Good Japanese Vintage Fabric for Boro Cover

Good Japanese Vintage Fabric for Boro

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



Good Japanese Vintage Fabric for Boro

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

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

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

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


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


(1) Raw Material

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

(2) Color

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

(3) Durability

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

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

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

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

(4) Stories

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


Vintage Fabric as limited resource

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

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



Fabric to be Boro

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

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


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

Does it have to be Japanese Vintage Fabric

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


Boro (襤褸) Terminology

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Can we really make Boro in today’s society?

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

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

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

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


Authentic Boro | No line yet characteristic

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

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

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

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


Other articles about Boro and Japanese Vintage Fabric for Boro

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

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

good at Sashiko Cover

I am just a man who is good at 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?

  • (Fine/Folk) Artist?
  • (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.


https://www.instagram.com/p/BvoxHepgMx5/

I just had “Aha-Moment” so I wanted to share.

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.

Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ Cover

Back Order Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ

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.


Photos from the Client

Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ From J

 

Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ From J2

 

 


Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ _MN

Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ _MN 2 Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ _MN 1 Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ _MN 3


Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ _FO

Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ 3 Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ 2 Sashiko Jacket 2018 SJ 1

 


 

Why Sashiko Thread Cover

Why Sashiko Thread | Compare to the other

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.


Shop Sashiko Thread in Upcycle Stitches

 

Why Sashiko Thread Comparison

 

The twist is why Sashiko Thread is unique

The Sashiko Thread we carry has the unique twist. Most of our Sashiko threads consists 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 the similar thread/yarn with the 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 in 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. Therefore, the regular sewing threads have a very tight twist. Regardless of the thickness, most of the non-Sashiko thread has the 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 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.

Why Sashiko Thread Tickness

 

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 tend 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 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 the 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.

 

  1. 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 during 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 use 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 the 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 the pattern, any kinds 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.

 

  1. 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 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 of colors and dye materials.

 

All of those said I recommend the thread satisfying these following qualifications.

 

  1. Cotton 100%. The better cotton it is, the better thread will be.
  2. A unique twist of Sashiko Thread. You gotta find the best twist you would like by experimenting.
  3. How much it gets frayed over 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 wrong way.

 

Some Production and Some Consumption

Some Production and Some Consumption

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.

*This blog post is Atsushi’s personal philosophy, mainly translated from his Japanese blog post here.

 

Our (Sashi.Co) Basic Concept

 

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?

 

In 2017, I had a great opportunity to talk about Sashiko in Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC (FIT).

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.

 

Some Production and Some Consumption Boro
Boro Beauty from Some Production and Some Consumption

 

In order to share the beauty of Boro & Upcycle Fabric, I decided to not to purchase any new cloth.

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.

 

  1. 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).
  2. 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.

 

Published on June 14th, 2016

Atsushi Futatsuya

Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project Cover

Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project

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.

 

Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project Story 1 Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project Story 2

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

 

Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko 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.

 

OSP Facts

Coming soon. (Confirming the lastest numbers with Otsuchi Sashiko)

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Support by Donation to Non-Profit Organization

The OSP is managed by the certified Non-Profit Organization, Terra Renaissance.

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.)

 

 

Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project Support Thread

 

 

More Photos from OSP

 

Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project Title
Photo by t.koshiba

Judging Your Sashiko

No more Judging Your Sashiko | Atsushi’s Message

I believe you have come to our website to look for the Sashiko Information. The Sashiko information you would like can be an advice on how to do Sashiko appropriately or what is the “right” way to do Sashiko Stitching. I have been receiving many questions regarding “How to do Sashiko”, and I am happy that I have been sharing what I do on Youtube, on this website, and SNS such as Instagram. The comment I made on Youtube Live Streaming on 5/2 was somewhat memorable, and here is my writing about what I truly would like to share throughout Sashiko. No more Judging your Sashiko, and No More Judging what you do.

 

Answers are Important, but no Judging Your Sashiko

I understand that the comprehensive direction (Answers to your questions) in crafting are very important information. Most of the questions start with either “Should I…” or “Is that okay…” for my answers. I try my best to explain what I share is merely an advise but not the answers. However, I also understand that the audience prefers the solid answers than freedom such as “you can do whatever you want.”

 

The website and Youtube videos are for you to find the answers to your questions instead of me giving you the solid answer full of my preferences. Once you get the solid answer, you will start judging your Sashiko with saying “This isn’t beautiful enough….” and “What am I doing wrong….”. The judging yourself is a very critical process to get better in most of the art and crafting. However, I sincerely would like to share that the Sashiko is a process of needlework with caring others, not the process of judging your Sashiko Stitching.

