Sashiko Stitched Fabric

Sashiko Stitched Fabric from our acheivement

We have been practicing Sashiko stitching for more than 30 years. The founder of Sashi.Co, Keiko Futatsuya, has 33 years of Sashiko experience and some of her friends (Sashi.Co member) have even more years of experience. I have about 8 years of experience. Well, I was born in Sashiko family, so I started holding a needle when I was a child to “practice” Sashiko. In these years, we accomplished many Sashiko projects and created many Sashiko Stitched Fabric.

 

A size of  big enough to keep Sashiko stitched fabric

Let’s say, in order to make a jacket, we first trim the fabric and stitch Sashiko. Then, we cut the fabric based on the dress pattern (jacket pattern) to tailor them. In the process of tailoring, we have some leftovers. Leftovers are as valuable as the fabric we used for the project, so we do not throw them away. We keep it for the next project. The Japanese in past used to say, “if we have a size of fabric, large enough to wrap three soybeans, we would keep it.” In current society, the small fabric (or fragment) may not be as useful as before. Well, however, we kind of keep them anyway. We are proud of following the tradition and respecting the concept of ancestors although we may be just a type of hoarders.

 

We kept a pile of good Sashiko stitched fabric. Most of them are the type of vintage fabrics.

When we started to share the Sashiko technique, culture and mindset, we decided to provide this valuable fabric to someone who can share and appreciate the same concepts. Finally, I got enough time to introduce one by one, arranging a small pile of Sashiko stitched fabric.

 

Here is a list of articles about Sashiko stitched fabric available online.

Since most of the items is one of a kind product, we listed them on Etsy store. You can view them on our Etsy store, too.

Boro Inspired Cover

Sashiko Swatches Collection 5th | #50 Boro Inspired

Here is our 5th Collection of Sashiko Swatches for sale. Memorable #50 are so-called "Boro Inspired" Sashiko stitched Fabric. They ...
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Sashiko Swatches Collection 4th

Sashiko Swatches Collection 4th | #015 ~ #019

One of our Sashiko Stitched Swatches is sold out. We are so happy to share these beautiful all-hand-made pieces of ...
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Sashiko Swatches Collection Preview

Sashiko Swatches Collection Third | #007 ~ #014

We have been adding the Sashiko Swatches to the Etsy Store. I feel like I am making a Sashiko Swatches ...
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Sashiko Swatches second

Sashiko Swatches Second | #004 ~ #006

By arranging the Sashiko Swatches inventory, I come to learn how Sashiko is/was. The combination of Japanese vintage fabric and Sashiko ...
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Sashiko Swatches | #001 ~ #003

Upcycle Stitches / Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya are a group of Sashiko artisans and craftspersons. Usually, we have a plan ...
Read More

 

 

Ideas of enjoying the piece of Sashiko fabric

I love these Sashiko stitched fabrics since they are the best material for mending project. The vintage fabric with strengthing by Sashiko is always a good idea to repair my garment beautifully. I hope you would be able to find your favorite fabric for your favorite fashion item.

 

Sashiko Stitched Fabric Jeans

 

Also, our customer shared a nice idea of its usage. 

After trimming the edge of the fabric, then put it in a frame. It would be a nice wall decoration. It could be a part of quilting or/and patchworking project.

 

If you have done any Sashiko project by using our Sashiko Stitched fabric, please share your idea with us. I would love to introduce it on this website. People would love your work and ideas!

Sashiko Swatches | #001 ~ #003

Upcycle Stitches / Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya are a group of Sashiko artisans and craftspersons. Usually, we have a plan in our mind when we start a Sashiko project. The purpose of Sashiko stitching can be making a Sashiko Jacket from Japanese vintage fabric. Or, it could be preparing a piece of fabric with Sashiko for the Jeans mending project. Meanwhile, we just enjoy the Sashiko stitching itself without having a purpose. From time to time, we pile these Sashiko Swatches which we enjoyed and the piece of fabric which we didn’t use in the big project. We decided to sort our inventory (pile) and sell them as the “one-of-the-kind” Sashiko Swatches.

