Sashiko visible mending workshop Saturday 11th May at the Royal Exchange Theatre Craft Shop in Manchester

The workshop was a success with eight participants turning up most of whom were bearing a garment ready to mend.  I told them a little about the history of Sashiko and then went through some of the styles of stitch, my favourite which is 'Shippo tsunagi' (linked seven treasures) and also the horizontal stitch called 'Yokogushi'. We then stopped for a little break, with a pot of tea and chocolate cookies. After the break everyone readied their items they were wishing to mend and those without a garment practiced the different Sashiko stitches and Boro layering techniques. The items people bought in were, trousers, dresses, shirts and gloves. Most people began mending their items with the basic 'Yokogushi' stitch (a running stitch), some people chose to incorporate a more detailed design into their mending. 

We discussed issues surrounding clothing such as the 'throw away society' we have become and the opportunity to buy cheaper and cheaper clothing which people do buy without thought of where the item may have come from and possibly the consequence of the making of the item, but not only this but the consequence of people not buying these items. Whether the workers that work in poor conditions would be worse off without people buying these clothes because the way the industry runs and whether any action would have a knock-on effect that may not always be beneficial. 

We talked about the times of 'make do and mend' and how when a necessity is no longer a burden then people feel free and they do and will go out and purchase things if they can because there is no restriction.  Also that in not buying new items they may feel as though they are still living in a harder time when they had to ration and be thrifty. 

One lady told me of a time when she was a child, how she had to go out collecting logs for the open fire - no matter what the weather they had to go out and collect. Then of course these logs had to be seasoned before use and she remembered the whole process and how much she loathed to collect this wood for their open fire. She said someone asks her if she has an open fire, she replies 'of course I don't, I have a gas fire and I love it', because now she doesn't have to go collecting logs. Having a wood burning stove reminded her of this time when she felt times were harder for her. 

We talked about the dying out of skills, around the table the age range stretched over three generations and it was interesting to hear how this affected not only the individuals thoughts on up-cycling and ideas but also their skills. Older generations appear to have a basic knowledge of a few skills which may arguably have been learnt in order to have the essential skills for fixing things born from necessity. Two generations later, or often only one, this ability appears to be less common.  

I can look back to my own education and remember only once in primary school did we embark on a making project that involved a needle and thread, and this was to make a hand puppet - sewing buttons on for eyes. In secondary school not once was I taught about sewing or textiles. I'm sure of course this all depends on the schools you attend, I am only one person but it would be interesting to see what other peoples experience academically was. I am digressing though, from the anecdotal conversation we were having, it did seem that I was not the only one who had not been taught these basic skills to a usable level during their academic life. I fortunately have a very talented family of women all of whom make their own clothes, curtains, bedding and furniture covers so I was surrounded by knowledge and their skills were passed on, in part, to me. However this is not an opportunity that everyone has. 

We talked about how relaxing people found stitching, and that when hand stitching an amount of time is to be designated specifically to that activity and how this allowed you to feel tranquil. It is comparable to when you allow yourself time in your busy day to read your book. It was a pleasure, not a necessity. Many people said they shall continue with this skill at home and that they have found something that they enjoy. Some people said they enjoyed the skill because it was something new, others enjoyed how it incorporated upcycling.  

thank you to every one who came, was lovely to meet you and really pleasant mending and stitching together 

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thank you