Stitching Sashiko in a Series

Stitching in a series is always an enjoyable project for me.  I like the underlying theme of sameness but not the same.  I like the feeling of a numbered start and finish.  And I like working on small pieces.  With my bum leg giving me a good reason to stay inside and work small, I set out to use my vintage Japanese plaid (Shima) cotton for my Sashiko series.

Recently I have discovered that I really do not enjoy stitching someone else’s pattern.  I have used a few stencils but became impatient with the precision required to complete a standard, fixed template.  So armed with my Omnigrid square, I proceeded to draw lines in no particular pattern.

And so, here is my Sashiko stitching in a series, a total of 6 pieces–all a bit larger than a six inch quilting square.

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My Left Foot, Lemon Leaves Sashiko and Monarch Butterflies

You may be wondering how the title phrases are connected, and so I have a story for you, a true story, that is.  Subtitle:  Stitches and more Stitches

A week ago, I was clearing my deck and bringing plants inside in preparation for our deck renovation.  Unfortunately, I slipped on a stupid throw rug between the deck and my house.  Luckily my brother was here to call 911–and a few hours later I was given 19 stitches in my left lower leg, somewhere between my shin and my ankle.  I won’t go into the pain and tears, but the good news is:  no broken bones.

The lemon leaves refer to the Katazome stencil I purchased, an authentic antique Japanese stencil I used to create the outline of the leaves on vintage Japanese indigo cotton.  All the rest is sashiko stitches (little stabs).  Everything is backed by a vintage white dresser cloth.



And then there is the monarch butterfly, which was snapped by my friend, Marilyn, who lives in a rural area.  She planted milkweed for the monarchs, which is such a sweet and lovely thought.IMG_6423

So I will leave you there with lemon leaves, monarch butterflies and milkweed flowers.  No sense dwelling on my left foot.

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.

Chicago New Year 2018 Begins in the Deep Freeze

Arctic snap, Polar blast, or Deep Freeze.  Doesn’t matter what you call it.  It started snowing on Christmas Eve, and it was lovely.  Just a couple of inches–enough to make everything sparkling white.  And then the cold plunge into bitter weather began.  Below zero weather and that’s not counting the wind chill factor.  And then my pipes froze.  The kitchen drain pipe.  So no water in the kitchen, no dishwasher.  The plumber came twice.

No can do.  Wait for the thaw.  Put a blasting heater under the new hole in the garage inner roof.  Wait for the pipes to thaw.  You ask about a blow torch?  Too dangerous for the insulation.

And so, thanks for new snuggly socks.  Warm socks!

We have heat but no water in the kitchen.  Not so bad.  

After pouting for a few days, I began a new Sashiko project.  With a variety of colors, rather than the traditional white on dark blue.  I think that bodes well for the New Year.  Being bold, taking risks.

Ha ha

Natural dyeing projects have been postponed until I get my kitchen sink back.  The indigo can wait, but what about those lovely, costly persimmons I bought?

Happy New Year 2018!