We enjoyed. Please use them for your Sashiko project.

Every Sashiko swatches are, of course, hand-stitched by a member in either Upcycle Stitches or Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya. Most of the fabric is Japanese vintage fabric, and Indigo dyed. Otherwise, I will specify the materials and dye methods. Please be advised that sometime we forget how we obtained the fabric. When you see the comment of “no proof,” it means “our best guess.”

It would be very wonderful materials/supply for your Sashiko project, especially for mending or repairing project.

As of now, the Sashiko swatches are available on our Etsy website. They are one of the kind products. Once it is sold, we won’t be able to make the same swatches.

 

1. #001 Kamon with birds 

*Click the title to read more.

Sashiko Swatches #001

2.#002 Kagome Sashiko

*Click the title to read more.

Sashiko Swatches #002

3. #003 Hishi Seikaiha

*Click the title to read more.

Sashiko Swatches #003

 

Sashiko Swatches as Future BOROs.

I hope you can use these beautiful Sashiko swatches for your long-appreciating Sashiko project. These are strong fabrics because of Sashiko. These are beautiful fabrics because of time (vintage). By using this fabric, you step forward to make BOROs in future.

TOKIYAMA-SASHIKO-_-8

Boro from Ground ~ Tokiyama Sashiko

Keiko Futatsuya, my mother / a Sashiko Artisan in Japan, visited an unbelievable place regarding a hidden Sashiko/Boro culture – Tokiyama Sashiko (時山さしこ). In a very small village called Tokiyama, where there are no grocery stores around, the people discovered their own Sashiko culture in 1990’s from the ground. The seniors tried to hide their Boro by burying them. A few generations later, the people there found out the culture, and dig out the Boro from Ground.

The people in Tokiyama tried to pass the culture down to the next generation by exhibiting Sashiko/Boro pieces and sharing Sashiko workshops in their small exhibit room.

The people (Sashiko practitioners in Tokiyama) knew about Keiko from her previous work as the designer in Hida Sashiko. They warmly welcomed her and share their story with her and her friends.

Yes. I mention it right. Discovered Boro from Ground

We, who live in the 21st century, value BOROs as a beautiful art piece. Patches and repeated stitching make unique “Visual Art” like abstract drawing or mosiac art. In the past, a few hundred years ago, the Japanese had completely different feeling toward Boro in comparison to the value we have today. The feeling was opposite side of the beautiful & luxery item. It was the shame. Regardless of its beauty, the BOROs were the symbol of Shame for them who lived in Japan for that time.

In Tokiyama village, Sashiko repaired Jacket probably represented how bad “poverty” there were. People considered the more a family possesses Boros (or Jacket/pants with mending), they considered the poor the families were. They felt ashamed of wearing Boros and repaired Sashiko jacket, which they didn’t have any choice not to do. When they had a pile of Boros and mended clothes which they couldn’t repair much any longer, they bury Boros in the ground to hide the shame they held.

In 1990’s, people learned that there was a Sashiko culture in Tokiyama hundreds of years ago from that time. They dug the BOROs and Sashiko jacket from the ground. Indeed. They found Boro from Ground. Some of them transformed its touch, the cotton became like a felt after getting the pressures under the ground.

Tokiyama Sashiko 1Tokiyama Sashiko 3

Unbelievable Testimony of Sashiko by Tokiyama Sashiko

Sashiko formed its culture in many places in Japan. Many places where are rural places with a lot of snow and severe winter had the similar culture (probably named similarly to Sashiko). In these places, they developed their own Sashiko culture where Sashiko was a work for women to repair men’s jacket. Regardless of the numbers of culture’s footprints, it has been very challenging to make a research about Sashiko. We know that they existed. However, as the people in Tokiyama buried their pieces, many Japanese tried to “hide” the fact so that they thought they wouldn’t pass down the poverty to their precious children.

Tokiyama Sashiko gave us a hint of understanding the difficulty of discovering the Sashiko history. People felt ashamed of having the Boro and heavily pactched Sashiko Jackets. This great opportunity with Tokiyama Sashiko opened up the possibility to learn more about Sashiko.

