Saturday, December 12, 2015

To Boro Or Not To Boro?

     When is it appropriate to add the hand stitches that are characteristic of the Japanese patchwork known as Boro? I love the look of it. I'm no expert on Boro, but I've done some reading on it and I've browsed images of it on Google and on Pinterest. I've even created a Boro board on my Pinterest page of images that inspire me. If you aren't familiar with it, basically what I've learned is boro used to be from rags that were worn by Japanese peasants and were patched and repaired with stitching.  Often, they used fabric that was dyed using indigo, so usually you will see blue fabrics when you look up boro. Now, when you see boro fashions, you will see patched fashions with large stitch work. Some of it looks ragged and some of it looks very refined. If you want to see it on Pinterest, be very careful when you type "boro", because Pinterest keeps changing your word to "boho". You have to keep changing it back to "boro".  If you visit my Pinterest page you can see my board on boro.  Or you can Google "boro stitches" and go to images to see what it looks like.
     Anyway, I decided to experiment with boro and create some clothing for myself in this style, but in a little of the more refined way. My husband got to be the guinea pig for my first venture. He asked me to repair two holes in his khaki shorts. I used one of the tutorials I found on Pinterest as a guide.
1.) I trimmed the edges around the hole.
2.) I cut a patch of patterned cotton fabric a little larger than the hole.
3.) I placed the patch inside the hole and hand sewed a running stitch around the hole using a darker thread.
4.) I cut a patch of thicker cotton fabric larger than the patch and pinned it inside on top of the other patch.
5.) I hand stitched up and down a pattern of stitches all up and down the patch to reinforce and to decorate.
first patch from the outside
from the inside
second patch from the outside
If I had just done the patching normally, I would have used a khaki-colored thread that blended with the fabric and not done that pattern of stitching. And I would have used a khaki-colored patch. But this is boro. I made sure to tell him how special it was. :) 
     Then, I had the idea to make myself a boro Christmas scarf using leftover Christmas fabric scraps I have. I decided to model it after some of the images of scarfs from my Pinterest board. So I cut rectangles from my scraps and pieced them together until I had two large enough pieces and then put right sides together and sewed them, leaving an opening large enough to push the right sides back out.  Here's my scarf.
Christmas scarf
     The intention was to add large boro hand stitching to each section in contrasting thread to make it look more informal and worn. But now, I think I like it just as it is. So that's why the title "To boro or not to boro?" I think, in this case, I should not add stitching. Maybe, I'll piece a bunch of denim rectangles together and then hand stitch with green, red, and gold floss to boro another scarf for next year. Can boro even be used as a verb? I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on their posts so that the artists know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.


  1. Your scarf is beautiful, and I like the idea of using denim, or solid hand dyes for your boro stitching. Well done!!

  2. Thanks, Karol. Using solid hand dyes is a better idea than denim because the denim might be too thick, especially for our Florida weather.


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