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May 05, 2020 5 min read 42 Comments

In this post, you'll know why you should start a hand stitching project now and jump-start any Sashiko project.

During uncertain times it's essential to take an hour or so throughout the day to reflect on how we're doing and what needs to be adjusted, and hand stitching can help to carve out time in everyone's day to help keep us grounded in what is essential and what isn't. It's a great way to reflect, slow down, and reflect on life's current situations.

When I hand stitch, I enjoy listening to the boys working on a lego project or overhearing them watching a tv show. In the summertime, I'll take a handwork project with me on family trips to wake up early to sit outside on the porch to stitch with coffee nearby. Another great time to bring projects is to the pool, the boys will swim, and I'll enjoy the sun or shade by stitching away.

Or I'll listen to an auditable book, which is my favorite way to sew. Listening to an Auduioable book is a great way to slow down and be present at the moment while listening to an inspiring or entertaining book. (If you need any recommendations - I can help with suggestions.)

Sashiko is a brilliant hand stitching project.

What is Sashiko?

Sashiko (Japanese: 刺し子, literally "little stabs" or "little pierce") is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching (or functional embroidery) from Japan that started of practical need during the Edo era (1615-1868). When you're stitching the keep in mind, every stitch should be rice size stitches.

I believe it's popular because it's a small project that can be done by the time you hit the "I'm bored" mark. Also, with a little zipper pouch, you can take it with you anywhere while keeping it neat and safe from harm.  

Here is what I'm currently working on:

Mouse Sashiko project - Norton House Quilting

Mouse Sashiko
Above is a black and white image of what it would look like without color. 

Before you start a Sashiko project, you'll have the following ready to go:

  • Sashiko thread
  • Sashiko needles
  • Sashiko pattern printed onto fabric with water-soluble markings
  • Scissors

*Some people suggest needle threaders, I've never needed to use one. Also, people suggest a leather thimble, but again, I've never used one, nor pricked myself to feel the need to buy one.

An interesting question I've received is, "why can't I use my embroidery thread and needle?"

First, Sashiko threads are wound together. They're not straight threads placed together like DMC floss. The DMC floss has six strains that can be easily pulled apart, which is the opposite of the Sashiko thread.

I strongly recommend the Olympus Sashiko thread because it's a heavy cotton thread, designed for Sashiko purpose, and I've been delighted with the result. Sashiko requires your time and effort, and I want you to have an excellent effect.

Second, the Sashiko needle has a large eye to fit the thread through, and it's super sharp and long enough to collect thread for the running stitch.

Choosing a pattern:

I have yet to go rogue and create my owner design, but if you want to, then the only thing you need to keep in mind is that your stitch length and between the stitches should be the size of a grain of rice.

HOWEVER, I suggest you first start with a project that has the pattern stamped onto the fabric. It makes it's relaxing, and the designs stitch lines are intuitive to follow.


Patterns to choose from:


Don’t see something that inspires you? That’s okay, click here to see ALL SASHIKO products.


After you've chosen a pattern, next, you'll need to determine what color Sashiko thread.

What color thread do you stitch with? You can choose more than one color. 

OR we have black and white Sashiko thread too. Click here.


Once you have your project in hand, you might want to come back to this step because cutting your Sashiko thread is an important step to ensure the thread doesn't knot up.

Assuming you've taken my suggestion with purchasing Olympus Sashiko thread. The Olympus thread is joined together in a circle.


When you’re about to open the Olympus thread here’s what to do:

The easiest way to avoid entangled thread is slowly taking the thread out of the plastic package, take off the paper, and then open the cloth into the shape it wants to be, which is a circle.

Then look for the tiny piece of thread that is tied together around the large thread-ring and cut it next to the knotted piece. It doesn't matter which side of the knot you cut it on; you choose the left-side or the right-side.


Keeping the thread in the circle and cut the entire thread circle in half. 

After your thread has been cut, take one strain of thread and thread your needle eye, and then get your fabric pattern ready to begin stitching.

You don't need a hoop.

It might surprise you not to need a hoop (it almost shocked me not using a hoop, but it's true.

Where to start on the fabric pattern:

Place the fabric project into your hands and look to a place where you would like to start. I would suggest beginning in the corner.

Sometimes I'll scrunch the fabric to get to the line of stitching I want to start on.

No knots.

When you're starting a project, you don't add a knot like you would with embroidery. (However, if you would like to knot, then go for it. I've seen people knot on their Sashiko projects, and that's fine.

Instead of knotting, try this:

When first starting your project, you'll begin your running stitch three or four-stitching from where you would like to start stitching. If you're starting a new project, then I would look to the corner of the project but stick my needle either up or down four-stitch lengths because once you've gone forward four-stitches, you'll then turn around and go back over the stitches. You'll have buried your stitch and reinforced it by going back over it. Then keep going in the desired direction after you've back-stitched. You will do this every time you need to start and stop. On the underside of the project, it will leave a little tail.

Your stitch length should be the size of a grain of rice.

See the images below for visual help on how to start any Sashiko Project.


Now it’s YOUR TURN! What will Sashiko pattern and color thread will you choose?

 click here to see ALL SASHIKO products.

You're officially all set to start stitching! Email or call with questions at the shop, Norton House Quilting.


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