Sashiko Stitching

In the summer, I like to take time for some hand embroidery.  I remember reading about the Japanese art of sashiko embroidery and quilting on the Purl Bee blog and liking the look and wanting to give it a try.  Time flies – that was 3 years ago!

The designs are geometric, and are often charted and repeated across the entire piece of fabric.  A running stitch, traditionally with white thread on an indigo fabric, creates the design.

Peony Sashiko Stitching Close Up

To start, it helps to learn the rules:

Sashiko Rules

I saw a design from the Stitch Magazine website for a small sashiko circle on a ivory satin pillow.  I had a satin scrap so I printed out the design.

I used a white dressmaker’s pencil to trace the design onto the fabric, and perle cotton for the thread.

Sashiko Design Traced on FabricCircular Sashiko on Satin

As you can see, I struggled with lining up the stitches at the center of the motifs.

Next I cut some squares of dark blue cotton, and got out my white perle thread. I found some flower motifs that I loved and printed them out at a size of about 6 inches.  I embroidered all of these as a single layer instead of as quilting.

Sashiko Peony MotifGeometric Sashiko Flower

In this case, traditional is best.   I’m a little surprised by how much I like these!  While simple they are striking, and can even be seen from across the room.

What to do with them?

I concluded the dark fabric motifs would look beautiful framed, especially as a group of three.  My idea for the satin piece is to make a envelope pouch, the type used to store handkerchiefs.

Sashiko Peony Framed

This isn’t actually framed yet; I was just trying to get an idea of how it would look.  I think a simple white, black, or a natural wood frame would show these designs off the best.

I already had all of the materials I used to stitch these sashiko designs, and I found the designs on the internet.  The two flower designs embroidered on dark cotton were quick and enjoyable to stitch.

Although sashiko is just a simple running stitch on fabric, the precision of the patterns can be quite complex, and create a tranquil or hypnotic effect.  These pieces are a nice alternative to going to the store and buying a mass produced item for your decor.  Instead, with very little time and money for supplies, you can create unique works of art for your home or as gifts.

Have you tried sashiko style embroidery or quilting?


Free Resources:

The motifs I used:

the circular design I used on cream satin

peony flower

petaled flower


Sashiko Stitchers -How to sashiko stitch

Design by Aika – Sashiko Right and Wrong

Sake Puppets Sashiko Tutorial

A Quilter By Night Sashiko Post with many links


Purl Bee Quilted Placemats – simple,elegant and practical, this is the project that first caught my attention.

Design Sponge Sashiko Potholders

Made by Toya Sashiko Scrap Bag – this uses just straight lines of stitching over the entire bag on denim fabric and the result looks like it came from a trendy boutique.


Sashiko on Flickr

Sashiko on Pinterest


3 thoughts on “Sashiko Stitching

  1. KerryCan

    This is very interesting! I like the understated simplicity of sashiko very much and love the indigo and white. I can see how the stitching looks easy but would take quite a lot of care, to get it just right! Neat!

    1. Stitch It Again Post author

      It should look effortless, but getting the stitches uniform in size and ending correctly in the intersections takes some practice. My hesitant stitching improved from the first piece and I started getting into a flow which felt natural.

  2. Pingback: Quick Summer Projects | Stitch It Again

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