Slow Stitches

I learned about Sashiko in Katrina Rodabaugh’s book Mending Matters: Stitch, Patch, and Repair Your Favorite Denim & More where she teaches the art of visible mending and explains how mending leads to a more mindful relationship with fashion. I was captivated by the beautiful patches on her jeans using only denim and white thread. After mending three pairs of jeans using Rodabough’s method, I was hooked, but sadly out of jeans, so I went in search of a more traditional Sashiko project.

Sashiko embroidery uses small running stitches to make beautiful designs. The word Sashiko literally means “little stabs.” Sashiko dates back to 17th century Japan, and was used to repair and reinforce clothes. Traditionally, Sashiko is stitched on indigo blue fabric with white thread. 

the workroom is my go to for beautiful fabric and unique sewing projects. There I found an assortment of Sashiko samplers and supplies. The best fabrics for Sashiko are cotton, linen and denim. Sashiko needles have a sharp point and are long so that you can put a lot of stitches on the needle at once. Sashiko thread is thinner than embroidery thread and has less sheen. It is also twisted so the individual threads are difficult to separate. 

I am half way through my Sashiko project which will most likely become a pillow or part of a handmade bag. I find the linear, running stitches gratifying and calming. I complete a couple Sashiko rows each morning and evening. I’m not in a hurry to finish this project as I find the process so relaxing. 

Sashiko is very easy to learn. Although it looks complicated, Sashiko is a simple geometric pattern. Unlike embroidery, Sashiko is not sewn one stitch at a time. Instead, the needle is loaded with stitches then thread is pulled through, resulting in smooth stitches of consistent length. The goal is to have the running stitches even and roughly the same length. Perfection is not the goal. 

While writing this I accidentally ordered my next Sashiko project which combines Sashiko stitching and weaving. Intrigued? I encourage you to try Sashiko for the mending, meditation, and beauty of it. 

I feel a workshop coming on!