How do you choose sashiko thread? Sashiko Threads Comparison Chart

By Susan Fletcher
sashiko thread comparison chart

I have stitched this chart with the sashiko threads I sell at A Threaded Needle so you can see how they look when stitched.

It seemed time for a review, there are so many more available than there were when I started selling sashiko supplies 18 years ago!

I've included two perle cotton threads on the chart, a #8 and a #5 because many of you will be familiar with the thickness of these so they make good comparison threads. (and its true, you can use perle cotton to sashiko stitch, but they aren't as nice in the long run, so use sashiko thread for sashiko if you have the choice :-)

How do you choose a sashiko thread?

All sashiko threads are matte finish and the fibre strands are twisted together. This means you will use the whole thread, or if you have one that is too thin but you want to use it, you can double it. The strand are not meant to be separated like embroidery threads so don't try :-D

All the sashiko threads I sell are colourfast and machine washable. They won't shrink but some will plump up as they go through repeated washings. This is a desirable, it creates a prettier thread that is more bonded to the cloth, and usually creates a bit of 'quilt-y look' in the cloth. How much pucker will likely depend on how much slack you have left in the thread as you stitched. 

Don't pull your sashiko stitches tight as you stitch. You are adding thick thread into your cloth and the tighter your stitches the more likely you will will find the overall cloth tightening and puckering up as you continue. See my blogs on how to sashiko stitch for more about this.)

Which thread to choose?

Here are a few guidelines to help:

Thin threads:  I use these if my fabric is lightweight, or if I want a light more subtle stitching, or for sashiko designs that have very dense close stitching lines or a lot of tight curves. Some people like to use thin threads doubled for a thicker line while still retaining the lighter feeling of the stitching line. 

  • Olympus Thin :  3 strand, 80 meters on ball (20 solid colours)
  • Daruma Thin 20/4 : 4 strand, 30 meters on card (29 solid & 8 variegated colours)
  • Daruma PFD 20/4 : 170 meter skeins (Prepared for dye, white only)

Standard Sashiko Thread Thickness:

These are pretty much going to be suitable for everything. On lightweight  fabrics where they may make your stitching stand out considerably more than the thin threads.  On thick, textured or heavy dense fabrics these threads may allow your stitching to 'share the stage' with the fabric more. This is nice if your fabric has some particular interest in its colouring or weave. 

  • Olympus 20 meter skeins : 6 strand (29 solid colours & 15 variegated)
  • Olympus 40 meter skeins : 6 strand (10 colours "Awai-Iro" 5 smokey & 5 pale shades )
  • Olympus 100 meter skein : 6 strand (30 solid & 18 variegated colours)
  • Daruma 20/6 : 40 meter card (29 solid colours)
  • Hidamari  Cosmo 22/6 : 30 meters on cones (40 colours incl. heather and variegated colours) This thread has a harder finish than the others, less fuzzy, but it doesn't sit into the cloth as well.
  • Dongtian natural 20/4 : (natural cotton colour with occasional seed bits in the fibre) This one is thinner but rougher texture and tighter twist)

Very thick Sashiko threads:

If you are stitching Kogin style sashiko you will want to use the Olympus Kogin  thread. You need the extra thickness to cover the fabric surface.  The Daruma 20/8 is a thick white thread which has been prepared for dying (PFD) (They also make a thin sashiko thread available on A Threaded Needle, I missed it in the photographing for the chart)

Both these threads can be used for regular sashiko stitching, and especially for boro (mending) style stitching. You will want to be sure your fabric has an open weave so that the thickness will pull through and the fabric can still lay flat. 

  • Kogin threads : 6 strand, 18 meter skeins (40 colours solid & Variegated)
  • Daruma  PFD 20/8 : 8 strand, 100 meter skeins (Prepared for dye, white only)

To review:

  There really is no 'right' sashiko thread for your sashiko project. You choose what will give your project the look and feel you want for it. 

1. What is the fabric like that you are planning to stitch? Please use natural fibre cloth (cotton, linen, silk, wool..)

  • Choose thin threads for light weight fabrics and for tighter weaves. 
  • Choose standard thickness threads for medium to heavy fabrics with open weaves.

2. What is the sashiko design you are planning to stitch?

  • Choose thin threads for dense stitching designs and/or tight curves and details.
  • Choose standard thickness sashiko threads for straight line designs and larger designs and curves

And all of this being said, if you still can't decide, choose Olympus 20 meter skein sashiko thread!  It will work well for every sashiko fabric, printed or plain, on my website.

Enjoy your stitching,

Susan

 PS. A note about the fuzziness of traditional sashiko threads. It goes away after a trip or two through the washer and dryer. Those soft cotton fibres let the thread bond to the fabric in a lovely way that grows prettier over time and many of us enjoy this.   If you don't, the Hidamari and Daruma threads, and the thin Olympus sashiko threads are not fuzzy.