We will visit them again, ask questions, and try to pass “Sashiko” down to the next generation together, without burying them in the ground.

Wait for the update!

Sashiko Dish Towel

Sashiko Dish Towel ~ Practice Sahiko on Sarashi

Sashiko Dish Towel with using Sarashi Cotton Fabric is one of the most popular items in Sashiko stitching. There are many kinds of dish towels with Sashiko. If you are interested, google the keyword of “Sashiko Fukin and execute the online research. You will find many beautiful dish towels with Sashiko. Many books with Sashiko Dish Towels are published in Japanese as well.

 

 

Why Dish Towel with Sashiko stitching?

In past, Sarashi Cotton Fabric was relatively easy to get. The Japanese layered the Sarashi fabric and made dish towels for their everyday needs. It was an era people couldn’t waste anything. Of course, there were no paper towels. They tried to strengthen the fabric so they can use the towels repeatedly. They used the towel to wipe the dishes after rinsing. When the towel gets a bit dirty, they used it for wiping the table and other furniture. When the towel started torn or looks filthy, they used the towel to clean the floor. After these process, when the towel looks completely dirty, then they used it for cleaning toilets. I believe it is another form of Boro (if we can find the filthy dirty dish towel after they cleaned their toilet.)

In the process of shifting purpose for Sarashi towel, Sashiko always stayed there. Sashiko not only repair the fabric but it also strengthens the fabric.

Sarashi fabric absorbs water very efficiently. It is easy to clean. Therefore, the Japanese used the fabric for daily needs with Sashiko stitching.

 

Sashiko Dish Towel 4

Good practice fabric for simple running stitches and overlay stitching

In modern society, the needs for using a towel so many times repeatedly declined. Paper towels are so easy to use. (although we use the Sashiko Dish Towel in our days.) In our experience of producing Sashiko products, we realized that Sarashi fabric is very easy to stitch, soft to hold and loosen enough t0 practice the overlay stitching.

Sashiko Dish Towel

 

Sashiko with Dish Clothes is a form of culture because of reasons.

When you want to experience Sashiko in the traditional way, considering to make dish towel is a good option to enjoy Sashiko more. 

 

 

We prepare the sample set to make Sashiko Dish Towel

I wanted to make it simple. I just wanted you to try the quality of Sarashi fabric and the fun of stitching.

We prepare a set of

  • A dish towel size of Sarashi Fabric (the edge trimmed for less trouble)
  • A small skein of Sashiko thread
  • A Sashiko needle

 

No need to follow our Sashiko techniques to use a unique Sashiko thimble or worried about making overlay stitching. If you could just enjoy the stitching and get interested in Sashiko, that is our pleasure.

 

The set is available on this website as well as our Etsy Store.

 

 

 

Sashiko Pattern Book with as many as 92 of patterns

When you would like to learn Sashiko, getting a good resource is necessary. There are many good books written about Sashiko in the market. Here, I introduce a Sashiko Pattern Book, with as many as 92 patterns in it. All the contents are written in Japanese…. therefore it may not suitable for everyone who is reading this blog. However, looking at the pattern will inspire you to create your next Sashiko project.

 

*You can check a part of the book contents from Japanese Amazon Site. They are all in Japanese, but just click the photo of this page so you will see a pop-up page with sample pages.

 

 

Sashiko Pattern Book

 

It is inspiring by just looking at Sashiko Pattern Book

 

Sashiko is all about your inspiration. There are unlimited numbers of patterns for Sashiko. The patterns are not only “Asano-Ha” or “Shippou.” Any stitchers can create their own patterns. However… it is very difficult to come up with stylish, cool and attractive patterns since Sashiko is different from drawing. Even if a drawing looks good on a sheet of paper, the drawing may not look good on the fabric after stitching. Creating a pattern is another challenging part of Sashiko.

