wish for you to enjoy the communication with the fabric you have. That being said, I would like to introduce the best fabric for Sashiko Stitching.
*The fabric you would practice Sashiko in the Online Sashiko Class and/or In-Person Sashiko Workshop (Core & Essence) is the one above. It is important to start learning the Sashiko with the most appropriate fabric. We use this fabric to most of our Sashiko Production.
For Stitching & Mending
In 2021, I decided to offer another workshop after “Core & Essence”. The new one is “Application & Practice”, and we apply the Sashiko we share in Core & Essence with learning many format of Sashiko culture. It is like one learns how to use the knife, cutting board, and how to cut the ingredience in “Core & Essence”, and then I will share the [recipes] in “Application & Practice” Class. All of my teaching complete in the Core & Essence workshop (Online Sashiko Class). Therefore, the following workshop is NOT the advanced version. It is my intention to share how we can expand our understanding of Sashiko to other fun part of Sashiko.
In the New “Application & Practice” workshop, I ask participants to bring their own garments or fabric with them so that we can apply our Sashiko to their own future Sashiko practice. I would like to share what is the Suitable Fabric for Sashiko in the workshop.
Suitable Fabric for Sashiko
Cotton Fabric (Both Western woven or Japanese Woven. I will mention the difference).
Hemp or Linen Fabric
Non Suitable Fabric for Sashiko
Stretchy Fabric including Strethy Denim
Sweather or Thick Fabric for Winter such as Fleece
*If you have any concerns or questions about the fabric you would bring to the “Application & Practice” Class, please contact me via the email you have received for the registration.
*I am working on the Online Version of “Application & Practice”. I appreciate your support. I will make it happen.
Communicating to the Fabric
In conclusion, choice of fabric is not as significant as the importance of choosing the right Sashiko thread. However, we have our preference such as the Cotton 100% Japanese woven fabric like above, and non-strechy fabric. You may use the fabric you have. It is one important aspect of Sashiko: to appreciate the fabric you already have. Since you will spend a lot of time in the specific garment (or fabric), please choose the right thread & Tools to compensate to your great effort & time.
When you learn how to use the thimble, and stitching in the rhythm, you will start feeling the “communication to the fabric”. The fabric itself will tell us what is the “most suitable way” to enjoy Sashiko Stitching.
It is my goal to share the method of how to communicate to the fabric better rather than how to make even stitches. Even stitches happen when we communicate well to the fabric.
There is no such a thing as Right or Wrong in Sashiko. However, it doesn’t mean there is no “form” or “standard” in Sashiko stitching. There are many reasons why I am so passionate about sharing the Sashiko as a process. I made a video explaining why learning Unshin Sashiko Stitching is so important to fully enjoy the Sashiko we would like to share.
Many ask me, “How can I make stitches so even like you?” There is a precise answer to that “Don’t try to make it even”. The video explain how to make the stitches weven without “trying” it.
Unshin Sashiko Stitching
Sashiko became popular by following the pattern pre-printed fabric with the specific stitches sizes pre-determined. Many teachers tells the students which rules they need to follow. For example, a teacher may say that the center of Asano-ha needs to be adjusted. Another teacher may tell you to accumurate stitches on the needle. Their lesson is not “wrong”. However, there are other forms of Sashiko which tells completely different things. So, my insight here is that “they are not wrong, but insufficient”.
Among these difference, there is one common standards that many teachers teach how important it is. It is called “Unshin (運針）”, and it is the word for the needle movement. The video above introduce why it is important to learn the Unshin Sashiko stitching.
Transcript of Unshin Sashiko Stitching Video
As much as I would like to incert captions on the video so that anyone can enjoy the video & learn about the importance of Unshin Sashiko Stitching, I do not have time, skill, and funds to make it happen yet. Instead, I share the full transcript here so you can read & watch together.
Hello, this is Atsushi from Sashi.Co
I believe many people would like to know how to make even stitches in Sashiko. To answer the question, I have a kind of proverb that I always tell my friends in my workshops.
I use an example of “slicing the onion” to explain what “the rhythmical stitching” is like. I hope the series of my video will give you a hint to grasp this proverb. Online Sashiko Class is also available for you.
In this video, I would like to explain why stitching on the fabric with certain sized stitches lines pre printed is not my preference.
An example is on the video. The horizontal line has stitches sized lines pre-printed. Well, in this case, I prepared it by myself since I do not have one.
The purpose of this video is NOT to criticize other Sashiko stitchers on Youtube or other platforms. I just want to share how we enjoy Sashiko stitching without focusing on the results. I am not saying that everyone should enjoy the Sashiko as we do. What I am trying to say here is that it does not require so much time to stitch like we do. Many people have learned the technique through our videos, workshops, and Online Class.
I am trying to mimic one style of Sashiko stitching I can find on Youtube. The style is holding the needle with the thumb, index finger, and middle fingers and trying to control the needle tip to meet the stitches guide, which is the dot on the horizontal line here. Please pardon my clumsy work since I don’t have much experience in this style.
I believe many people stitch with looking on the front size of the fabric. Starting the stitches from the backside, which is hiding-side, with making a knot at the end of the thread. Then, come up and follow the stitches pre-printed with very good attention.
Some advice to keep the stitches on the needles as we move the needle forward. I feel as if I am enjoying a form of embroidery. I would probably make a great benefit from using the embroidery hoop if I keep stitching like this. It is difficult to align the excessive fabric, and I need to carefully pay attention & control where the needle goes in and comes out.
