Whether you are new to sashiko or have enjoyed this Japanese stitching technique for years, I hope you will find something to inspire you on this site.
I was introduced to traditional sashiko nearly two decades ago when I bought vintage Japanese fabrics online from Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya in Tondabayashi City, Osaka. The site had many unfamiliar terms describing the fabrics: Kasuri, Ikat, Shibori, Katazome, Sakiori and Sashiko. I had a lot to learn. But once I bought my first Japanese Sashiko Sampler from a company based in the Pacific Northwest – Shibori Dragon – I was hooked.
Dozens of Sashiko samplers later, I was living in Albuquerque, New Mexico and used sashiko techniques to stitch designs inspired by the southwest landscape, cactus and diverse cultural images. Friends encouraged me to share my designs with other sashiko enthusiasts. Sashiko Southwest is the result.
One group of my designs is called DESERT GARDEN. Although I draw are very stylized cactus, I see dozens of real cactus every day – thanks to my husband. He’s been a member of the International Cactus & Succulent Society for more than thirty years and has managed to grow cactus no matter where we lived – even in our 14th floor condo just north of Chicago.
Some of our cactus are in pots. We have to bring them indoors in the winter so they don’t freeze. Some are jungle cactus that have exotic flowers that bloom at night.
We also grow succulents. One type of succulent is called stapeliads. They have large flowers that are pollinated by flies who are attracted to odors resembling dung of rotting meat –
so the flowers emmit a fragrance resemblling rotting animal carcasses, leading to their popular name of Carrion Flowers. Please note, all stapeliads do not attract flies or smell bad.
My SOUTHWEST GRAPHICS designs were inspired by traditional Native American art forms developed for centuries by cultures in the Southwest (New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Utah and Nevada) – pots, weavings, baskets and textiles are embelished with stylized patterns and images.
An ancient pot with a butterfly image inspired my sashiko design “Flight of the Butterflys.”
ANCIENT CULTURES is a new group beginning with six images from Mimbres Pottery. The Mimbres people lived in the mountain and river valleys of southwestern New Mexico about 1000 to 1250 AD.
Products from Sashiko Southwest are exclusive stitching designs inspired by the natural environment and cultures in the American Southwest.
The designs are screen printed with a dashed line on 100% cotton KONA fabric and can be completed with a simple running stitch.
Sashiko was originally a mending and patching technique developed by women living on Japanese farms and in fishing villages. Sashiko was popular during the Edo Period (1603–1867), but when affordable mass-produced clothing became available after the war, sashiko fell out of favor. Rediscovered in modern times, sashiko has become a popular stitching technique for makers, crafters and fiber artists around the world.
Sashiko Southwest products include traditional Japanese patterns and cotton threads.
The following article on sashiko was written by Kimonoboy, an online dealer of antique and historic Japanese folk textiles:
Sashiko is a traditional form of Japanese hand sewing that uses a simple running stitch sewn in repeating or interlocking patterns, usually piercing through several layers of fabric. From the 17th century onward, creative rural Japanese seamstresses discovered an important feature of sashiko stitching. If the layers of fabric were held together with sashiko stitching, home made hemp and cotton clothing provided much better protection from the elements, lasted longer and even added a creative and individual flare to their handmade garments. As a result, sashiko grew into a widely favored sewing technique and quickly became established throughout Japan for use as a utilitarian and dramatic embroidery.
Thrifty Japanese farm women also employed the sashiko stitch to boro repair common household items like futon covers, garments and pillows. Sashiko stitching is commonly found on boro futon covers, noragi clothing (jackets and vests), aprons, zokin dusting cloths and other Japanese folk textiles. Sashiko thread colors range from white to a deep blue-black. White sashiko thread was used most often with contrasting indigo-dyed cotton fabric. Sashiko clothing was worn by all members of the lower working classes of Japanese society and carried with it a inferior social status of the communities from which it originated. As a result, sashiko never became fashionable among the middle and upper classes but remained firmly culturally linked to poverty-stricken rural regions.
Country women had few choices of fabrics for use when it came to tailoring their working garments. They might use either (1) locally produced, labor intensive, woven bast fiber materials (asa, mainly hemp) or (2) remnants of discarded cotton fabric that seafaring traders carried northward from the warmer cotton producing areas of Western Japan.
Once large quantities of scrap cotton regularly began arriving in Northern Japan, it quickly became the fabric of choice among rural women because it was easier to work with, softer, warmer and generally more versatile than locally grown bast fiber materials. Soft cotton was favored for clothing because it was considered a luxurious fabric as compared to rough and prickly hemp.
Heavy winter-weight fabrics were constructed from cotton remnant fabrics that were attached to each other with sashiko stitching in patchwork styled layers; the more layers, the warmer and stronger the fabric (as seen in the photo above.). Subsequently, rural wives used these newly made larger pieces of sashiko fabrics to fashion cold weather utilitarian working garments for their farmer and fisherman husbands as well as other family members.