The humble cloths that are Japanese 'boro'...


Multiple layers of extensively repaired and patched fabrics...

hand-sewn for practical purposes, for retaining warmth...

utilitarian assemblages such as futon covers

or clothing such as a 'yogi' (sleeping garment used as a blanket)

...abundant use of recycled indigo dyed rags

and handwoven cotton & hemp scraps, 
repeatedly mended...

some held together by thousands of 'sashiko' stitches
transformed into something precious and valuable.

"These textiles are generational storybooks, lovingly repaired
& patched with what fabric was available.
Never intended to be viewed as a thing of beauty,
these textiles today take on qualities of collage, objects of history,
and objects with life and soul."

~ John Foster, Accidental Mysteries blog ~

tatters, telling complex stories...

"although boro has become a bit of a trend these days, the raggedy edges
and patching and primitive approach to cloth making...there is a subtle reminder
that this was not an intended art form.
this was life, mending, thrift, respect for cloth.
this is the result of living small with consciousness of means.
the need to stay warm, the patience to repair, restore and to keep going...
and the resulting beauty in that."

All photographs courtesy of kimonoboy.com 
where a short history on Japanese textiles can be found here.


  1. Thank you Christi. This is special. I will remember this post as we embark on Jude's class.

  2. "...never intended to be viewed as a thing of beauty" - hmmm I beg to differ. What is more beautiful than fabric stitched and restitched, used and reused. What a picture treat your post is today.

  3. Wonderful post, hugely inspirational and the true origins of patchwork where nothing was wasted but put to use to provide warmth and protection - thank you, I very much enjoyed reading this.

  4. Thanks so much for your visit today Penny B, Penny and Michelle and for all your kind words. I had a great time researching for this post and was hard pressed to choose photos...oh, sooo many beauteous examples of boro are on the internet! I realized, as I'm about to embark on Jude's CWB workshop, that I knew almost nothing about boro in a historical context. This post was my homework and I hope it will be of use to others as well.

  5. What a treat! Enjoy the class :-)

  6. thanks for the reminder christi, we often get so caught up in our stitching that we forget what the original boro stitch actually was. A necessity, thrift and warmth.


  7. WOW Christi! That is really SO beautiful!!!Thank you for sharing these photos. Comming in the right mood for Jude's class ... ;-)

  8. Lovely - and the true essence of quilting

  9. K, I will miss having you in class but will keep up with all your *tracking* over at stitchinglife...I admire your focus & can learn os much from that.

    T, you are so very welcome. It's good to learn from history, place a technique within a framework of original use....

    Els, YES...gearing up for class! We are all in for quite a time, I think, what a learning experience shared with so many.

    Hi Clare, "essence"...that is a fine word for the nature of boro. How are you faring - are you snowed under in the UK?

  10. well, thank you for reminding me of that old post... i look forward to this class, so many persistent folks...

  11. wonderful collection, i'll return when i have more time...hgz, k.

  12. Thanks so much for this info. I have been meaning to explore this more and you have given me a great beginning course. It is amazing how we take these forms from the past and make them look soooo "NOW", trendy, and beautiful.

  13. this is a really GREAT post...the
    choices of photographs are wonderful. thank you SO much, and soon it will all begin...see you there! xo

  14. Sweetpea

    the bird is one of our common parrots, the Galah in lovely rose pink and dove grey, They are spectacular veering in flocks, now a silver-grey cloud, now sunset pink.

    Yoiks! What a magnificent post!! So many hours of loving repairs, holding the old worn pieces together with thoughts of love.

  15. Yes, Jude, I think "peristent" is a perfect word. But you might also need the word "perseverance" seeing as there are about 107 of us to persist on you! HA!

    India, happy for your visit here...had a feeling you might like these cloths... ;>}

    Kaite & Shirley, thank you both.

    Hi Grace! SOON!!

    Arija, those Galahs are a complete *wowzer* and I cannot imagine seeing flocks on the wing, must be breathtaking (but I suppose you get used to the sight?). And your summary of the boro "so many hours of loving repairs" touches a chord...

  16. just...thank you thank you thank you.

  17. Such a beautiful collection of images and words to dream and think on...

  18. hi, me back again, beautiful collection, but i'm wondering - some of those stitches look quite large, i wonder what their length actually is. cheers, enjoy your class, k.

  19. i covet anything made like this....
    the colors and texture are just amazing !!!

  20. After reading all the above comments, I'm really wishing I'd joined the Jude class along with you and many of your readers... maybe next time...

    I've seen an exhibition of boro somewhere... seems a long time ago... perhaps Seattle Art Museum, the Asian branch on Capitol Hill??? Anyway, your pictorial essay is a great reminder. I love the uninhibited nature of this work, the honesty, lack of self importance in the hands of the stitcher. We'll never have that... but it's great to have a sense of it!

    Thanks! Robin

    I ordered mine from Japan.. I did a blog post on Boro last year. If you are interested you can send me an email and I will send you the information on how to order it.

  22. This is a fantastic post, Christi! I can't get enough of this stuff.

  23. I can never resist drooling over Boro textiles. They certainly have soul!

  24. Yes, please send me information on how to get boro from Japan...thanks, jackie

  25. I am always look at these textiles with a little melancholy. The necessity to mend over and over is not something people can appreciate now. This is a trend now, but initially was the result of crushing poverty. While I deeply admire the thrift and creativity, I can never divorce myself from the feeling sadness as I wonder about life for the hands that did this work.