Everytime I try to do this method, I experience the hard time relaxing my hands. When it is a regular embroidery, I can relax and see the image and then stitch. However, in Sashiko, since the stitches are simply on the line, I feel the pressure to neatly cover the printed stitches.
I am a bit embarrassed here, so I will fast-forward the video.
Again, please be advised that I am not criticising the other stitches. Obviously, I am not well-experienced in this method. However, there are reasons many Sashiko artisans in history did not have the stitched-sized-line pre-printed on the fabric. I hope this video introduces a piece of that information.
After a line of Sashiko stitching with this posture, my hands were very tense and I got tired. I will continue stitching with switching the posture to the one I share & teach.
Well, I am used to this method. I can stitch faster and even.
The point is that I am not paying so much attention to making beautiful stitches. When we do not focus on making even stitches, the line with stitches-sized-dot pre-printed is merely an obstacle. The goal is to be on the rhythm, not to try to make the even stitches by controlling the needle with focusing on the stitches with both your eyes and hand.
So, I summarize it to 4 reasons that I prefer rhythmical stitching rather than stitching on the “stitches-sized-dot” pre-printed fabric.
1- Beautiful Results
The result of even stitches is the 1st reason I do not prefer the pattern pre-printed fabric. It is challenging to keep concentrated to make even stitches when I focus on the printed stitches sized dot pattern. If it is a matter of 30 minutes or so, I may be able to keep it up. However, I do Sashiko for more than a few hours, sometimes more than 24 hours. It is almost impossible for me to keep concentrated for more than an hour for anything.
Since I cannot keep my concentration for more than an hour for anything, I do not concentrate on stitching when I enjoy Sashiko. Instead, by focusing on the process and the movement, because I do not pay attention to make the stitches even, I can make the even stitches as the result.
2- I can change the stitches size based on the project.
The second reason is as significant as the first one. I would like to decide the size of the stitches based on the project I am working on. When I see the stitches-sized-dot printed pattern, I feel like, “Why does it tell me what to do in Sashiko!” ,
With the same posture, I can make any size of stitches as I wish. On the denim where I need good visuals, I make bigger stitches. When I need to present more sophisticated stitches to make the smaller pattern, then I make the stitches smaller. The stitches I make represent who I am as the Sashko artisan. It is good to have a guide on the stitching, but at the same time, I don’t want anyone to tell me the size of stitches. Similarly, I want everyone to be creative in enjoying the process and finding their own stitches.
3- Focusing on other things.
The 3rd reason is that I can focus on the other things while not focusing on Sashiko stitching. The Sashiko live Streaming on this Youtube Channel is a good example. I do not focus on stitching much, and therefore, I can stitch and talk simultaneously.
I believe the original scenery of Sashiko is like this. Sashiko was the Japanese ordinary stitching to survive through the severe winter. In between the difficult days, I imagine, the women got together and stitched with sharing their similar circumstances. In that “gathering”, I believe, they stitched and focused on talking, which is probably mainly complaining, not the stitching itself for making the beautiful stitches.
With stitching and talking, in a process of not worrying about the results, not judging the evenness of stitching, I feel that I am following the Sashiko they had practiced in a few hundreds years ago.
4 – Be mindful
The 4th reason is kind of abstract, and kind of link to the 3rd reason.
When I do not talk while stitching, and when I decide to not to watch TV or listen to the music while stitching, I feel I can empty my mind relatively easily.
Sashiko is not difficult, but it cannot be done with one hand. It always requires 2 hands moving all the time. No one can use the smartphone for quick research while stitching with 2 hands. It is quite difficult to have the visual information to input, and therefore I can empty my mind with focusing on “nothing” while stitching.
I feel like this is a similar mind of state to Zen.
Zen teaches us that the truth cannot be explained fully by word, only by practicing it. I feel it from time to time. Also, I have heard from my students that they understand what I meant by actually experiencing it while practicing Sashiko.
Sashiko is getting popular as the destresser. It is very true. Therefore, in order to enhance its byproduct, I would like to share the importance of learning the posture.
I hope this video explains the reasons why I am so passionate in sharing the Sashiko with the method we practice. Sashiko is a simple form of stitching, and anyone can do it. However, there are many stories behind “why” and “how”. It would be great if you could care to learn the basics & tradition as well. As I mentioned in the beginning, the series of videos on this channel shares a great amount of information.
On top of that, if you would like to learn efficiently and comprehensively, please consider taking the Online Sashiko Class. It will help us as well.
In the Sashiko Online Class (and In-person workshop whenever I can offer), I share how you can achieve this posture & movement which we call “Unshin”. It is not difficult at all. I believe everyone can do it. However, since everyone’s hand is different in their own shape, personal attention may be necessary. One may find the rhythm & posture by just watching our stitching. That’s what I did for many decades. The online class & workshop is the comprehensive lesson to share what I learned in these 20 years or so. Therefore it is efficient & easy to learn.
Some students can stitch as fast as I do in a matter of a few months when they follow the direction carefully and focus on “rhythm” instead of “focusing on the results”.
For some Japanese like me, Sashiko is more than a trendy word in crafting or fashion – it has been our life, and it was our ancestors’ ordinary. Your understanding & support is very much appreciated. Thank you for watching.
