Atsushi’s Sashiko Preference as a Sashiko Artisan

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 Preference

Indigo Dye Thread on the Indigo Dyed Vintage Fabric (Authentic Indigo Dye) with running stitch. This is just beyond the words.

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

  1. 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. 
  2. Modest Invisible Mending (Mending is visible, but not showing off.
  3. The Sashiko with the sense of “Our Sashiko” that Sashiko with deep consideration to others, thoughtfulness, and stories, which may be categorized as “collectivism”.
  4. Geometric Patterns (because of their stories)
  5. The Sashiko come out of well thought questions with learning, before asking – and the result of Sashiko with well-understanding of “What is Sashiko”.
  6. The Sashiko with a sense of“Wabi-Sabi” & Japanese Courtesy.
  7. The Sashiko with full respect to the Japanese culture – which occasionally include some Japanese language (just trying).
  8. The Sashiko with Flow – running stitch.
  9. 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

  1. 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).
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.
  4. Non-geometric Patterns (like a drawing). 
  5. 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”.
  6. The Sashiko with a sense of “Asking for Admiration as the Art” & “superficial niceness” 
  7. The Sashiko without any respect to the Japanese culture – which includes the western individualism of “How dare you tell me what to do”. 
  8. The Sashiko with perfectionism, such as One stitch by one stitch.
  9. The Sashiko done by those who think they know Sashiko.

Just my Preference

Keiko with more playful mind enjoy her own Sashiko. In contrast, I as more conservative Sashiko artisan doesn’t prefer the red fabric in the Boro-to-be fabric.

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.


Reasons why we have several Sashiko

Reasons why we have several Sashiko Storefront.

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.

This is a edited version of post on Feb. 2019


Official Web Store

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.


Etsy Store // Upcycle Stitches

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.


Amazon Storefront of Upcycle Stitches

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).


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.

Thank you very much for your time, in advance.

What is Boro

What is BORO | Story from Fabrics in Japan

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

We keep stitching and stitching so the fabric can be usable even after generation of using.

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.

Website about Japanese Boro – Boro Studio

The first article I wrote about Japanese Boro.
Trying to understand what is authenticity in Boro.
The summary of What is Sashiko

Sashiko Store Nightmare Cover

Sashiko Store Nightmare | a missing package Log

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.

Sashiko Class in Japan

Sashiko Class in Japan | Visiting us to Japan

In 2019, we start getting many inquiries about the Sashiko Class 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, mainly in Gifu Prefecture.


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 (About $35.00 USD) 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 3,900 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. When you would like to use the credit card, please expect 5% fee for the transaction fee for Atsushi to help Keiko to make it happen.

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.


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.

Sashiko Boro Knots Cover

Sashiko Boro Knots and more | Follow-up Video

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.

https://www.youtube.com/c/sashico

Script for the Follow-Up Video

Hello.

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.

Boro-Inspired Piece.

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.

Previous Article

Sashiko without making knots Cover

Sashiko without making knots |Reasons of why

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.

The technical explanation how to NOT to make knots in Sashiko.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


Follow-up Video of Sashiko without making knots

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. 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.

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.


What are the recommendation for books?

There are many good books about Sashiko available in English. However, unfortunately, I do not know a book which covers the principal, philosophy, history, culture and techniques that I would like pass down in Sashiko comprehensively. Therefore, I keep writing our principal, philosophy, and techniques here to share the Sashiko we practice.

This is a list of links you can learn.

  • Patreon – I share my honest & sincere stories here.
  • Instagram – I update everyday. I behave in what I write after experiencing some sad “argument”.
  • Youtube – Not my comfort zone, but I try my best.
  • This website – Many random articles, but this is the origin of everything.
  • Facebook Group – Open to anyone who would like to respect the Japanese Sashiko.

If you read Japanese, then the recommendation would be books written by Ms. Eiko Yoshida.


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”.


Your stitches are so even. How can I make them even?

The key is “to try not to make them even.” When one focuses on the result (the evenness), the stitches tends to be less even. We as human cannot keep the concentration for so long time. Instead, learn the Unshin (needle movement – rhythmical stitching) so you can stitch with relaxation.

Do you measure the thickness of onion slice when you cut it for salad? If you are good at cooking, then the answer should be “what? no!!”. The same goes to Sashiko.

Video about Unshin & Rhythmical Stitching