Today we have a fantastic hand technique that we’re excited to show you called sashiko. This is a traditional Japanese hand technique that uses a simple running stitch to create beautiful patterns, and you can use it to decorate anything from pillow cases to bags to clothing.
Traditionally, sashiko is done with white thread on indigo fabric, however you can use whatever combination of colors you like. You only need a few basic items to do this technique, so it’s great for beginners at hand stitching to learn and pick up.
Would you like to stitch along with us? You can watch our instructional YouTube video here!
If you’re a beginner to hand stitching, we highly recommend using fabric that comes pre-stamped with a pattern. Most sashiko kits come this way. When you’re done your project, just give it a wash and the lines will come out. If you feel confident in stitching evenly, then you can also get creative and draw your own pattern with a water-soluble fabric pen.
The next thing you’ll need is thread! This is an 8wt perle cotton thread called Eleganza, which we prefer because it pulls very easily through fabric. You can choose any color you prefer, however if you wish to make a traditional piece, pair a navy colored fabric with white thread.
Do you need to stock up on perle cotton threads? You can find our Eleganza collection here
Another thing you’ll need is a sashiko needle. Sashiko needles have an eye large enough for the heavier thread and are also much longer than regular hand embroidery needles, making it easy for you to take more stitches. If you don’t have a sashiko needle, a hand embroidery needle with a large eye can work as a substitute. If you’d like to add sashiko needles to your hand stitching collection, you can find a set here: https://www.amazon.ca/Sewline-Sashiko-Needles-Assorted-6-Pack/dp/B00OY1BV9K
The last item we suggest you use is a thimble. Due to the number of stitches you need to take, this will allow you to stitch more effectively and keep your finger from bruising.
To begin, decide where you would like to start stitching. We recommend starting on the longest straight lines, and moving to shorter and curved lines as you progress. We suggest choosing the larger of the two sashiko needles because it will allow you to load more stitches on it, however as you progress to the smaller lines, it might be easier to switch to the smaller needle.
Measure the distance of the line you’re starting on and cut your thread a few inches longer. It’s better to have a little excess thread than to run out halfway. Thread your needle, making sure to tie a quilter’s knot on the end of the thread to keep it from slipping through the fabric.
Take the first stitch from the wrong side of the fabric to hide the knot. Now to make a perfect straight stitch, make sure when coming up that you align your needle with the back end of the first line in the pattern and pull it all the way through.
Next, you can start loading stitches onto your needle. Hold the needle in a forward-facing direction and enter the fabric at the front end of the same line. Then like before, bring it back up on the back end of the next line. You can load several stitches onto your needle this way using the lines of the pattern as your guideline for perfectly consistent stitches.
If you don’t have a pre-stamped pattern to follow, keep in mind that your stitch length should be a ratio of about 3:2, with the 3 being the part of the stitch that shows on top.
When your needle is carrying as much fabric as it can, pull the needle all the way through the fabric to complete several stitches at once. You can see how easy it is to make even stitches when following a pattern.
Now we’re going to show you how to go around corners and points. Like before, you can still load up a few stitches on the needle if the curve isn’t too sharp. However, if you’re going around a corner as shown below, you should try to avoid pulling the thread too tight because it can result in the fabric puckering.
On the backside of the fabric, just leave a small loop of thread so there’s a bit of extra thread to give when the fabric flexes.
When you finish your line or want to switch to a different thread, just tie your thread off on the back side of the fabric and start a new thread like before. That’s actually all there is to it! You can continue this method around your entire pattern until you’re finished.
This incredibly easy technique is perfect for anyone at any age to learn, and can be used to embellish almost anything! Sashiko stitching can be both meditative and addictive, so to cure that craving for more sashiko patterns we’ve found a list of 8 free sashiko patterns for you! https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/sashiko-embroidery-patterns-1177479
Once you’re ready to go off on your own and start sashiko stitching, you’ll need some fabric to do so! You can find indigo dyed fabric, and more here: https://shiboridragon.com/products/sashiko-fabric-cotton-linen-dark-navy-indigo
Head on over to https://wonderfil.co.uk/ to grab some Eleganza threads to get crafty with! You can also sign up for our free newsletter to receive more educational sewing tips, tutorials, and free patterns. Register by clicking here! We’ll see you again next time!