Resources to learn about Unshin Sashiko Stitching
The best way to learn Unshin Sashiko Stitching as we do is to take our Sashiko Workshops / Online Sashiko Class. Due to Covid-19 pandemic, all of the in-person workshop for the year 2020 has been cancelled. Please consider taking the Online Sashiko Class. After sharing the class with many students, I am confident that I can offer the exact experience as an in-person workshop can do.
Also, more information about Sashiko is available in our new website: https://www.japanesesashiko.com/
I have several social media to share the Sashiko we have been practicing. Each social media has a theme & unique contents. Youtube – for sharing my real voice & actual practice. Instagram – to share the stories of the Sashiko we are proud of. Facebook Group – for asking to think together what the Japanese Sashiko for us. My messages are quite simple. One of them is “There is no such a thing as Right Sashiko and Wrong Sashiko”. Although there is no such a thing as right Sashiko, I have a strong preference in Sashiko, and I do care to protect the Japanese Sashiko from Cultural Appropriation. I received an inquiries asking to share Sashiko preference in my Sashiko life. So, here is Atsushi’s Sashiko preference as a Sashiko artisan.
*For Cultural Appropriation in Sashiko, please read the article.
Sashiko is getting popular as a term to embrace several keywords in sustainability, such as “visible mending”, “slow-stitching” and “slow fashion”. As I have been sharing here and there, the core of Sashiko is not in those words.
The significant message I would like to advocate is that “the Boro (& Sashiko) is not a word for visible mending”.
So, as much as I am open-minded to the movement & cultural transition, there is a boundary of cultural appropriation, and I have a very specific preference in what “I” would like to call a piece “Sashiko” and “Boro”. Again, please read the article about the Cultural Appropriation in Sashiko, first. I am perfectly fine for you to call your stitching “Sashiko” as long as you try to respect the Japanese culture. Here, this is just my Sashiko Preference as the Sashiko artisan.
Here is a bullet point list of my Sashiko preference. It will be interesting to compare based on the bullet-point number. For example of (3), I prefer “Our Sashiko” instead of “My Sashiko”.
Sashiko I like
The Sashiko that I can feel the rhythm of. When a stitcher focuses on the stitching itself (process), he/she pays less attention to how the results should be. I like the Sashiko by stitcher just enjoying Sashiko.
Modest Invisible Mending (Mending is visible, but not showing off.)
The Sashiko with the sense of “Our Sashiko” that Sashiko with deep consideration to others, thoughtfulness, and stories, which may be categorized as “collectivism”.
Geometric Patterns (because of their stories)
The Sashiko come out of well thought questions with learning, before asking – and the result of Sashiko with well-understanding of “What is Sashiko”.
The Sashiko with a sense of“Wabi-Sabi” & Japanese Courtesy.
The Sashiko with full respect to the Japanese culture – which occasionally include some Japanese language (just trying).
The Sashiko with Flow – running stitch.
The Sashiko done by those who wonder if it is Sashiko or not (I am also one of those who wonder what is Sashiko to us).
Sashiko that I do not like so much
I do not like the Sashiko mainly focuses on the result. When a stitcher focuses on the result of how it should be, it loses the rhythm of stitching. I know many stitchers stop stitching because they continue judging themselves (including myself – I hated Sashiko because of this).
Visible Mending, specially those colorful, that showing off the mending itself (Please try to find the articles about Boro is NOT a word for Visible Mending. It is in fact opposite.)
I do not like the Sashiko with the sense of “My Sashiko” that Sashiko with individualism. I have seen some who use the word “freedom” as an excuse to not to learn the Sashiko tradition. Individualism & freedom is good by itself. Improvisation & transformation is good. However, I want them to choose based on their preference, not by the capacity.
Non-geometric Patterns (like a drawing).
Sashiko from quick Questions that they can find the answers to if they spend a minute or so, and the result of Sashiko with superficial understanding of “What is Sashiko”.
The Sashiko with a sense of “Asking for Admiration as the Art” & “superficial niceness”
The Sashiko without any respect to the Japanese culture – which includes the western individualism of “How dare you tell me what to do”.
The Sashiko with perfectionism, such as One stitch by one stitch.
The Sashiko done by those who think they know Sashiko.
Just my Preference
Please be advised that this is merely “My” Sashiko preference. I have a partner (my mother, Keiko) in Sashiko activities, and she has her own preference, which somewhat similar, but a few are very much opposite.
I do not want to define what the Japanese Sashiko is here. The Sashiko I practice (the Sashiko I define) is definitely a part of Japanese Sashiko, but not equal to the Sashiko’s whole picture. Therefore, I have so many Social Media where I can think together what Sashiko is for Japanese, and to the world.
Please do not be discouraged to share/enjoy your Sashiko by learning my Sashiko preference. Extremely speaking, “What to make” is not that important. What make “Sashiko” is probably “How to approach the stitching”. I am still learning. I am just more experienced than many of you.
It would be great to keep sharing the Sashiko I love & the Sashiko you respect, and think together to pass down this ordinary, yet beautiful stitching culture.
*Anyone can join the Facebook Group. Please be advised that the group is NOT a place to find the tips for the techniques. It is a place to think what is the Sashiko for the Japanese people (in Japanese Culture). If you are willing to join, please read the guideline there.I made the Facebook group because I was so tired of seeing the Sashiko I do not like in the ocean of the Internet.
Last Update: May. 15th, 2020.
I will keep updating this article. You may find more information on Patreon Articles, if you are interested.
