This complete sashiko kit is a perfect introduction to traditional hitomezashi sashiko stitching. The pattern emerges gradually as stitches are laid in an absolutely straight line. The kit is made by the traditional Japanese manufacturer Olympus and includes everything you need (fabric, thread, needle) to create a large square in a classic sashiko pattern. Quality materials from a trusted Japanese company guarantee that your experience with sashiko is authentic, just as it is practiced in Japan.
You might use the kit just to try your hand at sashiko or use the finished square to make a pretty throw pillow, a table topper, or a framed decoration.
Getting started with hitomezashi sashiko
The kit includes an instruction booklet in Japanese (we’re working on a translation) illustrated with easy-to-follow pictures and diagrams showing proper technique. Important – the instructions are written top to bottom and right to left, so be sure to follow the diagrams in that direction!
Embroidery area 30.5 x 30.5 cm (12") is printed on one side of a rectangle measuring 34 x 70 cm (13 3/8" x 27 ½").
- Stitch along the pre-printed pattern.
- In hitomezashi one sews along straight lines only – the pattern is not created one element at a time, but emerges all at once. First stitch all of the horizontal lines, then all verticals, and finally any remaining diagonals. The pattern will appear first in the final stage.
If you want to use the kit to create a two-sided mat, fold the rectangle in half so that the face side of your completed work is inside and sew around the edge (by machine or hand, a plain straight stitch suffices), leaving a gap to turn it right side out. Trim the corners almost to the seam, so that they will turn out neatly. Turn it right side out, press, and sew all around near the edge.
This stylized daisy pattern is sewn with ombré thread. As complicated as it may look, it is actually sewn in simple, straight lines.
What is sashiko?
Sashiko is a traditional Japanese needlework technique originally intended simply for reinforcing and mending clothing. Over time an array of distinctly minimalist geometrical designs has evolved. In traditional sashiko patterns the needlework is done on indigo dyed deep blue fabric with special cotton sashiko thread, thicker than ordinary thread, that is a loose twist of several thinner strands. At first glance it resembles crochet thread or embroidery floss but is fundamentally different; both crochet thread and embroidery floss are twisted more tightly and floss is glossier and less sturdy. Naturally, you can try your hand at sashiko using any kind of thread, but for the right effect and an authentic look we recommend using sashiko thread. To work with this thread, you’ll need a sashiko needle or at least a fairly big needle with a large eye. Sashiko needles are longer and stronger, and sewing with them is much easier.
Hitomezashi is also known as one-stitch sashiko. Its dainty geometrical patterns are based on a simple running stitch that follows a grid with individual stitches either meeting or crossing to create the overall pattern. Harmony is attained by following a few basic rules – respecting the stitch size dictated by the grid and sewing first along the horizontal, then vertical, and finally along diagonal lines. This is generally the technique that students of sashiko begin with.
Completed needlework pieces should be washed by hand in warm water – the pre-printed pattern will wash out. Use mild detergent without whiteners. Iron on the back.