sashiko sampler used for pocket on a denim bag
May 17, 2024

What is a Hana-fukin? And why are they called "dishcloths"?

So here is something I wondered about for a long time.

Why are the 12" X 12" pre-printed sashiko samplers called "dishcloth" on the package? 

It was a mystery to me why the manufacturer would think we would do all that stitching on a cloth to use for washing dishes! 

But I think no one did think that.

I think "dishcloth" was the best guess at a translation for the Japanese word Hana-fukin.  A Hana-fukin is a name for a useful household cloth.  We don't really have a word in english for a generic "useful household cloth" except maybe kitchen cloth, which we also call a dishcloth. 

Ergo 'hana-fukin' become 'dishcloth' on the package. 

But, if we are not going to wash the dishes with our stitched sashiko sampler cloths (although they are kind of perfect for that being 12" X 12" square absorbent cotton :-D )  then what else can we do with them?

hana-fukin kitchen cloth

Use them for what they are: useful squares of cloth for anything and everything around the kitchen.  Cover baking from the oven, or fruit in a basket on counter. Line a basket for serving fresh bread.  Use for a table centre to put a plant or pot of flowers. Fold in four and use to protect your surfaces from hot dishes from the stove. 

sashiko sheep hana-fukin table cloth

They wash extremely well, I wash and dry mine with my kitchen towels and dish clothes.

They do make excellent tea towels but I like a bigger and rectangular shape for that so I cut some  in half on a diagonal and sewed the two pieces to the top and bottom of a matching colour kitchen towel. This photo shows a many times washed version using the Olympus Sayagata sashiko sampler.

sashiko hana fukin kitchen towel

And if you are not a fan of the expense and waste of paper towel then you know the value of a good stack of absorbent cotton squares in your kitchen - it won't hurt your feelings if they are pretty!

Ideas outside the kitchen 

Use them to make a huge pockets on the front of drawstring (laundry) bags or to make grocery shopping bags. This bag has one on each side :-)  


sashiko hana-fukin

I used this one to make large pocket on a pre-made denim bag

sashiko hana fukin used as pocket on a bag

Use them a blocks in a simple quilt.sashiko quilt

Make cushions. The hana fukin 12" squares make a nice small size decorative cushion, or you could add fabric to create a longer rectangular block cushion.

These two cushions are made using the pre-printed Hitomezashi sashiko samplers.You can find english directions for some of these designs in my blogs. You can also use a language translation app on your phone to read the instructions in the package. They include really good illustrations for the steps.

sashiko cushions

Use them like fabric to sew them into another project. You can cut through your Sashiko stitching and handle it gently until you have the edges sewn into the project seams. Sashiko thread and the cotton fabric these samplers are printed are not "slide-y" so the cut ends of the thread don't fall out all that easily.

Lazy Girl pattern made from Hitomezashi sashiko sampler stitched fabric

Enjoy your stitching and then use it.

Even if its only for a dishcloth! :-D