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Spring cleaning and upcycling through Sashiko mending

Alice Huang

Posted on May 04 2021

sashiko mending  

Spring has sprung! As the days grow longer, the temperatures turn warmer and the season of renewal surrounds us, you might be tempted to do some “spring cleaning”. Always first on the list? The closet, of course! While downsizing your wardrobe can be oh-so satisfying and make room for fresh new items, before you summon your inner Mario Kondo, take a moment to consider where all of that that “waste” goes.

Sadly, the fashion industry is one of the most polluting in the world. Just how polluting is it? To highlight some pretty grim numbers, the average consumer throws away 70 pounds of clothing per year. Yikes. To make matters worse, globally, 95% of what’s tossed could actually be reused or recycled.

Cutting back your textile consumption is just one of the small ways in which we can show this big beautiful planet some love and celebrate Earth Day every day. So, here at Mei Vintage we challenge you this year to forgo the annual purge and give some of your favorite gently used clothes a facelift instead!

Whether it’s a simple rip or a missing button, it likely can be fixed and given a second life. There are a variety of ways in which you can do so, but one of the most popular practices is known as Sashiko mending (or visible mending). This type of upcycling is especially popular with jeans and jean jackets. Let’s take a deeper dive into what it is and how it’s done. You can go ahead and carve out an arts and crafts day in your calendar because you’re going to want to join in on the fun!

 

What exactly is Sashiko mending?

Sashiko mending is a form of ancient Japanese folk embroidery. When translated, it literally means "little stabs”. It came about in the times of pre-industrial Japan, when fabric was scarce and so it was necessary to give each and every article of clothing as much history as possible (often many generations). This was done by using patches, scraps and simple (yet beautiful) stitches. 

It’s a distinctive stitch that isn’t meant to be invisible but is instead meant to highlight the tears, frays, fringes and other blemishes of a garment. The end result adds flair, character and a personal touch. While Sashiko mending has been around for centuries, the practice of it only recently gained attention and became “trendy” here in Western culture. 

 

5 benefits of practicing Sashiko mending

There are many benefits of Sashiko mending. While we’ve already highlighted a few of them, here are 5 of the most rewarding:

  • Sashiko mending saves you money. Depending on the type of repairs your piece of clothing needs, it will almost always be less expensive than purchasing something brand new.

  • Sashiko mending prolongs the life of your favorite clothing. You know you’ve got a few items you never want to let go of! Remember that vintage will always be “in”.

    • Sashiko mending greatly helps the environment. More repairs and upcycling equate to less waste and, as a result, a happier and healthier tomorrow.

      • Sashiko mending nurtures creativity. The possibilities here are endless with this form of art. Let your imagination run wild!

        • Sashiko mending serves as a great way to relax and unwind. While the hands may be busy, the mind is free to wander. Some even refer to it as a active meditation.

         sashimi mending tools

        (pic credit)

        What tools are needed for Sashiko mending?

        A handful of simple necessities are needed for Sashiko mending. It’s also worth noting that if you're a beginner, it's a good idea to practice by following a template or pattern.

        • A Sashiko needle. There’s a specific needled needed for Sashiko, which is long, sturdy and sharp. It’s designed to allow multiple stitches to be loaded onto it before pulling it through the fabric.

        • Sashiko thread. Sashiko thread is often made of durable, heavy-weight cotton. It’s sot with a tight twist. While indigo is the most “classic” color, today, it’s available in a variety of colors.

          • Sashiko fabric. Sashiko works best on a linen or cotton blend with a loose weave. Denim is another great choice (especially if you’re repairing an old pair of jeans or a jean jacket)!

            • A Sashiko thimble. As with all hand sewing, a thimble will be your first line of defense. Unlike traditional thimbles, which are worn on the end of the finger, Sashiko thimbles are worn at the base of the finger with a pad that extends down toward the palm. 

              • Other miscellaneous tools. You may also want to have a good pair of scissors on hand, a few straight pins (for securing patches while you stitch) and ruler.

              visible mending

              (pic credit

              If you’re interested in learning more about the art of Sashiko mending, we recommend checking out self-proclaimed expert Katrina Rodabaugh. She offers books and online classes that are great for getting started, and her Instagram feed includes tons of information surrounding sustainable fashion. For additional inspiration, including patterns and video tutorials, checkout Mei Vintage Pinterest link with lots of amazing DIY resources!

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