Sashiko Workshop in Gladstone NJ

Sashiko Workshop in Gladstone NJ | October 19th, 2019

Another great opportunity to learn Sashiko Stitching from Atsushi Futatsuya. We are offering the Sashiko Workshop in Gladstone NJ. In a very calm area with beautiful scenery, we will be offering the exact same workshop contents as we do in the center of New York City. Drive up to the beautiful town, Gladstone NJ, and if weather permits, we may be able to have a stitching time outside under beautiful sunlight.

After covering the core and basic of Sashiko (for about 4 hours), I will talk about how we apply the Sashiko technique to a mending project. You may bring your own garment with damage and/or a hole so you can actually apply it while learning the Sashiko stitching from Atsushi.


Join Sashiko Workshop in Gladstone NJ

Date and Time: Saturday, October 19th 10 am to 4 pm

Location: A Maker’s Circle

1150 Pottersville Rd, Gladstone, NJ 07934

Please register your seat from the link below.

https://amakerscircle.com/shop/sashiko-stitching-workshop/


Hand-on Learning Opportunity

Atsushi will stand right next to you to teach you the core of Sashiko.

As I have been mentioning on this website and SNS, the Sashiko stitching workshop is a learning opportunity. The workshop will be intensive stitching time with Atsushi’s guidance to understand the core and basic of Sashiko stitching. Atsushi will be there prepared for your needs.

How to apply to Mending a garment

Per request from A Maker’s Circle, I will spend about an hour to talk about how I apply the Sashiko technique to the Mending, including the visible mending project. Sashiko gets its popularity over the visible mending and slow stitching, and you will have time to use the technique you learn in the workshop to your own garment in the workshop.

Sashiko Workshop in Gladstone NJ

It is a Maker’s “Circle”

When I learned about what a Maker’s Circle does to create a community for creators, I immediately open my heart to them. I made a visit to learn what they do. Creating and maintaining a place where creators, artisans, and artists can get together is our dream. It is our honor to be part of their programs as Sashiko Workshop in Gladstone NJ.

Types of Sashiko Workshops

Quick Update | Types of Sashiko Workshops by Atsushi

I received a question about types of Sashiko Workshops. With receiving so many requests, we limited the types of Sashiko Workshops by Atsushi. However, you may get confused because of the different locations and offers. Please read this article carefully, and hopefully, I can meet you in one of the Sashiko workshops in NYC.


Only One Workshop to start. Only One.

There is only one workshop for you to start enjoying the Sashiko as we practice. It is “Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Core and Basic)”. We offer it in NY/NJ area and Online.

Then, you may think, why are there so many workshop choices (advertisement) sent from Atsushi? I will explain the difference here. However, the baseline is that all of the workshops I teach in NYC provide the same contents. When I do something completely different, I will clearly mention (and most likely, it will have a prerequisite of the Sashiko Stitching Workshop – Core and Basic).

Difference: One type, yet types of Sashiko workshops

One of the biggest reasons I offer the same workshops in different locations is that I do not have a physical storefront in NYC (in fact, nowhere in the world yet). Therefore, I humbly accept the offer from those “thoughtful” organizations who would like to share the Sashiko with understanding my mission and philosophy. Starting in 2018, thanks to the biggest supporter Sharon, I can offer the workshop organized by my company, Upcycle Stitches LLC.

1) – Who organizes the workshop

If the workshop is offered in TriBeCa and/or registration is on our website (https://upcyclestitches.com/), then the Sashiko stitching workshop is offered by Atsushi & Upcycle Stitches LLC. This happens a few times a year, usually in Spring and late Fall.

If the registration page for the workshop is on other organization’s website, then it is organized by the third party, which I respect enough to offer the workshop under. For 2019, I plan to work with organizations below.

Regardless of who organizes the workshop, the contents are the same. Atsushi teaches with using the exact same materials.


2) – Class Size of the workshop

Another difference is the Class Size. Generally speaking, the workshop offered by Upcycle Stitches will have a smaller class size.

  • Workshop by Upcycle Stitches – 6 Participants (Max of 8).
  • Workshop by the 3rd party – 10~14 Participants.

Since one of the important parts of the workshop is the individual attention with my hands on your hands, the bigger class size requires the longer workshop, which leads to the difference in duration below (3)


3) – Duration of the workshop

Generally speaking, the workshop offered by the 3rd party have longer workshop time.

  • Workshop by Upcycle Stitches – 3.5 hours of duration (no break)
  • Workshop by the 3rd party – 6~7 hours of duration (include a break)

The core of Sashiko will be delivered in the first hour of the workshop. Then, with stitching intensively with Atsushi’s individual attention, the participant will get a rhythm in Sashiko stitching. Since I would like to have a room in mind to spend at least 5~15 minutes on everyone, this is the least length for the workshop.

For the longer workshop, I may add some of “more stories” related to Sashiko stitching. Some organizers ask me to plan the “extra stories” in advance, like “please talk about the visible mending”. Otherwise, I will ask the participants for their interests and accommodate the “extra stories”. This will not likely to happen in the workshop organized by Upcycle Stitches because I will be talking non-stop for the 3.5 hours of the workshop.


Other Note to unconfuse you.

  • It takes a bit of time to schedule the workshop in TriBeCa offered by Upcycle Stitches LLC. The seats usually get sold out after several announcements. I recommend you fill out the form here to be on the priority email list to get the very first notification from us. We also offer the “pre-paid ticket” which can be redeemed for Sashiko Stitching Workshop offered by Upcycle Stitches LLC (not by the others). This pre-paid ticket also have the limit because of the size of Sashiko workshop (about 6 per session).
  • Occasionally, to accommodate the organizer’s request, we offer the bigger size workshop which may limit the individual attention to participants from me. Regardless of the size of the workshop, as long as the duration is more than 3 hours, I will do my best to deliver the same message and technique to the audience.

For Graduates of the Sashiko Stitching Workshop by Atsushi

We occasionally offer another workshop so-called “HitomeZashi Workshop“. This workshop is only available for those who took the Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Core and Basic) with more than 3 hours length session.

The workshop description will say the prerequisite of Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Core and Basic), so you will know which one is different from the others.

*I occasionally offer the preview version of Sashiko Workshop for the length of fewer than 2 hours. I sincerely believe the participant needs at least 2.5 hours of stitching with the instructor in presence to feel the core of Sashiko stitching. Please understand that those who took the preview workshop will not satisfy the prerequisite for the other advanced workshops.

Also, I started a project of Sashiko subscription throughout the platform Patreon. As the same as the Sashiko workshop, I won’t disappoint you for this journey as well. Please check the Patreon Page and look for “Sashiko Continous Learning” option.


Other Types of Sashiko Workshops by Atsushi (in Past)

  • Sashiko Mending Workshop
  • Sashiko Denim Workshop

We have done quite a variety of types of Sashiko workshops (in related) in the past. It was fun and a pleasure to share my knowledge and expertise. As of 2019, I only offer the Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Core and Basic) and occasional Hitomezashi Sashiko Workshop to share the core of the Sashiko we practice.

