My goal is to share the Sashiko that the Japanese have been practicing. This website, Upcycle Stitches, exist to achive the goal. In addition to this goal of “sharing Sashiko”, I have been dreaming to make Sashiko somewhat “Sustainable” to the future. It is not difficult to enjoy Sashiko today. I would like to keep it that way (easy to enjoy) in next 100 years, and possibly more. This is Asanoha Sashiko Pillow, as a first step to make it happen.
Sashiko have obtained its popularity as a hobby in Japan as well as in many other coutries. I am happy to see many people enjoying Sashiko as they wish. However, In order to keep the Sashiko practice as a sustainable culture, we would need to think about the foundation of its practice. The mutual understanding of the Sashiko value may be another important concept to consider.
The Mutual Understanding? Sustainable as a culture?
I do not mean to scare people out.
Simply speaking, we would need to advocate the value of Sashiko as a craft “all done by hands” in addition to a fun stitching activity. We would need to keep the “money” circulate so that we can support everyone who contribute to the Sashiko society such as thread manufactures, fabric mills, and Sashiko stitchers/artisans who spends so much time in this practice.
Anyone can enjoy Sashiko as a hobby. However, when the sustainablity in the long term becomes the topic of discussion, “supporting the rising artisan” become quite important priority. I believe the same thing happens in any other crafting culture anywhere in the world.
I have been teaching Sashiko in both English and Japanese since 2017 based on my 30 years of experience. Within Japan, we have completed several projects such as “Unshin Jacket” and “26 of Asanoha Sashiko”. While enjoying our students’ Sashiko, we occasionally offer “commisison work” for them to do Sashiko for us.
It is my goal to sustain this commission work as continuous project with wider acceptance so that we can offer more opportunities to rising artisans. I would like to keep offering a commission work so that they can shift their Sashiko from a hobby to craft, then artisanship.
I believe, this is how we can contribute to the Sustainable Sashiko.
Made by practitioners with high quality.
We ask our “friends (graduates of Atsushi’s workshop in Japanese)” to perform Sashiko stitching on the Japanese fabric we provided to them. They complete our request of Sashiko Stitching, and we pay a commission to them. Sashi.Co and Keiko Futatsuya will make a “finished item” with keeping the quality high, both Sashiko & construction of the product.
Although we ask a job to the “rising” artisans, we will gurantee the best possible high quality in its capability. The product is hand-stitched by a practitioner of Sashiko with strict supervision of Sashi.Co. We will do our best to offer the high quality products with various character of Sashiko stitching.
*There is no such as thing as “Right” and “Wrong” in Sashiko. Therefore, I believe, there is no such a thing as “Good” or “Bad” Sashiko – there is only a preference. Many people prefer the even stitches, and we value the evenness the most as the “skillful” item. In order to be skillful, a practitioner needs to stitch more. In order to stitch more, a commission work will be a great support for them to keep stitching. This Sashiko Cushion is my challenge to make a foundation of sustainable Sashiko.
Asanoha Sashiko Pillow
We made a Sashiko Pillow Cover with Asanoha pattern, Asanoha Sashiko Pillow, all hand- stitching on. Again, the Sashiko stitches are not done by the member of Sashi.Co or Upcycle Stitches. However, as you can see, the stitches are as even & beautiful as ours. We are so proud of the rising Sashiko artisans, and sincerely happy to be able to offer their work.
We have very limited amount of items in stock as of 2020. Hopefullly, we can keep offering the work to our artisans. Then, we will have more of the items coming along.
Size: 46cm x 46cm (About 18 inch x 18 inch)
*A square pillow is NOT included in the price.
Front fabric: Cotton Fabric (Japanese Woven).
Back fabric: Indigo Cotton Fabric (Japanese Woven)
Hand Stitched by a Japanese Sashiko (to-be) Artisan with strict supervision by Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya. Constructed by skilled artisans.
By purchasing this product, you are directly supporting the rising (to be) artisans in Japan. I sincerely appreciate you on behalf of more than 10 people who are part of this journey.
Sashiko is all done by hands. Therefore, the production line can be very flexible to accomodate your preference & need. We are happy to accept the bulk order to come up with lower price. Since all of the process is done by hands, we can accomodate your needs from choosing the fabric to sizing of pillow case.
Your choice will support the future of Sashiko
I sincerely appreciate your support in our Sashiko stitching. In today’s society, a person can get a pillow cover with similar “design” with much less money. Some sell the pillow with “Asano-ha” pattern printed as Sashiko Pillow. Others may call their machine stitched Sashiko as the “authentic (traditional) Sashiko”.
Unfortunately, there is not many things we can do to “regain” the value of Sashiko since they are once already in the trend. Only one strategy I can take to redefine the value of Sashiko is to “share” and “ask to be mindful”. I cannot change someone’s mind. If a person wants to call a mere geometric pattern (without even stitching) Sashiko, I have no power to stop it. It is the beauty of freedom. After all, we can do what we want to do.
Therefore, your caring support & choice will make the future of Sashiko. I hope that the “Sashiko in the future” is something respecting the Japanese culture & many stories that the Japanese had accumurated over years.
We are here to do Sashiko. I am here to share the stories of Sashiko. We appreciate your time to try to understand us, and support our activities.
I am a big believer of the power of hands. It may sound strange, but I believe I can make a (significant) difference by preparing an online order by my own hands with praying and caring. The message on the package in Japanese, hand-writing of saying “thank you”, is a way to appreciate the support from customers/friends on my business, Upcycle Stitches. This is our statement about how I think of the environment & our online business regarding the Eco Sashiko Packages.
We care about Eco & Sashiko
I define my business as “for profit & society”. Although it is not Non-Profit organization, I believe I can exist thanks to those (YOU) who appreciate what I am trying to do. Therefore, your order means a lot to me.
