Boro & Visible Mending

Hello lovelies,

Hope you’ve had plenty of time lately to indulge in your favourite hobby. With winter fast approaching that to me means more hours working on our projects, cuddly flannelette PJs, woolly socks and jumpers, hot cups of coffee, getting stuck into a good book and slow cooker meals a plenty.

I have been pottering about in the sewing room and working on the upcoming mystery quilt for you. Here’s another sneak peak…

Our new mystery quilt is almost here! As requested by many of you who did the last quilt-a-long, I haves been busy designing a new mystery where you can build on your skills. With our beautiful new range, Jardin de la Reine by Odile Bailloeul for Free Spirit Fabrics, with its bright colours mixed with a vintage/boho vibe, we’ll be exploring the art of fabric collage. Learn how to fussy cut and layer pieces to create a stunning visual effect. This gorgeous wall quilt/lapquilt will be run over 5 weeks starting early June and costs just $30 plus materials. A basic knowledge of patchwork and quilting is assumed.
Early bird special $20 if you book prior to 28th May 2021.

What is Boro?

I’ve also been spending a bit of time handstitching. You may have heard of it ‘Boro’.

It appears to be all the rage at the moment along with visible mending. Yes it seems the old values of ‘making do’ and actually repairing an item of clothing have become fashionable. And this is a wonderful thing because the clothing industry and our desire for fast, affordable fashion is an enormous environmental problem. These days our clothes, made cheaply, to be worn for a season, and to not need ironing, are a combination of synthetic and natural fibres.

Much of our textile waste goes into landfill. And while repairing and mending an item of clothing does mean we purchase less new clothing, we really also need to focus on purchasing a good quality garment in the first place.

Now pardon my ignorance but I always thought the term ‘boro’ meant a Japanese version of running stitch. Turns out, I was wrong (very unusual, I know right?). The correct meaning of ‘boro’ is a blanket that had been patched over and over again with sashiko (stitching).

Boro Cushions by Wendy Williams (pattern)

Traditionally the Japanese used fabric until it virtually disintergrated. They would use use tattered fabric and stitched it within an inch of its life, to make the fabric usuable. They believed in using the fabric until it dissolved in water.

The blankets were made over many years, for many generations and the blankets often became dirty and smelly, becoming too fragile to wash. So to sum up, sashiko refers to the stitching, the act of sewing fabric together. Whereas boro refers to the item that has resulted, a blanket that that has been patched and mended with sashiko over many years. Information sourced from

Similar but different

If you are on facebook or instagram you may have seen posts on traditional Indian blankets (Siddha) or traditional African blankets (Kawandi). These are similar but different to Japanese boro. Theres a video link here if you’d like to give it a try.

It was a way of making blankets using scrap fabrics and old clothing/textiles. Nothing went to waste and even the smallest pieces can be used. The item is made by preparing a backing, maybe a blanket or cloth inside, and then pieces of fabric stitched down onto the base using a large running stitch to hold it all together. The effect is much like what we call ‘big stitch quilting’. Except in this technique the pieces are stitched on in a spiral, starting at the edges then stitching and layering as you go around, working towards the centre. Its quite a relaxing and meditative process.

What have I been up to?

Here are some of the items I’ve made from scraps that I had in my stash or friends have given me. The wonderful thing is you just stitch along merily without worrying about perfection but rather which fabric you will attach next. I like to make things like this as gifts and try to think good thoughts and well wishes for that person as I stitch.

Now I know handstitching is not everyones cup of tea. Some people are just far to impatient (Sue and Sandy I’m looking at both of you lol). So I’ve come up with a simplified version you can do on your machine. In my bedroom, I have this gorgeous wingbacked chair and I felt it needed a little cushion to support the lower back. You may have guessed, I rather like teal. So I pulled out all my teal scraps and sewed them together randomly to form a block of fabric. I then added some plainer fabric to either side and ironed on some parlan to the back. If you want to hand stitch like I did, we have some beautiful 12wt Wonderfil Fruitti that is just perfect. The colour variegates subtly and has a lovely sheen. Despite being pulled through the fabric many times, I didn’t have any problems with it wearing and getting fluffy.

What if I don’t like hand sewing?

If you prefer machine sewing, put your walking foot on, get yourself a nice variegated machine thread or the 12wt Wonderfil Frutti with a Topstitch size 90 or 100 needle and stitch away with a longish stitch (3.5 on my Bernina). Did you know many Bernina machines have a mock handquilting stitch available? Use polysheen in the top thread, clear thread in the bobbin and a Superior Topstitch needle 100…. check it out here!

Once the stitching is complete sew up the sides but leave an opening in the back. I stuffed mine with scrap fabric, waste thread and batting that was too small to be used (more waste not going to landfill). Once the cushion is full you can then hand stitch the opening closed. If you wanted to make the filling removable, you could make a separate pillow filled with scraps which can be removed prior to washing, and also put in a zip. Of course you can make whatever size cushion you like!

Leannes Specials

Use the code LEANNE101 at the checkout to get 10% all Wonderfil threads, sashiko fabrics, threads and tools until 31st May 2021.

Until next time

Happy Sewing

Leanne x