About sashiko
Japanese decorative reinforcing embroidery

Sashiko is a plain-stitch embroidery used as a decorative strengthener, primarily on plain indigo-dyed cloth.  For warmth, two or more layers of cloth were often attached in a form of quilting using small sashiko stitching.  Modern-day versions of sashiko are seen in the reinforcing in judo and kendo uniforms and on some traditional clothing.

Originally sashiko was applied to the corners of furoshiki, the wrapping cloths used to carry things, in lieu of bags or suitcases.  Extremely large furoshiki, four or five feet square, were used to carry large, heavy loads, and the corners that are tied, around the materials transported or around the bearer, require reinforcement to hold their shape and not tear.  Sashiko was stitched on to them, sometimes in two or even four different patterns on a single furoshikiTabi, the split socks worn with zori or geta thong sandals, were also reinforced with sashiko, as were drawstring bags.  Work clothes which receive wear over the shoulders and across the chest, where loads rest on or ropes rub against the worker, were also reinforced with sashiko, often simple running stitches, but occasionally in decorative lozenge patterns on separate strips of cloth which were then applied to the garment.  This beautiful handwork thus received the most wear, and is often in worse condition than the rest of the clothing, as can be seen in some of the vests on this site.

Sashiko is used in many patterns, some of them representational in a stylized way, such as tortoise shell, waves, and lozenges.

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