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Needle Works Cruise 2018 Highlights

Lola Girl Sashiko table runner

I had an absolutely amazing time tutoring on the 2018 Needle Works cruise.

The whole experience perfectly combined holiday relaxation and creative abundance. It was wonderful to be able to look up from our work to see the stunning blue ocean or gorgeous beaches.

We set sail from Sydney on the 21st of April for cruise that took in Fiji, Hawaii and Seattle. I was joined by a number of other very talented tutors from a variety of stitching disciplines.

Diamond Head, Hawaii
Diamond Head, Hawaii. Simply stunning!

I held daily classes with an enthusiastic group of ladies on deck to study the art of sashiko and boro. For our first class, we worked on one of my favourite designs, the Chelsea Sashiko Table Runner.

Lola Girl Sashiko table runner
First project of the cruise: Chelsea sashiko runner.


Indigo Niche sashiko workshop
My students working on their first project: The Chelsea Sashiko Table Runner.

The Chelsea table runner consists of the traditional Japanese Seven Treasures sashiko motif and Japanese print fabric, and is constructed by a combination of the sashiko stitching discipline and applique.

Indigo Niche sashiko class
Sashiko and lovely ocean views. Perfect!


Indigo Niche Sahiko class
One of my students preparing some circles of fabric for applique.


My main objective was to show how individuals could apply their own creativity to the sashiko and boro disciplines. I’ve always felt that sashiko need not be restricted to traditional Japanese motifs—although I adore those—and that one’s own personal journey and influences can be explored through sashiko stitching.

My students chose to interpret my designs in a variety of creative ways, with lovely results.

Another project that we worked on was a Temari sashiko runner. The Temari design incorporates a number of circular traditional Japanese sashiko motifs, charmingly arranged in a way that evokes the traditional children’s toy the temari ball.


Indigo Niche sashiko workshop
Some of my students working on the Temari sashiko runner project. (Looking very focused!)


boro flair on denim jacket
Jenny added this gorgeous boro flair to her denim jacket in her spare time.

In my downtime I was able to catch up on some of my boro projects, as well as brainstorm some new ideas for sashiko and boro products that I plan to bring to the store.

Indigo Niche boro project
Working on a boro project in my downtime.


Indigo Niche boro project
The finished product: some boro in my spare time.

I also had the opportunity have a look at the other groups’ wonderful creations, which I found very inspirational. I was particularly taken by Prudence Mapstone’s work.

The cruise was a wonderful experience, such a refreshing way of exercising one’s creativity.

Until next time,


If you would like to enquire about my teaching schedule, or have any questions about the sashiko runners featured in this blog, feel free to contact me via the form below.

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Shibori – A Local Interpretation.

We recently got in touch with our friend Jane Postle to check out some of her locally-made Shibori.

Shibori has never been too far from our thoughts. During our travels through Japan earlier this year, we were very impressed by the Arimatsu Shibori Kaikan, a Shibori museum in Arimatsu, Nagoya.

Nowhere else in Japan is there such a central focus on the art and techniques of shibori than in this gorgeous little hamlet, nor such a dedicated passion; they even hold an annual Shibori Festival.

We were quite affected by their passion for this art, and the Shibori Festival is definitely up there on the so-called “bucket list.” (We also love their rough-around-the-edges website, too–very quaint!)

A popular misconception is that shibori is merely a Japanese version of tie-dyeing. This is inaccurate, as there are many techniques that are associated with shibori. Let’s take a look.

‘Wring, Squeeze, Press’.

Shibori is the Japanese word–meaning to wring, squeeze, press–for a number of ways of embellishing textiles by shaping cloth and securing it before dyeing.

The cloth is treated as a three-dimensional form, involving crumpling, stitching, plaiting, plucking and twisting. After the cloth is ‘shaped’ by these methods, it can be secured in a number of ways, such as binding or knotting.

This is all done with one goal in mind: to explore the pliancy of a given textile and thus its potential for creating a multitude of shape-resisted designs.

The key to getting wonderful results from shibori dyeing is to work with the limitations, and to allow them full expression. The special characteristic of shibori resist is a soft or a blurry-edged pattern. The effect is markedly different from the sharp-edged resist obtained with stencil, paste, or wax.

So if you ever try your hand as shibori, be aware that an element of the unexpected is always present. Think of it like a potter firing a wood-burning kiln. All the technical conditions have been met, but what happens in the kiln may be a miracle or a disaster.

All the variables attendant on shaping the cloth and all the influences that control the events in the dye vat conspire to remove some–but not all, thankfully!–of the shibori process from human control.

In fact we’ll even venture to say that it’s the element of chance that gives life to the shibori process. This is its special magic.

1. Shibori in Practice

It was a treat to not only witness first-hand some genuinely local shibori being produced, but also to see how these designs could be used to make stunning silk kaftans and cotton throw cushion covers.

Jane Postle has been studying shibori techniques for well over ten years, becoming a true artist in her own right.

Preparing fabric for folding and clamping.


Stitching and folding silk fabric before being placed into indigo dye. Silk is particularly amenable to resist-dyeing. (See the kaftans for the final results.)


From the vats. The prepared pieces drip-dry before being opened and rinsed. Note the different methods on display.


This fabric has been untied prior to a final rinse.


Each method has unique results, and the reveal is an exciting moment. This fabric had been folded and clamped.


The undone fabric is given a final rinse.


Some gorgeous results set out to dry.


“It’s the element of chance that gives life to shibori.”


Beautiful Shibori.


More lovely results.


2. Some Finished Shibori Products


Simply gorgeous–one of the Shibori Throw Cushions made from one of the pieces above.


One of three lovely Shibori Kaftans.


Shibori Kaftan – second design.


A third Shibori Kaftan design.


Hand-made shibori silk kaftans are available from Indigo Niche for $450 each. Each kaftan’s shibori design is completely unique, as perhaps despite an author’s best intentions, no two pieces of shibori are ever alike. Please email [email protected] for more information. Stock is limited.

Cushion Kits

Shibori cushion designs are available from Indigo Niche kit form.

Each Cushion Kit includes: a unique Shibori cushion front (hand-dyed in an indigo vat); a plain backing for your cushion; a 6″ square sashiko panel for insertion in the back of the cushion (optional).

For more details and further options send an email to  [email protected]

‘Til next time…