25 April 2012

Rags and stitches

"Boro jewelry" - raw-edge cloth, sashiko, and antique buttons.
As I need many small gifts for a trip I'm taking later this spring, I've gone into mass production of these small pins. Boro, by the way, is a Japanese term that roughly translates to rags, or scraps of cloth. Cotton was at one time a luxury fabric in Japan, as it was imported, and every scrap was saved and reused. See examples of boro at this blog.

Three fabric scraps, hand-dyed pearl cotton and antique buttons.

Something every quilter has is lots of fabric scraps.  After some experimentation, I hit upon pleasing proportions for my little textile "sandwich:"

1) Bottom square, 2 1/4"
2) Middle square, 2"
3) Top square, 1 3/4"

Of course, the shapes can be irregular, and should be!  Using my trusty sashiko needle, I stitched the three layers together using sashiko thread, as well as some wonderful pearl cotton hand-dyed by Elin Noble.  It is difficult to force the needle and thread through all the layers, and I recommend loosely woven scraps as easiest to handle. Many of my pins use Kaffe Fassett's shot cotton for the top and bottom layers, with some kind of coordinating print in the middle.

Rows of stitching marked, or just "eyeball."

I spaced the rows of stitching about 7 - 8 mm apart,  a scant 3/8" or so. Next came the antique button, and finally I stitched a 1" pinback to the reverse of the "sandwich," just through the back layer. After all the stitching, I did a final trim of the thread ends.

Back and front of boro pin.

Pin on lapel.
I got the idea for these pins from this wonderful blog, which features Mai's hand-made creations: http://mairuru.blogspot.com/2008/09/my-boom-sashiko-hand-stitch.html