Sashiko is a form of simple hand stitching developed in Japan. It is relatively easy to start, and we can keep enjoying its meditative stitching in various way. Here is top 5 Sashiko Tips to make your Sashiko experience much more comfortable and your Sashiko stitching results more beautiful.
- Get Sashiko Thread | Not a thread even with the same thickness
- Get the needle to minimize the stress
- Don’t pull the needle. Pull the fabric
- Make sure to smooth the fabric after stitching
- Push the needle instead of making a stitch | Sashiko isn’t about making a stitch
Top 5 Sashiko Tips Details
These top 5 Sashiko tips are based on our 30+ years of experience in Sashiko stitching. Please understand it is not about being right or wrong, or good or bad. The purpose of this blog is to share the tips, not to judge others or yourself.
I cover every Top 5 Sashiko Tips in the Sashiko Stitching Workshop I offer. You may learn the brief summary of these tips here. Enjoy Sashiko!
1. A reason to call it Sashiko Thread
(Get Sashiko Thread | Not a thread even with the same thickness.)
Sashiko thread isn’t defined as Sashiko Thread only by the thickness. The trick is “how the thread is twisted” to form the yarn. Sashiko has a various and different purpose in comparison to the other hand-sewing project. For example, making Kimono requires a completely different thread so-called sewing thread instead of Sashiko Thread.
Any kinds of the thread may make good stitching. However, when you would like to enjoy the whole benefit (original purpose) of Sashiko stitching, we strongly recommend using the Sashiko Thread even if you have the same thickness thread.
2. Needle matters
(Get the needle to minimize the stress.)
The selection for the needle is very huge. The cheapest needle can be found by less than a dollar or even less, and the expensive one can be $3~4 dollar a piece (possibly more). For the purpose of regular hand-sewing, any kinds of the needle would work. However, for the better experience of Sashiko stitching, I strongly recommend getting the needle for Sashiko Stitching.
A few topics to consider are below.
- The length. My favorite length is 51.5 mm.
- An appropriate size of the needle eye. The big eye may destroy the fabric.
- The good snap of the needle
Here is my recommendation for the Sashiko Needle
*I have heard that some people sharpen the needle with the small cushion attach to the pincushion in the market. If you purchase the Sashiko Needle from us, DO NOT sharpen your needle unless you feel the dullness of the needle in stitching. The needle is sharpened nicely by professional in the original condition. The process of sharping the needle by yourself will, in fact, make the needle dull. If you enjoy Sashiko stitching a few hours every day for a few months, you may feel the dullness of the needle, then you may use the needle sharpener. At the same time, it can be a good time to change the needle after using that heavily.
3. Pull the fabric, not the needle
When you make numbers of stitches, it can be challenging to pull the needle through the fabric.
The needle is pretty thin, and the thread is pretty thick. The size of the needle and the thread is to avoid destroying the fabric. However, it is a bit more challenging to pull the needle with the thread. There is an eye-opening hint for this. Don’t pull the needle.
To minimize the difficulty, keep this one thing in your mind.
Pull the fabric instead of pulling the needle.
*It is difficult to explain in writing. Please check the video I made.
4. Smoothe the fabric
After making numbers of stitches and pull the needle through, you must make sure to smoothe the fabric. This process is called “Itokoki (=糸こき)” in Japanese. By Itokoki, the thread and fabric match better and avoid the tension on the fabric. Without this process, the fabric may be tensioned or twisted in an unlikable way.
Even I, as the Sashiko professional, I occasionally experience the insufficient Itokoki. To avoid it, I often make loops when I change the stitching direction to avoid the unlikable mistake (like an insurance). → The article about Why Loops?
*It is also difficult to explain Itokoki in writing. Please check the video I made.
5. Learn how to push the needle
Sashiko isn’t about making one stitch. It is a movement of the needle to achieve purpose such as repairing, mending, and strengthening the fabric. It is the core of Sashiko to learning how to push the needle with the thimble.
We found that teaching (& sharing) how to use the thimble and move the needle is quite difficult even with videos. The goal is to share the appropriate method, posture, and movement of the needle with the thimble with us continuously checking your stitching. We would like to make sure the participants understand and master the movement instead of sharing information and spreading the movement we do not intend to. Please consider taking Atsushi’s workshop in NYC or Online Sashiko Workshop.
*The free tutorials are available on our Youtube Channel for those who prefer that way.
- Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Core & Basic) in NYC
- Online Sashiko Workshop | Still preparing and working on. Please fill out this form to share your interest, availability, and preference to us so we can start the workshop as soon as possible.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post of Top 5 Sashiko Tips.
As I keep mentioning on this website, I believe there isn’t such a thing as “Right Sashiko” and “Wrong Sashiko”. However, there are numbers of tips, techniques, and wisdom that we would like to share to pass down Sashiko. Please share your questions in Comments so I can follow up with more information.
While writing this article, I realize it is quite difficult to share the points just in writing with considering my English ability as the second language. Please enjoy the quick video I made to explain the Top 5 Sashiko Tips
+++++ The script of Youtube just in case my English is difficult to understand
Hello, this is Atsushi. Thank you for watching the Top 5 Sashiko Tips video.
I am happy that many people would like to learn how to do Sashiko beautifully and efficiently. Here are the Top 5 Sashiko Tips to make your Sashiko experience more enjoyable.
1. Get Sashiko Thread.
You may use any kinds of thread for the Sashiko project. However, if you would like to get the same result as we do, then, using the thread designed for the Sashiko purpose is necessary. I had written several articles about the difference of Sashiko thread and the other threads on our website, upcyclestitches.com. The main difference is the twist. The Sashiko Thread has the unique twist to be the part of the fabric. The main purpose of Sashiko thread isn’t connecting a few pieces of fabric together, it is to make the fabric stronger.
2. Sashiko Needle
A good quality Sashiko needle can improve the Sashiko stitching by A LOT. My recommendation is.
A. The length of 51.5 mm
B. The small eye to avoid destroying the fabric, yet big enough to accommodate the Sashiko Thread.
Trust me. It is significant.
3. Pull the fabric, not the needle
After making many stitches, you may experience the difficulty to pull the needle through the fabric with the thread. It is understandable because the Sashiko thread we use is pretty thick and the needle eye is quite small.
Here is a tip.
Do not pull the needle. Yes. It sounds strange. You will pull the needle eventually. However, first, try to pull the fabric to get the needle eye through as the video shows. This is one of the reasons I made this video on top of the actual blog post on my website. I hope you get what I am talking about by watching how I do it.
4, The movement of smoothing the fabric.
In my Sashiko workshop, I always tell them to smooth the fabric.
I came to realize that I am not 100% sure if I translated the meaning of words from Japanese to English. Since I cannot find the exact word for that, I will use the Japanese for this movement. It is called “Itokoki.”
Itokoki is the movement of smoothing the fabric to avoid the tensioned fabric like the video shows. It will make your fabric more smooth and beautiful.
In my opinion, Sashiko is not about making one stitch. Sashiko is about moving the needle, and as the result, making the numbers of stitches. To follow what the Japanese used to practice, understanding and learning the needle movement is important. In Japanese, we call the needle movement, Unshin.
We do Unshin and make numbers of stitches, then make sure that fabric is smooth by doing Itokoki. We repeat the process and create a simple, yet beautiful pattern.
Let’s review Top 5 Sashiko Tips
Getting good Sashiko thread and needle is pretty critical to have the good Sashiko stitching. As I have shared in another video on this channel, the fabric quality is not as significant as the thread and needle. Of course, I prefer the fabric made in Japan following the traditional way. However, a piece of the swatch from Walmart for a couple of bucks was okay for the Sashiko stitching. When the budget is limited, I would allocate more resources for the thread and needle.
This video is for the 3rd and 4th tips in the list of Top 5 Sashiko Tips. In order to explain what Itokoki and how to pull the fabric, I thought it is the best to film myself.
Interestingly, Sashiko is so natural to me and my mother.
So sometimes, we do not realize that something we do very naturally is the answer to someone who started Sashiko stitching.
In fact, the Japanese have an interesting craftmanship that master does not teach how to do the crafting. The students, pupils, or apprentices are supposed to learn by just looking and observing what the master does. So, I didn’t get a structured “lesson” or “workshop”. What I do is something I learned by doing and looking, and therefore, sometimes I do not realize what I do is special to someone.
So feel free to ask the questions. Your question may teach me what the audience is looking for as the answer.
However, please check this channel and our website first to look for the answers. I have been answering many questions, and the common questions are probably answered already.
Well, I will improve my website so viewers can find the answers more easily. But, let me have more time for that.