Sewing News LIVE – Angela Wolf talking with Joanne Banko

Sewing News LIVE 👗 Angela Wolf talking with Joanne Banko 👗She will share a couple of her favorite sewing machine feet, free project of the month, and It’s Sew Easy. Be sure to share this with your sewing friends and join us live 👗Sponsored by Brother Sews.


Embroidered Summer Sweater by Joanne Banko


Getting dressed for summer often means sundresses and sleeveless garments like tank tops and camisoles. These are all quite comfortable in a warm setting but what happens when you enter the zone of chilly air conditioning? If you’re anything like me, you reach for a sweater! This sweater is designed to complement both casual and dressier garments. It’s trimmed with designs created as free-standing flowers easily tacked to the sweater with machine stitches. I chose this color scheme to wear with white, but you can shop for a sweater in any color you like and compliment it with contrasting or matching flowers to suit your own style. Freestanding flowers like these are a great way to make a plain sweater look extra pretty! Are you ready? Let’s go sew!

Materials and Supplies

  • Brother Sewing and Embroidery Machine with four-inch hoop. I used the Innov-ís NS1750D.
  • Brother Embroidery Thread in your choice of thread colors. Wind a bobbin to match each thread color you use for creating flowers, and for stitching them to your sweater.
  • SA540 Brother Pacesetter light weight water-soluble stabilizer. For each set of six flowers cut two pieces of stabilizer to fit hoop.
  • Closed Toe Clear View presser foot for sewing flowers to sweater.
  • Embroidery needle for embroidering.
  • Fine, sharp, curved tip scissors for trimming flowers.
  • Pre-purchased V-neck sweater.

Materials for Flowers

  • Remnant of cotton or cotton polyester interlock knit fabric, backed with fusible lightweight interfacing to keep it from stretching. Cut this piece to fit your hoop
  • Netting, (also known as bridal tulle) in desired color for flowers. For each set of six small flowers cut two pieces of netting to fit hoop. For each set of two large flowers cut two pieces of netting to fit hoop.

Note: An 8-inch square of fabric is ample size for stitching in the 4-inch X 4-inch hoop.

Featured Designs

Note: These two floral designs are delicate, making them ideal for lightweight accents on the sweater. Feel free to try similar floral designs if you have them in your repertoire. If you do choose alternative designs, be sure to test first to make sure they are suitable.
Note: Important information to read before you begin this project: Please take a look at the instructions for our Sandals with Machine Embroidery project featured for the month of July. You will follow the exact same process for stitching the little flowers for this project. Both floral designs used for this sweater will fit a 4-inch hoop. Supplies listed here allow you to create two large flowers from the knitted fabric, and six small flowers on netting, all in the 4-inch hoop. You will need two small flowers to layer with each large flower. I made lots of extra small flowers and played with different positions on the sweater before coming up with the final design layout. Cut as many pieces of fabric and netting as you need to decorate your sweater. White fabric and netting is featured in this example. I chose the embroidery thread color for the large flowers to match the sweater and then used white for all of the small flowers. Be sure top and bobbin thread match for all the flowers you create.

Steps to Create Flowers and Embellish Sweater

  1. Hoop two layers of netting sandwiched between the water-soluble stabilizer, with one layer of water soluble on top and one on the bottom. Transfer small flower design to machine and stitch enough flowers to decorate your sweater as desired. Set these aside temporarily.
  2. Hoop knit fabric with two layers of netting against the wrong, (interfaced) side of fabric. See Figure #1a and Figure #1b.
    Figure #1a

    Figure #1a

    Figure #1b

    Figure #1b


  3. Embroider two of the larger flower motifs, mirror imaging the second motif, so you have one right and one left flower. See Figure #2.
    Figure #2

    Figure #2


  4. Use small scissors to carefully cut outside stitching line of each small flower. Wash out stabilizer, let flowers dry, and press lightly with a low temp iron.
  5. To trim larger flowers, begin by trimming away excess netting all around outer edge of flowers on the wrong side. See Figure #3.
    Figure #3

    Figure #3

    Next, trim excess knit, leaving a small margin around each flower. See Figure #4.

