Stitch and Repair, Japanese Style Projects

repairing a seam in a vintage Kasuri Ikat pillow case

For the past few weeks, I have been stitching and repairing vintage Japanese cloth.  This first project was a vintage Kasuri Ikat pillow I purchased, knowing that it would need repair.  It was a simple seam repair, done on my sewing machine for long-lasting security.  Completed!  And for sale in my Etsy shop.

The next project is more of an art project, in that I am doing a boro Japanese style repair using reclaimed cotton cloth, and mixing them up just for fun.  Ongoing project. with much sashiko stitching in varied colors using DMC embroidery skeins, vintage as well.

Boro project on vintage indigo cloth and antique dresser scarf

Finally, I am beginning another Noren curtain, but this will be a huge project, because the cotton cloth panels are in need of much repair.

They are vintage Japanese fish or dragon panels, with some small holes, ripped seams, and general disrepair.  I am not sure how much patching to do…how much cutting…how much repair.

Any ideas or suggestions would be much appreciated!


Japanese Boro Style Repair & Noren Curtains

My own handmade, hand-dipped indigo curtain.

Lately I have been working with vintage Japanese cotton and linen panels which were once used as futon covers.  I have been collecting these for awhile with a plan to use some of them for patching together Noren curtains, or privacy panels/ room dividers.  These have been very popular in Japan for awhile and are gaining popularity worldwide–in particular, for folks who are small apartment-dwellers.  They also look nice as wall-hangings.

Handmade Noren Curtain utilizing vintage Japanese fabric panels.

And I have been working with small vintage fabric samples for “boro repair” stitching.

You can see the progression in the photos below.

Progression of Japanese style boro repair
Getting ready for boro repair.

Finally, I am putting together some in-person workshops in both sashiko stitching and boro repair collage.  Send me a note if you plan to visit Chicagoland in June, July or October!

The INDIGO vat

Finally, I made an indigo vat a couple of weeks ago.  The weather just wasn’t good for being outside.  Then the sun and warmth arrived, at least for a few days.

The indigo vat in a 5-gallon tub
teal silk ribbon
Experiment with 12 fabrics, same dip, same amount of time, different results
Noren curtain (Japanese style room divider)

This was the first time I made an indigo vat on my own.  My friend, Marilyn, had made the first indigo vat and we had done the dipping and rinsing together.  But I was on my own this time.  I used a kit with natural indigo paste and other substances to make up the vat.  Although the results were good (see below), the vat did not last long.  I am saving it to be rescued after I learn more about “reviving” a spent indigo vat.  Open to recommendations!

Busy Bee Sews and Embroiders

My kitchen counter is filled with scraps!

It seems like I have been sewing and embroidering and very little else these days.  And playing with cloth in general.  Mostly scraps.  Recycling is on my mind.

Very little time for cooking when you are submerged in cloth.  And then my sister sent me some wonderful ribbon treasures, further burying me in fun.  So what to do?

Make stuff:  boro repair patches, birds and needle cases/books.

Colleen’s gifted ribbon and trim stash!
Just a few pics for now:
She needs legs.
Run rabbit, Run!
Boro repair patch for clothing or bags. Tiny, just 3 x 3 inches.

Gathering vintage fabric for a Boro repair project

Awhile back, I began making denim patches constructed from old worn vintage denim clothing.  These patches are great for decorating your own torn jeans or jacket, and for adding to quilts or story collage.  You may remember.  The one on the right is in my Etsy shop but the one just below has sold.  Now I am gathering old scraps for boro repair work.  Boro was–and still is–an originally Japanese method of making use of worn clothing by patching–sometimes with other worn pieces.

Repairing old clothing and linens was practiced in many cultures, as with the American patchwork quilt.

Now I have gathered these materials to begin a project in the Boro patch repair style, but I am approaching the project with the utmost respect for the original Japanese tradition.

Still Frozen & More Sashiko

Yes, still frozen in Chicago.  We had a 2-day warm-up, then back to the deep freeze.  Teens and single digits.  Brrrrr.  But much of the country has joined with us in the cold.  Some of them just don’t know what hit them!

I completed my “colorful” sashiko design, tried stitching on heavy French vintage ticking, and played with my pile of scraps.  Looking for a new direction.