Admission of Ignorance Leads to Enlightenment in Sewing Techniques

I've always had an admiration for the Japanese sewing market, which started when I fell madly in love with a pair of scissors at a Japanese notions company booth at a sewing expo. I still kick myself for not buying them.

The "faux-shiko" stitching
on the skirt

Modified sashiko stitching.

But recently I fell in love all over again when I was editing an article aptly titled "For the Love of Japan" for our upcoming Spring 2013 issue of Stitch. During the creation of the article, I learned all sorts of things about the history of Japanese textiles and the influence of Japanese textiles on the American sewing market (huge!).

I am never one to shy away from admitting my ignorance. It's the best way to learn something new. And I have to raise my hand on one point about which I was definitely not in the know.

I designed a skirt for the upcoming Spring 2013 issue with a big running stitch used as a design detail. I assumed this was sashiko stitching. But in reality it is what we dubbed "faux-shiko."

In fact, while "sashiko" is a running stitch technique, it doesn't move in a straight line. Sashiko stitching creates a pattern or design, often circular. There is a pair of yoga pants in the same issue that is embellished with sashiko stitching around the pants hem, and you can see the difference. But even the stitching on the pants is a modified sashiko. Traditionally, sashiko is white cotton thread (and sometimes red) on indigo blue cloth. I'm sure I don't have this exactly right, but that's what I've learned so far!

I've been editing and writing for the sewing market for a while and too often I find sewists suffer from two things. First, never feeling like their work is good enough. I think this comes from looking at all the "imperfections" while working in such close detail — details that no one else can see. And second, feeling like they have to know everything about sewing.

Obviously, no one knows everything about sewing. And obviously there are many sewing technique options, with no one definite right answer. For me, it's all a wonderful journey. I add to my knowledge almost every day — even after sewing since age 5 and working in the field. And I find that I learn the most, when I just say: "What is that?"

You can learn lots and lots about Japanese sewing techniques and more because all the Japanese sewing technique books are on sale in the Sew Daily Shop.

Have you learned some amazing sewing nugget by professing ignorance? Let us know!

Happy stitching!



Other sewing topics you may enjoy:


Sewing for Beginners, Sewing Machine Basics

About Amber

Amber Eden is the editor of Stitch and She LOVES sewing and editing Stitch and She also loves dance, yoga, iced decaf triple espressos, and her two golden retrievers. She divides her time between Boston and New York.

5 thoughts on “Admission of Ignorance Leads to Enlightenment in Sewing Techniques

  1. I think your comment melds well with the whole concept of creativity. People may think they are not creative, when they really are in trying to even change one thing in replicating something that they see and want to do for themselves. (example of your faux shiko). We start from one point of reference in what we see and then add our own “touches” to a project we are sewing or painting, etc. The “ignorance” brings new techniques and ideas , new inspiration to the table and for the world to see.

  2. In the article about sashiko, was your long straight stitch saddle stitching? In my mid-seventies, I have seen a number of sewing and knitting terms lose their meanings and get new ones when younger writers guess at what the words mean. If you have to guess, ask an older person what they know about the expression.

    Sometimes the guesses are ridiculous, as when a noted “sewist” (this new term is much nicer than “sewer) was puzzling over the use of embroidered “tea towels” and concluded they were placed on the table at a tea to separaate glasses and silverware. Not so. In the days before synthetic detergents, the dishwater would get greasy and scummy. The glasses would be washed first, then plates and silverware, last the pots and pans. The cleanest end of the towel was used for glasses, the other for items that might have a film of grease on them.