    Figure #4

    Figure #4

    As a final step, carefully trim the knit away from the inside of each flower petal as follows: Pinch the knit with your fingertips to pull it away from the netting, snip the knit only, and then continue to carefully cut away knit to expose netting underneath. See all completed flowers in Figure #5.

    Figure #5

    Figure #5


  6. Pin the flowers on your sweater, layering a small flower on top of each large flower and matching the position for the right and left by measuring for each one. Tip: Slip a piece of thin cardboard or a file folder between front and back of the sweater so you can easily pin without piercing both layers. See Figure #6.
    Figure #6

    Figure #6


  7. Set up machine for sewing with the clear foot. Select a single star stitch using settings shown in Figure #7.
    Figure #7

    Figure #7


  8. Sew a star in the center of the small flower to attach each flower to the sweater, taking care to avoid sewing over pins. See Figure #8.
    Figure #8

    Figure #8


  9. Tack center of layered large flowers with start stitch and then tack down a few areas of the larger flowers by straight stitching along veins in the leaves. It’s fine to leave the majority of the large flower loose in the remaining sections. See Figure #9.
    Figure #9

    Figure #9


You are finished! Enjoy wearing your pretty new sweater this summer!

See photos of sweater before and after below:





Options and Ideas

  • Netting is available in many different colors. Consider making flowers in a color close to your sweater fabric for a more subtle, tone-on-tone look.
  • Skip the netting on the larger flowers if you wish. Simply cut away the knit and when you apply flowers to the sweater, sweater fabric will show through.
  • Use the extra flowers on other projects when you need a three-dimensional accent. Don’t be surprised if you see my “leftovers” appear in a future project
  • Group one large flower with several small ones for a left chest decoration. See Figure #10.

    Figure #10

    Figure #10

Sew Blog Inspiration

Final Sew Blog Inspiration

The Sew Blog project at Sewing Machines Plus ends today!  I have really enjoyed sharing projects, ideas, and inspiration with you here, but now it is time for us to move on to new things. And so we will no longer post updates on this sew blog.
If you have been a loyal or an occasional reader here, thank you. If you are just now finding us, please read on! We’ve worked hard to pack this sew blog full of both easy and challenging projects, information, inspiration, and more. If you have a sewing question, we hope you will find the answer here.

Keep in touch

Follow Sewing Machines Plus on Facebook and on YouTube for info on what’s new at SMP.
For more from me, please join my email list at Sewing and Growing. There will be new posts there and I will also be releasing several bag and patchwork skirt patterns soon. These patterns will be available on Craftsy and some will be free.  Sign up for the newsletter at my sew blog to be notified as soon as these patterns are released, and for more sewing info and inspiration from me. I’ll look forward to seeing you there!
You can also follow me on Twitter and Pinterest.


Printable patterns for my new projects will be at Craftsy soon

Final sew blog inspiration

I’d like to share a couple more fun and helpful ideas with you here before we go. These ideas are not my own, but I’ve been having a lot of fun playing with them lately, and one has been an absolute revolution in scrap management for me; I hope you’ll love these ideas as much as I do.

A scrap-busting revolution

Scrap management is always an issue for sewists and quilters. How do you manage yours?
I have to admit that I have tried many different ways, but mostly I end up stuffing scraps in boxes, bins,  baskets, or bags, and then dumping these out to pick through when I want to use them. This is messy for sure!
Recently I came across this post on Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s sew blog and tried her idea for “made fabric.” I fell in love with the idea, and now, instead of gathering my scraps from the floor and stuffing them somewhere, I sew them together at the end of the day and make patchwork fabric.

Sew Blog Inspiration

Start with your tiniest scraps and join them every which way.

