Why are the edges of Tenugui left unsewn?

5 ott 2023

Generally, the left and right edges of a tenugui are not sewn, but left cut off, so they start to fray from the edges as they are used. This is not a defect.

There is a good reason why the edges of tenugui are not sewn. Here are the reasons why the edges of tenugui are not sewn and what to do if you are concerned about fraying.

1. Easy to dry
Tenugui, like towels, are often used on a daily basis to wipe wet hands or things or to wipe sweat, and moreover, they absorb water many times during the day.
However, if the edges of the tenugui are folded and sewn to prevent them from fraying...that part of the tenugui becomes less breathable and difficult to dry, so for convenience, the edges are left uncut.


 2. Using it hygienically.

If you sew the edges of a hand towel to prevent fraying, water can accumulate in the folded and sewn part, making it dry slowly and creating conditions conducive to the growth of mold and other bacteria.

In modern times, hand towels are used in various situations, such as wrapping things or using them as interior decorations. However, their primary use is for wiping away water, sweat, dust, and so on. To ensure that you can use your hand towel in a clean condition for as long as possible, it's best not to sew the edges but leave them as they are.


3.Easy to tear by hand.

In cases where you need to treat injuries, such as stopping bleeding or immobilizing, having the edges of the hand towel left unsewn allows you to easily tear the fabric with your hands, making it useful for first aid.

In fact, since the early Edo period when hand towels became popular among the common people, they were not only used for wiping off dirt and blood in case of injuries but also employed for various first aid measures. For instance, when someone broke a bone, they would use a stick or something similar along with the hand towel to immobilize it. In case the thong of a geta (traditional Japanese footwear) broke, they would use a hand towel to secure it. Hence, the unsewn edges of hand towels allowed for easy tearing, making them versatile tools for first aid and other purposes.


The reason why the edges of hand towels are left unsewn stems from the need to use towels hygienically in Japan's hot and humid climate. Additionally, during times when medical facilities were not as advanced, these towels served as readily available, clean items for first aid, showcasing the practical wisdom of daily life.


What to Do About Frayed Threads?

When using your hand towel, washing it, and noticing frayed threads, you can easily address this issue. Simply follow these steps, and the fraying will naturally stop over time.

The fraying in hand towels typically occurs in the horizontal threads of the fabric, not the vertical ones that form the fringe. Instead of cutting the fringe, which is made from the vertical threads, focus on trimming the fraying horizontal threads to tidy them up. In cases of extensive fraying, it's a good idea to cut the frayed horizontal threads to match the length of the fringe. When the fringe reaches a certain length (approximately 5 mm), the fraying will cease. Avoid cutting the fringe itself, as doing so may lead to further horizontal thread fraying. Keep the vertical threads intact to prevent this from happening.