No worries, though. We have all the patterns from past as asset. This book introduces as many as 92 patterns for Sashiko including the traditional ones and contemporary ones. It is inspiring to look at these patterns. The patterns will motivate you to do another Sashiko project.

 

We have some patterns for download as PDF.

You can download and use them as much as you want after one-time purchase. One package has 4 traditional Sashiko patterns including “Asano-Ha” or “Shippou”. The other is more modified based on the traditional patterns.

 

Sashiko book pattern _ traditional patterns
Traditional Patterns

Sashiko book pattern _ modified patterns
Modified Patterns

A process of transferring patterns on the fabric is easy. A piece of cake.

Are you worried about transferring pattern on the fabric? It is very easy when you follow the appropriate procedure. We introduce a process of transferring pattern on the fabric with unique materials. Every material is also available on this website with reasonable price.

 

Our goal to write a book about Sashiko.

Ah. It is one of our ultimate goals to write a book about Sashiko based on our 30+ years of experience and 50+ years of our history. I hope this website will be our milestone to write a book in future. We can focus on Sashiko as well as Boro and mending.

 

Sashiko Pattern Book

If you know any publisher who may be interested, or if you are the one who can publish a book, please contact us.

 

Sashiko Tutorial Videos

Directory of Sashiko Tutorial Videos

Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya and Upcycle Stitches LLC create a series of Sashiko Tutorial Videos. We have a Youtube channel, and of course, every video is free to watch.

Here is a directory of Sashiko Tutorial Videos for the reference.

 

List of Sashiko Tutorial Videos

  1. How to do Sashiko Stitching ~ How to use Sashiko Thimble
    1. Another day of stitching (just stitching / no music no words)
  2. Transfer Sashiko Patterns on to the fabric
  3. How to Not to make knots in Sashiko ~ Overlay Stitching
  4. Making Itomaki Sashiko Thread Bobbin
  5. Denim Jeans Repair ~ Preview

 

How to do Sashiko Stitching

Sashiko requires a unique thimble in stitching. This is our first video with a challenge of showing how to use a Sashiko thimble. This is very important subject, so we will try to upload more sashiko tutorial videos.

 

 

 

Transfer Sashiko Patterns on to the fabric

A good Sashiko project does not indicate only stitching. The preparation of Sashiko fabric is a very important step to get the better Sashiko result. In this video, you can learn how we transfer Sashiko patterns onto the fabric. All of the supplies and materials are available online. Enjoy the video, and try it by yourself.

 

 

 

How to Not to make knots in Sashiko ~ Overlay Stitching

Most of the hand-stitching require the knots at the end of the thread to secure the stitching. In Sashiko, we occasionally do not make knots for the reasons. Instead of making knots, we secure the thread on the fabric by making overlay stitching. This is a video showing how to make overlay stitching instead of knots.

 

Making Itomaki Sashiko Thread Bobbin

Making Sashiko thread bobbin (ITOMAKI) is a minor project. However, it is very important to learn how to keep your Sashiko thread in a good shape. Sashiko thread is more expensive than the other types of embroidery thread. Our Sashiko thread has the length of the 145 meter and it is pretty long. Take a moment and watch the video so you will not waste any Sashiko thread you get.

 

Denim Jeans Repair ~ Preview

Sashiko is becoming famous because many people enjoy the Denim Repair. So do we.

BORO | Textile Art from Ancient Japan

Every time I host a Sashiko workshop in NYC, I hear the word of BORO.

The word of “BORO” became famous in these 15 years or so. People in the art industry discovered the beauty of Japanese vintage fabric, especially those were used and repaired repeatedly. As a Japanese who grew up with a lot of textile in the traditional Sashiko family, I remember the trend with BORO was somewhat surprising.

In Japanese, the word Boro (襤褸)means;

  1. A piece of useless fabric after using repeatedly
  2. Torn cloth with holes and patches. Squalid garment. (Usually, the negative image with the word of Boro)

The Japanese sometimes call it Ranru with the same Japanese written character. Ranru means a garment with many damages, tears, and patches.