I’ve been asked how this is different from crazy patchwork. Crazy patchwork uses a foundation fabric, and scraps are sewn down on top of this foundation. So, while crazy patch is a good way to use scraps, it is not “made fabric.” In this method of scrap busting, you sew the scraps to each other to make fabric. You don’t use any foundation behind them.

15 Minutes of Play

Victoria wrote a book, 15 Minutes of Play, which gives lots more inspiration for using her made fabric idea. This book has been on my wish list for a while now, but her sew blog also provides plenty of ways to work with made fabric. I find that it’s so much fun to make that I usually extend this playtime for more than just 15 minutes and make a few blocks, but you can complete one in just a quarter of an hour.

Sew Blog Inspiration

Finish one block in 15 minutes or work on 4 for an hour. I’ll use my square ruler to trim these.

I have a few ideas of my own for what to do with made fabric, too, and I’ll share some of them with you now:
Besides cutting it into blocks and making quilts, I plan to make different sizes of lined bags (with drawstrings) from them, to use as quilt and gift bags. I already made a lotus bag from a twelve-inch square—I’m sorry to say that I gave it away without snapping a picture. I might use several squares and make this kind of kinchaku bag.
I’ll also make a journal cover from some of my made fabric. I might even use the tiniest scraps to make small made fabric circles to cover Mason jar lids when I make bath salts or other gifts to give in a jar. And I think that a made fabric patchwork bear or bunny would be a ton of fun to create.
I bet you will come up with lots of ideas, too; this is such a fun thing to do that, like me, you might like to spend even more than 15 minutes each day playing with patchwork and scraps.

Scatterbrain quilts

You can incorporate both made fabric and leftover or UFO blocks in the fun quilts that Felice Regina calls scatterbrains. She says that she dislikes making the same block over and over, so she combines different blocks to make these gorgeous but informal sampler quilts. Check out Felice’s inspirational Scatterbrain quilts on her blog.
Whether you have a few random or leftover blocks taking up space in your sewing drawer, or a few blocks that you’d love to try without committing to making a whole quilt of them, you might like to make one of these fun quilts, too. I think all quilters will love to make at least one of these. I’ve just gotten started on my first one; if you’ll like to see photos of this when it’s complete, visit me at Sewing and Growing.

That’s all folks!

Thanks for reading this blog. Please follow us elsewhere for more info and inspiration, and shop for all your sewing machine and supply needs. Happy sewing!

Life Lessons for a Life Skills Class

When I was younger, I had a thing for books. Somewhere along the way, though, two things happened. One, I kept hearing from other people that it basically wasn’t normal to like to read, but what might have been a bigger issue was the second thing that happened.

I had to deal with school-assigned books that could be a chore to wade through, and by the time I graduated, I honestly did not care for reading. In fact, it wasn’t until college that my interest picked up again, and the reason that I dove head-first into the hobby was likely linked to reading things that I enjoyed. That, friends, makes a big

This concept makes me wonder how much I would’ve enjoyed sewing at a younger age if my Life Skills class (kind of like Home Economics) would have given me a more interesting sewing project to focus on. An answer of, “Probably a lot more,” builds momentum when I really focus on what I remember from sewing in that class, which more or less boils down to frustratingly learning to thread a machine, staying after school to finish my project, and choosing the fabric—and only the fabric—for the boxer shorts we had to make. We had the specific pattern selected for us, and we even had guidelines to follow in connection with the fabric.

Now, all of those restrictions made sense. Cotton is easier to work with for a beginner than something like silk, and it probably was easier for the teacher to help us with our projects if we were all working on the same pattern.

But what if the creative door had been opened just a touch more, and we were allowed to explore something a bit… well, more?

So from a person who only re-liked books in her college years and didn’t get into sewing until potentially her late 20’s, here are some tips for high school teachers that might spark students’ interest earlier in regard to the world of sewing.

