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.

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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

Print out your pattern and cut it to size.

Tape your pattern to the back of your fabric or the inside of your garment. Place a piece of transfer paper underneath your pattern.

Using a ballpoint pen or soft pencil, trace your pattern.

Once you're finished tracing your pattern, lift it up and check out how well your lines transfered.

If your lines are light, use a water soluble marking pen with a ruler as a guide to make them more visible. 

Your pattern is transferred and you're ready to stitch!

Begin Stitching

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. 

All of our stitches are done from the back of your fabric.

Piercing in and out, place several stitches on your needle at a time. 

Create little pleats with the fabric on the needle, to get as many stitches done as possible at one time. 

Smooth out your fabric after pulling your stitches through! If you forget to do this, your work will be wrinkly. 

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

Point the tip of your needle at the spot where the thread is coming out of the fabric. 

Take the thread and wrap it around your needle once.


Place your finger on the little twist so it cannot move

Pull the needle through.  You have a knot!


Continue Stitching 

Sashiko is so fun and relaxing! Remember to stitch from the inside of your denim to keep your knots on the backside.

Admire your work as you go along. 

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.

Want more Sashiko inspiration? Check out my Pinterest board full of fun mending projects!

Want more embroidery tips? Check out these tutorials!

Thanks for visiting! 

This blog was originally posted in 2020 and updated in January and April, 2022. You can check out more DIY projects on our blog here. 

By Jennie Lennick
Designer, entrepreneur, and lover of crafts! Boss Lady at Jenny Lemons in San Francisco


lynne morley said:

Ref transferring a sashiko pattern do you just use ordinary carbon paper or does it need to be a specialist version?. I want to jazz up a boring denim jacket and your jacket looks just up my street

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