 

A machine does the perfect job. We are human, though

If I only would like to have the perfect Sashiko Stitchings, I may use a machine to make the completely even stitches. Some of the sewing machines have a computer programing built in it, so the result will be perfectly accurate. However, many people enjoy the hand-stitching Sashiko. Why? It is because that the people enjoy not only the result with human-like imperfection but also the process itself.

 

Since we enjoy the actual stitching, I would like you to focus on the caring part than the judging part. I understand that you cannot stop doing it, but I would like you to try that. Instead of judging how uneven the stitches are, I want you to just observe the stitching and move the next line or next project. The result will be great if you keep doing it with appreciating the process.

 

The process of Judging is based on the problem-solving society. It is very important to have a critical-thinking-skill to be “successful” in this society. The successful business person will analyze the situation, find the problem to be improved, then solve it. It is the necessary skill to have in business, but not in Sashiko.

Instead of trying to “fix” the problem, I want you to try “observe” it. In fact, I want you to “keep” observing it. One day, you find that not only your stitching but your mind are pretty well-ordered. This is the mindfulness of “Sashiko” and the “Slow-stitching” I call. The stitching itself doesn’t have to be slow. It is silly to just try to be slow on everything. I just want your right brain (very critical skill) to be slow a bit. At least, when you enjoy Sashiko.

 

When you seek answers, then you will not be mindful.

There isn’t much information you need in Sashiko. Most of them, I already provided in Youtube videos and here. You will find your own answers by being mindful, and that is the Sashiko I would like to develop from the history of Japanese and share in this world.

 

Grey in the middle of Black and White

Sashiko is(was) a very ordinary needlework for Japanese for the ordinary Japanese people. Therefore, culture of Sashiko is strongly related to the Japanese culture and philosophy. I would like to share many similarities of Sashiko and the Japanese culture.

The people in the 21st century, including myself, would like to categorize the “color” either black or white. After categorizing the difference, we tend to label them. In most cases, these categorization ends in dualism, pretty much “Right (Correct)” or “Wrong (Inaccurate)”.

The Japanese didn’t have the strong influence from the dualism. We believe in something in-between, so like “Grey”, to blur the conclusion. Although it isn’t the best attribute in terms of business, I find it very interesting in Sashiko stitching. Most of the questions regarding “Right Sashiko and Wrong Sashiko” comes from Western culture, not from the Japanese.

 

I am not saying you have to follow the Japanese philosophy. What I am trying to say here is that Sashiko is not only about stitching, but also the culture behind it. By introducing the Sashiko’s concept, I believe I can contribute to the Japanese culture, and it is the best thing I can do as a Japanese.

 

*I can think of many other interesting story of Sashiko & Japanese philosophy relationship. I will keep updating this entry. It will be a long one 😀

 

Correct Sashiko Wrong Sashiko

Correct Sashiko Wrong Sashiko

Are you seeking for “Correct” Sashiko? It is one of the most popular questions on this website. Is my Sashiko correct or wrong? Here is my answer to the long-discussed topic: Correct Sashiko Wrong Sashiko.

 

About Rules and regulation in Sashiko

I wrote an article about rules and regulations in Sashiko.

There isn’t such a thing as Rules and Regulations in Sashiko. 

 

I am sorry for saying it, but there isn’t because Sashiko was (is)  too ordinary to Japanese. I understand the human prefer the solid answer than unregulated information. It is always easier to follow rules and manuals than starting from scratch.

 

The key of Sashiko is to enjoy hand-stitching and appreciate the fabric.

As long as you are following those concepts, I respect you as a Sashiko practitioner. There are techniques, advice, and hints to make Sashiko beautiful and efficient. However, it is not a form of rules telling you “What to do and what not to do.”

 

An Analogy to Correct Sashiko Wrong Sashiko discussion

 

Again. I understand that you prefer to have sort of rules to clarify your question of Correct Sashiko Wrong Sashiko. “Do whatever you want” is not a great approach in a process of learning something new. Therefore, I have many tutorials to share how “I” enjoy Sashiko and creates so many Sashiko items in a limited time. I would like to, however, avoid mentioning what is Correct and what is wrong. There is Sashiko I like and Sashiko I do not like. Would it make sense a bit more?

 

Pizza in American culture would be a good analogy for my understanding of Sashiko.

 

There are many kinds of Pizza in the United States, and in the world.

There is a Italian style Pizza, Chicago Style Pizza, New York Style Pizza, Frozen Pizza to Delivery Pizza. More and more.

Can you define which is “Correct Pizza” and “Wrong Pizza”? Please do not say that a Frozen Pizza is not a Pizza. I understand that people have the preference. Some people prefer deep dish Chicago pizza, and the other people may like cheap junky taste pizza.

