Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sashiko Embroidery

w/permission via Purl Bee

The other day, I came across this Sashiko tutorial from Mari at Purl Bee. I was intrigued by the pattern and googled some more on sashiko.  It's an ancient Japanese needle art.  The method is essentially doing a running stitch through cloth.  Sashiko means "to stitch." 
w/permission via Purl Bee

It was originally intended for reinforcing garments or thin cloths to increase their life span, and has since become a decorative inspiring one.  I like how basic patterns represent a natural element like waves, steam, a basket weave.  It's funny how many modern fabrics I like were inspired by sashiko patterns--this is "Basket" fabric by Joel Dewberry from his Manzanita collection, one of my favorites:
I took this dang picture myself

{side note:  while Joel Dewberry's fabric does look like a "basket," I think it more closely resembles the sashiko "wave" design.}

A few days after I discovered sashiko, I found out that my sister-in-law's mother, Karen Matsunaga, wrote a book a few years ago on sashiko called Japanese Country Quilting:

So, my sister-in-law, Lyn, checked out her mother's book for me from the Provo Library.  It covers the history of sashiko and included 20+ pages of clear how to's for different designs and techniques.  I definitely recommend it for a beginner.

There are special sashiko needles and thread, but you can use western embroidery needles and thread from a craft store, and cotton or linen cloth.  You do need a method (if you're a beginner) of transfering a pattern onto the cloth.  I hope to do a litle sashiko-ing, more to come.

Purl Soho has a couple of Sashiko kits, which include the printed pattern fabric and thread (the pattern lines wash out with water).  They also carry individual skeins of Japanese imported thread, needles, and patterns/samplers.

There's a Sashiko Group on Flickr to check out.  Check out this sashiko quilt/wall hanging.

P.S. Not that it's relevant, but Baby Lock sells a Sashiko machine that makes stitches that (are supposed to) look like hand sashiko.  Wow.

Update: has a few sashiko supplies, including blank indigo cloth for sashiko.

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