Sashiko Workshop Purl Soho Cover

Purl Soho Sashiko Workshop Fall 2019

It is my pleasure to announce that I will be coming back to Purl Soho. A happy announcement of Purl Soho Sashiko Workshop Fall 2019. This is our 3rd opportunity to offer the Sashiko Workshop in Purl Soho studio. All of them have been our most pleasure with very good feedbacks from the participants. I will bring “everything about the Sashiko we practice” to you, with passion and details.


Date and Time:

Saturday, September 21st 10 am to 4 pm

Location:

403 Broome Street, New York City

Please register your seat from the link below.

https://www.purlsoho.com/sashiko-workshop-september-21-10-4pm.html


In the center of Soho – where people enjoy making

I share many photos of Sashiko on the Internet, especially on Instagram. As much as I enjoy sharing the beautiful photos, the true beauty (fun) of Sashiko can be communicated over touching and feeling. The workshop is a rare opportunity for me to share the Sashiko collections of I have been adding and enjoying. I also share many “stories” about Sashiko. I believe you will find “what Sashiko is like” from the Japanese perspective.

https://www.purlsoho.com/sashiko-workshop-september-21-10-4pm.html

It is a Learning Opportunity

We call it “Sashiko Stitching Workshop.” However, it is not a type of workshop like “Let’s do Sashiko together.” It is a learning opportunity for you with intensive stitching with Atsushi – the Sashiko artisan who was born in Sashiko family.

If you have not to figure out how to use the unique round-shape thimble in Sashiko stitching, I can promise this workshop will be the eye-opening experience for you.

Join us, Sashiko Workshop Purl Soho

Sashiko is not all about making one perfect stitch. It is about enjoying the process of stitching – we call it “Rhythmical (mindful) stitching”. By joining the workshop, I will teach you everything you need to know (do) to master the Unshin (needlework) movement.

I look forward to meeting you there and sharing the Sashiko we have been practicing.


Other Sashiko Workshop Schedule in 2019

Sashiko Patreon

Sashiko Patreon | Be Patron for our Sashiko

I have been sharing a lot of Sashiko stories (history, traditions, culture, and wisdom of Sashiko) on Instagram and Facebook. It was my pleasure to share what we are proud of and receiving many comments with respects. However, from time to time, I received some thoughtless comments that bothered me very much. 99% of the comments were encouraging, so I probably should ignore the haters… However, by nature of the core message of Sashiko we practice, I couldn’t ignore the uncomfortable comments. I wish I could help them understand why we share the Sashiko (although they did not even read what I wanted to share). After long consideration, I decided to move our platform to Sashiko Patreon Page. There, I will only share the stories with the supporters. It is not the best outcome to ask for the fee $5.00 / per month and up), I couldn’t think of other ways to filter those “thoughtless” people that I encounter. I would rather continue this journey of Sashiko Sashiko rather than completely cease spending my time on that. Here, this is a favor to ask to join the Sashiko Patreon Community to share the beautiful photos and stories about Sashiko. Also, I explain how to use the Patreon Page more efficiently to share the Sashiko we practice.


To read the Sashiko Journey on Sashiko Patreon

Most of the contents I make on the Sashiko Patreon page will be available for those who became the patron for our Sashiko activities. Once you become a patron, please enjoy our posts as Sashiko Journey and other announcements.

Sashiko Journey

I named the “story sharing” I had been enjoying on IG and FB to “Sashiko Journey”. After clicking the Post tab, please filter the posts by choosing the “Sashiko Journey” tag. You will see a list of the stories I share. Usually, the article complete as one article. No matter where you start reading, it should be enjoyable (although I recommend reading chronologically). When I would like to share the story over several articles, I will mention “To be Continued” or “Continued” on each article.

First, visit Sashiko Patreon Page (https://www.patreon.com/sashiko) and click the Posts tab.

To read the stories as Instagram or Facebook, please choose the #SashikoJourney Tag on left.

For the special deal for Patrons, please check the “Announcement” Tag on the left column.

Announcement of what we do

Besides the Sashiko Journey, I plan to share the useful information on what we do. Most of the core information is already on our website & previous posts. However, it is challenging to find the one you would like to know since the amount of writing I made is quite huge. I will optimize the information so you will enjoy what we write easily.

I sincerely appreciate the patrons. They are the one who actually took action. So, I would like to provide the priority and privilege in that Patreon community as well.


Why Patreon. Why Fee?

When I started sharing the stories about Sashiko on IG and FB, I did not expect that much return to what I did. I simply wanted to share the Sashiko we practice, the Sashiko we are proud of. It is not my best interest to ask for the fee.

However, over time, I received many “same” questions and similar thoughtless comments from the audience. I confirmed the similarity in those contacted me without thinking through. They did not read what I wrote – and asked for the quick solution or answer.

By setting the fee, I thought I could filter those who want to get a “quick” answer. If their interest is shallow, they wouldn’t spend money on reading what I share. That was the only filter I could think of to protect myself.

Also, with receiving the fee, I can be more attentive to answer the questions and requests, which I had been doing with fun on IG and FB. I will no longer answer the questions on IG and FB (unless it is a very thoughtful question). On Patreon page, I will answer pretty much all the questions about Sashiko (only cultural, historical and spiritual part of Sashiko – Please take the Sashiko workshop for the technical questions).


I sincerely appreciate your support on Patreon. I enjoy sharing what I have accumulated over 10 years, or 25 years including the childhood I was wondering in a Sashiko family environment. It seems I have unlimited words in my brain to share. The more I write, the more I would like to share. I try my best to keep sharing the quality information there.

The core of Sashiko exists in practicing (actual stitching). However, sharing the words would be so much embracing who we really are.

Sashiko Contribution

Sashiko Contribution | when you need Atsushi to write

In 2019, I experienced the steep increase of inquiries asking me to write my insight, opinion, or understanding of Sashiko in the form of the contribution to an article to magazines, brochures, and books. As much as I would like to be their help, I have very limited capacity in 2019. So here is the policy for Sashiko Contribution that I can offer.



Sashiko Contribution for Academic Purpose

If you would like to have my writing for your research in the academic organization such as a university, please contact me with your academic background, the name of the institution, and possibly the thesis statement for your research.

I am happy to contribute to the development of Sashiko in the academic setting. The Sashiko contribution will be free of charge, and I will do my best to share what I have.

Although it is free of charge to write, it would be very much appreciated if you could take the workshop Atsushi offers (In-person and/or Online).


Sashiko Contribution for Commercial Purpose

If you would like to have my writing for the commercial purpose, such as publishing a book, a brochure for your organization (including the one with Non-Profit Organization), and your business, I will ask for the fee based on your requests and the purpose for the writing. When you contact me, please offer the fee you are thinking of. I will consider your inquiry attentively and get back to you. If you are not willing to pay for my writing yet would like to have them on your media, please try to follow the basic procedure below.