 

Pizza is too ordinary for us to categorize what is Pizza and NOT.

Sashiko is(was) like this Pizza for the Japanese in the past. The ordinary Japanese, especially those who were in the poor region, performed Sashiko and each village, each family in the village, each family member in the family, had their original Sashiko.

 

Sashiko is merely a form of stitching

Sashiko Art items are so beautiful. I agree with that.

The people found the beauty in the repetitive stitching and its simplicity. They found the value in the concept behind Sashiko and its products such as Boro.

 

However, Sashiko is merely a form of stitching.

It is free to collaborate with any other textile culture, Art, and anything you can think of. For that matter, the reader of this article has more possibility than I do because my imagination in Sashiko is very limited to the traditional (and sometimes referred authentic) Sashiko.

 

I sincerely believe that Keiko (Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya) is a genius in Sashiko field.

Regardless of her 30+ years of experience in Sashiko field, she can create something new with the concept of Sashiko & its technique. If you are wondering what Sashiko is… and concerened with the discussion of Correct Sashiko Wrong Sashiko, please visit Keiko for her Sashiko items. They will clear all of the questions and motivate you to enjoy Sashiko more and more.

 

 

Correct Sashiko Wrong Sashiko
Indigo Sashiko Stitching + Kakishibu (Persimmon Tannnin) Dye Fabric.

 

The previous article about Sashiko Rules.

Sashiko Rules | Right & Wrong in Sashiko Stitching?

My Sashiko Story _ Cover

My Sashiko Story | 1. Care & Respect to others

It is my great honor that you are reading this article from millions of articles about Sashiko. I decided to write how I think about Sashiko as my Sashiko Story.

In 2017, I started introducing Sashiko in earnest. You may have seen some of my achievements on Youtube, Japanese TV Channel, or other online media including this website. My goal is to share what Sashiko is to pass down the culture of Sashiko to the next generation. As much as I would like to share “how” to do Sashiko, I also would like to introduce “why” we do Sashiko. Here is a series of my Sashiko Story.

 

Caring. The core of My Sashiko Story

 

Sashiko is (was) an ordinary daily work for the ordinary Japanese people.

I believe that the Japanese moved their needles with thinking about their family, especially those who would wear the Jacket outside. Sashiko was developed because of their poverty. The Japanese in the rural village didn’t have enough fabric to make the new Jacket for husbands. Instead of the wives make the clean, strong and neat Jacket for them, they repaired with their needle works, with caring the health and wellbeing of loving one.

 

We still do not have the sold definition for Sashiko (& Boro).

As long as my understanding goes, Sashiko is a form of simple needlework & process of stitching, then Boro is a result of repeating Sashiko. In other words, Sashiko is a process of caring others and appreciating what we have. Boro is a gift from these caring. Even small decorative stitches make me warm since I know someone hand stitch it.

*The Boro facebook Group I joined gave me an opportunity to think about it, and it is the reason I am writing my sashiko story.

 

It is not so much important “how” Sashiko items or Boro were made.

I like Sashiko because I can see the “care” people put into it. They had a good reason to enjoyed, or simply did, Sashiko for someone, or for themselves.

 

Of course, Sashiko is not all about beautiful stories. Above, I cut slice a beautiful part of Sashiko & Boro culture, which is “Appreciate and Care.” In contrast, there are many stories which include human-like feeling such as “greed” “envy” and “shame”, but I understand many cultures have both aspects. I will introduce some of the stories from both aspects accordingly.

 

Regardless, we do not have much “reasons” to “repair” in 2018. It is economically reasonable to purchase new fabric than repairing them. It is much efficient to use a sewing machine than making a hand-stitching. I would like to share the stories of why we enjoy Sashiko stitching as well as how to enjoy Sashiko stitching more.

 

It is all about “mending.”

This is from my Instagram Live Streaming in Japanese.

I talk a lot on many topics, but one of the topics I realized while I was actually saying is what we do throughout Sashiko is all about “mending”.

 

The Japanese used to do Sashiko to fulfill the needs of fabrics. It was to mend their cloth.

We now enjoy Sashiko to fulfill something we are losing. It is to mend our mind.

 

I believe the Japanese in the past also enjoyed Sashiko to fulfill something mindfulness. It is not a discussion of Black or White, which is more Western way of thinking. The Japanese appreciate the thinking of “Gray” which we call “中道{Chu-do- | the middle way)”. The way of thinking without dualism. Therefore, I keep saying there isn’t such a thing as “Right” or “Wrong” in Sashiko.

 

After all, it is all about respect to others.

 

My Sashiko Story _ Respect

 

Alright. There is no Right or Wrong in Sashiko. Well… Then, you may question yourself that:

If there is no Right or Wrong, we can do whatever we want in Sashiko and Boro?