I would like to think of you and appreciate the time you use to choose the items you order. This business (Sashiko as hand-crafting & “art” industry) is not viable.
Therefore, I care. I try to protect the items as much as I can. I am well aware that a plastic bag is not good for environment, but it is essential to avoid the water damage to the item. It is unlikely to have the water damage in the transit, but we never know what can happen. Please be noted that I try to use the plastic bag I had received, and try to avoid purchasing something new (We occasionally purchase some).
However, if you prefer the plastic free packaging, please let me know your preference when you place an order. I am happy to make a package with only paper materials, such as wrapping paper & shipping envelop. Please be advised that any water damage to the package will not be covered when you choose the Eco-packaging. Insurance is available for the extra fee, or simply choose the priority mail option.
I just simply would like to be the caring & eco-friendly in my best capacity. I am not here to judge anyone and push some idealistic social norm. As much as I care for the environment, I also use the plastic in my usual days. So, please let me follow your value, and I am more than happy to do so.
Care and Eco Sashiko Packages
To be honest, it is my dream to have the Eco Sashiko Packages, which is both the best for the item and environment simultaneously, in future. As of now, I have to balance the safety, eco-friendly, and budget for the shipping materials. For that matter, I may say, I prioritize the “care for you (a customer)” more than “care for the environment”. As I mentioned above, I don’t have an answer yet. I can be mindful & caring instead of just throwing an item from a shelf to the box. Your order is much more important than that.
Therefore, one thing I can promise you here is that I will NOT outsource this packaging process to a warehouse / the 3rd party fulfillment service – (besides Amazon Storefront – which has another reason to have the storefront on Amazon).
As an Internet business manager, the time for me to make a package for you is a few opportunity to physically communicate to you. I can always answer your questions and write to you via email, but the “communicating in honesty & feeling” is very challenging thing in contrast to the physical store front.
It is my dream to have a studio where people can visit and choose what they want after touching them,
This may be a bit of “too crazy” concept. I apologize if I make you uncomfortable. However, Japanese naturally believe the concept of Animism, and so do I. Every thing has spirit in it, and I can contribute to respect the sprits for you, and for me.
*You may be an experienced hand craft-people. If so, you may know the power of “hand” and the beauty of one of a kind. Each item has a bit of different vibe – all good, just different. I try to imagine who you are, and try to make the best out of our capacity.
I appreciate your time to read our website & getting the Sashiko supplies from our website. I promise I will make a package in mindfulness, caring, and respecting way that I can do the best, until I come up with the perfect “Eco Sashiko Packages”.
I have several social media to share the Sashiko we have been practicing. Each social media has a theme & unique contents. Youtube – for sharing my real voice & actual practice. Instagram – to share the stories of the Sashiko we are proud of. Facebook Group – for asking to think together what the Japanese Sashiko for us. My messages are quite simple. One of them is “There is no such a thing as Right Sashiko and Wrong Sashiko”. Although there is no such a thing as right Sashiko, I have a strong preference in Sashiko, and I do care to protect the Japanese Sashiko from Cultural Appropriation. I received an inquiries asking to share Sashiko preference in my Sashiko life. So, here is Atsushi’s Sashiko preference as a Sashiko artisan.
*For Cultural Appropriation in Sashiko, please read the article.
Sashiko is getting popular as a term to embrace several keywords in sustainability, such as “visible mending”, “slow-stitching” and “slow fashion”. As I have been sharing here and there, the core of Sashiko is not in those words.
The significant message I would like to advocate is that “the Boro (& Sashiko) is not a word for visible mending”.
So, as much as I am open-minded to the movement & cultural transition, there is a boundary of cultural appropriation, and I have a very specific preference in what “I” would like to call a piece “Sashiko” and “Boro”. Again, please read the article about the Cultural Appropriation in Sashiko, first. I am perfectly fine for you to call your stitching “Sashiko” as long as you try to respect the Japanese culture. Here, this is just my Sashiko Preference as the Sashiko artisan.
Here is a bullet point list of my Sashiko preference. It will be interesting to compare based on the bullet-point number. For example of (3), I prefer “Our Sashiko” instead of “My Sashiko”.
Sashiko I like
The Sashiko that I can feel the rhythm of. When a stitcher focuses on the stitching itself (process), he/she pays less attention to how the results should be. I like the Sashiko by stitcher just enjoying Sashiko.
Modest Invisible Mending (Mending is visible, but not showing off.)
The Sashiko with the sense of “Our Sashiko” that Sashiko with deep consideration to others, thoughtfulness, and stories, which may be categorized as “collectivism”.
Geometric Patterns (because of their stories)
The Sashiko come out of well thought questions with learning, before asking – and the result of Sashiko with well-understanding of “What is Sashiko”.
The Sashiko with a sense of“Wabi-Sabi” & Japanese Courtesy.
The Sashiko with full respect to the Japanese culture – which occasionally include some Japanese language (just trying).
The Sashiko with Flow – running stitch.
The Sashiko done by those who wonder if it is Sashiko or not (I am also one of those who wonder what is Sashiko to us).
Sashiko that I do not like so much
I do not like the Sashiko mainly focuses on the result. When a stitcher focuses on the result of how it should be, it loses the rhythm of stitching. I know many stitchers stop stitching because they continue judging themselves (including myself – I hated Sashiko because of this).
Visible Mending, specially those colorful, that showing off the mending itself (Please try to find the articles about Boro is NOT a word for Visible Mending. It is in fact opposite.)
I do not like the Sashiko with the sense of “My Sashiko” that Sashiko with individualism. I have seen some who use the word “freedom” as an excuse to not to learn the Sashiko tradition. Individualism & freedom is good by itself. Improvisation & transformation is good. However, I want them to choose based on their preference, not by the capacity.
Non-geometric Patterns (like a drawing).
