Boro, Blue Jeans, Patience and the Pearl River


A while ago I discovered Boro Textiles from Japan. Boro are humble mended and patched utilitarian textiles used in rural Japan. I fell in love.

While I’m not really a “jeans” person, I started to make my own denim “rag” skirt. It is hand sewn and includes patches from my daughters pants, something from the salvation army and a second hand (really weird) Anthropologie skirt. I included ripped parts of pants and mended them while I was going along. It has 4 A-line gores and somehow, during the process, I managed to screw up all my measurements. In the end it just didn’t fit….I growled.

I was about to give up the whole rag skirt idea (hand sewing denim is also not the most relaxing thing). However, through all my cursing and 28 cups of coffee, I realized that the point was not to throw the skirt away, but making it work. Wasn’t that the point of patching and mending? That you couldn’t just throw it away and try it again? Because you couldn’t afford to get something new.

Patched Denim Skirt

I inserted some jersey parts at the sides and made the skirt work. And while it is not one of my super fitting incredible pieces, I started to wear it and really liked it. Especially all the learning and stitching that went into it.

As I said, I usually don’t wear jeans that much. But I do own a few pairs and it seems that almost everyone I know has a pair (or two) as part of their wardrobe.

Last week I came across this CNN video regarding jeans production in China. OMG. Makes you not want to buy another jeans in your life.

Along the way here are a few more things I learned. That the word “Denim” is an abbreviated form of “Serge De Nimes”, because that’s where the sturdy cotton twill fabric originally came from. Jeans (a lighter cotton textile) comes from the French phrase “bleu de Gênes”, literally “blue of Genoa”.

The main thing I learned, however, was patience. My skirt will be an ongoing process, with patches being added as time goes by.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

11 Responses to “Boro, Blue Jeans, Patience and the Pearl River”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. mammacomic says:

    That skirt is Super cute!! I am enjoying your blog, but am finding it difficult to post a comment under my own blog. It only allows me to use my google blog, which is outdated. Anyways, if you want to find me I am at Thanks for the great ideas!

  2. mayaluna says:

    I adore this skirt so much and since I've been lucky enough to see it in person, I know just how exquisite all the detailed stitching is. I love the bottom hem in red, but my favorite part is that little mended hole where you wove the threads together. The video was disturbing, but not surprising. There seem to be enough jeans already made to clothe the world if our Salvation Army is a good example of the amount of second hand denim available.

  3. suschna says:

    My favorite part is also the one with the woven red thread. I wished my daughter would accept such mending on her jeans. (I myself am not a jeans person either).
    Recently I saw a documentary about the commerce with used clothes – not an ideal story either. Best thing would be, as you say, to make what you have work as long as possible.

  4. Vicki K. says:

    The stitching reminds of some of the Japanese quilts I've seen – I think they call the stitching style Sashiko. I like it because the stitching is obvious and a geometric design element.

  5. boatx2 says:

    OH MY WORD!!!

    It….can't BE! That can't be going on!
    It does make me want to never buy another blue jean ever again.
    I cannot believe how black that water was from the sky, let alone what it must look (and smell) like from the banks.

    Thanks for posting that video! I've learned so much from you today.

  6. Sharon says:

    oh my….i think we better keep the farmer's jacket and continue to patch it rather than get a new one! thanks for introducing me to Boro…had never heard of it before. also, had a chance to look through your blog more thoroughly and feel pretty certain we were separated by birth! it seems we share a love of all things alabama chanin…and by chance, are you wearing RED CLOGS in that photo…? because red clogs are the best shoes on earth…the best and i love mine and will wear them forever! and, though i am a poor imitation, i too love love love handsewing…it's right up there with porchsitting…and i do plenty of both! you have a great blog and i hope to see lots more of it! stay in touch…sharon at farm and fru fru

  7. Jim Austin says:

    Here's a link to an example of a Japanese boro skirt or long boro apron folk textile made in the early 1900s, from Kyoto, Japan.


  8. Chirley Maria. says:

    Acompanho seu blog. Aprecio muito a sua maneira de fazer discutindo o projeto. Muito Bom!

  9. editor says:

    I have the most gorgeous book on boro:

  10. editor says:

    and thank you for that cnn clip. very interesting!


  1. […] evening, I re-visited the “boro-inspired” skirt I made two years ago from recycled jeans and thought adding some more patching and stitches would […]

Leave A Comment...