Boro and Sashiko

Boro is a Japanese textile practice made with patches and stitches.  It means tatters or rags.  It was prominent in the 17-19th centuries as peasant wear because cloth was expensive and scarce so peasants mended their clothing with patches.  There is no attempt in boro to hide the mending but rather to make it become a decorative part of the garment.  Later on, the running stitch known as sashiko that was used in boro became a separate decorative embroidery.  Many articles state that boro is part of wabi sabi- the Japanese world view about the beauty of imperfection and transience.  Since traditional boro is made with pieces of old cloth or clothing, the garment has a history and story to tell.

Modern boro can be seen in garments such as jeans or jean jackets and in the work of textiles artists.  Many of the sashiko stitches used in modern pieces are delicate and intricate.  Basic sashiko is a running stitch done with a long needle and thick thread. Sashiko needles are generally longer than ordinary ones to make it easy to execute the running stitch.  There is also sashiko thread but embroidery floss can be used as well as crochet cotton

The patches on this pillow are not old pieces but rather small pieces of shibori that I made when I was experimenting with technique. You get a lot of left over pieces when you are dyeing and it seems a shame to waste them.  Initially, I dipped dyed the white linen main fabric in indigo to get a slight ombre effect.  Then I lined up pieces of the shibori dyed fabric to cover one side; you can use some type of adhesive to keep them in place but I just pinned them.  I used a ruler and fading marker to make lines and began to sew. 


It is time consuming but there is something very satisfying about the process, almost meditative.  I used a brown patch in the middle because I wanted to pair this pillow with a brown one that has sashiko stitiching.

This pillow was made with shibori and ice dyed scraps and a lot of sashiko stitching.  It is a modern take on Boro.


You can find lots of boro examples on Pinterest such as this board

Or  a how to on this interesting site


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