Sashiko from quick Questions that they can find the answers to if they spend a minute or so, and the result of Sashiko with superficial understanding of “What is Sashiko”.
The Sashiko with a sense of “Asking for Admiration as the Art” & “superficial niceness”
The Sashiko without any respect to the Japanese culture – which includes the western individualism of “How dare you tell me what to do”.
The Sashiko with perfectionism, such as One stitch by one stitch.
The Sashiko done by those who think they know Sashiko.
Just my Preference
Please be advised that this is merely “My” Sashiko preference. I have a partner (my mother, Keiko) in Sashiko activities, and she has her own preference, which somewhat similar, but a few are very much opposite.
I do not want to define what the Japanese Sashiko is here. The Sashiko I practice (the Sashiko I define) is definitely a part of Japanese Sashiko, but not equal to the Sashiko’s whole picture. Therefore, I have so many Social Media where I can think together what Sashiko is for Japanese, and to the world.
Please do not be discouraged to share/enjoy your Sashiko by learning my Sashiko preference. Extremely speaking, “What to make” is not that important. What make “Sashiko” is probably “How to approach the stitching”. I am still learning. I am just more experienced than many of you.
It would be great to keep sharing the Sashiko I love & the Sashiko you respect, and think together to pass down this ordinary, yet beautiful stitching culture.
*Anyone can join the Facebook Group. Please be advised that the group is NOT a place to find the tips for the techniques. It is a place to think what is the Sashiko for the Japanese people (in Japanese Culture). If you are willing to join, please read the guideline there.I made the Facebook group because I was so tired of seeing the Sashiko I do not like in the ocean of the Internet.
Last Update: May. 15th, 2020.
I will keep updating this article. You may find more information on Patreon Articles, if you are interested.
It was a delightful experience to be part of QuiltCon 2020 in Austin, Texas. QuiltCon is such an amazing event. If you like quilting, it is a must event to enjoy other’s quilting, or even try to submit yours to be part of the QuiltCon. This is Atsushi’s QuiltCon 2020 Report.
*I published this article for the purpose of following-up the Sashiko Class mastery participants. Please wait another week or so to read full article of QuiltCon 2020 Report. Thank you.
*For Sashiko Mastery Class Participants:
I have sent you the follow-up email on 2/24, right after the QuiltCon. If you have not received the follow-up email, please contact me or simply fill out the google form below. I must have misread your feedback sheet, or simply I do not have your email address. The google form is for me to understand how I could improve my Sashiko Class (Not completed as of 2/29). If you have received the follow-up email, please come back to the form after 3/10.
I am a Sashiko artisan. I am an expert in the Sashiko we practice. It is my pride to share the Sashiko technique & its culture. On the other hands, however, I am a complete beginner in quilting. Therefore, my review & report may be a bit strange for those who are experts in Quilting. It would be great if you could kindly understand this is a personal impression of QuiltCon 2020, from the perspective of Sashiko artisan.
Overall, it was a great exhibition. QuiltCon 2020 Report starts here.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
Cloth with damages (like tears) after heavily wearing
Useless fabric/textile after heavy usage
Fabric about to be torn. Thing about to be broken. Or something useless for the purpose.
Horse excrement. (糞 = shit… well…)
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。
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
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.
Every time I meet new people, I am surprised how much others appreciate what I do – Sashiko. Some respect us for the Sashiko technique we have. The other thank us for sharing the Sashiko we practice. I am sincerely flattered with these comments. Thank you very much. However, at the same time, I feel I am just a man who happens to be good at Sashiko.
Once a curse, now a privilege
I am privileged to be able to Sashiko stitching because of the family I was born in. To be honest, though, I had thought of this privilege as the curse for a long time. It wasn’t the best family (in fact, it was kind of tragic family like in a novel), and I would dare not to do the same to my child. It was difficult. I still am in suffering for that matter (in recovery, I hope).
However, as a result, I am good at it. At least, I am good enough to teach and impress others. I (somewhat – because my wife is the main one to support our family) support myself by doing Sashiko. So, I am thankful for those days.
You may realize. There are many other great Sashiko artisans besides me. Keiko is a great artist, but there are many others who are very skilled in Sashiko stitching. What we are special in Sashiko is that “we were surrounded by Sashiko and kept looking at them every single day”. Sashiko stitching is as natural as natural languages. Sashiko stitches can tell us the story, and we try to tell our stories to the others by our stitching.
Being good at Sashiko
Sashiko is a simple form of hand stitching to appreciate the fabric. We have many techniques to make Sashiko stitching beautiful. However, what I would like to share is more than the technique. By sharing the technique throughout the workshops (In-person & Online), I would like to pass down the mindset the Japanese Sashiko stitchers would have had many years ago.
In short, I don’t want to be full of myself only because I am good at Sashiko (I don’t want to see myself being “cocky”). Because of the worldwide popularity in Sashiko, many people find us someone special. I am perfectly fine with someone defining us in their own way. We are happy when someone gave us the title. You, the reader of this article, also have your own image to us, I believe. How do you define us?
(Slow) Fashion Designer?
Masters in Sashiko?
Teachers of Sashiko?
Ecologist / Activist?
One day, I may be several of these above. However, we neither have the skill to be a fashion designer nor the knowledge to be the activist. So, again, I feel we are a group of “mother and son” who happen to be able to make great Sashiko stitching. Therefore, we offer only a few kinds of the workshop to share the “core” of Sashiko. We don’t have enough skill to expand the workshops.
Before being any kinds of a master like above, the first path I (Atsushi) would like to walk forward is the “storyteller” with Sashiko and other Japanese interesting mindsets. I believe we as the Japanese have many concepts in which we do not well verbalize in other languages (for that matter, even in Japanese). I would like to pursue the journey to share how beautiful (Love & Hate) culture from the Japanese people.
So, please share your questions about Sashiko & related stories. I am happy to make a research on.