Upcycle Stitches & Sashi.Co are both online based business / a group of Sashiko artisans. We offer an option to visit us to look at our Sashiko items and supplies, but they are only available by appointment (all of the plans are canceled due to Covid-19 pandemic). We do not have a physical store where a customer can stop by casually (I sincerely wish to have one as a studio one day). As a result, I made 3 storefronts to provide the better service as well as create the sustainable business operation. Here is one of reasons why we have several Sashiko Storefront.
The website you are reading now is accompany with the official web store. It is the best place to receive the best supply & best service including various kinds of follow-up such as Q&A. Your information will be registered to the Shopping-Store System (We use Ecwid), and securely stored there for the future support.
I make the website as D.I.Y project (simply because I don’t have a budget for that.) Therefore, unfortunately, it may not be the most comfortable interface. However, I keep improving the system, and products availability here. Your choice & reviews on the products are very much appreciated. It means a lot for me so that I can continue this business to support the Sashiko.
Upcycle Stitches on Etsy is as equally important as the official website. I try to list the same item with almost the same price, and I try my best to offer the same service as well. (I separate the inventory for Official Store & Etsy, so sometimes there is a mismatch in quantity and pricing).
I started Etsy Store way before I made the Official Site. It has been a great experience with them, and I wanted to keep the Etsy store as the “back-up” market place as well as a place where I share “one-of-a-kind” items.
Your review on Etsy would be very much appreciated as well.
We also have a storefront in Amazon.com to sustain our business. It is impossible to deny the impact on our society by Amazon & how our mindset had changed due to their new standard – free 2-days shipping (I am not judging. I am one of them). However, as a service provider, no matter how hard I try, I cannot beat that service (I ship the item fairly quick, but not as fast as Amazon does).
Also, in order to establish a healthy business structure, a storefront in Amazon plays a great role. So, there is fair reasons to have the Amazon storefront, and I appreciate Amazon for providing me an option to survive. From here, it is more like a “business topic”, so please skip until the next paragraph if you do not wish to read this. The paragraphs with Italic Style are about the business (a bit of peek).
By offering multiple payment options, businesses can cater to a broader customer base and increase sales. Experience the reliability and excellence of the Top 20 Merchant Service Provider in your payment operations.
In order to have the better purchase price (wholesale price) from the manufacture, the quantity is(was) important until we establish the trust each other. Therefore, when I had a change, I purchased a lot of skeins of thread. As much as I would like to make a profit, reducing the inventory was the priority for the size of my business – so small to focus on the cash-flow instead of the actual profit-loss point. Amazon.com, where I did not need to spend much time in fulfilling the order, was a great solution for me to make it happen. Therefore,
In Amazon, a customer will get the same product as I offer on the official store. However, the customer will not receive the same attention from me for picking & packaging the item. Please choose what is more important for you – either 2-days free shipping or caring packages with praying for you to enjoy Sashiko from me. Please do not get me wrong. It is not about which is good or bad. It is all about the needs & choice. I enjoy Amazon & therefore I offer the choices from there. If you do not mind waiting extra day or so, I will be the one who make the package with the most sincere care I can think of.
Priority Support for your Sashiko
Sashiko is getting very popular in the world. I receive many questions & requests for my opinion & support for Sashiko. As much as I would like to answer/reply all of them, I am alone here as a normal human being. I cannot answer all of the questions I receive.
So, here is the priority for the support for your Sashiko.
(1) In-person Workshop graduate & Online Sashiko Class Students > (2) Customers via the Official Web Store = (3) Etsy Customer.
I will try my best to answer the questions & requests from our Sashiko friends (I consider students & customers as friends) in the category of (1)~(3) in a few business day.
Then, the priority continues as follow:
(1)~(3) > (4) Customer with leaving the review on Amazon > (5) Regular Amazon Customer > (6) Anyone else.
In principal, I will try my best to answer any questions from anyone. However, please understand that the people in the category of (5) and (6) may not receive a reply from me. I will prioritize the customer who left their generous review on Amazon to answer the questions, so it would be great if you could leave the review there. Please be advised.Since I use the Amazon Fulfillment Center to complete the order, any issue with the order will be resolved via Amazon Customer Service.
Again, I will try my best to answer all of the questions I receive. If you have a specific question that you would need to have my answer, please try to join the Online Sashiko Class. I will reply the email within a day or so (sometimes within 30 minutes).
Your review means a lot to sustain our business
As a small business owner, reviews from customers (friends) are very critical in our business operation. Although I will not be an apple-polisher to get the great review, I sincerely appreciate the review on your experience in the products/service.
I am not an easy person on SNS – where anyone can say anything. I get pretty aggressive to those who does not respect the Japanese culture (I assume all of my customers/friends are somewhat interested in Sashiko). However, as long as a person is caring & respectful what we do, I will try my very best to be a supportive, nice, and encouraging one to navigate you to your own Sashiko.
In a process of teaching the Sashiko we have been practicing for a long time, I often receive a question about “Japanese Boro”. Although it is quite challenging to describe what is Boro in words, let me keep trying to explain my understanding.
What is BORO | Definition
As I have been saying continuously, I believe there is no “right” and “wrong” in Sashiko. Therefore, defining words of Sashiko & Boro is unnatural to me. However, to be on the same page to begin with, I share the tentative definition for Sashiko and Boro.
Sashiko is a form of hand-stitching developed in Japanese ordinary days. The Japanese started stitching the fabric for the purpose of surviving in poverty. Sashiko transformed its form over time as a stitching for different purposes such as mending, strengthening, and decorating the fabric.
