Why loops in Sashiko Running Stitching

Why loops in Sashiko Running Stitching

I have received many questions in my Youtube Videos when I make loops at the corners I change the direction in stitching. I understand the question, and this is my answer to “Why loops in Sashiko Running Stitching”.

A sample video with loops in Sashiko Running Stitching is:

Archive From Live Streeaming

[Updated – Shorter Version of the Explanation of Why Loop]

Why loops in Sashiko Running Stitching?

The answer is kind of simple. “Just in Case.

Sashiko is not only about stitching as a movement of the needle using a thimble. It is about making beautiful stitches with the purpose of strengthening the fabric. In order to have beautiful stitches, you need to perform “Itokoki” everytime you pull the needle through the fabric.

Itokoki is a movement of smoothing the stitches by pulling the fabric and pressuring the stitches (thread) using fingers. I may say, “you need to smooth the fabric” in the video, but I realize that it may not be 100% accurate translation. I will start using the word “Itokoki”

A Sample of Itokoki

First, you will make stitching like this. If you do not perform running stitch, there is no need for both Itokoki and loops.

Sashiko Itokoki

After pulling the needle out, the stitches will look like this. In order to smooth this bumpy stitches, we need to pressure the fabric and stitches together. The movement of smoothing the fabric and stitches are called “Itokoki.”

Sashiko Itokoki 2

When we do not perform enough Itokoki, then the stitches on the front side will look tensed. As much as we try our best to avoid it, we sometimes make mistake. The loop is for those “just in case”. When we have a loop at the corner, this kind of error can be fixed easily.

Sashiko Itokoki 3

Regardless of the importance of Itokoki, it is very difficult to perform the perfect work.

Since it is “outside of the Sashiko stitching rhythm,” we tend to move to the next stitching without performing it perfectly. In order to avoid re-doing a lot of work, I tend to leave the extra thread on the fabric. It happens to be a shape of the loop, but it is just a thread leftover for “just in case”.

When I make loops

Here are the cases I often make loops. It can be a good project example for “Why loops in Sashiko Running Stitching”

1. A project which has the lining/back fabric.

Sashiko is originally developed as a needlework (technique) to use single layer fabric, both front and back, as the finished side. Therefore, we do not make knots when starting and ending the stitching. However, when we have a plan to put the linning or back fabric on the back side of the single layer of fabric, it is perfectly fine to make the side messy. In these cases, I actually recommend having some loops so we can fix the errors.

2. denim or thick fabric.

Even when you do not plan to put the linning or back fabric, if you plan to not to show the side, I also recommend leaving some loops, just in case.

Especially when I work on the denim, I try to leave small loops so the denim fabric can either stretch or shrink. The small loop will not affect the feeling. However, do not leave the big loops that the toes may stuck at the back side of Denim.

As I mentioned above, some Sashiko projects require both sides to be beautiful.

When I do not differentiate front and back, making loops (leaving extra thread) will not be appropriate.

Do I need a loop in Sashiko, then?

The answer is “No”.

If you prefer to avoid making loops, I have no objection to that. The idea of making loops is merely a wisdom in Sashiko stitching. If I were very careful and attentive, I would not want to make loops. However, I would rather keep some loops than fixing the errors by re-doing everything.

This was my answer to the question of “Why loops in Sashiko Running Stitching?”

Sashiko is as free (&creative) as you can imagine.

Enjoy the process, and be proud of the result. The loops are okay in between fabrics, or back side of denim (hidden).

11 thoughts to “Why loops in Sashiko Running Stitching”

  1. I’m so proud of having you by my side, Sensei Atsushi, Sashiko its a great pleasure and I’m enjoing it very, very much. Your comments are great help and give me ensurance to go on. Thank you Atsushi, God bless you for sharing Sashiko!

    1. It is my goal to have someone like you all over the world. Your comment means a lot to me.
      Let’s keep enjoying SashikO!


    2. Fascinada con esta pagina. Aprender el Arte del Sashiko con tanto respeto como lo enseñas es un honor y un lujo.
      Espero tus productos lleguen a Chile , amo esta disciplina. seguire aprendiendo de la mejor fuente,Gracias .

  2. Great information! Thank you for sharing. I am really looking forward to your workshop!

    1. Dear Muriel,

      Thank you for your kind comment! Yes. I am very much looking forward to meeting you! See you soon!

  3. Thank you so much for your thoughtful lessons. I am learning so much from your videos and articles. During this pandemic, I am especially happy to have your videos for companionship. I feel like we’re having a conversation together while we stitch. Keep talking about your life and your family and your aspirations- you are a delight!
    I just made a small purchase and I’m looking forward to receiving your good thread. I learned with embroidery floss – learned enough to know I don’t want to keep working with it 🙂

  4. I’m enjoying your class. My daughter in law is Japanese and it’s a way for me to understand a bit of her culture.

  5. Thank you for explaining itokoki and the relevance of giving a little wiggle room in, especially, denim fabric at the angled turns. I am very, very beginner, and do not like to waste, so I could mistake the mistake of being too precise. This tip will help as I practice. Also, even though I am smoothing each line segment, I think it will be a good idea to leave that little bit of looseness at the corners because the denim will surely want to stretch back into flat shape in the wash. I am glad I read this article!

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