*For the technical questions about Sashiko, please consider taking the workshop (in person / online). I am happy to answer & follow-up any kinds of questions there. I wish I could do it to everyone. However, I found myself so exhausted in answering the random questions. I would like to support the one who also supports me. I really appreciate your understanding. After all, we are a group of 2, mother and son, so we have very limited capacity. On Youtube, I provide a lot of technical tutorials too. You may search for the videos you would like there before joining the full-supported workshops.
Instagram Post that generates this post
Here is my writing when I had “Aha-moment” after suffering from trying to be “someone” who the other expect me to be. Again, I am merely a man who is good at
Sashiko. I may be someone in the future, but for now, I am pretty happy with what I am capable of.
Sometimes people tell me “I do not understand you…I feel you are different” after many conversations & good communication. I believe I am pretty consistent with what I do. So, when these unfortunate events happen, I tell myself that the people’s perception can change and we just have a different path now. However, of course, I reflect myself if I did something wrong.
I blamed myself when they happened. This morning, I just had a moment of Ah-Hah. To explain, here are questions for you. “What is your standing point when you look at Sashiko?” and “What do you expect me to share?”
Are you an Artist? Hand-Craft Artisan? Designer? Fashion Leader? Slow-Life activist? Ecologist? Minimalist? Do you want me to tell stories about Zen? Mindfulness? Stitching Technique? Boro? Japanese Culture?
I am merely a man who happened to be good at the Sashiko because of the environment (once a curse, now privilege). Please do not expect me to be someone you want me to be. I am learning how to look at the Sashiko from all of the standing points you may have. In short, I am not an artist or designer (yet). If you see me the “artist”, of course, you would feel different the more we spend the time together.
I would like to be the one who can advocate the beauty of “caring” days with energy from hands. I have a lot more to share, but that is the unfortunate misunderstanding of who I am and what people expect me to be. I enjoy the design of Sashiko, but I do not intend to do something with the design. I would like to pass down the beautiful mindset of Japanese throughout Sashiko, kind of a Sashiko evangelist (with no Christianity concept). I strongly believe we can make our life a bit better by “focusing on what hands can do”.
It is my goal to share the information from all the standing points you may have. Yes, I would love to be the fashion activist with Sashiko mindset, yet I have no skill or knowledge about it. I understand what I am saying is very “idealistic” in this society. Therefore, I think the careful explanation would be good to keep sharing.
We. as Sashi,Co & Keiko Futatsuya as well as Upcycle Stitches, make several Sashiko Jackets (or Sashiko Coats) per year when Keiko and/or Atsushi get some ideas that we would like to make it happen. Simultaneously, we are often open to accept the Back Orders Sashiko Jacket based on the client’s request. The whole process takes about a year to complete. However, we will listen to you and make your dream happen by starting with collecting the most appropriate vintage fabric. Of course, we will perform our Sashiko stitching on the jacket.
It is our pleasure to make the “one of a kind” Sashiko Jackets with listening to the client’s preference. We had a great opportunity in 2018 as well, and I would like to share the beautiful achievement with the client, Back Order Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ.
A story of the Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ
In January 2018, a gentleman contacted me if one specific type of Jacket, which I had introduced on the website, was still available for sale. Interestingly, the inquired jacket was just sold 2 days before his inquiry. We decided to offer the option to customize the Jacket with the preference of their choice.
The clients provided us their preference of the favorite Sashiko patterns, types of vintage fabric such as Katazome or Kasuri, and overall taste they had in their mind.
After listening to the preferences and image of the clients, it is our job to understand and visualize them in our mind with communicating the fabric. It is almost impossible to make the exactly the same thing as the client is imagining in their mind. Our job is to exceed their expectation by creating something “Wow” with following their preference and expectation.
When the backorder is assigned to Keiko after the listening phase, it is Keiko’s world until it gets completed.
How the “Back Order” works
Please contact Atsushi to tell us that you are interested in placing the back order.
Then, Atsushi will get back to you with specific questions such as the following:
The sizing | Possibly the photo of the client
Sashiko Pattern Preference
Vintage Fabric / Japanese Fabric Preferences
Based on the project, we may ask you for the additional notes. The more information we have in the initial stage, the better the outcome can be. Once Keiko starts her project, she doesn’t change her blueprint. She has the “Completed Image” in her mind when she starts, so we would ask you to provide all the possible information before that.
Pricing and Expectation
The price for the Back Order is about $5,000.00 USD per Jacket.
For making the similar item of Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ, the rough estimate is about 4,880.00 USD per Jacket.
The price varies based on the types of vintage fabric you prefer, the amount & pattern of Sashiko stitching, the sizing, and also the exchange rate for the JPY=USD. We used to provide the cheaper price, but the vintage fabric in Japan is getting so expensive. We hope the vintage fabric will not be more expensive than as is now (which is super expensive for my sense…)
Once we all agreed to the preference and pricing, we will give you the rough estimate of delivery. It usually takes about 10 months to 15 months, and based on the preference, it could be longer than that.
You may have a question of how we make a transaction.
We will NOT ask for the deposit and will NOT ask you to promise us to purchase it after the completion (although please be serious in placing the order.) It is our responsibility to exceed your expectation, and we will do everything to make it happen. At the same time, once Keiko starts creating the one, she doesn’t share any progress updates. This is to avoid the third party voice to her creation. Trust me. It is much better when she is completely free from any requests and responses. She will follow the initial preference and will talk to the fabric, thread, and probably the clients non-verbally throughout her process.
Because of this Keiko’s production style (some people call it like an artist), she often make 2 pieces based on the same preference, just in case one is not following (or exceeding) the client’s expectation. The process time of 10 months to 15 months are for making 2 or more items for the one backorder request.
Photos of the Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ
With the generous understanding from the client, we are happy to share some of the photos of these exclusive Sashiko Jackets. The clients will send me more photos from their days, which is the most important for us because we believe that Sashiko exists in the ordinary days & when it is been used instead of behind the glass showcase.
