Japanese textile traditions have for generations focused on the practice of reuse, repair, and mending. Hence stitching has become a notable handcraft in Japan for different types of embroidery and patchwork. Sashiko is the practice of stitching (it means “little stabs” in Japanese), where fabric scraps are sewn onto larger garments or textiles. The stitches are often uneven, of varying size, certainly visible, and intended to reinforce older fabrics. This form of embroidery started out of need, where working class people had to mend clothing rather than buy new.
All of the stitching for Sashiko led to Boro, which are the garments or textiles that have been sewn with patches and scraps over and over from mending. (Boroboro in Japanese means something tattered that has been repaired). Indigo dyes for textiles has also long been a tradition and are featured in many Japanese garments, also due to economic conditions and ease of access and use.
With advancements in society and moving towards a more modern age, many of these techniques have been left to history. However, Sashiko and Boro are popular today due to the desire for sewing and working with ones hands in the digital age, as well as embracing sustainability and scrap culture. Additionally, they embody the beauty of textiles that have been worn and softened with time. Textiles, and gestures like sewing and mending, are also incredibly powerful metaphors for making whole what is needed most, as well as providing comfort.