Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year To You All

This bright new year is given me
To live each day with zest
To daily grow and try to be
My highest and my best! 

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Sashiko (Japanese) Embroidery : A Surprise Find

The last darning “episode” was on Pattern Darning. I had thought to wind up the Darning posts with that. But you know surprises await us everywhere. I happened to get a Sashiko embroidery kit from Angela of Sake Puppets. Her etsy shop has a wonderful collection of her Sashiko embroidery kits.  Check out her blog for a tutorial on sashiko.This was the first time I had heard of such a form of darning. Then there started my search to know more about it.

What is Sashiko? 

Sashiko is considered to be a form of darning. Sashiko has been used in Japan for centuries to reuse old clothing. Starting with a couple of layers of old cloth, a new layer of fabric was added on top using tiny stitches. Sashiko means "little stabs" and resemble grains of rice. You will know why it is so after reading the introduction on Sashiko. 

Sashiko embroidery is rooted in Asian culture and tradition. Embroidery was used to bind layers of fabric together to add extra warmth. It was also a functional and pragmatic way to repair worn areas of garments.
·  Fireman's coats were made of several layers of thick cotton cloth quilted in a method called sashiko, which means "to pierce."
·  In sashiko, strong cotton thread is stitched through all the layers of fabric, binding them together. This process makes the final product much stronger and more durable, which was important for hardworking firemen.
·  Sashiko was used throughout Japan, primarily by women, and may originally have been a recycling technique, providing a way to piece back together small torn or weakened bits of fabric. 

·  Sashiko stitching is typically applied with white cotton thread on a dark, indigo-dyed fabric.
·  Gradually this would have evolved as a form of embroidery. Even today sashiko is used in association with quilting.
Today sashiko is used primarily for decorative, rather than practical purposes.

Let me show you the Sashiko embroidery kit that I got.

 the fabric, needle and the thread.

Materials required

Surprisingly, the needle and the thread used are different from the regular embroidery thread.

1.       Sashiko Fabric:
Traditional sashiko quilting was worked on indigo-dyed fabrics, but any evenly-woven, smooth fabric would do. Most of today’s fabrics made by machine are a lot tighter than old homespun fabrics. Since sashiko needles and threads are thicker than regular sewing needles and threads, it is harder to stitch through tightly woven fabrics.
Ideally lower thread count fabrics in cotton or linen are used , but some silks and wools are suitable. 

2.      Sashiko thread:

Sashiko thread is a soft, twisted fine 100% cotton thread that is heavier than quilting thread. It’s perfect for cotton, linen and wool. Perle cotton No. 8 and embroidery threads can also be used.

 Sashiko Embroidery Thread

3.      Sashiko Needles:

Sashiko needles are especially made to work on Sashiko. It has a big eye to make it easy to thread, and has a sharp point to work easily on running stitches. The length of needle is your choice. Traditionally, long needles (about 2 inches or more) were used for stitching straight lines or large patterns, and shorter needles when working on small designs or curved designs. Also, the homespun fabric used traditionally would allow large needles to pass through. The modern Sashiko needles are much shorter and suited for machine woven fabrics that are tighter than the traditional homespun fabrics.