Enjoy the beautiful Photos.
*Please understand that I am not criticizing the museum quality Boro or Sashiko Jackets. There are reasons that they have to be displayed behind the glass. They could be fragile. We are simply proud of ourselves that we can “make” the museum quality Sashiko Jacket from one piece of fabric.
In the Instagram Sashiko Live-Streaming (in Japanese), we had a great talk about the reasons to use Sashiko thread instead of other types of thread and yarns. There is a reason why Sashiko thread is different from the other thread.
Sashiko was developed in the necessity to survive through the severe winter in Japan. In order to satisfy the Sashiko’s original purpose, the Japanese have been spending a lot of time to create the appropriate Sashiko thread for the project. I hope you enjoy the beauty of its Sashiko Thread.
View a Story of Sashiko Thread by Atsushi
The script of Atsushi’s Story is available at the end of this article.
The Sashiko Thread we carry has a unique twist. Most of our Sashiko threads consist of 4 thin embroidery floss, and they are twisted in a very unique way. This twist makes it thread as the Sashiko Thread, and it is the reason why Sashiko thread can make beautiful Sashiko stitches.
In the market, you may find a similar thread/yarn with a similar thickness. I have read some articles talking about the alternative of Sashiko Thread. Please do not misunderstand that I am NOT saying the alternative is bad or wrong. Based on the type of project, I use the non-Sashiko Thread to maximize the purpose. What I would like to share is the background story of why Sashiko Threads have been used by so many Sashiko practitioners.
Thread as a method to strengthen the fabric
As you may have learned on this website, Sashiko original has (had) a goal to achieve: to strengthen or to mend the fabric.
Usually, the sewing thread is used to “patch” or “connect” 2 or more fabric together. In order to make a dress, the seamstress needs to sew the patterned fabrics together to form the dress. The threads have to be strong enough to hold them together. The black plus size homecoming dresses are very high quality. Therefore, the regular sewing threads have a very tight twist. Regardless of the thickness, most of the non-Sashiko thread has a tight twist to serve its purpose.
The main purpose of Sashiko Thread is NOT to patch or connect the fabric. It is to make the fabric stronger. In other words, the Japanese wanted Sashiko Thread to be the part of fabric eventually. Therefore, Sashiko thread has a uniquely designed “soft” twist. By this unique twist, the thread becomes part of the fabric over time, and therefore the fabric gets stronger before the Sashiko Stitching.
It is not about good or bad.
The point is what is the purpose (goal) of using the thread you have. If you would like to follow the original Sashiko & make fabric stronger with beautiful patterns, we strongly recommend using our Sashiko Thread. The tightly twisted thread tends to stay as the thread over time, and sometimes, the tightness may damage the fabric.
Making a Knot of not
The topic either making a know or not in Sashiko stitching can be a pretty big discussion sometimes. I have written the blog post about “How to NOT to make the knot” along to the Youtube Video.
Yes, I share the technique. However, without understanding the reason why Sashiko Thread is so different with its background story, the technique wouldn’t work at all. If you use the tightly twisted sewing thread, you would need the knot. I always make a knot when I use non-Sashiko Thread. It simply doesn’t work because of the character of the thread: which is the purpose of the thread.
I hope this blog post explains the reason why Sashiko Thread is different from the stories behind it.
Sashiko Story Vol.3
Welcome to Sashiko Story Volume 3. Below is the script of the video
Today, I would like to talk about the thread for Sashiko. I know. It is a pretty hot topic, especially if you are looking for the “correct answers” for Sashiko stitching.
As you can imagine, this is one of the frequent questions I receive.
“What kind of Sashiko thread is the best for my Sashiko Project?”
The answer is pretty simple. It is about your preferences and the purpose of your project. I am so sorry for disappointing you by not providing a solid answer… but it is really up to your preference. However, to help you to find the best Sashiko thread, here is a Sashiko Story.
Understanding the purpose of Sashiko.
The main (and original) purpose of Sashiko is a bit different from the other types of hand-stitching. It is to make the fabric stronger and instead of patching or connecting two fabrics so-called patchworking or tailoring.
Let’s say, in order to make a dress, we need a tightly twisted thread, which tends to be firm and thin. A sewing machine also uses this kind of tight and thin thread to make good sewing stitches. For that, We do not want the thread to be frayed or loosen at all when a person wears the dress. Also, when the thread is old and weak enough, it should be easy to be cut off for the repair.
The main purpose of Sashiko thread, instead, is to be the part of the fabric, yet not completely frayed over time. Therefore, the Sashiko thread has a unique twist to keep the stitches beautiful (not frayed) yet soft enough to merge into the fabric over time.
A good Sashiko pieces, including some of the nice Boro pieces, has the pattern as if they are not “stitched”. It is the beauty of Sashiko thread to alter itself to be the part of the fabric.
Also, the tight twist of the thread is sometimes too strong for the vintage fabric. Instead of being a part of the fabric, the thread could just tear the fabric. We avoid using the tight sewing thread for mending Boro like this.
So, you may want to make sure what is your purpose of Sashiko stitching. If you are mending denim with denim patch without caring for the pattern, any kind of threads would be just fine. However, if you would like to have good looking Sashiko stitches to make fabric stronger, then get the thread designed for Sashiko.
How do you want to age your thread?
The color is very much up to your preferences. In our online store, UpcycleStitches.com, we have more than 50 colors available to choose from.
I personally prefer the natural dye Sashiko thread because we work on a lot of Japanese vintage fabric. The beauty of vintage fabric is the color created by the time passing, aging. In order to match the color of vintage fabric in which the time created, the natural dye is the best choice: the synthetic dye can be too strong in contrast to the soft and aged vintage color. Another great point of using the natural dye is that the thread also changes colors over time. The beauty of fading color together, vintage fabric and natural dye thread, with integrating each other because of the unique twist is the most important concept for our Sashiko project. We believe the beauty of Boro is there as well.
