This Japanese Denim Repair Technique Will Make Your Jeans Look Cooler Than Ever

by BUST Magazine

Photo by Kay Wang

Stitch, Please


Sashiko, which translates to little stabs, is a traditional Japanese hand-repair technique developed by the working class in the 18th century as a way to fix holes in apparel and home textiles. Back then, indigo was the most inexpensive textile dye, so it was most common among the poorer classes—farmers, fishermen, and laborers—who often fixed blue items using white thread with this “functional embroidery.” Now the technique pulls double duty, extending the life of denim with its reinforcing ways and looking super cool thanks to its unique, decorative quality. I often use it at denim repair and customization pop-ups I do around the country. Here’s how to fix a basic hole with a simple design—but feel free to use your imagination to customize your own pieces. 

Materials needed: Item to be repaired, embroidery needle, pins, sashiko thread (embroidery floss will work; I prefer pure cotton with no sheen for a more traditional look), fabric for patching (anything sturdy and woven will do, no knitted fabric), and scissors.

To begin, cut a fabric patch and pin in place underneath the hole

(1). Thread the needle and knot the end. Sashiko is done using only a running stitch. To make one, bring your needle up through the back of the fabric, pulling taut; create a small stitch by bringing your needle through the front of the fabric and repeat

DSCF2457Photo by Kay Wang
(2). Create a row of even running stitches to desired length. Repeat rows as needed, until your patch is secured

DSCF2520Photo by Kay Wang
(3). Space rows ?- to ¼-inch apart

DSCF2550Photo by Kay Wang
(4). Finish by knotting the thread at the back of your fabric. Get as creative with the stitches as you like!

DSCF2557Photo by Kay Wang

Kristina Angelozzi

This article originally appeared in the August/September 2016 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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