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Explore Boro and Sashiko, Harmonious Imperfection

Posted by Karla Menaugh on Feb 22nd 2021

“The real key is to be aware that you are creating a whole new textile when you are adding patches, layers, and stitching,” Shannon and Jason Mullett-Bowlsby write in their new book, Boro and Sashiko, Harmonious Imperfection.

Even with this gentle reminder in the introductory chapters, I was still caught off-guard when I started to edit their materials list for the Kimono-Inspired Long Jacket. Why didn’t they list the fabric they used for the cuffs and collar, or the front panel, I wondered for a minute. Then I realized, this jacket started as solid, thread-dyed black fabric, and all of that gorgeous pattern is added with sashiko stitching! What a beautiful way to showcase the way sashiko builds up a simple fabric.

Kimono-Inspired Long Jacket

Shannon and Jason describe themselves as “rabbit-hole people”—unable to resist the call of a deep dive into the story behind things. Their study of ancient sashiko and boro techniques took them from an exhaustive study of materials available from books and the internet into an in-person look at the behind-the-scenes collections of the Seattle Art Museum and private collector Roland Crawford.

Shannon studying a boro jacket/hanten from the collection of Roland Crawford

We are the lucky recipients of the result of their study. Their new book is a wonderful combination of inspiring eye candy and practical, down-to-earth instructions.

Shannon and Jason (who are known as the Shibaguyz because they often are seen with their 3 Shiba Inu) teach you exactly how to stitch sashiko in a series of photo-illustrated step-by-instructions, and they offer patterns for more than 30 sashiko designs.

Shannon practicing Kogin-zashi sashiko, used to fill the spaces of loosely woven fabric

And then there’s the boro, the art of creating new textiles with layered patchwork. And, of course, the combination of the two.

Boro Pillows


Reversible Knot Bag

If you are going to buy one boro and sashiko book, this book should be the one. The history and photos of museum artifacts are fascinating, and the complete sashiko stitching instructions and patterns are must-have resources. And then there’s that array of beautiful projects in all sizes. You can jump right into making your own beautifully stitched kimono-style jacket or hanten short jacket, or start small with a cute and useful roll-up kit!

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