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March 13, 2017

How to stitch an Olympus Sashiko Pre printed Sampler Kit

How to stitch your Olympus pre printed 12" sashiko sampler kit

pre printed sashiko kit

Here's what you do....

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January 13, 2017

Symbolism in sashiko, some thoughts

This is a repeat blog post. With the gift giving (gift making) Christmas season just past, I was thinking about how I stitch meaning and feeling into gifts I make.  Who that means the most to, me or the person I give it to, is hard to say. But then, it probably doesn't matter. Its a win win anyway you think about it :-)

How does symbolism in design happen?

This is not a researched answer, but I think its likely that women doing this stitching found it more interesting if they based the designs on things that had meaning for them. This would account for why designs that represent the sea and fishing are found on the coastal fishing peoples clothing (diamond waves for example) and designs having to do with crops (plowed fields, windblown grasses) are found on the clothing of the inland farming peoples.

As well as designs symbolizing the natural world and the work their men did, there are the designs that I think come from the domestic cares and work of the women themselves: rice box and steam rising for kitchen work for instance, or tortoise shell as a symbol for good fortune and long life, hemp leaf as a symbol for strong health and connection to community, and bamboo as a symbol for vitality and prosperity.

It is easy to imagine women stitching these designs into garments and household linens as a way to wish these things for their family and friends. A new baby blanket might be stitched with a combination of flax leaf and tortoiseshell to wrap the baby in her hope for strong health, long life, and community, for example. Or perhaps cherry blossoms and the lucky three design would be stitched to wish a girl born in the spring the hope of a good (lucky) future.

Many sashiko designs incorporate several meanings and can be combined to make symbolic messages. Plum blossoms, bamboo and pine bark are often stitched into the same piece to represent triumph over hardship. All three of these are hardy plants that survive the harsh winters to thrive again in the spring, so you might stitch a quilt or jacket or cushion with these designs as a gift for someone who is struggling with hard times to convey hope and faith that they will thrive again.

Most sashiko designs are simple line representations of one or more of three categories: the natural world (plants, animals, the elements), ideas (hope, health, prosperity, fortune, longevity) and the celestial world (blessings). Many combine meanings from more than one of these categories and knowing a little about the symbolism in a sashiko design can make stitching it a richer experience.

A note: There is also a category of design called mons. They are the family crest designs and were sashiko stitched or painted on garments, but they are a subject for another time!

Happy Stitching,


October 31, 2016

how to ›   How to Sashiko ›   sashiko ›  

October 17, 2016

Indigo blue cloth and sashiko stitching

sashiko stitched linen over dyed with indigo

....when manufactured cotton cloth became available, the peasant class continued to use indigo to over dye their sashiko stitched garments and bedding. The indigo strengthened the cloth, and no doubt gave coherence to the pieced and patched garments and household linens....

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October 03, 2016

creativity ›   how to ›   sashiko ›  

Sashiko Stitching on Wool Fabrics

Sashiko stitched background on wool applique bag

....that if you have a solid color piece of wool and it seems a little too flat, you can add some energy and texture to it by adding some sashiko stitching.


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September 19, 2016

sashiko ›   stencils ›  

Sashiko Stitching Using Stencils

 Sashiko Stitching Using Stencils for Designing

Try using stencils for a quick and easy way to design your own sashiko project.

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September 05, 2016

creativity ›   sashiko ›   stencils ›  

Sashiko Stitching Images. Does it Work?

sashiko kissing fish

Stitching images with sashiko? Why not? Some examples...

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August 01, 2016

creativity ›   making matters ›   sashiko ›  

Everyday Sashiko

sashiko mug mat
If you already sashiko stitch, then you know sashiko stitching is addictive. Happily, it also washes and wears well for household use, so you can make everyday functional items and let the family eat on them, sit on them, even walk on them, no worries.
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Why Sashiko Designs Don’t Bore Your Brain

Sashiko Sayagata Cushion

Why don’t we get tired of the traditional sashiko designs?

What makes them still ‘work’ for us even after looking at them for several years, as I have been doing?

They are, after all, pretty simple looking geometric designs.

Here is why I think our brains remain pleased and interested...


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July 04, 2016

history ›   sashiko ›  

White cotton thread and sashiko stitching

sashiko stitching

....The wives being often too poor to purchase bundles of rags individually would group together to purchase, clean, sort and sashiko stitch the rags together to make clothing, bedding and household fabrics. It is around this time that white cotton thread appears in sashiko stitching.

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