Have a series of projects for students to pick from

I know; I know. I said earlier that it makes sense for a teacher to only have one pattern to best assist students, but hear me out! Maybe there could be a handful of projects and patterns that students can browse to choose their perfect project. This way, the teacher would have a low enough number of possibilities to be familiar with all of them, but students wouldn’t be limited to just *one* pattern. The choices could range different project styles as well—perhaps one pattern for boxer shorts, one for a tote, one for a throw pillow… This way, students could involve more of their interests in the process to keep them engaged with sewing in a more genuine

Plan a field trip to buy fabric

Sewing can be more fun when it’s done in groups, and choosing fabric is a step in the process that showcases that quality. If all of the class is gathered at the same fabric store, friends could browse together and have fun conversations about which fabrics stick out—the good and bad. This strategy would build a good memory for those students to bring to mind in the years to come of when sewing was fun, and friends were near. It’s a connection with the social side of life, and that can make the process stand out as something worth

Allow the students to add their own touches

While the early stages of sewing aren’t necessarily the best times for reworking a pattern, there’s still room to personalize projects with the little details. These tiny details of personalization can allow the students to create projects that feel more individualized, things that they might find more pride in. Examples of these little details can include iron-on patches, fabric paint, gems, or other embellishments to take a work that’s completely fabric-based to something with a more dazzling effect. Remember, teachers, that the more personality students can put into creative products like this, the more they might enjoy the process. The more they enjoy the process, the more likely they are to continue it in the

Picture Credit to

And, well, isn’t that a goal for teaching someone to sew in the first place?

For me, I wish I would’ve latched onto sewing a decade or so before I did, but I’m glad that I did find it in myself to start at some point. Still, if it would’ve caught my interest back then, how much farther could I have been in the hobby?

Well, it’s not just a hobby anymore. It’s something that’s actually become a piece of my income, and I want to continue that in 2018 with the opening of a rag quilt shop. It’ll take time and effort to get the shop off the ground, but I’m hopeful for good things. These things will be highlighted on my personal blog in the future, so for updates, feel free to follow me there, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

Till then, guys. Keep on sewing!

DIY Tent & Gear Repair

diy tent hero image

My brother recently picked up this tent at an estate sale and gave it to us for camping with kids. It could easily sleep our family of four but the front screen was ripped.


To fix this, I cut two matching fabric panels in the shape of a rectangle, and planned to fold under the edges and pinned them in place on the front of the tent and one on the inside. This would sandwich the rip in between the fabric.


I sewed on the front fabric piece first, sewing right across the netting and then cut away the ripped netting up to the seams. Then I placed the back fabric panel to the front one, wrong sides together and followed the seams of the first piece.


Here’s a view from the inside looking out.


Next up was the bag to hold the rain fly and the smaller bags for the tent poles and stakes. They were falling apart.


I used scraps of canvas to make new rectangular bags for both the tent poles and the stakes.


Huge improvement, no?



The bag for the rain fly was split almost perfectly around the top.


To fix this rip I used a zig zag stitch and followed it around the tear.


The last part of this DIY project was creating a duffel bag to hold the tent, the rain fly and the tent and stake poles. For this I dug into my pile of scrap canvas.


I drew two circles for the ends of the bag and then a large rectangle for the body piece.


Before I sewed the circle pieces to the body I measured out straps for the handles and attached the handles from one side of the rectangle to the other.


I used Velcro to close the seam and then I was ready to go.


A perfect storage solution and a quick way to grab a family-sized tent and head out camping.


Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at Feedback Feedback

Just wanted to send my compliments to for their excellent customer service. I discovered last week that are selling fabric in their brick and mortar store. I previewed some it in my last blog, and ordered some for my own use. The results were perfect.

I placed my order, was contacted by them for confirmation, and I received my fabric in very good time. I am happy to be their advocate by blogging as well as a purchasing experience from them online. The process was very professional.

They marketed by email for my future interests, giving nice discounts and sometimes free shipping. I feel very confident in purchasing from them again.

There are many things going on at to help you not only with sewing but other products you need.

Each of us has their own experiences in sewing. Each of us learns in different ways. Blogging is like teaching and sharing knowledge. Being an active on-hands sewer while blogging has been very rewarding to me.

