Boro and browned butter squares

Thank you to Carol of Justletmequilt.com for another terrific blog hop. This annual cookie/blog hop tradition is how I first jumped into these fun blog hops. This one is for a “Boro” project and a cookie recipe so please read to the bottom for the browned-butter chocolate chip recipe.

I celebrate Chanukah and tonight is the second to last night. I recently gave one of these bags as a special gift and here’s the story. I have always been intrigued by the Japanese boro movement of patching and restitching over holes to repurpose clothing. The word “Boro” means ragged or tattered and was a way for people to repurpose their clothing to save money. Today, Boro or hand stitching has been borrowed by modern artisans to create a style that is folksy and handmade. We must remember that it was originally born out of necessity, and not meant to be just decorative.

This is one side of my completed Boro pouch, now gifted to someone special. The use of different stitches and colors of yarn add to the texture of the bag. I played around with various stitches using some stars, spirals and diagonals. Too me, the fabrics that I chose evoke a Japanese garment. I even had a scrap of fabric inspired by sashiko lines.

My first attempt at boro was practice, but I still finished it into a pouch with two zippers. I learned a lot along the way. 1) The stitching does cause the fabric to bunch a bit. You need to add one extra inch of fabric all around your piece. Once stitching is complete, only then trim your fabric pieces down to the exact size you need. 2) In the spirit of Boro, it’s best to use what you have. I needed a few basic items for boro but tried to respect the intent of not overpurchasing. This traditional craft was about repurposing and not investing in new items. 3) Choosing scraps is best when not too contrived. I went with colors that play well together and nothing that would distract from the stitches themselves. 4) Do your hand stitching first and construct the bag and add any zippers as secondary steps.

The side of my Boro stitched bag where I added an inset zipper. I am in love with how it came out. Making it was a fun and therapeutic process that I will gladly repeat again and again. I also love the idea that no two projects will ever be exactly the same.

You don’t need much in the way of materials to make a boro piece, but here are some of the basics.

Needle: A boro or sashiko needle (You can use a large eye, sharp-tipped embroidery needle if that’s what you’ve got on hand.)

Thread: DMC thread (I like size 5m) natural or off-white is the most traditional. The thread comes in many colors via skeins or even round balls. Of course, there is a specific, hand-dyed, traditional thread made just for sashiko that is available online. However, DMC thread is just as good. It won’t bleed when washed, comes in many different colors and you can find it everywhere. If all you have is 8m, you can use that too. If all you have is worsted wool, size #4 cotton or acrylic yarn, use that as well. In other words, do not fret. The string needs to get through the eye of your needle and be thicker than regular sewing thread.

Fabric: Traditional boro fabrics were indigo (blue), beige or brown. Occasionally you would see another scrap being tossed in with the mix, but clothing was usually hand dyed and so the coloring was limited (and gorgeous, I might add!) For your project, you’ll need a base fabric in a solid color to best show off your stitching. I used navy blue for mine, but anything will work and you need not be traditional. (Remember to make your base fabric at least one inch extra all around as the stitching will use up more seam allowance than simple machine sewing.) You will also need some scraps of fabric, in the colors mentioned or use your own design. Whatever I select, I like to add bits of denim, preferable without much stretch. The more worn and faded the denim, the better the results. You can even use denim for your base. Many experienced sewists like to do boro on denim pants or jean jackets. This is a project where I would limit your novelty and busy prints to let the hand stitches shine on their own.

Fabric Marker or Fusible Interfacing: You will want to mark lines or grids on the back of your fabric, so get yourself a chalk or fabric marker that works well. If you have none, another idea is to draw lines on fusible interfacing which you then iron onto the back of your fabric. This is a way to use a regular pen or pencil to get perfect lines.

Pins or Basting: It’s helpful to pin your scraps in place before beginning to stitch. One idea I found is to baste some stitches onto the scraps first to keep them from moving. If this feels like cheating, well that’s up to you. I have tried both basting and going without. Whatever makes things easy for you, that’s the best method! I am sure that some people would try glue basting, but I would worry about getting gunk on the needle.

