This handy little sashiko kit is made by the traditional Japanese manufacturer Olympus. It includes everything you need (fabric, thread, needle) to create two 10 cm (4") squares with classic sashiko patterns. Quality materials from a trusted Japanese company guarantee that your first 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 squares to make coasters, a gift bag, greeting cards, or a framed decoration.
The technique is suitable for absolute beginners and is a fun project for children too.
Starting with 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 diagrams in that direction!
Embroidery area 8 x 8 cm (3 1/8"), full square size including edges 13 x 13 cm (5 1/8"), after sewing and turning out 10 x 10 cm (4").
- Stitch along the pre-printed pattern.
- Follow the lines shown in the instructions – the pattern is not created one element at a time, but all at once. Sewing along the lines is the most efficient and allows easy fabric and needle handling.
If you want to use the kit to create a two-sided piece, place the completed squares face to face 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.
Hemp leaf pattern (asanoha)
The geometrical petals on this pattern are a simplification of one of the best known sashiko motifs, the traditional hemp leaf pattern or asanoha. The pattern has always enjoyed great popularity, perhaps because before cotton became widely available in Japan, people wore clothes made of hemp and the plant was highly valued. The asanoha pattern is often sewn on children’s clothing so that the child will be healthy and strong like the hemp plant.
Linked ten cross pattern (jujitsunagi)
This pattern made up of connected crosses is named in Japanese for the number ten because the kanji symbol for ten (十) looks like a plus sign or a cross. This pattern of endless tens is, logically, used to symbolize wealth.
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.
Use mild detergent without whiteners. Iron on the back.