I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to be a part of this company’s program. I have had a great time with

Make them “your go to” with your sewing machine, fabric, and household equipment. You will be happy you did.

Thanksgiving Sewing Projects

Thanksgiving Sewing Projects

Thanksgiving is the start of the family visiting season. Shortly after Thanksgiving comes Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, and New Year’s Eve. At each of these, family visits and enjoys time in your home visiting and seeing what’s changed since their last visit. It’s a great opportunity to impress them with your sewing skills, starting with Thanksgiving sewing projects to set the tone for the rest of the year. These projects are sure to be a hit with everyone who visits during the festive seasons at the end of the year.


Child’s handprint sewing craft

At school this time of year, kids trace their hands and turn them into construction paper turkeys. This fabulous sewing project takes that school craft to the next level. Handprints sewn in fabric coupled with a hand sewn pumpkin make a great center piece. And your kids will love that they get to be involved in your sewing project.

Oak leaf bowl

I love oak leaves! Unfortunately, unlike maple leaves they don’t hold up well when trying to use the from DIY projects. Instead, to bring the elegance of oak leaves to the Thanksgiving table, check out these amazing oak leaf bowls. They’re perfect to hold after dinner mints or hard candies for your guests to enjoy.

Thankful garland

There’s always room for gratitude, but Thanksgiving is a time when we all focus on it a bit more. This felt banner will look great over your dining room table during your Thanksgiving meal and also focus attention on all we have to be thankful for this year.

Corn bundles table décor

Traditional Indian corn, also known as maize, has been associated with Thanksgiving since the Pilgrims had the very first feast. Although corn isn’t a typical thanksgiving dish, you can still honor this delicious food with a fun sewing project. The corn bundles make a great center piece on any table and they’re fun and easy to make.

Enhance your Thanksgiving celebrations this year with Thanksgiving sewing projects. Your family will be impressed with your skills and they’ll be great conversation starters for any new guests.

Christmas Tree Turtlenecks

Christmas Tree Turtlenecks

Its finally autumn in New York City. The temperature dropped this past week and people broke out their jackets and sweaters and knit caps. The kids are back to school and if you’re out and about around three or four in the afternoon, you’ll likely encounter gaggles of uniform clad youngsters walking home from school and stopping into the corner bodegas for gum, nail polish, or comic books.

I was one of those super nerdy kids who always liked going back to school. I especially enjoyed getting new clothes for the occasion. When I was of elementary school age, my mom still made a lot of my clothing (and that of my three brothers). We were those kids who had matching plaid pants and skirts because Mom would buy a couple or three yards of a fabric and use it to make something for each of us. I didn’t mind so much. I thought my two little brothers were super annoying but, my big brother, who is 18 months older than me; well, I thought he was the best. I didn’t care that my red and white plaid skirt was made from the same fabric as his pants. It showed we were related and I was ok with that.

matching shorts and jumper for my birthday

matching shorts and jumper for my birthday

Mother knows best

Mom also went through this phase of embroidering designs on the fronts of plain cotton long sleeve turtlenecks for me. I have no idea where she found the time to do this. I remember having a red one with a Christmas tree on it and a brown one with flowers. I was a true child of the 70s and my Mom, always hip, dressed me like one, even when she couldn’t afford to buy me brand new clothes.

Mom made long skirt and plaid pants for Santa visit. My brother and I were very stylish.

Mom made long skirt and plaid pants for Santa visit. My brother and I were very stylish.

I also remember the huge JC Penny, Sears, and Montgomery Ward fall and Christmas catalogues. I would spend hours going through them, turning down the corners of the pages with items I hoped maybe Mom could buy for me. My parents were pretty good budget makers and keepers and somehow managed, even with four kids on a high school principal’s salary, to still be able to buy all of us some new clothes for the every year for back to school.