Pick a running stitch to start with, or anything basic. Don’t worry if your stitches are uneven, wonky or weird. I aim for a handmade look, but not perfection. You will get better as you go, but if you never have perfect stitches, so be it. This project was about letting precision go and enjoying the journey. It was cathartic and fun…and I enjoyed trying something new. So how about that new recipe next!?

My Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Squares…the flavor is definitely better with browned butter.

Lately, my nephew has become quite the foodie… with cookies becoming his new specialty. He swears by using browned butter in classic chocolate chip cookies!! I needed to try this for myself. I chose to make squares instead of individual cookies, but either way this works great. The house smells incredible from the butter and the cookies have an extra nutty and enhanced butter flavor.

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Squares (or cookies)

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or less
  • 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Brown the butter over medium heat, stirring constantly until the butter begins to foam and turns a golden brown, emitting a nutty aroma. Don’t overdo this part or you will get an extra dry dough (ask me how I know??) The minute you start seeing brown in the butter, you’re good and now remove it from the flame to cool. Pour the liquid butter into a measuring cup and put it in the fridge to stop it from cooking further. The browning shouldn’t take more than about 5-6 minutes but you must watch like a hawk…or else it will burn. (I suggest looking at a few videos online about ‘browned butter’ to show you what this ought to look like.)
  2. In a larger mixer (I love my Kitchen aid stand mixer) or use a big bowl, combine the cooled brown butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat until mixed together. Add in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. (I ran out of vanilla extract so I used some whiskey…another suggestion if you’re like me and don’t plan well.) Mix well.
  3. Add half of the flour until everything comes together. Add in the baking soda, salt and mix again. Finally, add the remaining flour, stopping if the dough starts to get too dry. Fold in the chocolate chips. Do not over mix.
  4. Refrigerate the cookie dough for at least a half hour, or overnight. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees before you begin baking.
  5. If you want squares, line an 8 x 8″ pan with parchment paper and spread the dough evenly in the pan til it’s no more than half filled . (Use any extra dough to make cookies but don’t overfill your pan.) Bake for 18 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool and cut into 16 squares.
  6. If you want to bake cookies, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Use a 1 ounce cookie scoop to scoop the cookie dough out into balls, placing them 2 inches apart on the prepared sheet. Bake for 11 minutes* at 350 degrees or until the edges are just golden brown.

How did they taste? The flavor is great. (Full disclosure: I baked my batch with gluten-free flour due to family food issues, so mine were crumbly and a bit dry. I don’t recommend gluten free with this recipe. I’ll be remaking them with regular flour next time.) Using regular flour, your cookies will come out amazing and surely will taste better than ever!

Check out the other wonderful blog posts from this hop and find some really amazing recipes and projects to boot! Here are the other bloggers from today.

December 9

Just Let Me Quilt

Home Sewn By Us

Just Sew Quilter

Ms P Designs USA

Quiltscapes

Texas Quilt Gal

Creative Latitude

That Fabric Feeling You Are Here!!

Linking up to: Oh ScrapMidweek MakersConfessions of a Fabric AddictPeacock PartyFinished or not FridayBrag About Your GoodiesThank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, My Quilt Infatuation: Needle & Thread Thursday.

32 responses to “Boro and browned butter squares

  1. I wasn’t familiar with boro, that’s very interesting. Your boro bag turned out great. And thank you for the browned butter tip for the cookies, definitely something to try.

    Like

    • Thanks for stopping by and yes, boro is very cool. I now want to go to Japan and see antique examples in the museums. The garments get heavier over time with all the additional patches and stitching. Wouldn’t it be cool to handle an old one in person? Til then, we can make our own.

      Like

  2. Your boro bag is beautiful. Thank you for all the tips and suggestions. Now, I am very interested in using brown butter. I need to research this further for sure. Thanks for the recipe.

    Like

    • Carla, Thanks so much. Now that I’ve taken the plunge, I’m finding brown butter recipes all over. It’s worth trying in any recipe, but do watch not to burn it too much.

