Guest post by Stacey Sproule
Sashiko, in my experience, is a game changer. I had known about the technique for a long time, and initially fell in love with it when I was studying at OCAD. I had seen an exhibition at the Textile Museum of Dorothy Caldwell’s mending work. It was such a spectacular show, each of the pieces were so layered and dense; their use of darning and running stitches made them look like archaic maps, or the well worn skin of some strange creature. I had asked my grandmother at the time to teach me how to darn and I remember using it over and over again to embellish my first-year fabric pieces. The other technique with the running stitch would be quite unknown and confounding to me until many years later. In fact, I would say that it has only been just this year that has re-introduced me to those incredibly simple and profound running stitches that can create texture and visual interest like nothing else.
I have this great pair of Aqua jeans, as a colour they are perfection. And so when I fell flat on my face on the sidewalk one day I think I heard the sound of my heart break as I saw the rip across the left knee. I wasn’t particularly upset that I was bleeding, I was too bummed out about the pants. They rested on the back of a chair for many weeks, frayed gaping hole as a prominent reminder of my foolish clumsiness. Then one day, as if the wind whispered it to me, I remembered- sashiko.
A method traditionally used for kimono repair sashiko is worked in tiny running stitches that compose a geometric design or just a textured look. My Aqua jeans rescue needed something unique and bold and since I have a real love for aqua and orange together I decided on a diamond pattern that progressed from orange to yellow to blue.
I think what is really profound about mending in this way is how you can feel the fabric’s new strength and flexibility, it’s as though you’ve made it bionic. It’s in part because you create a structure to hold the rip in limbo, preventing it from spreading further, and then you reinforce it with the stitches and your patch fabric. For something that seems so basic, its components create a protection barrier which is all at once strong and integrated into the garment.