May 3, 2015

Introduction to Sashiko

Sashiko in Sashi.Co

 

There are few opinions about the origin of Sashiko, However, I could find the point in common which every kinds of Sashiko share. 

"Sashiko originated from the idea of strengthening the fabric. The Japanese in rural area before westernization (late 19 century) didn't have sufficient fabric. Therefore, people practiced stitching in order to fix worn away fabric and to make clothes more thicker (warmer). People back then called it in different way based on their dialect. Now people call these culture and techniques Sashiko."

"The combination of Indigo dye fabric (Cotton 100%) and white Sashiko stitches is(was) the standard of Sashiko. Nowadays, people enjoy various kinds and color of fabric and threads."

 

We can find Sashiko (or similar) culture in many regions in Japan. People in the mountainous region in northern (or high altitude) developed their own hand-stitching culture.

The famous big three for Sashiko culture are:

  • TUGARU KOGIN (AOMORI Prefecture)
  • NAMBU HISHI ZASHI (AOMORI Prefecture)
  • SHONAI SASHIKO (YAMAGATA Prefecture)

* I wrote a brief explanation for each Sashiko at the end of this page. 

 

Since we can find Sashiko anywhere in Japan, the exclusive technique for Sashiko does NOT exist. KOGIN and HISHI ZASHI share some of the idea, and therefore they look somewhat similar. SHONAI and HITOMEZASHI (Sashiko which Keiko also practice) have many similarities in their technique.

 

 

How about the style of Sashi.Co and Keiko? 

SashiCo_Jacket_011A-C-closeup-1

 

Keiko and Atsushi practice Sashiko technique and culture developed in Hida. (We were working for Hida-Sashiko brand.) Hida is also the area surrounded by mountains, and covered by snow in winter time. Therefore, people in Hida region had practiced Sashiko as a job for winter, when there are no farming (agricultural) work. 

 

The speciality of Sashiko in Hida is its simplicity, the patterns created by single line (running stitch).

At the same time, however, the Sashiko with single line is the technique NOT designated for Hida region. In fact, you can find it in many regions including the famous Sashiko origin I introduced above. People might understand Sashiko as running stitch. 

 

Keiko is proud of her work with beautiful (even) stitching and its volume. Hand-stitching takes a lot of effort (and time) to complete, and each stitches is what Keiko appreciate to.

 

In addition to the beauty of Sashiko stitch itself, Keiko is very good at combining the old fabric fragments into one big sheet of fabric (patch-working.) It became very difficult to find good antique fabric in the market. Keiko find even a fragment of old fabric, and make it the beautiful fabric to make Sashi.Co Jacket. 

The ability of this, inspiration, and designing the unique Sashiko patterns are what Sashi.Co differentiate from other Sashiko, I believe. 

 

The word of "Sashiko" became pretty popular in quilting or patch-working industry. I am so happy as the previous global directer in Sashiko industry (Hida Sashiko). It is now our generation's work to preserve Sashiko in anywhere in Japan. I am proud of introducing Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya as my life work.

 

single-stitch

 

tsugaru-kogin

TSUGARU - KOGIN (津軽こぎん)

stitches are done by counting the odd texture of cloth, vertically. 

nambu-hishizashi

NANBU HISHIZASHI (南部菱刺し)

stitches are done by counting the even texture of cloth, vertically. 

sho-nai

SHONAI SASHIKO (庄内刺し子)

Sashiko is done on the grid pattern printed on the back side of fabric. By choosing where to stitch, the pattern become various. 

Sashiko in Sashi.Co

There aren't many Sashiko productions in the market.

Sashiko is a simple work, but it requires a lot of experience and training to be able to stitch fast and beautiful enough to be competitive in the hand-craft market. The speed and its evenness were the sales point when I was in charge of marketing in Hida Sashiko. I found the video which shows how good the artisan is. (Keiko and her friends are good as she is. well... she was the best artisan in Hida Sashiko, so not as good as she is, then.) 

 

As the PR director in Sashi.Co and Sashiko project, I would like to see all kind of Sashiko collaborate together and make a big piece of art. Each Sashiko has beautiful and unique patterns and arts. I believe it is the time to share all of it and try to preserve what the Japanese appreciated to in good old Japan (before 18 century.)

Sashi.Co challenge this dream as well; to preserve the culture from good old Japan. Using old (antique) fabric is one of the challenges Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya is working on.

 

 

I hope this entry explain some part of Sashiko culture. There are techniques I haven't introduced yet. However, at the same time, these techniques are difficult to share in open space like Internet. I will see what I can do toward future, where everything might be shared anyway.

 

I will keep writing about Sashiko, and its history and culture.

 

One Comment on “Introduction to Sashiko

Joyce
May 4, 2015 at 8:29 AM

Thank you so much for this information. I am not sure if you will be offering webinars, producing DVDs or having live classes for beginners but if you do- I would be interested.

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