Please do not handle this lightly. A page of me writing about Sashiko may sound an easy job. However, if I am the one who writes, there will be a responsibility to what I write.

I am not a professional writer. English is my second language. However (therefore), I have to be very careful in writing what I would like to communicate. I cannot just write up without careful.


Free Sashiko Contribution?

I no longer accept the Probono work. I learned that people will handle the “free stuff” very lightly and less mindfully.

However, I also understand that it is unusual to pay compensation for just simply writing. So, here is my boundary. Please follow the list below, and I will be happy to be part of your work.

  1. Take the Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Core and Basic), either In-person or Online Sashiko Class.

That’s it. I want the writer (author) to know what I am sharing with the Sashiko we practice. The best way is to take the well-structured workshop I offer.

Other favors to ask to have a better mutual understanding and respect would be:

  1. Support us via Patreon and read my stories
  2. provide me a few copies of publications when it is in the market

For the Probono (No fee) work, please understand that the writing itself is my property, and you will just use them as the reference on your book.


Other than Sashiko Contribution

For non-native English amateur writer like me, “Writing (leaving the solid documents)” on something deeply related to Japanese culture is very challenging and scary. There is a huge risk of misunderstanding when I do not write the paragraph attentively and carefully.

The fee is for my time to be careful and thorough to what I write. If it is a matter of you writing based on what I write (Interpretation of what I have written), then I wouldn’t ask for the fee. Again, I am not a professional writer.

In those cases, please kindly inform me that you are referring my writing (when, where and about what). Please apply the appropriate citation standard as well. I will give you permission to use as the reference, but I will not give up the copyright.


Interview as the Alternative

Phone or Video-chat interview would be a good alternative to save the fee. Although at this point, I am not sure if I should do the interview for free of charge, I would like to see how it goes. Since it will be my merely talking about Sashiko, and you summarizing what I say as your interpretation, then I wouldn’t probably need that much return in this process.

If you are interested in interviewing me, please provide the list of information below.

  • The media that you would use the interview on.
  • The list of question in advance to the actual interview
  • Why you would like to have my comments on your media.

Using the current media as References

We have many media where I share the insight, understanding, and wisdom of the Sashiko we practice. Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and this website.

A lot of your questions and interests are already discussed on either media. It would be very respectful of you to look for the topic first on those media first.

Instagram to Patreon

I had been sharing many stories about the Sashiko we practice on Instagram with many photos. With some unfortunate events, I decided to stop writing so many contents on Instagram – where anyone can see and say what they want out of their mind. Instead, I will keep the journey of sharing the Sashiko insights on the Patreon, where I ask a monthly contribution so I can spend a good amount of time to share & discuss if there is any conflict.

When you are interested in the Sashiko we practice to the level of asking me to write about the Sashiko we practice, it would be so much helpful to be a supporter and read through what I have been sharing first.


I am a human after all. As much as I respect the policy I implemented here, I have a preference in who I will be working together. When you ask me questions indicating you have not read my words mindfully before, then I will be discouraged to work with you. When I can tell you read and respect what I write, then I will be happy to work with. I may accept the offer even without the fee and specific purpose on the media.

I believe what I am asking here is reasonable. When you ask for someone to spend their time, you would either need to compensate for their time, or you spend the same amount of time in knowing who you are asking for.

Thank you very much for your understanding. Enjoy Sashiko Stitching and also reading my writing on Patreon. Remember, though. The truth exists in practice (stitching).

High Context Sashiko Cover

High Context Sashiko Culture | Enjoy in between

Cultural Appropriation can be very hurtful when it is done intentionally. Although it is not less painful to see the Cultural Appropriation regardless of the situations, when it is done unintentionally, we can consider it as a good opportunity to learn each other. We all make a mistake. It is very important to accept the difference. When a person crosses the boundary of cultural appropriation unintentionally, a simple apology would be just enough. It is a good opportunity to have a cultural mutual understanding. In order to promote good cultural mutual understanding in Japanese culture, I would like to introduce the concept of High and Low Context Culture, which lead to a topic of Super High Context Sashiko Culture.

Crossing the boundary in Cultural Appropriation intentionally, knowing that could hurt the origin, would be unacceptable. However, occasionally, I observe the 2 groups stay on the different page although they both try to mean good. They hurt each other with hoping to understand each other. It is not a matter of intention. There gotta be some situation behind the communication itself. The answer can be the concept of High and Low Context Culture described by Edward T. Hall, 1976, “Beyond Culture”

Here, this is my assumption (with learning High Context Culture) for the unfortunate discussion regarding the Cultural Appropriation in Japanese culture. It may be very much affected how the Japanese language is structured. Again, I will always stand up for the Cultural Appropriation with intention of hurting and/or repainting the culture. Minimizing the culture and repainting the origin will insult the people who live in the Japanese culture. At the same time, it is our Japanese responsibility to consider why it happens -if one means good, then it may be because of the language difference.


Reading between the lines of sentences.

Japanese is the language to expect an ability to read between the lines of conversations. Edward T. Hall once described this as the “High Text Culture (Language)” in his book “Beyond Culture” published in 1976.

Here is a bit more detail. Surprisingly for English speakers, the Japanese language sometimes doesn’t require the subject and object in the sentence. Here is an example.

Let’s say you and I are enjoying a road trip. We talked about where to go but we do not have GPS on. When you want to ask me if we will get to the destination soon or not, you would say, “Are WE gonna get to the _____(destination) soon?”. 

In the Japanese language, in the same situation, you would just say “Soon, (We) get there, right? – もうすぐ着くよね?” 

In this example, the word “We” is omitted because it is already assumed mutually. We expect others to anticipate what the one is saying. 

This can get to the extreme when the relationship is close (like family or close friend). A Japanese may say, “Soon Arrive? – すぐ着く?”. It is not about being polite or not. We omit the words that are considered as a mutual assumption. Of course, it is not the polite language we also have. However, this is the matter of mutual understanding we expect in between. The more amount of information we expect to share, the fewer words are needed. 


English as the ultimate tool to communicate.

*I am not an expert in linguistics. Please forgive my misunderstanding if you find any. I am more than happy to consider re-writing.


In contrast, English is very well-optimized for the purpose of communication. Telling, “who does what, when, where and how (which)” is the fundamental of English. Even within a close family, we naturally use the subjects, and rarely omit it to avoid misunderstanding. 

English is the language with adapting so many difference in the history of immigration and globalization. In order to avoid misunderstanding, it has to be clear about what we are communicating. On the other hands, the Japanese languages were (are) mainly spoken by Japanese. We communicate based on the fact that the conversation partners know the language and culture of Japan.

It is too much to ask non-Japanese people to understand the Japanese language and the logic behind it. However, I believe, it is reasonable to ask everyone to appreciate the Japanese language when they are willing to learn the Japanese culture.

This perspective – High and Low context –  is another perspective why it is so difficult for Japanese to learn English, and the English speaker to learn Japanese.


