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Sashiko: Traditional Japanese Embroidery

Posted by Akira.Hirose on
Sashiko: Traditional Japanese Embroidery

The History of Sashiko
Sashiko is a traditional Japanese handicraft that has long been used to embroider, bind, and quilt fabrics. Its roots can be traced back to the middle of the Edo Period, about 500 years ago when the use of cotton began to spread in Japan. It is said that sashiko began as a way of hand-sewing layers of fabric for various purposes such as reinforcing clothing, adding heat-retention properties, and adding decoration that held people's wishes and prayers for warding off evil, a good harvest, and a prosperous business. Especially in the Tohoku region, a unique, heat-retaining technique of layering fabric was developed to keep the cold out, and the fabric was used for work clothes. To this day, there are many places where sashiko unique to the area remains. Nowadays, it is a beloved handicraft wherein many sewers enjoy embroidering traditional patterns and designs.


The beauty of sashiko ori (sashiko weave) lies in its texture that gets better over time
Sashiko refers to layers of cotton fabric stitched together for reinforcement; and it also refers to decorative embroidery with various patterns such as geometric designs and small motifs which are made by stitching vertically, horizontally, and diagonally. It has mainly been used for reinforcing fabric, and to provide heat-retaining properties.

Cotton fabric woven in a way that resembles sashiko is called “sashiko ori” or sashiko weave. By weaving sashiko threads of varying thickness and colors into various parts of a fabric, the distinctive patterns of sashiko are created. Sashiko ori gives thick and strong cotton fabric an uneven, three-dimensional texture, resulting in superior durability and heat retention. Due to its durability, sashiko ori was also used by firefighters during the Edo Period.
Sashiko ori

 When speaking about the history of sashiko ori, the uniforms of martial arts such as judo, kendo and karate must also be mentioned. Considering the intense daily training of the practitioners of these sports, we can only imagine just how durable their uniforms must be. Moreover, they must be so comfortable that they almost become part of the wearer. Abounding in traditional techniques, sashiko ori has been loved by martial arts enthusiasts since olden times. 
kendo uniform

 Items produced by artisans using traditional sashiko techniques are very strong, durable, and highly heat-retentive. In addition, sashiko fabric is also very soft and pleasant to the touch. The more it is used, the more its texture changes, rendering it a universally appealing product.


Patchwork Samue Jacket | Sashiko | Kimono style
Patchwork Samue Jacket | Sashiko | Kimono style



Patchwork Samue Jacket | Kakishibu Orange | Sashiko | Kimono style



Patchwork & Distressed Kimono Jacket in Japanese Sashiko
Patchwork & Distressed Kimono Jacket in Japanese Sashiko


Kimono Jacket in Japanese Sashiko EmbroideryKimono Jacket in Japanese Sashiko Embroidery



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