The quality of synthetic dye Sashiko thread is as good as the natural dyes. It is just the difference between colors and dye materials.
All of those said I recommend the thread satisfying these following qualifications.
Cotton 100%. The better cotton it is, the better thread will be.
A unique twist of Sashiko Thread. You gotta find the best twist you would like by experimenting.
How much it gets frayed over the stitching. Not too much being frayed. I do not like the frayed thread. However, not too tight to avoid any damage to the fabric as well as enjoying the Sashiko result.
The Sashiko thread we sell to in the USA as well as worldwide is satisfying all of the qualifications I mentioned. We sell them simply because we like them. We use them on a daily basis and we are confident that the customers will be happy with the quality. Also, we can share some techniques and wisdom by providing exactly the same Sashiko thread as we use.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention that.
All of the tutorials I share on Youtube and my website is based on the fact that the viewers are using the same supplies and tools. For example, Kasane (The overlay stitching to not to make the knot) may not work with non-Sashiko Thread. I can assist you if you have a problem with that technique in using our thread, but if you are using other brand thread, the first thing you can try is to switch the supply. It may be the thread not doing the job instead of you doing the overlay stitching in the wrong way.
I am merely a Sashiko practitioner who enjoys stitching. Neither did I start introducing Sashiko to advocate the current social issues, nor I plan to be a lobbyist for one particular movement. However, the more I talk about Sashiko, the more I realize the people would like to learn both “why we do Sashiko” and “How to do Sashiko”. This is a blog post of my idea of the potential social shift: The “wealthy” society of Mass Production and Mass Consumption to the “caring” society of Some Production and Some Consumption.
As I mentioned above, Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya is a group of Sashiko artisans who loves Sashiko and re-purposing the Japanese vintage Fabric. Upcycle Stitches LLC is a legal entity to introduce Sashiko in the USA established by Atsushi, who moved to the USA in 2014.
Our goal and concept are quite simple: to enjoy Sashiko.
We are not like the typical company which aims to achieve certain growth and/or to comes up with the innovations to change the world.
Keiko loves the Japanese Vintage Fabric. Whenever she finds the beautiful Japanese fabric, especially those are not in a good enough shape to be used as the fabric, she talks to the fabric saying “I will bring you back to the main stage again.” This story is a beginning of Sashi.Co. and it is a project to support Keiko’s idea and her production.
My (Atsushi’s) idea to support Keiko’s activities was to introduce Sashiko. The more people enjoy Sashiko, the more support Keiko would receive directly or indirectly. Meanwhile, I enjoy Sashiko myself, I try to introduce Sashiko in English as a form of voices from the surviving artisans (instead of an interpretation or translation of books).
In order to introduce Sashiko, we have to know what Sashiko is.
As I keep writing in this blog, the Sashiko has not become the way of art yet. Unlike the other Japanese way of arts, such as Tea Ceremony or Ikebana (Flower Arrangement), Sashiko doesn’t have the mainstream (main family) to lead the culture. This is because Sashiko was too ordinary for the Japanese. When Japan was a poor nation, many Japanese performed Sashiko in each location. The poorer the people there, the more they had to do Sashiko, to merely make their days better.
The more I think, study, and research about Sashiko, the deeper questions and inquires I receive from the audience. Although I used to say, “I am not qualified to answer those deep and big questions”, it may be the time for me to start facing it as a Sashiko “Repair” Artist.
Is Sashiko Antithesis for the Pollution in Fashion?
It was the time that I just started introducing Sashiko in public, and to be honest, I wasn’t ready to face to the future stars in Fashion Industry. I have some regret that I would have done better. I still remember a brilliant question from one of the audience.
“What do you think of the Pollution in Fashion Industry? Can Sashiko be a part of the solution?”
I didn’t answer this questions very well.
I even said that it is too big of a problem to even mention my opinion. I am ashamed of this answer. I could have shared my personal philosophy regarding Sashiko and the social issues instead of letting myself down in front of the future Fashion stars who will contribute to the Fashion industry.
Therefore, I am doing it online now.
I am merely introducing my understanding of Sashiko. However, my understanding of Sashiko and its culture include the hope of Sashiko that I would like you to know. It isn’t me to solve the social issues. However, I can be part of the movement by sharing my personal opinions based on my experience in Sashiko.
Society of Mass Production and Mass Consumption
Throughout the Industrial Revolution, the concept of Assembly line with machines took over the hand-crafting manufactures. Thanks to this huge revolution, we get a benefit of having the mass-produced items with reasonable pricing. With the capitalism, the more the factory make the product, the less cost it takes to make a single item, then the more profit and the better distribution. The world had changed throughout this revolution and globalization. The current society is sustained by the economic system of mass production and mass consumption.
I get benefit from this revolution. I am writing this blog post with iMac, which is mass produced. Without the PC, I cannot even update my blog post. Everyone in this society is benefited from the revolution.
*The Japanese had a similar assembly line “without” machines in the Past, and the items and culture are called Mingei. It will require another blog post to share.
One of the key factors of Capitalism is the circulation of items and money. The more items move the more money moves. In order to move the items in mass production, the manufactures and company encouraged us to use and dispose of the items as quickly as possible: mass consumption.
It is a bit ironic, but the more we throw away the items, the more our life get wealthier (at least, it looks like that). When all of us stop replacing (throwing things away) the items, then this economy may corrupt. I enjoy the lifestyle that I can get pretty much everything I need by clicking the button online. This is the benefit we get from the capitalism and circulation.
The problem is, though, that “How long can we continue this circulation?”