Importance of Assumption (Premise)

When we learn about the new culture, it is very important not only learn the practice itself, but also the mindset behind it. The mindset often involves the assumption (premise). When the premise is not mutually agreed, the discussion can go very painful for both parties. 

In Japanese, as the language difference I introduced above, we expect all of the parties to anticipate the premise mutually without verbalizing it. For example, when I see someone who would like to learn Sashiko or enjoying Sashiko stitching, I naturally assume that the person is interested in the Japanese culture, and therefore, it is reasonable for me to expect that they “try” to respect the basic Japanese Courtesy.

I learned that it may not be the case all of the time. Some may be calling their stitching Sashiko without knowing it is from Japan. They may be calling only because of its image… Well, in that case, I hope they can find their own name for their stitching because Naming Does Matter as Ms.Makiko mentioned in her blog. (I will discuss this issue in the separate article).


High Context Sashiko

In fact, Sashiko requires even more “High” context for that matter. It is very challenging to find the documents that are describing the origin of Sashiko (or even practices of Sashiko in Japanese history.)

As a Sashiko artisan, I honestly expect others to anticipate to learn by watching instead of asking questions. The verbal discussion, like asking questions expecting for the answers, requires a lot of sentences. In contrast, in most Japanese traditions, the questions (and following answers) were not welcomed because a student was supposed to learn from the master by just watching it. The observation was the only method they could take back in Japan.

Expecting others to learn Sashiko by them just observing our Sashiko stitching is very inefficient. I understand that. In order to share the Sashiko we practice, I have established the Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Core and Basic) both in-person and Online. I will answer any kinds of questions once you take the workshops.

*I wish I could do it to the general public, but because of limited capacity and that I also need to support the family, I restrict my support to who are willing to support my days & activities. For those who are financially challenging to take our workshop, please enjoy our Youtube Channel. If you are willing to learn by observing what we stitch, you can probably learn the Sashiko we practice. It may take 20x more time to understand, but possible, and again, I would like to share the Sashiko we practice to as many people as possible.


Our Sashiko Can communicate by themselves.

I believe that our Sashiko can communicate what is the importance of Sashiko and Cultural Appropriation in Sashiko, even without explaining the High Context Sashiko character. We believe in the power of fabric, hand-stitching, and cares we perform on our Sashiko items.

When you enjoy the Sashiko with respecting the Japanese culture, you are already a part of High Context Sashiko. It isn’t difficult to at all to practice the High Context Sashiko. Simply, respect and care the others. When you care the others, we can all assume that we will be attentive to the boundaries. No more opinion and judgement – more empathy and cares.

Enjoy the High Context Sashiko.

Authentic Boro Cover

Authentic Boro ? |What defines Authenticity in Boro

The word “Boro” in textile gets its popularity day by day. Boro means a piece of rag (torn fabric) with patches and mending. With its concept of up-cycling the fabric and the beauty of patch-working, many textile artist/practitioner enjoy the hand-stitching patchwork with inspiration from Boro. I enjoy the unique interpretation of Boro and the result of interesting patchwork. Many people respect the original culture of Boro. I really appreciate that they refer their work as “Boro-Inspired” work. The question you would have is, however, what is the Authentic Boro, then? What defines Boro as authentic? Can we make the authentic Boro today?

This is my insight as a Sashiko practitioner who sincerely respects the Japanese practice that leads the Boro as a result.

*Please find the link to learn more about Boro at the end of this article.

Authentic Boro

Impossible to make the Authentic Boro?

The authentic Boro pieces (Jackets and rag) we can look at the museum are made many years ago. The poverty and repetition of mending the fabric created its authentic beauty over so many centuries.

The faded color (one of a kind color) the time created. The patch-worked fabric with fraying (or even falling) thread. The fabric which the Japanese used almost every day heavily and kept repairing for the purpose of survival is the definition of Authentic Boro (in my opinion). The fabric has to be continuously used and repetitively repaired. I believe it is the basic definition of authentic Boro.

The Japanese spirit in appreciating the fabric and all the pride to be beautiful (even in the severe circumstance) made such a unique and beautiful textile.

So, technically speaking, it is impossible to make the authentic Boro tomorrow. It requires enormous numbers of patching and fixing. The color would need to be fade in the Sun and regular wear and tear (fiction). In this textile rich society, the maximum we would comfortably enjoy would be the “Boro Inspired” patchworking. There is nothing wrong with that.

However, I believe, we can try to follow the path to make the Authentic Boro. In fact, Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya and I try to recreate the Boro with the vintage swatches which are too small to be a good Boro piece.


Boro in an ordinary day – Authentic

Since we believe the authenticity of Boro is defined by 2 categories, (1) being used regularly for a long time and (2) repeatedly mended as needed, we try to follow the process by making and using the Boro Jacket and Boro rag (placemats or throws).

We believe that Boro is the result of ultimate repetition of Sashiko stitching. We are Sashiko artisans so it is not a problem to keep stitching and mending. So Atsushi tries to wear the Jacket below, and when it gets damaged, we simply mend it as the Japanese many centuries ago would have done similarly.

The Boro fabric itself is quite fragile already, so it requires the continuous care. Therefore, we also share how to make a good Sashiko stitching not only to stitch the beautiful pattern but also enjoy the process of stitching.

Authentic Boro 2
Front of Authentic Boro (To be) Jacket. I am wearing it daily and trying to follow the original practice. We hide patches inside (since patching was a sign of poverty and it triggered shame.
Authentic Boro 3
we do not remember how many times we practiced stitching on. However, it is not the “final” version. We wear that and keep mending it over and over again.

*The more photo is available at our New Sashiko Portfolio.

Authentic Boro can be dirty and smelly

Do you know that the final destination of the fabric is not the landfill? The Japanese used to say, “Use the fabric until it dissolves in the water”. When the one keeps using the cotton fabric over and over, like Zokin (雑巾 – cleaning rag *1) the fabric starts fraying and being like a liquid. Don’t take me wrong. I know it is disgusting. However, please understand that the Boro is one step before the fabric dissolving in the water. So, many Authentic Boro can be very dirty and smelly – and sometimes, it is not washable because it is too fragile that the balance of patchwork will be completely destroyed by one single gentle hand-washing. (Trust me. We have done that…)

Fresh Boro it is

So, we call our Boro (to be Authentic) piece as Fresh Boro. It is ironic naming because Boro means “tattered”, opposite of fresh. In order to recreate (revive the process of) the authentic Boro, we would need to use it repeatedly. It means that the fabric has to be in a washable condition. When we obtain the vintage fabric, we wash them thoroughly and make sure it is strong enough to be patched on our existing Boro. I also introduce what is the good vintage fabric for the Boro (to be authentic / Inspired) project.

