Honeycomb designs sashiko cushion
April 02, 2024

How to Stitch Honeycomb Sampler (Hitomezashi Sashiko)

How to stitch the Hitomezashi Honeycomb Sampler
Hitomezashi (also translated hitome-sashi) is a variation of sashiko stitching.  Sashiko means "stab stitch" (In North Americans call it "running stitch").

Hitomezashi sashiko builds stitching designs through making a series of evenly spaced stitches in straight lines from one edge of the fabric to the other, stitching first the vertical, then the horizontal, then the diagonal lines. The designs are usually quite dense and were developed to strengthen or repair clothing and household fabrics in the areas that get a lot of wear (cuffs, elbows and so on).

 There are several Hitomezashi samplers with mixed sashiko patterns availabe.

The only problem is the instructions are only in Japanese! Drat!

So I am trying to stitch my way through them while photographing the steps for you.  This one is called Honeycomb.  I used the kit that comes with threads and needle included. You can also buy the pre-printed cloth only   and choose your own thread colours. 

Honeycomb hitomesashi sashiko sampler by Olympus, Japan


The fabric is roughly 13" x 26" and the finished stitching area will be 12" X 12". You are meant to fold the un-printed half of the fabric to the back of the printed half and stitch through both layers.  This will give you a nicer finished project, and is useful for hiding the ends of your threads between!

If you would like the edges of the cloth to be finished before you start, you can fold the two sides together with the edges matched evenly and the markings inside. Sew about 1/2" inch inside the raw edges, leaving the selvedge edge side unstitched. Turn the cloth right side out.  Do not press! Heat may make fix the markings so they don't wash away. Smooth the fabric our firmly with your hands so it lays nice and flat before you begin stitching. 

(In my photos you may notice I leave the edges raw. I will add a border or binding or use mine as blocks in a runner so the raw edge doesn't matter to me.)

Step 1

Staring at one edge (Where the #1 is on the direction illustration, stitch the horizontal lines for the first two designs.  Don't stitch the middle area. I got 'efficient' and stitched all the way across...had to take the middle part back out... ouch!)

sashiko pattern

Quick refresher: Thread your needle with a comfortable length of thread, about 20". You don't need to knot your thread. Begin by putting your needle between the fabric layers and bringing it up at the first stitch, leaving a tail between the fabrics about 1 1/2 - 2" long. 

Carry your thread on the back of the fabric between the end of one line and the beginning of the next line (Tip: let the carried thread on the back have some slackness in case of the fabric tightening and bunching as more stitching is added). 

End your thread by again leaving a tail between the fabric layers. 

Step 2.  

Find #2 in the directions and starting there, stitch as shown in this illustration using your second colour. Note that you are stitching only the first design now.

Repeat in reverse to finish the design.  (You can do the matching design on the other side of the cloth now or later).

Step 3

My photographs are not very good this time, I am sorry for that. We will just have to push on and make do I'm afraid!

Using your third thread colour stitch the narrow section design next to the one you just finished.

(I think this design is a variation on Tortoise shell.  The tortoiseshell sashiko design symbolises long life, as you might have guessed :-)

Step 4 

 I found the centre design diagram a little confusing to to follow.  I stitched the centre hexis first 


and then the rest of the lines. I won't swear I did it in the order shown but they all got stitched and no one will ever know unless they take apart my project and look at the back some day.  I feel ok to risk it! LOL


Step 5. Stitch around the outside edge. Use the colours you used for the centre design.  Once the stitches are finished weave under those stitches from left to right with matching thread colour. This will create a pretty finishing border. (It is easier to weave under the stitches if you push the eye end of the needle under each stitch rather than the sharp end).


 When your stitching is finished soak the fabric in a bowl of warm water for a short while, then rinse until the water is clear. Smooth the fabric out on a towel and let dry, then lay it right side down on your ironing board and iron it smooth.

You could stitch a binding edge on the finished cloth and use it for a table centre, or make a small and beautiful cushion, or use it as a block in a runner or quilt.

Whatever you do with it, I hope you enjoyed stitching it.

Kind Regards