How to boro stitch a patch

By Susan Fletcher
boro sashiko mending on blue jeans

If you have been reading my Boro stitching bog posts, by now you may be want to try it out.  We have a kit available on the website, but if you would rather use recycled fabric or perhaps mend or alter a favorite piece of clothing of your own, here is how to approach it:

First collect up the item you want to mend or alter, a needle with a large eye, some sashiko thread or other thick cotton yarn, and some pieces of scrap fabric.  If you are, for instance mending your old blue jeans, you might want to use some soft denim from another old pair that are beyond mending. Or you could use some strong cotton fabric with a color or print that you enjoy. Whatever you choose, try to make the weight of the mending fabric piece similar to the weight of the clothing you  are patching.

(In this example I am adding a little 'extra' into a waist band that is too tight so I have cut the waistband, unstitched it a little way, and now I'm going to add in a bit.  This is a digression, but if you try this, you need to open the band at equal distances from the center back seam on BOTH sides. You can only add a small amount of 'extra' at any one place this way, but as you'll see in further photos here, you can also squeeze some 'extra' from the side pocket areas! But I digress...lets go back to the boro stitching!)

ready for boro mending

Pin your patch over the area you are mending. If the fabric is worn this around the hole, make sure your patch extends beyond the worn cloth so that when you are stitching it the outer edges are stitched to strong cloth. Otherwise, your stitching will pull away from the area very soon.

You can choose to put your patch over the outside of the fabric, or over the inside.  Both will be fine for function, it's just a matter of which look you prefer. this is also true for turning raw edges under, or not. Go with what you prefer.

In this example photo I have folded the denim patch over the waistband and an equal distance over the inside area as well, the secured it with safety pins and a running stitch along the old machine stitching.

boro sashiko stitchign

 boro sashiko mending

You may want to baste the patch to keep it in place so that you can take out the pins.

After that just keep stitching until you are happy with the results!

Remember this is Boro Stitching. It is not meant to be perfect. Unless your patch rips out or falls apart, you did it right!

Here is a photo of the patch pinned into place where I opened the seam by the pocket. You can see where the fabric has been damaged where I removed the belt loop too.

patch pinned in place for boro stitching

Here is this side finished, including some close +'s stitched over the weak spot. The other side of the matches, else the jeans would fit very oddly! :-D

boro stitch blue jeans

 Presumably I don't need to say that this project was a bit more challenging than sewing a patch over a hole in the knee, but I didn't happen to have a hole in the knee when I wrote this, and I have been meaning to make these jeans fit for over a year and now, happy dance, they are done! So thanks :-D

I wish you happy stitching with your own boro project,