This is the “how to” part of my Sashiko Tutorial. For a background on what Sashiko is and what materials you will need, read the first part here.
Create Fabric Squares
The easiest way to begin is with 4″ or 5″ squares of fabric. I cut up old jeans – the denim is heavier than the Japanese indigo dyed fabric, but it does mean that you don’t need to sew two bits of fabric together as the jeans denim is heavy enough to take the stitching.
Mark up the Fabric
Traditional Sashiko patterns tend to be very repetitive or geometric in design. While I love these types of patterns, don’t feel limited to them. For instance, why not try less tradition templates like the celtic (cake decorating template!) designs I bought from ebay. You could also free hand your designs.
I used a chalk pencil to mark up the denim. This does rub off quite easily, so you’ll need to be careful when you start stitching that when holding the fabric, you try not to touch the chalk marks or you may have to redraw the design.
Create a simple knot in your thread, and start from the back of the fabric, pushing the needle through to the front and making your first running stitch. You are aiming for even sized stitches, roughly the size of a small grain of rice, with a smaller gap in between each stitch. This is the meditative part of Sashiko, creating the neat, repetitive stitches.
Try and create in flowing lines, rather than starting and stopping in sections at a time. Most traditional Sashiko designs are perfect for this and I found the celtic designs were too.
I have been a lifetime loather of hand stitching – I’m quite untidy with my hand sewing (some might say “and in life in general” – but don’t listen to them!) Yet, since starting Sashiko, my hand sewing has improved in leaps and bounds. I’m creating neater stitches, more quickly and what’s more I’ve learned to love it! It feels very mindful making these little creations, I can feel my stress levels dropping to a place of calm.
When you have finished your design, finish the same way you began with a single knot tied at the back of your work.
There are lots of ways to use your Sashiko designs. From bags, to clothes patches, to scarves and coats. If you’d like more ideas, why not following my Sashiko Pinterest board.
Have you tried Sashiko yet? What do you think of it? If you’ve not tried it yet, do you think you’ll give it ago?