To Black Friday or to not Black Friday

We never actually ordered from the catalogues. I’d pick out what I wanted and then we’d all pile into Mom’s van and head to the mall where the JC Penny store was. Then, I’d spend hours searching the store for the pieces I’d ear marked in the catalogue. I thought that whole thing incredibly fun – which is rather ironic because nowadays I abhor shopping in actual stores for clothes and, on the rare occasions that I purchase new wardrobe items, buy most everything online.

Somehow, in my old(er) age, I’ve grown to dislike mass produced apparel of any kind, and shopping in general.

Unless, that is, I’m buying something cycling related. I go hang out in my preferred local bike shop even when I don’t necessarily need something. I’ve spent time thinking about the why of this and have come to the (fairly obvious) conclusion that the reason I’ll go to the bike shop in person and am completely fine with paying a bit more for things I could get at a slightly discounted rate at an online super store, is for the free, excellent cycling (and local food and bar) advice and recommendations from the bike shop owner and employees.

No flavor to savor

Everything in the stores these days looks the same to me and nothing looks like me anymore. Perhaps this is just a common occurrence, or realization, that manifests as you get older. I never wanted to look like everyone else, not even way back when I picked outfits from the JC Penny catalogue. Before everyone could buy anything they wanted from anywhere online, I used to beg Mom to take us to the mall the next county over because the stores carried different things than the stores in our local county mall. Then I was able to get things that no one else at school would have.

I think that’s probably why I loved those embroidered turtlenecks my Mom used to make me so much. Nobody else at school had a shirt just like mine. And I could even claim to have helped pick out the design. Guess I was indeed destined to end up sewing and creating for a living.

The Christmas Tree Turtleneck. Not a great photo of it but the only one I could find. Note that my brother (sitting across from me) is wearing a turtleneck in the same color.

The Christmas Tree Turtleneck. Not a great photo of it but the only one I could find. Note that my brother (sitting across from me) is wearing a turtleneck in the same color.

Be true to yourself

In this world of factory mass-produced disposable goods, individual style is truly a wondrous thing to have. So cultivate yours and that of others as much as you can. Make something for a child in your life, even if its as simple as embroidering a cheesy design on a cotton turtleneck.

You can find some great embroidery designs right here at Sewing Machines Plus to get you started:

Authentic Japanese Boro, Boro Mending and Boro-Inspired Patchwork

Authentic Japanese Boro, Boro Mending and Boro-Inspired Patchwork

I have recently been fascinated with the historic Japanese textiles known as boro.

Authentic Japanese Boro, Boro Mending, and Boro-Inspired Patchwork

Boro exhibit at the Amuse Museum in Tokyo

Authentic Japanese boro

Boro means, literally, “tatters.” These were made by repurposing carefully saved garment pieces and other handspun and indigo-dyed fabrics. They were sewn together as a patchwork built up from many layers providing extra warmth.

Authentic Japanese Boro, Boro Mending,and Boro-Inspired Patchwork

The example below was dyed using a simple shibori technique. I showed several ways to do shibori dying here recently.

Authentic Japanese Boro, Boro Mending,and Boro-Inspired Patchwork

If this example were still in use, it would have been patched with another fabric over the tattered right middle section.

The Japanese used these unique textiles for utilitarian items such as futon covers, field clothing, sheets, and more. Including the interesting relics known as donja or yogi. These curious boromono were quilts constructed in a kimono shape and worn by parents and children together while sleeping.

Authentic Japanese Boro, Boro Mending,and Boro-Inspired Patchwork


Makers used careful patching and sometimes intricate stitching to craft these textiles, mending the same item many times over many generations.

Boro origins

This accidental art form was born of necessity in Northern Japan. Peasants started making them during the Edo (1603-1868) period. Japan was closed to trade and under sumptuary laws at this time. These laws restricted clothing choices for the lower classes and forbade silk, bright colors, and large patterns.

