During the Edo Period (1603-1867), Japan had what we now call a sustainable society. People in Edo Japan recycled goods and materials for a reason: they had very limited goods and materials in the first place. Everything was treated as a valuable resource. The repair, reuse and recycle culture thrived so much that there were tradesmen to repair ceramics, metalwork, wooden barrels, bamboo umbrellas and more. A major motivation for us to today to embrace this practice will be to reduce the burden on landfills as well as do our parts to leave the Earth a better shape than when we were born for our future generations.
Simple running stitches to create a pattern is the key to sashiko, a Japanese embroidery technique.
Sashiko was born out of practical needs to repair clothing, reinforce wear & tear parts and decorate something plain with relatively little resources. It's an embroidery technique that it looks simple yet beautiful in its own form. Over time, different shapes and patterns were developed representing the daily life and environment. There were shapes based on grass, leaves, waves, stones, etc.. No matter what the patterns are, the sheer beauty of sashiko is that all patterns are simply running stitches. The technical level is easy. That's why it is therapeutic and satisfying to incorporate sashiko in your craft projects.
Sashiko workhop with Jun comes with instructions and materials
Jun Brealey, an experienced embroider, has brought sashiko to Adelaide and created Sashiko Lounge out of her love for this craft. The Sashiko Lounge meets on the first Saturday afternoon every month at the Cowandilla Primary School where you can learn and try this new craft and meet other sashiko lovers. Jun has brought in the sashiko threads and needles, fabric panels printed with washable sashiko patterns and sashiko books from Japan. There are free trial samples. You can also purchase extra materials and tools from her. The Lounge is open to everyone. No booking is required but I'd recommend reserving a seat. $5 for Japan Australia Friendship Association (JAFA) member and $10 for public to attend.
Once you learn the basic skills, you can venture out and create your own projects. I've seen tote bags decorated with sashiko, jeans repaired with sashiko and even wool jumpers full of holes now turned into beautiful garments with sashiko. They are unique and full of characters. Why landfill when you can repair and make something different? Visit the Sashiko Lounge website to find out more.