This may introduce another perspective of Boro. Does the fabric have to be the Japanese vintage fabric? The answer is “Not at all”. It can be any fabric and any garment we have. While I “age” this interesting Boro Jacket by mending, I enjoy mending & patching my own denim. The boro project doesn’t have to be Japanese-related because the core principal of Boro is to appreciate the fabric. Repurposing the garment with a purpose of lasting longer would make a fantastic Boro many years from now.


I hope I shared my knowledge and wisdom clearly here. Please understand, any kind of Boro-related project with respecting the Japanese culture & appreciating the fabric would be just fine. The Japanese (including myself) would be offended by anyone calling their stitching Sashiko or Boro as long as they try to understand the origin. I am here to share the information and technique associated to Sashiko as the process, and Boro as the result.

Enjoy Sashiko & Boro as the result.


References Links for Boro and more

Zokin

Zokin (雑巾) | Japanese cleaning cloth

Have you heard the term “Zokin” in your Sashiko research? I have found several discussion about Zokin online and surprised how fancy Zokin became in non-Japanese culture.

For the Japanese, Zokin is a very common word, especially for parents who have children between the age of 4 to 12 or so. A lot of kindergartens and elementary school require a few Zokin at the beginning of the school year for the children to clean their school with the Zokin (*1). Every Japanese knows the word of Zokin (Some Japanese do not know the word of Sashiko – Sashiko was common but the Sashiko we practice is more like a revival version. – Zokin is still a surviving concept.)


It is merely a cleaning cloth. Due to the demand (let’s say every kid in school need to bring several Zokin every year), we can purchase them in a dollar store or other general store in Japan. Some schools require Zokin to be (made from) new. The others do not care about the condition so the parent can make Zokin from old towels or rags.


What is Zokin?

Zokin is a piece of fabric (Rag or Fabric) for cleaning. Zokin (雑巾 – ぞうきん):Zo (雑) means “Miscellaneous” and Kin (巾)means cloth. The term itself means a Cloth for Miscellaneous purpose.

As I mentioned above, we can get the clean new Zokin from the store. However, the word itself includes the nuance of “dirty” because of our custom. For example, we wouldn’t like to wipe the dishes with Zokin, even if the Zokin is new and clean.

Alternatively, we have a word for the cleaning with more cleanness requires such as food and dishes. It is called Fukin (布巾 – ふきん). In our Sashiko tradition, we have been making many Sashiko stitched Fukin using very high-quality cotton gauze fabric. Let’s say, we start using one Fukin as the dish wiping cloth. When the Fukin starts getting dirty, we get the new Fukin and old Fukin will be the cloth to clean the tabletop or countertop. When the old Fukin starts tearing or severely getting dirty, we start using as “Zokin” which we wipe on the floor or other dirty areas in the house.

For the purpose of the word has, we can make Zokin by using the new Fukin or other piece of fabric, or by stitching the old fabric that we won’t be able to use for the original purpose – like T-shirt or towels.

Zokin is another Japanese culture where “everyone” was doing in Japanese history. So there is no rule at all – just try to understand that the Japanese didn’t throw away things that easily. Zokin is just a name for a piece of fabric – in a long life of the fabric with appreciation.


How to make Zokin

Since there is no rule for Zokin, please understand this tutorial as “one example” of how to make Zokin. I am recalling my mother making one for me when I was a child… so any input from Japanese people would be appreciated.

  1. Prepare the Fabric
  2. Trim the Edge (if necessary)
  3. Stitch the Edge (and flip if necessary)
  4. Stitch to strengthen the fabric.

(1) Cut the fabric

Any kind of fabric would be fine for Zokin. After all, it is the last step of the fabric lifetime. I prefer cotton for the easiness of cleaning. First, cut the fabric for the ideal size. Usually, I prefer 2 layers of fabric to make them appropriate for cleaning. Too thick layers would be difficult to dry after cleaning (which create the bad odor), and a too thin layer (one-layer) may be too weak to use as the cleaning rag. There is no rule for sizing (unless you bring Zokin to school – if you are reading this article in Japan for bringing them to school, please follow the requirement from your school guideline). I like the size of a bit bigger than my palm. It is purely for the easiness of cleaning.

(2) Trim the Edge (if necessary)

This is another preference kicks in.

Let’s say you repurpose the used dish towel as I do in the video. The dish towel already have the side sewed up for avoid fraying. Some do not like the thickness of the edge of fabric. Some prefer to keep the edge so the fabric won’t fray in using the fabric as Zokin.

It is up to you. In the live streaming on Instagram, I made 2 Zokin with trimming the edge and leaving the possibility of fraying the fabric in the process of using them. In the tutorial video, I left the original dish towel edge so that the Zokin won’t fray as easily. Again, it is very much up to your preference and requirement in the cleaning project.

(3) Stitch the Edge

If you decide to trim the edge (and if you cut the fabric to your ideal size), you have an option to avoid fraying by stitching the edge and flip the fabric. Find which side if the front. Then fold it with front facing each other. Then, stitch the side, and flip the fabric so the Zokin have the “front side” on both side. It is not necessary for all the project, but this process will protect the Zokin from fraying easily.

(4) Stitch to strengthen the fabric.

The 4th step, actual stitching, is the most important part of making Zokin. The more you make the stitching, the stronger the Zokin become. There is no rule or regulation what kind of pattern to stitch. For the purpose of making the fabric stronger, the geometric pattern with the straight line would be ideal, such as pattern I performed on the Youtube Video or a Grid that has systematically stitched.

As you may realize, this process of stitching, for the purpose of making fabric stronger, can be called Sashiko. It was(is) very ordinary custom to repurpose the used fabric to make the cleaning rag. The Japanese used to say that we should keep using the fabric until the fabric dissolves in the water. Zokin is just the name of one form of fabric in its long life. The result of the continuous process of using the fabric & mending (fixing) it, and stitching (to stabilize the fabric) is Boro.

This is the latest article about Boro written by Atsushi

Hand-stitching and Machine Stitching

As the other sewing culture, the Zokin has also a discussion of either hand-stitched or machine stitched. Personally, the way of stitching doesn’t really matter because it is for the purpose of cleaning with old fabric – the most important concept here is repurposing.

Here is some advantages for Zokin made by hand-stitching.

  • The bigger stitches made by hands will be more flexible in terms of tensioning the fabric. The machine stitches can result in destroying the fabric. Also, the Zokin stitched by machine may require the second repair because of its tension.
  • No need for the big preparation of sewing machine. Once you know “Unshin (運針)” it will take only 10~15 minutes of your time to make one Zokin. It can be done with watching TV…

Again, there is no rule so follow your preference and enjoy the repurposing process.


Sashiko thread or not for it?

I strongly recommend using Sashiko thread on the regular Sashiko project in making Jackets, bag, tapestry, and other small fabric items with Sashiko stitching. (Please read another article why I recommend Sashiko thread so strongly here). Your project in Sashiko is so valuable that I want to respect the fabric with the best thread instead of whatever available in the market. It will make a difference.