Authentic Japanese Boro, Boro Mending,and Boro-Inspired Patchwork

In addition, as explained by Kat Siddle in the August 2016 issue of Seamwork Magazine:

“Industrialized fabric production didn’t reach Japan until the 1870s. Cotton, linen and hemp were spun, woven, and dyed by hand. Cloth was a precious resource that represented huge amounts of labor, and even scraps had value. Even after mechanized mills were built near Osaka, the fabric produced there was too expensive for many people to afford, and they continued to weave their own yardage for clothing and household items. Cotton was particularly scarce in northern Japan, where it was too cold for it to grow.”

So peasants pieced and patched their indigo-dyed fabrics and saved every usable scrap of cotton for reuse in these boro items and garments.

Generations of history

Since these pieces include fabrics saved and repaired over many generations, each piece is rich with family history and memories. The homespun and indigo-dyed patchwork acquired a specific patina with age and antique boro cloths can be awe-inspiring when seen up close and in person today.

Authentic Japanese Boro, Boro Mending, and Boro-Inspired Patchwork

This special and breathtaking beauty and historical significance takes several generations and a great many years to develop. So you could say that it is not possible to create new, authentic boro today- at least, not without also waiting about a hundred years!

Sashiko stitching

Authentic Japanese Boro, Boro Mending,and Boro-Inspired Patchwork

photo courtesy Sake Puppets

Japanese ladies began carefully piecing homespun and indigo-dyed natural fabrics together into boro during the Edo period using the distinctive and decorative stitches that later became known as sashiko. This art is still practiced today.

To work sashiko, you need a long needle and thick thread. You can order sashiko needles and sashiko thread from Japan, but if you don’t want to wait for long-distance shipping, you can make do with a long cotton darning needle.

Authentic Japanese Boro, Boro Mending, and Boro-Inspired Patchwork

To substitute for sashiko thread, try perle cotton, which DMC makes in several thicknesses, both on spools and in skeins. Or you can just use regular embroidery floss.

Sashiko stitching can be as simple as straight and long running stitches, or it can be challenging and complex. It can be sparse or dense. There are many traditional patterns to choose from. But sashiko allows individual creativity, and you can invent your own sashiko patterns, too. Here’s a tutorial from Sake Puppets to help you.

Authentic Japanese Boro, Boro Mending,and Boro-Inspired Patchwork

Simple crossed sashiko stitches, photo courtesy GinaPina

Authentic Japanese Boro, Boro Mending, and Boro-Inspired Patchwork

This antique piece at the Amuse Museum in Tokyo is a wonderfully dense and detailed example of sashiko stitching.

Boro mending

You can borrow from boro and use this style of mending today. Boro-inspired mending uses the same techniques and shares the same sentiment of mottainai, or “too good to waste.”

Authentic Japanese Boro, Boro Mending,and Boro-Inspired Patchwork

Boro mended jeans and photo by Heather, via Flickr

Boro jeans mending is currently popular right now, thanks in part to Ralph Lauren and other fashion designers who have featured several boro-inspired denim collections within the last decade. So if you have any torn jeans, you can use boro techniques to mend them into something more stylish. Here’s a nice tutorial that will help you to do this.

Feel free to feature your boro patches on either the inside or outside of your jeans; they look interesting and stylish done either way. Also, don’t limit yourself to jeans; you can use boro mending to repair canvas shoes, a bag, jacket, hat, or any other item of clothing you choose.

Authentic Japanese Boro, Boro Mending, and Boro-Inspired Patchwork

It’s not quite as easy as you’d think it would be. I’m not happy with these stitches at all and will rip them out and try again!

Boro-inspired patchwork

Yoshiko Wada, who popularized shibori in America, wrote an entire book about boro. I think that she would disagree with the notion that you can’t make new boro today.

She says that she uses the term “to define a new aesthetic and to bring new meaning to an alternative creative process, e.g., darning = healing, meditative action = marking time, reuse/repair = recording history. “Boro” represents the transformation of inconsequential material to something precious and valuable… This type of imperfect beauty possesses a power that resonates with people almost like an emotional barometer. It points to an alternative value of “beauty” slowly coming to surface in our social consciousness.”