Boro is a ultimate result of repetitive Sashiko stitchings over and over for many generations. The Japanese had to use the fabric even it gets tattered beyond the normal usage. They patched the fabric and stitched to make the fabric usable. Boro is merely a result of continuous stitching.
In my understanding, Boro is not a term for a specific stitching technique. It is not a style of patch-working. Boro is the result of the Sashiko stitching, and therefore, the Boro and Sashiko are on the same line. Instead of “Sashiko (style) or BORO (style)”, I understand “Sashiko and then Boro”.
Boro tells stories of Anonymous People in Japan
I find Boro very beautiful and inspiring because Boro tells stories of many anonymous people who had stitched Sashiko for their life. Boro is the ultimate result of hand-stitching in the extreme situation that they had to stitch to that extend.
There are numbers of stories I would like to share regarding Boro and Sashiko. Here, I made a video before, and I plan to continue sharing the stories of Boro and Sashiko.
Authentic Boro and Boro-inspired Patchworking
The following question is about authenticity of Japanese Boro. It is quite difficult to define what is “authentic” in the category of the ordinary. In my understanding, Boro can be the Boro after many days & years of using the fabric. We can find many beautiful patchworks inspired by Boro & following the concept of recycling. Although I find them very inspiring, I wouldn’t call them “Boro”. Some of the Boro Collection exhibited in Amuse Museum Asakusa (which is now traveling the world – In NYC, Japan Society, for March to June in 2020) .
Please do not get me wrong. I am not saying which is better and not. Boro, Authentic Boro, Boro-inspired patchwork, and any other textile/fashion influenced the culture/appearance of Boro are very powerful.
Social Experiment as a Sashiko artisan
Since I believe Boro becomes the Boro by using in the ordinary days, with many mending & stitching over time, I have a Jacket I have been wearing and using in my ordinary days. This Jacket already looks like “Boro” because we used the vintage fabrics (which couldn’t become a part of Boro). This is my social experiment as a Sashiko artisan how I can leave this piece to the next society, let’s say a few decades later.
I always bring this Jacket to my In-person workshop. It would be great if you could touch it, feel it, and wear it when you have a chance to meet/see me.
More Articles about Boro from Atsushi
I have been sharing what is Boro & Sashiko. Please find the link below for more reading materials.
It has been almost 3 years since we have started the Online Store. Thanks to many understanding customers, we have completed hundreds of orders in the last 3 years. However, in this fall (October), a nightmare of all online business managers (I called it Sashiko Store Nightmare) finally happened to me as well…, it is a case of “tracking says ‘delivered’ yet the package is not actually delivered to the customer”, over international shipping. This is a log of how we handle this unfortunate accident.
*We had once (only once!) had a case of a missing package with a tracking record of “delivery” over domestic USPS shipping. It was also a sad and unfortunate experience, but the domestic is simpler because there is only one carrier to file a claim to. The customer was very understanding, and therefore I forgot about how scary the “missing package” can be.
You will get what you order
First of all, we will do everything we can think of to get you what you ordered. Please take a moment to read through our shipping policy, if you haven’t yet.
Although it is true in the article, “please understand that the missing & miss-delivered & stolen package after the package get into the Post Office System is out of our control”, we will not give up even if no carriers can resolve the issue. In the worst-case scenario, if the product is from the supply category (which something we can re-prepare), we will make another package for the 2nd attempt.
It is an unfortunate accident
The missing package with a tracking record of “delivered (completion of the carrier’s service)” is the worst-case scenario for the online shopper. It is the accident, or possibly a crime if the package was stolen.
Therefore, please understand that it is very important to take the proper step to file a claim, keep the records of what is going on, and how we can resolve it “together”. We are very sorry for any inconvenience due to the accident and sorry for the frustration of taking a long time to get a package. However, we as a seller are also a victim in this unfortunate accident.
If we are a big company like Amazon, then resending another package right away may be economically viable. For a big company, issuing a refund may be a much easier option to keep a customer happy. However, we cannot operate our business with the same logic as the other big company. Again, we will do our very best to resolve the issue.
How we concluded | Sashiko Store Nightmare Log
Here is a log of how we handled the unfortunate accident. We cannot expedite the process of Post Office Investigation or actual shipping. Therefore, we did our best to make a reply as soon as possible, even over the weekends. It was an international package from Japan via Japan Post with a help from Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya.
Sep.27th – Order Confirmed
Sep.28th – Package Posted via Japan Post
Oct.6th – Arrival at inward office of exchange (International)
Oct.14 – Final Delivery
Oct. 14 – Message from a customer that package “Not Delivered”.
Oct.14 – Reply from me with directions. Questions to understand the situation better.
Oct.16- File Claimed Local Post Office in Japan. (Although the person told me there is nothing they can do because their service is completed by the Final Delivery. I had asked to bring it to the upper position for the better
Oct.18 – Another update from the customer with confirming no mis-deilvery to the neighbors, no delivery person’s error (he didn’t see the package). Replied with another request to file a claim to the Local Post office for whereabout.
Oct. 22 – Second reply that there is nothing Japan Post can do.
Oct. 22 – The replacement package
Oct. 23 – The package is accepted to the Japan Post
Nov. 8 – Package arrival notification from the Japan Post System
Nov. 11 – Received confirmation from the customer.