In Zokin, however, I think it doesn’t need to be Sashiko thread. It is merely a cleaning rag. The Zokin will have a massive amount of friction in comparison to the regular Sashiko project we enjoy. The purpose of Zokin is rubbing and therefore the Sashiko thread will be damaged quickly anyway. It may be damaged even before the thread become part of the fabric. So, it is perfectly fine to use a reasonable sewing thread.

However, when you are thinking of making “Boro-looking” fabric from Zokin and using the fabric as Zokin, which looks like a piece of fabric start melting by itself, then Sashiko thread may be a good choice. Generally speaking, the (used) fabric itself should start fraying before the (new) Sashiko thread. The regular sewing thread will snap sooner than the Sashiko thread.

The contrast of old weak fabric and strong new Sashiko thread may create the Boro-looking image of melting fabric. The fabric will be dirty, but with patching and continuous stitching, we may be able to make “the Boro” in today’s society.


Some sample photo of actual usage in Japan

In Sashiko Live Streaming on Instagram, I asked Japanese viewers to share their Zokins in their ordinary days. I sincerely appreciate them providing the photos. It is a big deal for them to share because sharing something so personal (inside of the household) is strongly related to the feeling of shame. However, in order to share the actual image, the picture was something I really would like to share. Please share your Zokin, if possible, so we can connect your place to Japan via Zokin, cleaning and repurposing the fabric.

Again, ANY FABRIC is fine. It is my goal to make a Zokin with my own daughter with using some fabric she likes.

*1: It is another beautiful Japanese culture that I would like to somewhat pass down to my own daughter even in the United States: How to clean with our own hands. The Japanese school require students to clean their classrooms, desks, chairs, and pretty much everything they use. I of course didn’t enjoy it when I was a kid, but I beleive it was a good custom to learn.


Live Streaming related to Zokin Topics


Script for the Youtube Video

Hello. This is Atsushi.

I found it interesting to encounter the word Zokin in browsing the photos of Sashiko. Zokin is quite a common word for the Japanese, and I wrote the blog about Zokin.

 

On top of sharing the information, here is a quick tutorial of how to make Zokin by yourself.

(1) Cut the fabric

Any kind of fabric would be fine for Zokin.

First, cut the fabric for the ideal size. Usually, I prefer 2 layers of fabric to make them strong enough to clean yet light enough to handle. There is no specific rule for Zokin, so the size can be really up to your preference. I prefer the size of my hand palm so I can clean comfortably.

(2) Trim the Edge (if necessary)

The second step is about another preference you may choose from.

Please check the website for the detail explanation. In short, you may trim the edge of the original fabric for the less bulkiness. Or keep them as is to protect the fabric from fraying.

 

(3) Stitch the Edge

If you decide to trim the edge (and if you cut the fabric to your ideal size), you have an option to avoid fraying by stitching the edge and flip the fabric. Find which side if the front. Then fold it with front facing each other. Then, stitch the side, and flip the fabric so the Zokin have the “front side” on both sides. It is not necessary for all the project, but this process will protect the Zokin from fraying easily.

 

Flipping the fabric is completely optional. It will make the fabric more durable and look less bulky, but stitching 4 sides are also a good way to make Zokin.

(4) Stitch to strengthen the fabric.

The step of actual stitching is the most important points of making Zokin. The more you make the stitching, the stronger the Zokin become. There is no rule or regulation what kind of pattern to stitch. However, for the purpose of making the fabric stronger, the geometric pattern with the straight line would be the ideal pattern, such as pattern I performed on this Youtube Video or a Grid that has systematically stitched.



As you may realize, this process of stitching, for the purpose of making fabric stronger, can be called Sashiko. It was a very ordinary custom to repurpose the used fabric to make the cleaning rag. The Japanese used to say that we should keep using the fabric until the fabric dissolves in the water. Zokin is just the name of one form of fabric in its long life. The result of the continuous process of using the fabric & mending (fixing) it, and stitching (to stabilize the fabric) is Boro.

 

Editors Note

 

2 main questions about making Zokin would be… 1. Is it have to be hand stitched? 2. Do we use Sashiko thread?

 

It doesn’t have to be hand-stitched. Again, it is very much up to the preference. Personally, the way of stitching doesn’t really matter because it is for the purpose of cleaning with old fabric – the most important concept here is repurposing.

 

One big advantage of hand-stitching is the durability of Zokin. The bigger stitches made by hands will be more flexible in terms of tensioning the fabric. The machine stitches can result in destroying the fabric over time.

 

For the thread, any kind of thread would be fine for the Zokin unlike the other Sashiko project to make Jacket and bags.

 

However, when you are thinking of making “Boro-looking” fabric from Zokin and using the fabric as Zokin, which looks like a piece of fabric start melting by itself, then Sashiko thread may be a good choice. Generally speaking, the (used) fabric itself should start fraying before the (new) Sashiko thread. The regular sewing thread will snap sooner than the Sashiko thread.



The more information is available on our Engish website, upcyclestitches.com

Keiko Visits Otsuchi Sashiko

Keiko visits Otsuchi Sashiko.1

Keiko (from Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya) visited Otsuchi to share the workshop with members of Otsuchi Recover Sashiko Project on June 13th in 2019. The administrative group in Otsuchi Sashiko updated their blog with her visit, so here is a translated version for their writing. I appreciate their time to share the previous time with Keiko. It is the translation from their article part.1.

*The Original blog in Japanese, as well as the other articles about Otsuchi Sashiko, is available at the end of this article.


Keiko visits Otsuchi Sashiko

(Tried direct translation)

Hello.

We offered a Sashiko Workshop by Keiko-san to our project members. Keiko told us that she would like to see us again and stitched together, then she drove more than 10 hours (one-way!) to make this workshop happened.

The members (they call them Sashiko-san) enjoyed the workshop with passion with longing to see Keiko for a long time. It is a lot of writing to summarize in one article, so we will write the series of articles.

Keiko arrived from Takayama (in Gifu Prefecture) to Otsuchi (in Iwate Prefecture) a day before the workshop with bringing many Sashiko samples, supplies and a mountain of hand-dyed Sashiko thread (This is one reason she prefer driving over flying). Look at her smile after so much driving. The photo is with the administrative staff of the project and Keiko in the project office.


The day of Keiko Sashiko Workshop

The entrance with Sashiko-san visiting the workshop space with Kanako san at the desk.

Sashiko-san were so happy to see Keiko after so many days. They all enjoyed the conversation with Keiko.

Keiko brought many Sashiko Jackets and bags (what Keiko made) for sharing the Sashiko ideas. Keiko even wears one of them. Look at the smiles.

17 members in the project participated in this workshop. With sharing the photos of excited Sashiko-san’s photos, we will conclude the article here. We will write more about the actual workshop.


[Editor’s note]

I just wanted to share this article as soon as possible. I will summarize them later on with more information (like link to our philosophy to make the article easier to understand. This is one of the biggest reasons I continue Sashiko. I am very happy with this opportunity, and more importantly, their smiles (& serious faces).


