The other day I came across this post by Grumperina.   I had never heard of Sashiko and was intrigued by the style, colors, and design.

As it turns out, her blog post was about a post from the Purl Bee, which was about making a Sashiko pillow. The pillow is so lovely and vibrant and of course I want one. Or two. Or more.

Sashiko is a Japanese term for “little stabs” and it refers to a running stitch technique used on a geometric pattern. Traditionally Sashiko is done with white thread on a blue background. I found the colorful version done by the Purl Bee much prettier.

I knew I had to try this method as soon as I saw it and wanted to practice the running stitch before I invested in a sampler from the Purl Bee.    So I whipped up my own version.  Being that I created my own sampler, I wasn’t quite exact with the spacing of the stitches and hence my design is a little off.  There are dozens of mistakes, but overall I love the look of it.

Here is a close up:

Colorful running stitches

For this to be a true Sashiko I think the stitches need to be uniform. That is key as far as I’m concerned and as far as I was able to see on both Grumperina’s and the Purl Bee’s pages.  My running stitch technique leaves much to be desired.

I used a very long (maybe nearly 2 1/2 inches) milliners needle. There are needles specifically for Sashiko, which you can also get at the Purl Bee.  Being that I like to have the proper tools for every project if I can, I will probably invest in them when I buy the sampler.  

I used DMC floss for this  – all six strands.  I’m not sure this was the best idea I’ve ever had as there are places where the thread split and wouldn’t lie flat.  As luck would have it, you can buy thread specifically for Sashiko. Didn’t see that one coming, did you. 😉

I should also note that this is worked off the hoop, which was very alien to me. I like a nice tight working surface and I am betting that if I had put this on a hoop and did my typical ‘up and down’ stitching they would have been closer to flawless.  As the needle was so long I was putting 7 or 8 stitches per needle and pulling the thread through the fabric. There are definitely places that puckered, which means I pulled too tightly and knotted it off before making sure the fabric was laying flat.

Here’s a photo of my stitching all finished – the foreground is ironed so you can see the difference in the look of the stitches.  I think the wrinkly end looks cool too.

Quilters knots add an interesting element to the edges.

Overall I enjoyed the process and I think I could translate quite a few patterns into the Sashiko style.

Have you done Sashiko? I would love to see it!  

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