Boro, Patchwork, and Beloved Denim

I'm working on a new denim patchwork project inspired by my love of Boro and visible mending. Sashiko has found a firm place in my sustainable fashion journey. Not only does visible mending with Sashiko invigorate old clothing with new strength, vitality, and durability but it also provides an opportunity to make something beautiful along the way.

While my mending pile is still not at risk of disappearing anytime soon, I have started to consider the fabrics in my castoffs as raw material for new designs. Upcycling and recycling materials in fashion is not a new concept. Certainly we've all marveled over wools, denims, cashmere, and vintage cottons given new life in a patchwork project. Certainly quilting and Boro invented this many centuries ago. You might even have visited my fingerless glove DIY tutorial on this blog--it's made from sweater sleeves.

Yet there is something minimal and restrained about using just one palette, just one fabric, and just one stitch in creating a new patchwork piece. Much like Natalie Chanin's beautiful use of jersey cotton in her gorgeous handmade creations, or Kathryn Clark's impeccable Foreclosure Quilts, or the inspiring Quilts of Gee's Bend or the gorgeous contemporary work of Folk Fibers there is a timeless quality to a minimal palette filled with hand stitches. (I'm also loving this new quilt book, Unconventional & Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000. It's filled with patchwork inspiration.)

Boro falls along these lines of a minimal, modern palette that evolved out of need but certainly maintained integrity and beauty at every step. It makes me cheer. So I'm trying my hand at an upcycled Boro-inspired project made of denim, white Sashiko thread, and patchwork. I decided to fully embrace slow fashion and make the entire project sewn by hand. There are various denim scraps, pant legs, denim remnants from my local fabric store, and even denim scraps I was recently gifted at a workshop.

I have a few ideas about this project's future use but I'm going to keep that to myself for now. I want to let the patchwork continue to evolve and help determine the final shape. And that final shape will help determine its usage. I will say that a shawl, a scarf, a quilt, and a wall hanging have all recently come to mind. For now, I'm enjoying the slow and steady process of stitching denim to denim and watching the white lines morph into a web of dashes across the beloved indigo landscape.

Happy Monday, friends.



  1. Lovely! can't wait to see what it becomes.

    1. Thank you! It's been so wonderful to work with denim.

  2. this is very inspiring! I've been loving my sashiko mended pants and I'd like to try to do something with the boro as well. Also, congratulations on your book and pregnancy!

    1. Thank you, Rebecca. I've been very influenced by wabi sabi and Boro since starting my fashion fast, Make Thrift Mend, a few summers ago. I think Sashiko is such a perfect mending stitch.


Thank you for your comments, friends. I like to think we are creating a dialogue in this space--building a virtual community.