Original Blog in Japanese

General introduction of Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project
https://upcyclestitches.com/otsuchi-recovery-sashiko-project/

An announcement for the exhibition of Otsuchi with Keiko & Sashi.co

 

 

Good Japanese Vintage Fabric for Boro Cover

Good Japanese Vintage Fabric for Boro

The word “Boro (襤褸)” is a Japanese word for a piece of rag. However, the word itself may be more famous outside of Japan with various forms of interpretation. It is quite challenging to define what Boro is (because we as Japanese do not define the Boro as a form of culture yet), so please understand what I write here is not something judgemental to someone. Here, more importantly, I share what is Good Japanese Vintage Fabric for Boro making project. Following the information about Good Japanese Vintage Fabric for Boro, I will share some of my understanding of Boro.



Good Japanese Vintage Fabric for Boro

When we make a “To be Boro” fabric, we try to synchronize our stitches to the stitches done by the Japanese in hundreds of years ago. Boro is a result of repetitive Sashiko stitching out of necessity. For the purpose of survival, they used the fabric in their reaches (recycled and upcycled what they had).

In today’s society, we have a choice of which fabric we would use for the mending project. In a heart of Boro concept, it is true that we can use any kind of fabric to make “a piece of fabric looks like Boro (Boro Inspired Art)”. However, stop thinking about “what to use” by simply understanding one perspective of “freedom of Boro” is a bit superficial to understand the deep culture of Boro fabric we can see in the museum.

Therefore, for us as Sashiko artisans, the most important challenge we keep in our mind is to synchronize (revive) what the Japanese did many years ago. Above said, this is a checklist when we look for the fabric to make the Boro – the one as authentic as possible.

  1. Raw material
  2. Color
  3. Durability
  4. Stories (when applicable)


Following is the more detail in each category when we look for the good vintage fabric. The biggest difference between us and the other antique dealers with very beautiful Boro pieces would be the purpose of the fabric: Our purpose is to use the fabric in our Sashiko stitching. Some of the Boro from the pasts are too fragile to be used again. Therefore, some of them are durable only behind the glasses in the museum. We sometimes encounter very beautiful Boro pieces from the past (which is now quite expensive). However, we do not purchase the vintage fabric if it doesn’t satisfy the criteria below.


(1) Raw Material

We strongly prefer cotton fabric. Occasionally, we encounter the vintage silk cotton. Linen (hemp) fabric can be used, but not the first choice. We always avoid the synthetic [chemical] fiber because they age differently. Although there is a lot of beautiful and colorful Kimono, which many uses for remaking projects, it isn’t ideal for the Boro-reviving project.

(2) Color

Color is a great category to be creative. However, because of availability in cotton fabric in hundreds of years ago in Japan, dark shade fabric such as Indigo or Gray, would be the popular choice. If the fabric is less than 100 years old, let’s say the fabric around the WW2 or after the Meiji Restoration (the time Japan opened up its nation to the international trade – the end of national isolation), the fabric may be artificial dye. There is nothing wrong with using artificial dye fabric. However, to balance the aging speed of fabric, we prefer the Natural Dye such as Hon-Aizome (本藍染 = Authentic Japanese Indigo Dye), Dorozome(泥染め = mud Dye), and various Botanical Dye Fabric. In this era, the various dye technique was very popular, such as Katazome (型染め)and Tsutsugaki Zome (筒描き染め). It requires another article to explain the variety of colors and dye technique (and we aren’t well-knowledged enough to describe). The choice of color makes the journey more enjoyable and exciting. Our favorite part of this journey is to find the “good aged color (the color only the flow of time can make)” and dyeing our thread naturally to match the fabric.

(3) Durability

As I described above, the fabric has to be clean so that (1) we can stitch (2) the person who uses in their days. Most of the vintage fabrics from the storage area are dusty, dirty, and stinky. Therefore, the fabric has to be strong enough to be washed. We wash by hand very carefully but very thoroughly. It is the last thing we would like to do is keep stitching for hours of times with strong smell from the fabric.

If you have purchased a piece of vintage fabric with no smell, then it is because the antique dealer is very knowledgeable and attentive to wash the fabric before shipping.

We sometimes find very beautiful and artistic vintage fabric. However, when we understand that the fabric is not strong enough to be washed, we will pass it to someone who values the fabric as the art in the frame. Washing the fragile vintage fabric will end up with losing the beauty.

(Well… we make numbers of mistake. We once purchased a beautiful rain-jacket, estimating the time from before the Meiji Restoration. It was quite a big investment for us to purchase the Jacket. The jacket was, of course, dusty and stinky. We hand-washed carefully and end up losing more than 50% of the weight. It means, all the frayed thread, dust, and the particles went into the drain… We enjoy the beautiful leftover of the vintage fabric, but it is the necessary process of preparing the Good Japanese Vintage Fabric for Boro.)

(4) Stories

The 4th category is very much our personal preference. It is very fortunate to have the vintage fabric with stories attached. I believe every single vintage fabric has its own stories. However, at most cases, we only can guess the stories because the story existed in many years. Therefore, when we obtain the fabric with stories attached, we enjoy and try to synchronize our stitches to the stories with sincere respect.


Vintage Fabric as limited resource

In order to have the unique color and texture of the Vintage Fabric, the fabric has to age naturally over time. On top of that, it is quite difficult to find the same “fabric manufacture (weaving artisans)” that can make a similar fabric as the Japanese did so many years ago. Therefore, the vintage fabric is a limited resource.

It was a piece of trash when the world didn’t know the value of vintage fabric. After all, it is the used dirty fabric. In these days, because of the trend in Sashiko as well as the value as the investment commodity, the prices of vintage fabric is raising (like crazy). Some of the vintage fabric can be quite expensive because it requires not only a good taste to find the fabric but also a careful and attentive preparation. Washing and cleaning the vintage fabric can be a risky process. Please leave the comment here if you would like to purchase vintage fabric from us – the same one we use for our Sashiko and Boro making. We only provide those in-person (face to face), but we will see what we can do over the Internet.



Fabric to be Boro

The word “Boro” means a piece of dirty rag. Therefore, as you can imagine, it is dirty and very smelly (not in a good way). Some of the “Boro Art” will be destroyed by being washed, and therefore, they are displayed as the Art. Those are not the Boro we try to “revive”. The Boro we are creating is the Boro we can use in our daily life.

It has to be strong enough to be washed. Of course, it is severely damaged fabric. The friction from daily life will damage the fabric even more. It may alter the look. However, those damages are “welcomed” because that is how the Boro were made. Once we try to make the “Authentic Boro”, it required the process of using it heavily, and therefore, it requires a skill of stitching – which is called Sashiko as a form of the stitching process. Therefore, on top of sharing the culture of Sashiko and Boro, we decided to share the technique of Sashiko stitching in the in-person workshop as well as Online.


This is an On-Going Boro Jacket that Atsushi has been working with. We wear it, and when in need of mending, we perform it. We believe the repetition of the mending and stitching will make the authentic Boro.

