Sashiko is a Japanese needlework technique. It's name means little stabs which is descriptive of the running stitches used in the geometric, all-over patterns of this technique.

Traditional Sashiko was a mending and quilting needlecraft used by farmers and fishermen to make clothing and other textiles last as long as possible. Sashiko patterns were traditionally worked with white stitches on dark indigo fabric. The traditional quilted texture is achieved by stitching through two layers of fabric.

Sashiko is a decorative running stitch. It is important to make the stitches of equal length. Pre-printed designs really help with this especially for beginners as the stitch lengths are marked on the fabric. The pre-printed design will wash out after stitching is completed.

There is a huge variety of Sashiko patterns some of which are adaptations  of motifs used in printed textiles, stationary, or pottery. Templates are useful for transferring designs onto fabric.

The Sashiko technique works best on a medium-weight, loosely woven fabric like linen, cotton, or linen/cotton mix.

Equipment and materials for Sashiko:

  • Sashiko needles are long, rigid, and sharp. A long darning needle can be used if Sashiko needles are hard to find. A long needle is essential because several stitches are loaded onto the needle before pulling the thread through the fabric. This helps prevent thread from fraying. Thread the needle with two strands of thread if you want texture in the piece. A single strand of thread will result in a more delicate look
  • Sashiko thread is a soft matte cotton. It comes in thick or thin varieties and there is a range of colours including traditional off-white and white as well as  red, navy, teal, grey, and gold.

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