In any case, you can certainly make boro-inspired patchwork now.

Authentic Japanese Boro, Boro Mending,and Boro-Inspired Patchwork

This modern day version of a boro quilt, photographed by GinaPina and made by Vessel Quilts, achieves an antiqued and authentic look through the use of rust and indigo dyes.

Choosing your palette

In making your own, you can choose to limit yourself to the authentic original palette of indigo-dyed natural fabrics.

Authentic Japanese Boro, Boro Mending, and Boro-Inspired Patchwork

Or you can add in more neutrals, browns, blacks, or even a few reds for an extra pop of color.

Authentic Japanese Boro, Boro Mending, and Boro-Inspired Patchwork

Machine sashiko

If hand stitching isn’t your thing, you can construct boro-inspired patchwork the same way you would make strip patchwork. Then you can embellish with machine stitching over these seams, using a simple zigzag or a more decorative stitch. You could even get amazing and more authentic looking results if you invest in a Baby Lock Sashiko sewing machine.

What will you make?

You could make a boro-inspired quilt, a pillow or cushion, or a small or large boro bag.

Authentic Japanese Boro, Boro Mending,and Boro-Inspired Patchwork

Boro bag with sashiko stitching by Jacque Davis

Authentic Japanese Boro, Boro Mending, and Boro-Inspired Patchwork

You could echo boro’s traditional uses by making a futon cover or coat. Or construct part of or an entire garment from your modern boro patchwork. Here’s my boro board on Pinterest, too, in case you’d like more info, inspiration, and ideas than I could fit into this post.

Authentic Japanese Boro, Boro Mending, and Boro-Inspired Patchwork

I made the pieces pictured above to sew a small kinchaku drawstring bag. I also think this kind of patchwork would look great as a bento, or azuma bukuro, bag. Both of these linked projects would be quick, useful, and satisfying ways to play with and use boro-inspired patchwork.

I’ll show you what I’ll make from my other panels soon. In the meantime, if you are even half as intrigued by this textile art as I am, then I recommend that you experiment and play with it because it’s fun! Happy sewing!

Thanks to na0905 for taking photos of the Boro exhibit at the amazing Amuse Museum in Tokyo, and for sharing these at Flickr with the lovely Creative Commons license. Thanks to GinaPina, Heather, and Jacque Davis for making their photos available this way, too.

Cleaning Your Sewing Machine

Cleaning Your Sewing Machine

Clean Machine Lead

Keeping your sewing machine clean is an important part of producing beautiful things with fabric and thread. After enough projects, there will be an accumulation of fluff from thread and fabric in the inner workings of your machine. If you leave that to accumulate for too long, your machine will start to perform poorly.

Anytime I start to get skipped stitches or a sluggish machine I think back and ask myself when the last time was I cleaned it; it was usually too long ago.

Read the manual

I talk a lot about getting to know your manual. I’ve put little sticky notes all over mine so I can quickly find what I’m looking for. Get your out manual (or locate a PDF online) and go to the section on ‘How to clean your machine.’


Some machines will tell you to oil certain parts. Others won’t. My top advice is to always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on cleaning.

For my Brother cs6000i I need to remove the bobbin cover on the needle plate cover.


Then I follow the instructions to remove the needle plate cover itself.


Next I remove the bobbin case.


Vacuums and cotton swabs

Now I have unfettered access and can get to cleaning. Step one, vacuum!


I also use cotton swabs to gather up the fuzz that my vacuum can’t reach.


Look at all that fabric and thread fuzz!


Once the inside of the machine is clean, you need to also clean the parts you removed.


After you’ve reassembled the parts you’ve removed, I also suggest changing out to a new needle. It’s better to start fresh and new after a cleaning.


Re-thread in your desired color.


Now do some practice stitches. Here you can see how clean my embroidery stitch looks after cleaning my machine and switching out to a new needle.


With a clean machine I was able to do some beautiful embroidery for a friendship quilt I’m making.


Happy cleaning and happy sewing!

Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at