      Like

    • Thanks Denise. The boro bag was definitely well received. I can’t stop planning to make more of them. It’s another addiction for me!!

      Like

    • Rebecca, I totally recommend you trying it, yes, yes!! It’s relaxing and easy to take on the go. I love seeing the raw edges of the fabric as well as the uneven stitches. (Yes, mine are definitely uneven!) I hope you’ll share your experience when you try Boro.

      Like

  3. Love your bag, and boro is such a neat idea. My grandmother used to hand mend jeans, and everything with tiny seed type stitches. She even used to darn socks. I think the darned spot lasted longer than the rest of the sock many times. Browned butter cookies sound yummy. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    • Colette, I love those old skills like darning. My Mother-in-law had a darning kit that she used. It’s now in the hands of my sister-in-law and such a cool thing to attempt again in this wacky world we live in. I just learned to knit during Covid days and those who knit socks by hand are my heroes. I am sure if I spent time knitting socks, they wouldn’t be tossed when there were holes!!! Thanks so much for sharing your family story. I am sure the jeans hand mended by your Grandmother would be cherished heirlooms today!!

      Like

  4. Happy Chanukah to you and your family. Your Borro bag is swell and what a fabulous use of scraps. Plus a nice way to display some fun hand stitching, too. Oh, I’m with your nephew on the browned butter – totally different and yummy flavor. For an additional flavor profile, use dark brown sugar to add a hint of molasses to the mix – another yummy! Thanks for sharing with us today. ~smile~ Roseanne

    Like

    • Roseanne, I love the dark brown sugar idea too, yes indeed!! Thank you for the lovely comments and I am loving the Boro stitching. I am starting my 4th bag but it’s never enough!! I want to do an entire denim jacket too! I will have to bake another batch of cookies now that you’ve taken it to another level. I’m sure I won’t have a hard time finding tasters!! All the best to you and hope so far that you are enjoying the lead up to Christmas!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • TAhank you. I might bake another batch of cookies soon. Plus, another Boro bag is already underway. It’s addictive like chocolate chips!

      Like

  5. Happy Chanukah!! The bag is awesome, and the Browned Butter Chocolate Chip squares sound fantastic!! Thanks for sharing!

    Like

    • Thank you so much Brenda. Chanukah was lovely and low key, just what I needed. I hope you’re enjoying the whole season leading up to Christmas.

      Like

  6. The cookies look wonderful and I bet they do smell really good with the browned butter. I am sew impressed with the Boro bag! This is a technique I want to try (after I get all my Christmas projects done). Thanks for sharing so many tips on how to do it.

    Like

    • Carol, you will love Boro. I am completely fascinated by it myself. I’ve only made zippered bags but would totally love to do an entire garment. A denim jacket would be awesome. Let me know if you give it a whirl. It is very therapeutic to do this sort of hand stitching.

      Like

    • Cindy, thanks for stopping by. Just be careful when browning the butter. Do check out some videos online first to see when to pull it off the element. I burned mine because I missed researching it first. Oh well, live and learn…more to get right the next time. The Boro bag is really fun to try…even on a ripped pair of jeans or something like that. I highly recommend the hand stitching.

      Like

  7. Sending you love sweet friend. Yahav Eddie is two weeks old! Hope to visit tomorrow. They live in Givat Ada near Binyamin a… Live reading about your creations!

    On Thu, Dec 9, 2021, 2:14 AM That Fabric Feeling wrote:

    > thatfabricfeelingcom posted: ” Thank you to Carol of Justletmequilt.com > for another terrific blog hop. This annual cookie/blog hop tradition is how > I first jumped into these fun blog hops. This one is for a “Boro” project > and a cookie recipe so please read to the bottom for the ” >

    Like

    • More photos please!! I’m so excited for all of you. I promise to bring you a boro bag on my next visit. I am loving the hand stitching…so therapeutic. I bet you’ve got your hands full though with holding that cutie!! XOXO Love to all.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s