 

The answer is Yes. You may do whatever you would like to by using your creativity and passion.

I respect and appreciate all of the translators, interpreters, and practitioners of Sashiko in many places all over the world. I enjoy some unique interpretation of Sashiko culture. Some of the work inspires me in making my Sashiko arts. As Sashiko wasn’t for anyone, even in 2018, Sashiko is not owned by anyone and we can do whatever we would like to do.

 

One thing, however, I would like to share is that the Sashiko is developed based on the concept of “respect,” especially for those who practiced Sashiko for a long time. In other words, I would like to share how important it is to respect the tradition.

 

A person may interpret however she/he wants to and do Sashiko.

However, the result will be very different if he knows and respects the tradition behind it.

 

It goes to the “Sashiko Industries”, too.

There are many suppliers, manufacturers, and businesses jumping into the Sashiko Market. Every time there is a “hand-craft” trend, they start creating the products line-up. However, when the boom is gone, they also take these items down since it wouldn’t be economically viable. I do not feel the respect from these suppliers.

Instead of those suppliers, I want Sashiko practitioners to be smart customers in purchasing and getting the products. Unfortunately, because of us being so mindless, many good Japanese traditional artisans had to close their operations. It is mainly because they didn’t have enough customers to pass their operation down to next generation.

 

It is an on-going process.

The long-established artisans are getting old, and most of them do not have the next person who takes over their traditions. We, as a Sashiko family business, is one of that. I had thought of closing our business so many times. I am only able to offer the service and products thanks to my family, and a Sashiko genius, my mother Keiko Futatsuya.

 

Sashiko is not only about “how to stitch” but also “how we would like to keep the culture”, I believe.

I respect, and sincerely appreciate the people who are part of our activities in Japan. They are all great in their tradition, and without them, I don’t think I can keep my Sashiko journey. Thread manufacture, Needle manufacture, Textile artisans, Dye artisans, and much more people who respect each other, and most importantly respect themselves.

 

I would like to welcome you to this beautiful, caring community, throughout Sashiko stitching.

My Sashiko Story will continue. Thank you for reading,

 

Link to other my Sashiko Story:

  1. Care & Respect Others

 

Sashiko Exhibition

Sashiko Exhibition with Otsuchi | The Power of Sashiko

The big earthquake hit Northeast Japan, almost 7 years ago, a cold day in March. In a process of recovering from this tragedy, Sashiko helped a group of people in small town, Otsuchi. We are honored to announce that the Otsuchi recovery Sashiko project hosts their Sashiko Exhibition to reiterated our condolences, to remember what happened. 

(Original English Announcement: The detail is on en.sashico.com | Sashi.co & Keiko Futatsuya)

*What is Sashiko?

 

The power of hand-crafting |

 

Otsuchi Sashiko Project had successfully created “a community” where survivors of Tsunami get together and practice Sashiko.

 

“We would like to deliver a fishing rod instead of a fish”

 

After receiving so grateful support supplies from in&out of Japan, we focused on how to bring them to “normal,” which seemed to be almost impossible. I don’t think we have brought them to “normal” but we are sure that we could help them physically and psychologically through Sashiko and hand-crafting. We surely see the power of Sashiko.

 

Every Sashiko items are all handmade.

There are similar designs, but they are all one of a kind Sashiko items, which is actually Sashiko art.

 

We are happy to introduce the Sashiko items in general public so people and touch, feel, and appreciate the precious works.

 

Sashiko Exhibition Flyer 1

Sashiko Exhibition Flyer 2

 

Sashiko artist, Keiko Futatsuya, will be in the gallery on March 10th and 18th.

The manager of Otsuchi Sashiko Project will be attending the lecture and opening on March 10th.

It is an event in Japanese, but it is a rare opportunity to enjoy the actual & traditional Sashiko items.

 

Sashiko Exhibition for anyone | in Gifu Prefecture

The Sashiko exhibition is open for free admission during March 10th to 18th between 10 am to 6 pm. The location of the gallery is not convenient for non-Japanese, but please contact us for the locations if you happen to be in Japan, in Gifu prefecture.

 

We will take photos and show our Sashiko arts.

 

Sashiko Exhibition Tokyo 2018 | Gallery Ai in Kugayama, Tokyo

 

Sashiko Exhibition Tokyo Description

Sashiko Exhibition Tokyo

 

Date: May 8th to May 12th in 2018

[5/8 (Tuesday) to 5/12 (Saturday) in 2018]

 

Location: GALLERY AI in Kugayama, Tokyo.

 

Sashiko Exhibition Tokyo 2018 | In Kugayama, Japan