Does it have to be Japanese Vintage Fabric

By reading so far, you may think it is too much amount of thinking to enjoy Boro. The question would be “Does it have to be the Japanese Vintage Fabric“? The answer is quite simple: No, it doesn’t have to be the Japanese vintage fabric to enjoy it.

However, as the Japanese who practice Sashiko, we would like to focus on the Japanese Vintage Fabric. We have tried to use Non-Vintage Fabric, such as the fabric the traditional weaving mill manufactures today. Although they look very beautiful as the patchwork, the problem was the difference in the speed of aging. The non-vintage fabric was too strong to be naturally damaged.

We could try to use vintage fabric from another culture. It could be a good “art” pieces with respected adventure. However, it doesn’t feel natural to us at this point. It is like a process of making Sushi without using the Japanese short-grain sticky rice. It is doable, but feel pretty strange.


Above said, I am just sharing our benchmark in choosing the Good Japanese Vintage Fabric for Boro. It is your choice to use any fabric you prefer in your Boro (or Boro inspired) project.

At the same time, I want you to know that the project of “reviving (to be) the Authentic Boro” is more than just mending or patchworking whatever the fabric we have to recycle. It is more than “recycling”.

Boro is a result of repetitive stitching in necessity – to survive through the severe winter. However, I believe, the Japanese who made the Boro wanted to be more beautiful and wealthy. Description of Boro with the simple terms of “recycling the fabric” is too shallow for me to advocate. It is more than that. They probably wanted to get the better fabric instead of recycling the fabric. We can only guess because there is no official documents left. However, the creation (either it is Authentic Boro, Boro inspired patchwork or simple Mending) can be more beautiful and sincere when we try to be mindful of what we do. It is the whole concept (and my message) as synchronizing our stitching to the Japanese who made the Boro in hundreds of years ago.


I have been sharing my perspective of Boro in this website. I will explain the Boro terminology and other perspectives below following to the main topic of “Good Japanese Vintage Fabric for Boro”.


Boro (襤褸) Terminology

It is quite challenging to define what Boro is. So, please let me share some of the terminologies of Boro to explain the bigger picture of Boro instead of defining Boro as a piece of rag.

In my understanding, the word Boro (ぼろ)is from an onomatopoeia of BoroBoro (ぼろぼろ). Although I used the word “onomatopoeia”, it is not a sound of tearing the fabric. The word describes the process (movement, state, or condition) of fabric getting damaged over the usages. When we keep using a piece of towel to clean many places, after some times, it starts tearing (possibly with holes). The state of being torn and damaged is described with the word “BoroBoro(ぼろぼろ)” and it became a noun to describe the Boro we know.

Here is some definition of Boro from Japanese national (comprehensive ) dictionary (encyclopedia). If you find errors in my translation, please kindly let me know. English is still my second language.


  1. Cloth with damages (like tears) after heavily wearing
  2. Useless fabric/textile after heavy usage
  3. Fabric about to be torn. Thing about to be broken. Or something useless for the purpose.
  4. Horse excrement. (糞 = shit… well…)
  5. Hidden defect. Failure. collapse

Well. As you can tell, the word itself isn’t that positive or fancy word for the Japanese. We still have the negative images to the word.

① 着古して破れている衣服。ぼろぎもの。
※雑俳・口よせ草(1736)「うりてさへ時宜するぼろを買て行」
② 使い古して役だたない布。つづれ。ぼろきれ。
※万国新話(1868)〈柳河春三編〉一「布屑(ボロ)などを以て大なる人形を造り」
③ 破れているもの。こわれているもの。また、役に立たないもの。他の名詞の上に付けても用いる。
※真景累ケ淵(1869頃)〈三遊亭円朝〉三三「寝衣の単物にぼろ袷(あはせ)を重ね」
④ 糞。特に、馬糞。
※金貨(1909)〈森鴎外〉「馬の糞(ボロ)を捨てる箱があったので」
⑤ 隠されている欠点。また、失敗。破綻。→ぼろが出る・ぼろを出す。
[補注]物が破れているさまを表わす擬態語「ぼろぼろ」から出た語。

https://kotobank.jp/word/%E8%A5%A4%E8%A4%B8-631791

Can we really make Boro in today’s society?

When we talk about authenticity, we have to be careful of what levels of authenticity we would like to follow. It is true that we cannot make the really authentic Boro in today’s society. There will be a significant difference between the Boro in the museum and the Boro we make. It is because, in order to make the authentic Boro, the flow of time (hundreds of years) would be the necessary element.

However, we can try to follow (synchronize) the process by respecting the original. We cannot make a copy of the authentic Boro that we see in museums, but we can start a process of making the authentic Boro by caring and stitching with the vintage fabric which didn’t become authentic Boro. One of the Boro Jacket I introduced above with the photo is the challenge I am working on to make the authentic Boro.

I feel… it is too superficial to define Boro as a form of mending only. It is sad to mention the impossibility of reviving the Authentic Boro without challenges. We would like to try, and respect, the beauty, and wisdom in Sashiko and Boro – Sashiko as a process and Boro as the result.

It requires time. It is the art from the Japanese who sincerely lived (survived) in many years ago. It is our time to think about what we can leave to the human being a few hundred years from now.


Authentic Boro | No line yet characteristic

I keep using the word “Authentic Boro”. Well, again, there is no such thing as “authentic Boro” in the definition. We call the beautiful Boro in the museum as the authentic simply because it is beautiful and powerful (on top of the record that the Boros are discovered by Mr. Chuzaburo Tanaka, a researcher, and collector of authentic – old Sashiko and Boro items).

To make it easier to explain my understanding of “authentic look” in Boro, let me share some photos of what we made. Below, I use two Sashiko pieces to compare what is “Authentic Boro” to explain the difference. Both of them are created by Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya (link to the Portfolio). Please understand that there is no clear line to define what is authentic Boro or not.

The significant difference is “the amount of time we use, and the numbers of times we Sashiko stitched” Again, both of them are made in today’s society (not from the vintage market). The difference is the aging process we let them have.

In short, with comparing these 2 photos, (A) and (B) are on the same timeline. It isn’t (A) or (B) – more like (B) then (A). For that, I would say, all of the Sashiko stitching we do can be categorized as the “Authentic Boro to be Fabric”. Every Boro pieces we sell online are usable in the daily life. It is up to the clients need. It is perfectly fine if they want to frame it as the art. At the same time, if they would like to use it and keep stitching by themselves, it is a good piece of “To be Authentic Boro fabric” because we sincerely respect the process of Japanese which made the authentic boro we can see now in the museum.


Other articles about Boro and Japanese Vintage Fabric for Boro

The article about the Boro in General
Another article about Boro – questioning is it really “at Random”?

Also, check the search result for “Boro” in our website. We have been adding many more articles to explain what “Boro” is for us. It became a long article. I hope I provided some clarification about the Boro and Sashiko.