The contemporary BORO culture spotlight not only the ordinary Japanese definition as old garments but also the vintage fabrics with many patches and repairs. Many Boro pieces are found in forms of Kimono, Noragi  (Japanese style outer Jacket), Futon (Japanese style blanket), Shikimono (Japanese style rug) and so on. They look dirty comparing to the new fabric, but the color created by hundreds of years of time and the combination of patches with repairing are beautiful. BORO sometimes looks like an abstract painting.

Boro 1 Boro 2

At Random Beauty?

Some people say that Boro is a product of at random chance. The people found out the beauty in Boros in the 21 century. It was lucky for the textile culture of Japan that the BORO was discovered. The unique culture of Japan, such as Mottainai (regret concerning waste) contributed to the process of creating Boros. 

Yes. The Japanese had a unique culture of saving and appreciating not only the fabric but also everything around them. Speaking of Mottainai culture in fabric, a mother told a daughter that, if she has a large piece of fabric enough to wrap 3 soybeans, she should keep the piece so she will be able to repair the other fabric. In the process of economical growth in Japan, some Boros were thrown away because of its nature… it is literally a piece of filthy, useless, and fragile fabric. I agree that the Japanese didn’t introduce the artistic aspect in Boros. However, I do not think that the BORO is a product of at random chance or accidental art. They tried to be beautiful.

Boro is Designed fabric by ordinary farmers.

I think, and I know, that the process of creating Boro requires a lot of thinking and designing. If Japanese people only needed to mend the fabric, why didn’t they use mono-color thread and plain solid color fabric…? Using simple thread and one colored fabric throughout their life would have their family finance much easier. Instead, they designed the Boro to enjoy her/him more fashion in their limited resource.

The ordinary farmers in Japan tried to enjoy the fashion and arts within the capacity of what they can. This is human nature to dress their up. The fashion sense of Japanese people is the origin of Boros, I believe.

Boro 3 Boro 4

BORO as the result of Sashiko

The Japanese people created BORO by repeating the process of mending the fabric. I believe that we call the process of mending “Sashiko.” Sashiko is not only a form of hand-stitching but also the process of stitching with focusing on design and function simultaneously.

Many people are interested in Sashiko as a technique to make decorative stitching. Sashiko became more decorative stitching after the Japanese started enjoying enough amount of fabrics and threads. However, as a Sashiko artisan, I would like to introduce the beauty of mending, and the aspect of Sashiko which can make your garments more special.

My mother Keiko started the project called Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya to revive the old fabric to contemporary fashion/art by Sashiko. It is impossible to make “new BORO” in this century because the BORO requires the color fade-out with hundreds of years and repeated repairing the fabric. What Keiko focus now is to find the Boro (or Boro like, vintage, and antique fabric) and repair the BORO. We believe this is one of our responsibilities to pass down the culture to next generation as Sashiko artisans.

Learn Sashiko, share your Sashiko project, and let’s enjoy Boro-like fashion starting in 21st century.

Boro 6 Boro 5

We are a team to make Boro-to-be in the next Century.

One of my goal of this website is to make Sashiko open-source matter. I want as many people as possible to know what Sashiko is, enjoy the process of stitching, and feel satisfied by the result. We have some online tutorials and online store to start learning Sashiko.

The Sashiko doesn’t limit your project by rules or regulation. You can do whatever you want. My hobby is to mend jeans, and many people enjoyed my Sashiko mending workshop in NYC.

By the way, when I say I wear a garment with mending, people may think that I am against to the mass consumption society.

They may think I care the ecology more than the fashion. Some may think I am in need of… and saving money for food. It is wrong. Again, I believe it is human instinct to make us attractive throughout fashion, and the mending with cool fabric can be a good way to attract the others. I am proud of my ancestor, who cared the fashion no matter how in need they were.

I hope you can join our team to make “Boro to be” in the next century.

Although I don’t know if our descendants find it beautiful or not, as long as we enjoy the process of appreciating the fabric, I am pretty sure this trend will be another fashion culture in 2xxx. 

What you need to join our team are simple of two mindsets.

Passion for the fashion and appreciation for the fabric.

