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Learn Sashiko the Easy Way with Make + Mend

by Anja
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In Japan, broken objects are often repaired with gold. The flaw is seen as a unique piece of the object’s history, which adds to its beauty.

from Emily McDowell’s Empathy Cards

I always thought of Sashiko as a form of kintsugi. Instead of gold, you mend the tears in clothing with thread and geometric patterns.

With each stitch, a piece of clothing otherwise headed to a landfill gets a new life. It becomes a work of art, a diary.

I’ve got two pairs of jeans that I wear around the house. They’re comfy, even when my lactose intolerance shows up. And they’re the only pair that I let my cats scratch.

They’re also close to six years old. Each day they’re getting thinner in certain areas while still looking good underneath the knees.

I tried mending another pair with my sewing machine, but honestly, the final result looked so crappy that I never wore them again.

When I read that Miniature Rhino’s Jessica Marquez was releasing Make + Mend, a book about Sashiko, I was intrigued: There’s another way to mend my clothes? No sewing machine? No awkward looking patches in weird areas?

Please! Please! Take my money!!!!

What is Sashiko?

It’s a Japanese embroidery created to patch and mend textiles to make them last longer.

You don’t need a hoop to do Sashiko. Needle, thread, scissors, and fabric are enough. And if you’re a pro in Running Stitch, you already have the basics.

I can’t find Sashiko thread in local stores, but buy it through Amazon from a seller in Japan. That can get a bit expensive, even considering the exchange rates.

Though you can use regular embroidery floss as a substitute, it’s not as tightly wound. It’ll eventually fray. Cotton crochet thread (size 20) works for me just fine. And it hasn’t frayed after a few washes.

You can use regular embroidery needles. But I do recommend Sashiko needles. They’re sharp enough to go through two layers of denim and are available in different lengths to embroider more stitches in one go.

Now on to the fun stuff.

The book

Make + Mend has 8 DIY projects and seven mending projects.

The book starts with a brief introduction of Sashiko and its history, as well as the importance of mending clothes.

Did you know that fast fashion has fifty-two “seasonal” collections a year? 😱

When you think about it, that’s a lot of low-quality clothes ending up in landfills, contaminating water and polluting the environment. That’s scary and outrageous at the same time.

Jessica makes a point of choosing better clothing and buying less of it. And to use Sashiko to make it last and build a connection with the clothes you own.

If you decide to purchase Jessica’s book, you’ll want to start with the projects or mending right away. I know I did.

Layered Sashiko

These are my patched jeans.

Do yourself a huge favor and read the Getting Started section of the book. It has tons of information about the materials you’ll need, the way to transfer Sashiko patterns onto fabric, and how to construct them if you transfer them directly.

It also shows you in clear pictures how to stitch your fabric, suggestions on stitch lengths as well as how to finish a project.

The projects

Some of the projects in the Make + Mend book require additional sewing.

If you’ve got a sewing machine in your arsenal, you’re all set. If not, you can sew the included projects easily by hand.

At this point, I got to confess that I’ve not worked through the projects.

My impatient self went straight to the mending section because walking around with holes on my inner thighs wasn’t an option anymore. But I highly recommend you check this section out first.

The Make section has beautiful projects to use up all those fabric scraps you know you’ve got stashed in the depths of your drawer.

Make + Mend

A Sashiko bag to reduce plastic use.

Two of my favorite projects that I hope to work through soon are the Boro-Inspired Tote and the Geometric Starry Scarf. The scarf is the perfect accessory to wear with my beloved denim jacket, and the tote is so stylish that I could take it anywhere, not only to do groceries.

The instructions for all projects are easy to understand, and the pictures that go with them are very detailed. If you’re a beginner, you’ll be able to follow along with no trouble.

The mending

Sure, you could always pick up a patch from the craft store and glue it to your jeans. But where’s the fun in that?

With all the beautiful geometric patterns Sashiko offers, you can turn your favorite worn out jacket into a work of art and give it a second life.

Jessica shows you how to line collars and cuffs, fix the tears in the knees, and make cute patches for kids clothing.

Because of the shape of the holes in my jeans, I’ve stuck mostly with layered sashiko, where I attach a piece of fabric from the inside and stitch it together. But I recently started experimenting with patches.

Make + Mend Book

Patched jeans with the Ocean Waves pattern

Mending with Sashiko is much easier than using a sewing machine, especially around tight areas.

Make + Mend includes 20 patterns you can use to mend and decorate.

The instructions on how to trace individual patterns as well as the suggested stitching order are clear. You can’t go wrong if you follow them.

Make + Mend is the perfect introductory book if you’re a newbie in the art of Sashiko. The pictures will inspire you to dream up projects of your own and become more conscious about your buying decisions.

Since I bought the book, mending is my new addiction. I’m sure it’ll be yours too.

Fixing my clothes is a lovely way for me to unwind, to meditate when I don’t want to sit down on my cushion. And it helps me do my part to help the environment.

If you like the book, you can purchase it online on Amazon, at your favorite bookstore, or on Jessica’s site.

For more inspiration, make sure to follow Jessica Marquez on Instagram @miniaturerhino.

DISCLAIMER: This post is NOT endorsed by Jessica Marquez or her publisher.

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