handle Natural Dye Thread Cover

How to handle Natural Dye Thread & fabric

The soft color from the natural dyes is significantly different from the vivid color with chemical dyes. We enjoy the color of Natural Dye Sashiko thread, especially in a process of making “Boro” so that both fabric and thread can age – change color – together with overtime. We repeatedly tested the color stability, either if the color fades out by washing, before introducing them online. However, the Natural Dyed & Hand Dyed Sashiko thread & fabric require some attention and understanding of how to handle. The color will not be washed away by regular care for the natural dye. However, we do not recommend to throw them to the washing machine with detergent (which may have kind of “bleach” in it). Here, we introduce how to handle Natural Dye Thread and Fabric.

“Don’t” do list | Handle Natural Dye Thread with care.

First of all, please never use “Bleach” in washing and to handle Natural Dye thread. One wash with bleach may (and most likely “will”) completely wash away the natural color and make it bright white. The bleach is strong enough to do its job – to make it bright white.

The point we have to pay attention here is that some of “regular detergent” may contain the same chemical as the bleach in it. For example, if a detergent say “stain removal”, then the detergent may be too strong for the Natural Dye color.

Also, putting the Natural Dye thread and fabric in the water with detergent for a long time is not a good idea. The more time the color touches the detergent, the more color may be washed away.

Do list | How to well Handle Natural Dye Thread

Generally speaking, the natural dye doesn’t go well with the chemical detergent. In need of using the detergent, please choose the “Neutral Detergent”. Although it is quite easy to find them in Japan, I do not find the neutral detergent easily in the US (we can find them but quite expensive). In that case, please try to find the “gentle” or “soft” detergent and make sure to test the thread and fabric if the color will be washed out or not. In my experience, most of the color will stay on unless the detergent is “gentle” and washed gently. However, as a baseline, please handle Natural Dye thread with maximum Care.

Super beautiful color from nature. Although the core enjoyment of natural dye is to enjoy the color change, it is so sad to lose the color.

Summary of Do and Don’t


  • Hand-wash with no detergent. Or gentle wash with Neutral Detergent.


  • Using Bleach, or strong detergent which may contain Bleach.
  • Machine wash with long-cycle (or extra wash cycle).
  • Leave the thread or fabric in water (with detergent) for a long time.

Understand the reaction process

It is probably difficult to find a “Natural Dye” items in the mass-produced market. It is because the process of natural-dye requires a lot of attention and care. The color from nature will not stay on the thread or fabric by dipping them into a vat. It isn’t like a watercolor, putting paint on the paper.

The natural color stays on the thread and fabric by chemical reaction with a catalyst. We usually use the metal, such as iron or copper, to make the reaction happen. In another example, the Authentic Japanese Indigo Dye (Hon-Aizome), they use the oxidation process to create such a beautiful blue. The fabric and thread right after dipped in the vat looks somewhat “gray” or “brown”. In a process of oxidation (touching the air that contains oxygen), the beautiful Japanese blue comes out.

The chemical reaction doesn’t mean using chemical materials. Here, chemical reaction equals to Oxidation and Reduction. Vinegar will make the liquid more acidic and ash (such as wood ash) make the water more alkalinity. Either of acidic and alkalinity affects the balance of Natural Dye and could end up with washing out the color or changing the color.

Therefore, we strongly recommend using natural detergent, or just water.

The natural dye before the Industrial Revolution

One of the big reasons we use the Natural Dye thread is to recreate the beauty of Japan in hundreds of years ago – before the industrial revolution. Back then, in Japan, they did not have the chemical (artificial) detergent or bleach to wash the fabric. They did not have a washing machine either.

Instead, they washed the fabric and thread by hands with care (attention). I hope you would do the same when you handle Natural Dye thread and fabric.

By the way, this is my personal endnote (which may contradict what I had written so far). Anyhow, I DO wash my Sashiko Stitched Denim with the gentle detergent in a washing machine… I had washed probably more than 100 times over 1~2 years, but I can still see the thread color. The yellow from mountain peach looks more like white, but it still has yellowish color (I believe). I always wash it separately, with a gentle cycle of the washing machine, with a small amount of detergent as I feel. I sometimes do not add the detergent, but at some point, the jeans get smelly that we need some detergent… I hope you can find your own way to handle Natural Dye thread and fabric.

Shop our Natural Dye Sashiko Thread

Daruma Sashiko thread | Regular Size Skein

In stock
Product Details

This is a page for 1 skein of Daruma Sashiko Thread Regular Size Skein. Please choose the thickness & color based on the description below. Thank you.


We have been using a very specific Sashiko thread throughout out entire Sashiko project. Although we try to make them available in our web store, it is reasonable to wonder what can be the alternatives to those large skein Sashiko thread. In 2019, we have spend quite a lot of time in experimenting the other kind of Sashiko threads - the Daruma Sashiko thread manufactured by a long-established thread company in Japan.

After more than a year of stitching in several projects, I believe, they will perform as we expect in the most of Sashiko project. Several techniques I share in the Online Sashiko Class & Youtube Tutorials will work on the Yokota Sashiko Thread as well (Mainly the thick one). The thin Sashiko thread is rather too thin to enjoy the techniques. However, it is a good alternative to work on some fragile fabric such as vintage Kofu Fabric and some Hitomezashi Sashiko project.

Please learn that Thread Does Matter in Sashiko. I occasionally find a discussion that any thread is good for Sashiko. The answer is "No". A stitcher, of course, can use any kinds of thread for Sashiko thread. However, in order to have the enjoyable stitching process & great results through a long time, the appropriate thread is necessary. I believe, from my experience, the Daruma Sashiko Thread by Yokota can be a great alternative of our Sashiko thread.

Product Information

  • Cotton 100%
  • Manufacture in Japan
  • Thickness: Thin (Recommended for small Hitomezashi) or Thick (Recommended for Sashiko)
  • Color of Choice: Bright White or Original Ercu White
  • Thin: 170 meter length / Thick 100 meter length

*Please choose thickness & color from the Check Box.

About the weight/thickness of Daruma Sashiko Thread by Yokota.


The thickness is a bit less than 1.0 mm like 0.9mm or so. You may feel it is almost 0.8 mm. Please refer to the photo on the article below. (Cotton 100%, unit: 20/6 )


This is the thinest Sashiko thread we carry. I would say it is about 0.75 mm or even 0.7 mm. The thickness changed depends on the tension. The thread on all the photo (article below) have no tension. (Cotton 100%, unit: 20/4 )


Color. 2 - Original White - Thick-Futo, 100 meter is re-stocked (Very limited, but available).

*Please be advised that, if you order "Color.2 - Original white - thick, 100 meter" before the restocking complete, the whole order may be delayed by 2 weeks. Please contact Atsushi if you have any questions & request.

*Since the manufacture, Yokota, is a large company, the bulk discount is available. We try our best to keep them in stock. However, based on the numbers of the order, it may take a long time to make a deliver. Once we receive the order, we will update the estimate day for the delivery. (The individual order will be delivered within a few days in domestic shipping).

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