Sashiko mending project in one warm day.

(This is a revised article about Sashiko Mending from the website of Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya.)

We have more articles about Sashiko Mending in our website category: Upcycle Stitches Sashiko Mending

 


Surprisingly nice warm day in February of Pensylvania. I decided to do a small Sashiko mending project in a warm sunlight. What do you do when you find a hole in your jeans? I repair it with Sashiko stitching. Sashiko Mending Project, here it goes!

 

 

Sashiko Mending Process with pictures

Match the Sashiko fabric to jeans. Ah… it is so bright and warm outside. I have been waiting for this warm day over severe winter in Central PA.

The Sashiko fabric in the photo is the leftover (the edge after trimming) from different Sashiko project by “Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya.” Preparing and making the Sashiko fabric is the most enjoyable part of Sashiko… and picking the best matching fabric is the most exciting time. I choose this Japanese vintage fabric, layered with red vintage one.

Preparing and making the Sashiko fabric is the most enjoyable part of Sashiko… and picking the best matching fabric is the most exciting time. I choose this Japanese vintage fabric, layered with red vintage one.

Sashiko Mending 2

 

The fabric has 2 layers. It looked a bit frayed on the edge.

Therefore, I used a sewing machine to trim the edge for easier repair.

 

Next… Prepare the needle and thread.

Sashiko Mending 2

 

Use any thread to do Basting. It will be removed after performing actual Sashiko.

No need to do it if the project is simple. I still need to do basting to get the better result… more practice.

Sashiko Mending 4

 

I used blind stitching technique here to attach the fabric to the jeans.

Yes, I am patching the fabric from the back so the jeans will have the main fabric from the hole. I also used the Natural Indigo Dyed Sashiko thread here. The better Sashiko thread I use, the better result I get. Don’t forget to use our Sashiko thread for the best purpose.

Sashiko Mending 3

Sashiko Mended / Repaired Jeans is cool, I believe.

Done! I am pretty satisfied the result. It will get better by using this pair of jeans since the damage will make it more natural.

Mending Sashiko Jeans

Mending Process 5

It took about 1 ~ 2 hours to complete the mending and repairing process, including the matching the fabric time and excluding the Sashiko fabric preparation. Again, It doesn’t include the time of preparing Sashiko fabric.

Upcycle it to get another value.

Sashiko is a process of repairing/reinforcing the fabric to repurpose. Upcycing the fabric is our daily mission.

I hope this small project will share some insight into the beauty of Sashiko and mending.

 

 

Sashiko Definition and Terminology

Let’s see if I can share the clarification of Sashiko Definition. In this page, I try to navigate you to understand what Sashiko is.

As a foreword of this serious of articles, I shared my conception and understanding of Sashiko first. It would be great to spare your time to read it through in order to avoid unnecessary misunderstanding. My goal is always simple. It is to share the joy of Sashiko. Therefore, our mission is pretty simple as well. It is to provide the good quality information to make Sashiko more public (open-source).  I hope this page will provide some clarification.

 

Here is a serious of articles about a question of “What is Sashiko?”

 

 

Sashiko Definition

“What is the difference between Sashiko Stitching and regular stitching?”

I often receive the question. It is difficult to exclusively distinguish what is Sashiko and what is Not sashiko, so let’s start the serious with my challenge of explaining the terminology and definition of Sashiko.

 

According to the Wikipedia

Sashiko is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching (functional embroidery) from Japan. Traditionally Sashiko was used to reinforce points of wear or to repair worn places or tears with patches. This running stitch technique is often used for purely decorative purposes in quilting and embroidery. The white cotton thread on the traditional indigo blue cloth gives sashiko its distinctive appearance, though decorative items sometimes use red thread. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sashiko_stitching)

 

Sashiko Definition

 

This description is quite accurate.

A few key phrases are;

  • It is a functional embroidery to strengthen the fabric.
  • It is a technique to repair, reinforce, and mend the worn places and tears on fabric.
  • Recently, it is used in quilting and embroidery for decorative purpose.