It is not easy to deliver a package Internationally
This long process wouldn’t be necessary if this was domestic shipping, which means if the shipping address was within the USA or Japan.
Over the Internet, it became so much easier to purchase an item without visiting a store. On top of that, because of Amazon, we expect the package to be delivered within 2 days or so “no matter what”. However, with a small-sized business like us, it is a big deal to make international shipping. Please understand that international shipping can take a long time – and sometimes, it is risky to order one. We promise to deliver what you order, but we cannot promise “when” to be delivered. There is so many risk factor to guarantee the delivery date – missing package, rerouting the package, customs, and many more.
We are willing to continue the International shipping. However, please be advised that it “can” take a long time to complete the delivery. Please take your time to read our shipping policy.
We do ship Internationally.
Again, regardless of the risks (Sashiko Store Nightmare), we are willing to make a shipment to oversea address. It is our goal to share the Sashiko we practice. In order to achieve the goal, providing the materials and tools we use every day is very necessary. Since our business model doesn’t allow to have the “distributor”, the website is only one way to introduce what we use.
If you are ordering from the non-USA or Non-Japanese shipping address, please understand that there are risks of receiving packages a month or 2 months from the order day.
Alternatively, we offer an option to expedite all of the steps by upgrading the shipping method to “Express”. If your order is a time-sensitive package, please consider investing in the shipping (it will be like $40 more for only shipping). As I promised above, I will make sure & do our best that you will get the package regardless of shipping grade. However, please, please understand that it is outside of our effort, and it will take a long time to resolve it.
*Even the most expensive Express mail can be delayed due to the custom. We cannot control the custom at all, and we all should follow the law of each country.
Footnote of Sashiko Store Nightmare:
After we hear from the customer with receiving the package, we have asked them to revise the “review” on our services (it was on the product review category). Although we have not received the revisal yet, unfortunately, we wanted to inform everyone that Customer Support is very important to us and we will do everything we can think of.
I hope you can enjoy shopping with us without worrying about the shipment. Although we are not Amazon, which guarantees everything regardless of the condition, we will do everything we can think of. If you are in a hurry of receiving the order, please consider upgrading the shipping method as well.
We receive many inquiries about the Sashiko Class/Workshop in Japan. We only offer a Sashiko Class in Japan for those who took Atsushi’ Sashiko Workshop either In-person or Online. If you do not speak Japanese fluently and want to take a Sashiko Workshop offered by Keiko Futatsuya, please take Atsushi’s workshop first. The Online workshop is available for anyone, anywhere in the world (wherever the Japan post deliver the package to).
If you are fluent in Japanese, or a native Japanese, please find the detail on our Japanese website. Keiko occasionally offers a Sashiko class in Japan. You may organize the workshop after taking Atsushi’s Sashiko Class in Japanese as well.
VIsiting us to Japan
As much as we enjoy offering the workshop, we understand that there is a need for just a simple visit to Keiko for the purpose of enjoying her beautiful Sashiko pieces, and probably for the purpose of purchasing her Sashiko supplies directly from her.
However, we have a storefront (physical store or studio) neither in Japan nor the US. Keiko will open up her private house to show her collection and supplies when we can make an appointment together. It requires scheduling and a lot of preparation. We used to accommodate all of the requests to make an appointment with Keiko without any fee or agreement. However, after some sad experiences, we are setting up a condition to set up a date for the appointment.
So, please check the agreement for making the appointment to visit Keiko. If you plan to have a workshop with Keiko, there is no need to worry about it.
Agreement for making an appointment
You may contact Atsushi via email for making an appointment with Keiko for sharing her Sashiko piece and/or Sashiko supplies with agreeing on the terms and condition below.
As a setting up fee, the applicant agrees to pay 3,900 JPY per person at the point when the appointment is confirmed by Keiko. The part of this fund of 3,900 JPY, which will be over Paypal transaction, will be applied as the store credit when the applicant purchase an item(s) or supplies from Keiko in their visit to Keiko’s place. She will deduct the 3,500 JPY from the total (please understand that the 400 JPY is for the setup fee for Atsushi and its transaction fee).
Cancellation Policy is as below
30 days prior to the visit: 80% of the fee will be refunded.
7 days prior to the visit: 50% of the fee will be refunded.
1 day or no show: No refund available.
No funds will be refunded even if the visitor (an applicant who visited Keiko’s house) purchased less than 3,500 JPY amount of items or decided to not to purchase anything.
If you are a graduate of Atsushi’ Workshop, the 3,900 JPY of the advance payment will be waived.
In Keiko’s house,she strongly prefers cash as a payment option.
The location where to meet Keiko
Keiko’s Sashiko Class (or private pop-up store) in Japan will be mainly taken place in a city called Takayama in Gifu Prefecture. Although it is well-known for a great tourist destination, it is pretty far from Kyoto or Tokyo. Please make sure that your itinerary can cover the visit before contacting Atsushi. Keiko occasionally offers the workshops outside of her town. However, those workshops usually require the Japanese language skill (no translator will be available).
Please contact Atsushi when you know the specific date of your visit because Keiko’s schedule is quite packed as well. We cannot guarantee the appointment until Keiko confirms the date and time.
Where in Takayama?
Keiko lives in a house build on the “Old-Street” – San-no-machi. If you are visiting Takayama for a sight-seeing purpose, you will definately pass by the house she lives in now (It is the house I grew-up as well). Please be advised that it is NOT a storefront, so Keiko will share her works & supplies in her residential space. It is, however, a great opportunity to see & feel what she makes.