Some (most) of the natural resources are limited. Not all the “trash” aren’t trash. Recycling can be pretty costly, and there is the risk of recycling the item from the scratch. When we find the alternative resources, would this society continue forever?
Sashiko Beauty in Sustainability
The word “Sustainability” gets pretty popular in last 10 years or so.
The people with concerns about the social (environmental) issues start advocating the risk of the current society, and many waste and pollution got reviewed and improved. The fabric shopping bags (in Japan) to replace the plastic shopping bag is a great way to save the unnecessary waste. It is very important to “care” of the environment and take action within a capacity of what we can do.
Please do not take me wrong.
I am not saying we all should go to the extreme side of environmentalists. I don’t think I can stop using the plastic bottle, and I will keep using online store although I know the packaging is the complete waste of resources.
What I am writing right now is that we can “care” in our own field. We do not even have to “fix” the problem. By caring about the issue, and spreading the “care”, we as collective human being will ease the social issues, I believe. So, what I am saying is; “Mass Production and Mass Consumption to Some Production and Some Consumption”.
And there is a beauty in Sustainability with Sashiko. You may know it, already, the BORO is the ultimate result of Sustainable Textile Culture with countless repetition of Sashiko Stitching. The Japanese in a few hundreds years ago kept repairing the fabric by necessity, and now we enjoy the beauty from it.
This is purely my “Social Experiment” and I am not trying to implement this crazy idea to the others. I just want to see if we can do such a thing as repurposing and recycling what we have instead of replacing it. If everyone follows this, it will be Mass Production and Mass Consumption to Zero Production and Zero Consumption. I don’t want to do that because Some production and Some consumption is the base of New Fashion and Design. Also, going to the extreme is not following the Sashiko mindset. Please do not misunderstand what I am writing here.
I just enjoy, that the my old torn socks may be form of art in the year of 2200.
Sometimes, repairing doesn’t make sense at all
The idea of “Repairing the cloths instead of replacing them” contradict to the current mindset based on capitalism and circulation economy. It is much financially correct if you can replace your pair of jeans with $60.00 or so while it takes 20 hours of mending it. If you have a job earning the minimum wage in the USA, it is cheaper to replace the jean than getting it repaired by yourself or asking someone to do that.
This economical contradiction is the main reason I suffered so much in Sashiko Family. I kept wondering the meaning of keeping the Sashiko. If this is not economically right, why do I have to keep doing that?
This is my reply to the comment on our Instagram regarding the split mindset (philosophy).
I am sincere with you. Although I was raised in a Sashiko family, I have been struggling to find out the “meaningful” of Sashiko. In the economically wealthy society, repairing the item doesn’t make sense financially and economically. You can get a pair of good jeans less than $60, while you would need to spend either 20 hours to do so. It does not make sense from the modern mindset (I would like to avoid “western” here since the modern Japanese are like it too.) It is not all about cost and returns. Sashiko isn’t about “saving” the environment. It is about the appreciation to what we have already… That is my ‘temporary’ answer to what I love to do, Sashiko. I am working on writing an article about it. I will share it when I complete. I appreciate your comment. I feel sometimes I should replace things I have. My mother in law once cried when I was wearing the torn pants that I didn’t have enough money to replace. lol. I am doing it as a social experiment. Let’s see how it goes 🙂 Keep in touch!
Similar to Sashiko, the topic of “Replace or Repair” is not “right” or “wrong”. It is the matter of preferences, and the mindset will fall in between both extreme sides.
Some Production and Some Consumption
What I would like to share is NOT to make a society of “Mass Production and Mass Consumption” an evil exist. I get to benefit from it, and I believe you get to benefit from it. So, my points are pretty much two of these below.
Appreciate what we have first. Then decide to replace it or repair it. Enjoy the process of repairing it by “caring” others and yourself (ourselves).
Mass Production and Mass Consumption to Some Production and Some Consumption. A shift of mindset that “concept of the profit of manufacture is the purpose of activity” to “We all can benefit even with caring the environment.”
I hope it makes sense. I will keep reviewing & proofreading if I am describing myself appropriately.
Fashion Industry and Sashiko
At last, but not least, I would like to think of Fashion.
I need to study and learn more about Fashion to make a comment about it, but I can share my thoughts from the standing point as the Sashiko professional.
In my definition of Fashion, I understand that the Fashion is something to create and provide the “New Values” throughout styling. The origin of the trend is the fashion, and both excentric art styling and fast fashion connecting to our daily life are both Fashions.
So, can the idea of “Appreciating the Fabric” be the new value in the Fashion industry?
I believe it can. In fact, the Boro became popular based on this concept, I believe.
The problem (concern) is that the value of “appreciating Fabric” create the low circulation of production. When the circulation go slower, the capitalists will get less return. If we all start saying, “Let’s replace the cloth and repair it for decades”, the apparel businesses will not be happy much because the customer stop buying new clothes. When the cloth isn’t selling well, they may stop producing the new clothes. This isn’t what I am trying to introduce.
I am doing the social experiment of “not buying any cloth” to see how it goes as the personal project. The idea of “not buying anything” can destroy the Fashion culture, and it is probably too extreme.
Therefore. I would like to share the idea of Some Production and Some Consumption, and “caring society” is the ideal place I would like to reach to.
It has been almost 7 years since I had encountered this beautiful project: Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project. I sometimes refer this project as “Otsuchi Sashiko”. The official name for the project is Otsuchi Recovery (Fukko) Sashiko Project (大槌復興刺し子プロジェクト）.
After the earthquake followed by Tsunami on March 11th, 2011, the five volunteers established the project to support the people in Otsuchi, especially those who had nothing to do but sitting in the evacuation shelter. The men had a lot of things to require the muscle power after the disaster. The young generation also had many tasks to revive the infrastructure such as distributing the support goods and clean. However, those who wouldn’t be able to move, mostly elderly women, did not have things to do and had to wait for nothing in the non-private shelter.