Technically speaking, as long as the products use the fabric based on this concept, we may call anything Sashiko. One thing I would add is that all stitching in Sashiko is hand-stitching. Although there is an option to use “Sashiko machine”, I personally do not want to call it Sashiko if it is done by machine. The beauty in perfection is another key in Sashiko culture.

In fact, if we follow the primitive concept of Sashiko to mend the damaged fabric, probably using sewing machine will destroy the fabric more by using strong needles and bobbins. It is a side note.

 

Sashiko as a process

Until 2014, I explained the Sashiko definition like I did above paragraph. Sashiko is a form of stitching, and I thought of the result: the result in form of fabric with Sashiko on.

Recently, however, I start realizing Sashiko is not only the result, stitched fabric, or stitching techniques, it is but also a process of mending the fabric.

 

A few hundred years ago, women repaired men’s jackets. When they stitch, they thought of men who work hard outside. They patched the fabric with hand-stitching. They tried to make it more beautiful with limited resources such as just indigo dyed fabric and white thread.

 

I believe this process is called Sashiko, not only the result with stitching.

In order to explain the deeper side of definition and process of Sashiko, I would need to share the history of Sashiko. Let’s do it next time.

A list of Article about Sashiko History

(Coming Soon)

What is Sashiko? | As a Sashiko Artisan

As a Sashiko artisan, I would need to answer to a fundamental question; “What is Sashiko?”

The answer to this question would require a serious of explanations on its background. Yes, this website “Upcycle Stitches” has the exact mission to explain and share what Sashiko is. Before establishing the database of Sashiko history and culture, I would like to share my conception of Sashiko. For the series of articles to define what Sashiko is and for the answer to the question of “what is Sashiko ?” please visit our cornerstone page for Sashiko definition and terminology.

What is Sashiko
Keiko explaining about Sashiko in Otsuchi Sashiko Project

Sashiko is a Process, not a Result

Sashiko is a form of stitching.

The purpose of stitching originated from repairing, mending, patching and reinforcing the fabric. Also, in some regions, the Japanese performed Sashiko for the decorative purposes. In the current society, we enjoy Sashiko to decorate the fabric like embroidery. We also use Sashiko techniques to repair the damaged fabric to recycle (upcycle) and repurpose the fabric to something unique. We can see the Sashiko stitching in Fashion Industry Trend.

What is Sashiko reinforce
Katazome Vintage Fabric with Sashiko stitching to strengthen the fabric.

Sashiko to repair the damaged Fabric on the Denim Jeans

There are various styles of Sashiko stitching. The Japanese developed Sashiko in many locations in Japan. Wherever a town (or a village) is surrounded by mountains and had a lot of snow over the winter, the place likely to have the Sashiko culture or similar stitching customs. In short, Sashiko is a culture developed in poverty and inconvenience because of poor logistics. The Japanese who originally performed Sashiko didn’t have enough fabric to make the new clothes.

We can see more than 100s of patterns in the Sashiko history. Sometimes, it doesn’t require the pattern to make beautiful Sashiko stitching, especially when they focus on mending and repairing the fabric. It is not productive to discuss what is Sashiko and what is NOT Sashiko based on the patterns and stitching techniques. However, to clarify the understanding of Sashiko a little bit more clearly, here is the list of aspects (elements) of what Sashiko is, and a list of what is NOT Sashiko.

Sashiko Elements

  • Hand-Stitched*
  • Appreciation to the fabric
  • Concept of Mottainai – too good to waste
  • The main purpose is repairing and/or decorating the fabric
  • Repetition of mending, repairing and using the fabric

*There is a Sashiko sewing Machine. Personally, I do not think it is Sashiko.

What is NOT Sashiko

  • Printed Pattern | Some says that the printed Japanese geometric patterns are Sashiko.
  • Decorative Embroidery (They are beautiful, but not Sashiko)
  • Products made from Sashiko Weave Fabric

*The list is based on Atsushi’s understanding. No intention to deny anybody’s understandings.

*Sashiko Weave Fabric is the sheet of textile woven imitate the Sashiko Stitching.