Learn what we offer
Before the visit (or even before contacting Atsushi), it is strongly recommended to read through some of the articles on this website. Some of the critical information you need to read in advance are:
Other workshop teachers in Japan
Since we do not issue any certification to be the “Sashiko teacher” on behalf of us, there is no other teacher who can offer the same workshop. However, from the graduates of Atsusih’s Sashiko Workshop in Japanese, there are several students who are very good & willing to share the culture, technique, and wisdom of Sashiko we have been sharing.
They may not be English friendly teachers (they may speak only in Japanese). However, if you happen to visit somewhere nearby, it may be a good idea to contact them. As of 2019, please contact me first so I can pass the contact information individually.
List of Sashiko artisans who may be able to arrange the workshop.
Our main goal is to share the Sashiko we are proud of
We take customer satisfaction seriously. The happiness of customers (visitors, participants, and any people we encounter) are very important to us. However, the first priority is to continue in sharing the Sashiko we are proud of. This is one of the biggest difference between us and the other big company. The customer service does not come first.
We will do our best to make it happen. Your interest is what makes Sashiko alive in the future, and we respect your interest and passion. We just want you to respect what we do as well. I hope this change of terms and conditions are somewhat agreeable.
Keiko and I are looking forward to meeting (seeing) you.
I summarized the wisdom of “Sashiko Overlay stitching (not making knots in Sashiko)” in the previous blog post. I tried my best, but I felt that the writing wasn’t good enough to share the whole picture I wanted to express. So I made a follow-up video about Sashiko Boro Knots and much more & its transcript.
Sashiko Boro Knots are on the same page
We tend to fantasize the words, especially when it is not in our language, but Sashiko Boro Knots are on the same page & category. They are all on the one line of “how to appreciate the fabric and care for the others”.
I hope I explained well in this follow-up video.
Script for the Follow-Up Video
Thank you for watching our Sashi.Co videos. This is Atsushi.
Today, I would like to talk about a topic of, “Do we make a knot in Sashiko stitching?” from a cultural perspective. I was raised in an environment that every artisan usually did not use knots in the beginning and ending of Sashiko stitching. Therefore, it wasn’t even a question for me to explain if we use knots or not. I hope I can share the reasons why we do overlay stitching instead of making knots. It is wisdom in Sashiko.
Do you see that the little thread tale there? That is the point we stop the thread by doing overlay stitching. We could have cut the thread tale completely off to make the backside of this piece as the finished side. And, yes, it is the backside, wrong side, or hiding side of the Sashiko stitching.
The side you are looking at now is the front side or finished side of this Sashiko project. And then, we flip the fabric, and it is the backside of the Sashiko project. The goal of the wisdom in not making knots is to finish both sides of the fabric as beautiful as the finished side.
At some point in the history, in some rural village in Japan, they didn’t have enough fabric to use for lining. Therefore, they needed to use the single layer fabric as the “finished” piece. It is wisdom & technique to maximize the fabric by Sashiko.
For the technique of “Sashiko with not making knots”, please check another video in this Sashi.Co Channel. I have explained how to do overlay stitching there.
How about Boro and knots in stitching.
It is case by case and hugely depends on your preference. Therefore, I would need to explain it by using several examples such as Boro-inspired, and Boro to piece, and Boro we revived over time.
The fabric on the screen is the finished side of Boro-Inspired piece we made. We find the vintage Japanese fabric with severe damage, and patch them to make the fabric look like Boro. This piece requires many spot mending with “flayed fabric”, so we needed to use the knots to keep the fabric secure. Please confirm that the knots are relatively big in comparison to the other sewing projects. It is because the vintage fabric is so fragile that the small & tight knots could damage the fabric instead of holding it together even if we use the Sashiko thread we recommend. It is kind of the part where “art” kicks in to make Boro-inspired fabric with using the appropriate fabric with the appropriate knots, as knots as the part of Boro.
Boro to be fabric.
The fabric on the screen now is so-called “Boro to be fabric” that we have been working on. When we get a good vintage fabric with good condition, we enjoy patchworking them with thinking to make it Boro in the future by using it in our ordinary life. I started working on this fabric in 2018, so it is a pretty new piece. I try to avoid knots as much as possible. It is my preference that I would like to have the softness of overlay stitches. The fabric isn’t frayed or severely damaged so I can secure the stitches with just overlay stitching and our Sashiko thread. Please understand that I am not saying, “I never use knots”. There are some parts that I use knots in this project as well. This is an example of Boro to be fabric with as fewer knots as I can.
Boro we revived.
The last piece I introduce is the Boro we revived. I think there are many ways to define the Boro. One definition we have is that the Boro is the piece of fabric after so many usages and continuous repair. The fabric on the screen is one example we followed this “using” and “repairing” process. It looked like the Boro to be fabric at the beginning of the project, and over time, we kept practicing Sashiko on it. This fabric needed to use the knots to repair, and also we kept stitching with overlay stitching. You can see both of them in the piece.
I hope this video explains that there is no such thing as the “definitive answer” to the question for Sashiko stitching knots or not. After all, it is all about the preference, and you can do what you would like to do. As a Sashiko artisan who was raised in the Sashiko environment, I just wanted to share that there is more than “technique” in these topics.
It is one of the frequently asked questions regarding the Sashiko we practice; Sashiko without making knots. We usually (traditionally) do not make knots in stitching. then how do we secure the stitching in the beginning and ending?