Not only the fish (support goods such as food and blankets) but also a fishing rod (a method to make a living).
The project tries to create jobs for those who couldn’t do hard labor outside.
They have been trying to create the community where anyone can gather for the purpose of stitching.
We all then hope that the stitching can be a part of the purposes of their new life after the earthquake.
I, Atsushi, first join the project in June 2011.
Then, visited Otsuchi for an advice on creating a business (creating jobs) in November, then two months in February and March in 2012. Ever since the first day I met the project, I have been thinking what I and Sashiko can do for them.
I had written many articles and reports regarding the Otsuchi Sashiko in English, but I had to give them up when my father passed away and the stakeholders decided to shut down the website. Well, even after the sad reality of me leaving Sashiko behind for while, my mother, Keiko Futatsuya, kept in touch with them. Now, she is the advisor of Sashiko technique and designing in Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project.
I do not find many articles about Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project online in English.
It is my mission to write it down what this amazing and remarkable recovery project is. This is a story of Otsuchi Sashiko throughout my eyes and emotions. The story may be biased a bit, but I believe I am introducing the fact as sincerely and accurately as I can.
Brief History of Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project (OSP)
Otsuchi town was badly damaged by the earthquake followed by Tsunami, including the loss of town hall and the mayor and more than 1,280 of people’s life. The survivors how needed an evacuation shelter by losing their house were more than 9,000 people.
A role for “mothers” and “grandmothers”
In the evacuation shelter, mothers and grandmothers, who were very much hard worker in their own house as a house-maker, didn’t have anything to do. There were no kitchen to cook, no living room to clean, no dishes to wash. Men and young generation could work for the cleaning debris, but the job required a lot of muscle power. Mothers and Grandmothers couldn’t help them even if they wanted to.
No car to commute. No place to work when a big part of the town is damaged by the Tsunami. The days of ladies in Otsuchi, well known for the hard-workers, had changed drastically.
The answers they had come up with was Sashiko, in which requires only a needle, thread, and piece of fabric. The Sashiko was doable in a limited space of the evacuation shelter. The mothers and grandmothers wanted to do “something” instead of just waiting.
One stitch by one stitch with hopes
An elder woman who lied down all the day in the evacuation shelter. A hard-working mother who lost her house-making job. A young woman who lost their job opportunity. Everyone in Otsuchi moved the needle with hoping the recovery of Otsuchi.
Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko project is their first step to the recovery by women in Otsuchi since June 2011.
The Earthquake destroyed the houses and jobs and took away our previous people. We, as Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project, would like to re-establish the town of Otsuch throughout Sashiko by strengthening, mending, and making it more beautiful.
*Sashiko is a needlework to reinforce, to repair, to mend, and to decorate the fabric.
A vision of OSP
*Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project = OSP
Toward high-spirited Otsuchi
OSP strives to cheer up people in Otsuchi and related to Otcushi throughout the Sashiko Project.
When a mother, who enjoy Sashiko, is happy, the household will be filled with smiles. If the household is filled with smiles, the town of Otsuchi will be energetic. When the town of Otsuchi become energetic, everyone in the town and related to the town will be happy.
Our goal is to contribute to the recovery of the town of Otsuchi.
Tell the value of Hand-made culture
We strongly respect the value of hand-made craft culture with spending so much time and putting the good-heart in it in the era of “speed” and “efficiency (productivity)” with mass-production and mass-information. “Hand-Made Craft” provide us “Care” and “Mindfulness (Mental Wellness)” by thinking of other, and using our own hands.
We actually perform the handmade craft in every day and tell how previous they are throughout the project
We also value these 5 categories throughout the OSP activities
Locality (respect to Otsuchi)
OSP rooted the town of Otsuchi, and try out best to contribute to Otsuchi throughout the project.
Particularity about Hand-Stitching
We are particular about providing the hand-stitching items for those who respect the culture of hand-made crafting. We care of customers and try our best to tell the value of hand-made culture.
Encourage the Self Esteem of artisans
We encourage our artisans (Sashiko-san) to build self-esteem of what they do by providing the opportunity to improve their skill and understandings. We also respect each other who enjoy the hand-made crafting (Sashiko)
Aiming the best continuously
We continuously try our best to improve our technique and product, and we strive to provide the best Sashiko product.
Place & Community
We respect the concept of “community”, the place everyone can gather and socialize. We provide the place where Sashiko-san (the artisans) can gagther, even without any purposes, and then the customer would like to visit to meet them.
Coming soon. (Confirming the lastest numbers with Otsuchi Sashiko for their 10th anniversary)
Purchase / Support the OSP
Purchase Sashiko Items from OSP
You may purchase Sashiko items, such as workman jacket and bags, that OSP provides at the Sashiko Exhibition including the one in the major department stores. You may contact me (Atsushi) if you have a specific item (or an idea of what you would like to purchase) for the detail. I am happy to provide as much information as possible. Not many products are listed online, but I believe I can provide the good amount of information for an online order.
For example, the bag below is about $350.00 in Total. ($300.00 for the bag plus shipping and handling of $50)
You will receive a card signed by the artisan (Sashiko san) who made the bag. Since everything is hand-made by the individual artisans, each item is completely one-of-a-kind.
If you wish to make a donation to the Otsuchi Sashiko, please contact me (Atsushi) for more detail. I will try to translate and connect you to the appropriate individual in the certified NPO Terra Renaissance.
Support by purchasing the thread for OSP
Keiko and Atsushi Futatsuya have been supporting the Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project by providing the thread (initially free then specially discounted price for the continuously).
Needless to say, Sashiko thread is the key material to make Sashiko products. We have the campaign to ask the general public to purchase the thread for OSP naming “supporting thread” to connect Otsuchi and Takayama (where Keiko is located). If you are interested in this campaign, please contact Atsushi for the detail. (Working on the page for this now.)