Breathe life back into tired clothes
Sashiko, which translates to “little stabs” in Japanese, is a method of visual mending. Using only a simple running stitch, clothing and denim is given new life with beautiful geometric patterns. Sashiko doesn’t merely add decoration, it also strengthens the cloth.
As a clumsy person who is hard on clothes, I naturally fell in love with sashiko. Now, I can wear my ripped pants again and my thrashed jean jacket is resurrected! Stitching sashiko is not only beautiful, but a peaceful and meditative practice. It’s a lovely craft that can be done on the couch with Netflix, or in a more quiet, contemplative way.
Gather your materials:
It's easy to get started with sashiko! You only need a few special materials.
- Sashiko needles
- Sashiko thread
- Palm Thimble
- Quilter's Ruler
- Blue and White Water Soluble Fabric Pens
- Tracing Paper in White orGrey
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Sashiko Supplies at Jenny Lemons
Transfer your pattern to your fabric
Transferring a sashiko pattern is easy! To find a pattern, search online for free downloads. (The Spruce Crafts has a nice selection of free .PDFs here). Resize your pattern in whatever PDF viewing program you prefer (I use Preview on my Mac) and print it out
Start by threading your needle with about three feet of thread. Depending on the look you want you can either double the thread, holding the two ends together and tie an ordinary overhand knot or sew with a single thread.
All sashiko patterns are made of a single stitch- the running stitch. In Japanese embroidery, no hoop is used. Instead the fabric is folded with a pleating action in which each little pleat is placed on the tip of the needle.
Using a palm thimble
A palm thimble is worn on your middle finger like a ring. This thimble helps push your needle through layers of thick fabric.
Wear the thimble with the plate positioned down towards your palm. When ready to use, place the end of the needle in one of the thimble's little divots. Push the needle through with the strength of your entire hand and arm.
Tying a knot
Pull the needle through. You have a knot!
Mending a hole in your denim
Finish your jacket and wear!
I'm so happy to give my jacket new life! My goal is to keep sewing until it is completely covered with sashiko. I hope you find peaceful pleasure in stitching by hand.
By Jennie Lennick
Designer, entrepreneur, and lover of crafts! Boss Lady at Jenny Lemons in San Francisco