Photos of ‘boro’ the Japanese art of decorative mending are so engaging. The idea of patching an old garment with additional pieces of cloth – using stitches that are meant to be seen – are bound to appeal to a patchworker like myself (who also likes embroidery). Just look at these, which come from an excellent blog post by FerugiStar in which it is explained that this was an economy craft, used because fabric is too good to waste (for details, see below, at the end of this post).
Photo credit: Antique Noragi Hanten, copyright FerugiStar
You can see a wonderful blog post by Cool Hunting about a past exhibition of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Japanese ‘Boro’ clothing if you are interested in investigating further (for details, see below).
I like the idea of extending the life of a garment with something decorative, so here are a couple of samples:
I managed to get a spot of black ink on this white cotton summer cardigan (can’t imagine how). Having tried all the stain removers I knew, it was clear that the mark was indelible, so I stitched on a row of sunflower heads (one of them concealing the black ink) and then added some stems and some simple leaves in detached chain stitch.
Next up is also a cardigan:
This used to be a light grey marl wool cardi. Nothing really wrong with it, but not a lot right, either, so I dyed it with a wool dye and it’s now a deep aqua blue, which I like. However, for some reason, a small area on the left shoulder about an inch in diameter (2.5cm) did not take up the dye in the same way and was noticeably lighter. So I searched my collection of wool threads (collected over time and some picked up in charity shops) and chose two: one an exact match, and the other a lighter colour. These I used to create a scattering of daisies, using (again) chain stitch to make the petals. This is the result, with no sign of any lighter area underneath.
(By the way, I do know how to do more than just one embroidery stitch! On our Textiles degree course we spent a whole year investigating, and trying out, traditional stitches along with a modern equivalent of each. I have three lever-arch files full of samples.)
More decorative mending next week…
This fabric design called ‘Flowers from Kircudbright’ has a bit of a lazy-daisy chain-stitch look to it. You can find it here
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For the blog post on Boro by FerugiStar go tohttps://furugistarjapan.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/boro-japanese-folk-fabric/
For the blog post on the past exhibition of Boro by Cool Hunting go to: http://www.coolhunting.com/culture/boro-the-fabric-of-life