In the market, there are many products named Sashiko.

I am fine when the seller mentioned “Sashiko-Like” on the product description. However, when I see people using the word of “Sashiko” for only the marketing purpose, I feel pretty irritated. Sashiko isn’t about neither the Japanese geometric pattern nor the fabric similar to Sashiko hand stitching. It is about the hand-stitching with appreciating the fabric as well as the people who wear the fabric we stitch on.

Sashiko isn’t the result. There are Sashiko products made AFTER the Sashiko stitching, and we call it “Sashiko Jacket” or “Sashiko Bag.” However, Sashiko cannot be Sashiko without the process of appreciating the fabric and hand-stitching it. Therefore, my conclusion is that Sashiko is the process.

Sashiko is the process, not the product.

I hope we can share the fun process of Sashiko and the beautiful result of sashiko stitching.

*Well known Boro is the ultimate result of Sashiko.

Enjoy Sashiko | with thinking less of Right or Wrong

There are many tutorials in form of books, DIY kit, and online materials such as video and websites. You may have arrived this website by searching what is the correct way to do Sashiko.

I usually tell my students that there are no rules or restrictions in doing Sashiko. It is much more important the people continue enjoying stitching than giving up continuing because of its obstacles such as regulation and rules. In short, I believe there is no such a thing as “Right or Wrong” in Sashiko.

However, please do not misunderstand my words. I am not saying that the books and tutorials about in the market are “mistaken” because some of them explain the rule, like what to do and what not to do. In fact, I sincerely respect the contribution to this Japanese stitching culture from many people, in and out of Japan. I am happy that I am part of it to embrace this beautiful upcycle and repurposing culture.

I am not saying that the books and tutorials about in the market are “mistaken” because some of them explain the rule, like what to do and what not to do. In fact, I sincerely respect the contribution to this Japanese stitching culture from many people, in and out of Japan. I am happy that I am part of it to embrace this beautiful upcycle and repurposing culture.

Some rules. No restriction. Never Right or Wrong

What I try to share is the most efficient and enjoyable way to embrace Sashiko from my family’s experience. I will share some of the rules to make looks better. Many of books and online tutorials are sharing their perspective to make stitching more beautiful. It is up to you to decide what is beautiful or not. So, I want you to feel free to investigate as many techniques as possible to expand the experience.
There are some rules to make it better, but no restriction you have to follow. There shouldn’t be any “right” or “wrong” in Sashiko art. As long as the art has the purpose of “appreciating the fabric by repairing, stitching, and strengthing.”
what is sashiko? 3

Make it available (Open-Source) for people who wish to enjoy

One of my goal of establishing this website is to make Sashiko open source, available for anyone who would like to enjoy. The best way to learn from me is to join the workshops. However, I understand that not everyone can make a trip to wherever the workshops are available. Also, I would like people to have access to the information so they can continue enjoying Sashiko.

Please visit my tutorials to enjoy the technique and its culture.

Category “Tutorials” in Upcycle Stitches

Youtube Channel for Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya

What I am trying to do is simple. I want to share the joy of Sashiko to as many people as possible. I hope you can be part of the movement, to appreciate the fabric and make what we have to beautiful and wonderful art. Upcycle and Repurpose it.

I am still looking for the answer to “What is Sashiko?”

I am sorry that I didn’t provide the complete clarification of what Sashiko is. What I could provide was the pieces of information and my understanding toward Sashiko.

In summary, I wanted to share the fun of Sashiko by simply enjoying stitching instead of worrying what is Sashiko. At the same time, I understand that there is a need to define what Sashiko is, with perfect clear clarification.

I used to have the solid definition of Sashiko . However, after learning other types of Sashiko in Japan and learning their culture, I start doubting myself. It is a good thing to doubt and re-define what Sashiko is. I am still on a journey of looking for the answer to the question. “What is Sashiko.” You are now a member of this jouney. Thank you for reading the long article.

I hope I can reach to the definition with you, by enjoying the research on Sashiko and creating more Sashiko Pieces.