Sashiko Club: Thursday Afternoons from 12-2pm
Interested in the Japanese Tradition of Sashiko? Come to The Confident Stitch Thurday afternoons between 12 and 2pm (beginning Sept. 19th, 2019) for Sashiko Club! Join other like-minded individuals in making and discussing this unique art! All abilities are welcome to attend. We encorage bringing projects and/or questions! Not sure what Sashiko is? Read below for a historical overview!
Japanese Sashiko is a way of quilting Boro fabric (tatters and rags) to extend life, add warmth, and give visual interest. This technique is based on simple running stitches in a thick, high twist, cotton thread, but the larger patterns and designs are virtually endless. As with many good things, the inspiration for some of the first known patterns used in Sashiko came from nature.
Thought to have dated back as far as the 1600s, the Sashiko method was well established by the early 1910s. Poor fishermen and farmers spent long days in the field or by the sea exposed to the elements, but had very little access to new cloth and thread. Cotton, linen, and hemp (the available fibers of the time) took hours and hours to make and were very expensive. As such, maintaining the few items of clothing they already owned was a necessity for the poorer class.
Interestingly, under Japansese law, the peasent class was only permitted to wear cloth dyed with indigo. The white Sashiko thread, apart from being excellent for mending, allowed the unique designs to “pop” on the blue backgrouns, thus establishing the traditional look of white stitching on indigo textiles.
Limited resources often spark creativity and invention and, before long, a recognized art form was established. The Folk Art extension of this technique maintained the familiar colors, but brought more focus to even stitch lengths, complex pattern designs, and keeping threads from twisting in visible areas. The method of holding the special Sashiko needle and the use of the unique thimble had undergone very few changes in the past several centuries.
Sashiko has become known to Western Culture primarily via the “Slow Fashion Movement”. This movement places great importance on extending the life of the things you own, and on being cognizant of how those things came to exist in the first place. Choosing to carefully utilize and extend the life of what you already have is a wonderful way to honor the origins of Sashiko.
Both modern Japanese and English artisans have begun incorporating new solid and variegated thread colors into their work. Similarly the textile choices have evolved to include denims, cotton blends, stretch fabrics and almost anything else you can think of! But, at it’s core, Sashiko remains wonderfully simple. Requiring only needle, thread, fabric, and thimble.
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