Sashiko

image via sake puppets

I’ve been looking for a new craft to take up while I (not-so-patiently) await the arrival of spring, and I think I have found a winner. Sashiko, a traditional Japanese embroidery technique, is a simple craft that anyone can pick up, requires very few supplies and is very relaxing to practice. Sashiko is used to embellish cloth, assemble quilts and even sometimes to simply mend textiles. Today I will rundown the basics and point you in the direction of resources where you can find supplies or learn more about this beautiful craft.

sashiko needles via purl beeSashiko needles via the purl bee

sashiko threadsashiko thread via grumperina

Thread and Needles

Sashiko uses extra long needles and special embroidery thread that you can find online, or at some stores that carry embroidery supplies. This may be a contentious statement, but if you can’t find the real deal you can certainly learn and practice with ordinary embroidery needles and thread.  Etsy seller Sake Puppets also sells starter kits that are perfect for beginners and come with everything you need to get your stitching started.

traditional coat with sashiko embroidery via Charming Treasures

Fabric

Traditionally, indigo-dyed hemp was chosen for sashiko. The dark blue does show off the simple white stitches beautifully, but if you choose a more colourful approach that’s okay too. Densely woven textiles tend to be better suited to this type of embroidery so pick a hemp, canvas or cotton.

image via the purl bee

Patterns

There are numerous traditional Sashiko patterns that can be found online or in Japanese craft books, but you can also experiment with creating one yourself. Typically the patterns are geometric and made up of a series of interlocking lines or curves.

image via Sashiko Stitchers

Basic Sashiko Stitches

If you’re familiar with embroidery then most likely you know how to do a running stitch. This is the stitch that is most often used in Sashiko, and luckily it’s easy to learn. Simply insert your needle up through the back of your fabric so just the tip pokes through. Guide your needle tip into the fabric following the line of your pattern, making a short stitch while gathering the fabric on the needle. Keep doing these two steps until you have a few pleats of fabric on your needle. Pull your needle and thread through the gathered fabric and you should have a neat row of stitches. Continue working in this manner until your pattern is complete. There are two great tutorials that can be found here and here if you need more detailed instructions.

au petits oiseaux

That’s a very basic guide to Sashiko embroidery and I hope you’ve found it helpful. After tackling a few small projects I am looking forward to attempting something larger like a pillow or a quilt.

Happy Friday Everyone!

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