I have explained about the technique of “Sashiko without making knots” here. So I will not mention the topic of “Sashiko without making knots” from the technical perspective. Instead, I would like to share “the resons of why” we practice the Sashiko without Making knots.
Being proud of our artisanship & aesthetics
As you may have learned already (as I kept mentioning all the time), Sashiko was developed as the process of appreciating the fabric. The “appreciation” include the mending and strengthening the fabric. In the rural village where people needed to do Sashiko, adding the back fabric (lining) on top of the “wrong side = hiding side = back side” of the fabric was kind of too luxury to do. In short, the Japanese did Sashiko stitching because they couldn’t get the extra fabric. For this reasons, we respect the original form of Sashiko stitching by using the single layer fabric without hiding the backside of fabric we stitch on (We practice Sashiko stitching by looking at the backside of fabric).
When we work on a project with the purpose of making both sides as the finished side, the knot can be a bit of obstacles. Personally, I feel the knots bother the rhythm and evenness of Sashiko stitching. In other words, I feel like the knots interrupt a good dialogue between thread and fabric.
So, the first reason we try to avoid knots is merely to satisfy our standard. We simply prefer the way it looks without the knots.
Photos of Sashiko without making knots
I hope you “do not” see the difference between the backside of the Sashiko item below. It is our goal to finish the both side, front (finished) side and back (hiding) side as beautifully & equal as possible.
How about knots in Boro?
We also try to avoid making knots in a process of Boro making as much as we can. However, depends on the project, making knots will be the only method to keep the fabric on.
When we have a chance to do Sashiko stitching with an intention to make it Boro like with fairly good strong fabric, we try to do backstitching more often, then hide the thread tales under the fabric. In order to make a Boro-looking piece, we need layers of fabric, so it isn’t that difficult to hide the thread tale. A bit of thread tale helps to avoid the unfortunate event of thread coming off.
I hope you aren’t confused about the technique. It is all about preference & availability. We are making Boro after all. Making Boro (& enjoying Boro) means that the fabric may require the continuous mending & stitching. So a bit of thread coming off isn’t a problem at all.
ersonally speaking, I prefer the smoothness of Boro rather than having the knots. So we try to avoid them when we have a choice.
Again, In order to “patch” or “stick” the completely shattered fabric on the other Boro piece, we do use knots. Please understand that it is not a rule, it is merely a choice based on the preference.
The possible problem with Knots
Let me share some of the possible problem with knots in enjoying Sashiko. Although I strongly believe “You can do what you want (preference)” for this issue, I would like to share some of the possible concerns from our experience.
A: Fabric can shrink and stretch
The purpose of Sashiko thread is different from the other sewing thread: to be the part of fabric over time. Over time, many washing and wearing, the fabric can shrink and stretch. When we make knots at both edges of the thread, it doesn’t allow to wiggle in a process of stretching and shrinking (I believe). It is very insignificant, but I feel the “harmony” of the fabric & threads can be better when the thread can move in the fabric a bit.
Back stitching (overlay stitching) secure the stitching by the unique twists. It is more like letting the threads entangled naturally rather than making a knot artificially. So I prefer not to make knots when I work on Sashiko.
B: Thread is stronger than fabric. The knot is much more strong than thread.
Another problem is that the thread is made from cotton, and the new cotton can be pretty strong in comparison to the vintage fabric (even it is 100% cotton). The knot can end up with making a hole or damaging the fabric, so be attentive when you work on Boro & knots.
B: Too much time to make knots.
This may sounds kind of crazy, but this is a significant issue for me. It is much time-efficient to NOT to make knots.
Sashiko for the ordinary days
Sashiko was developed as the stitching method to fulfill the ordinary needs of the fabric in the Japanese ordinary life. Therefore, we believe there is no rule and restriction. It is sincerely up to you to decide either you want to make the knots or not. However, if you do not know how to do it, I recommend trying it. I prefer not making knots over the experience I have in making the knots.
When do we make knots, then?
Regardless of this blog contents, there are occasions for me to apply the knots in our Sashiko projects. Here are a few occasions I can think of.
When the pattern requires knots for decorative purposes. For example, in the center of flower design, we may want to have bigger dots than the stitches. In that case, we make knots.
When the patches require a strong connection to the patch. For example, when I need to patch the denim, I occasionally use knots to make sure it is secured. The denim is stronger than the cotton thread.
When we work on the “Boro-looking” fabric for the purpose of making like a Boro. We attentively use the severly damaged fabric to be patched on. It requires knots to patch.
I have asked around my friends and teachers if they make knots or not. All of them answered, “Usually no”. So for us, not making a knot is pretty normal idea of enjoying Sashiko. In short, it was my understanding that the Sashiko requires overlay stitches until I move to the U.S. so I didn’t think of explaining it with so much details.
It is very important to verbalize the culture to share. At the same time, we all know that the words cannot express everything in it. I hope, one day, I can meet you in person and share the items I took photos with. When you touch and feel the actual item, you will understand much deeper what I am talking about.
I appreciate questions & opportunities to share the culture & its development.
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.
Introduce who you are.
Explain what you would like to the person to do with the details
Explain what is the “benefit” of the person’s doing if it is for the first time.
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.
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. On Recovery Delivered center there are countless treatment options a person can choose from, some people with severe forms of addiction enter a detox program before transitioning into rehab.
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.