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How to stitch an Olympus Sashiko Pre printed Sampler Kit

These 12 inch square sashiko blocks, made by Olympus, are great for beginners and for travel or holiday projects. However they come with only Japanese instructions :-)

Here is what you do:

 Open the package and fold the unprinted fabric over the back of the printed fabric. Do not iron the cloth or the print may not wash out later! 

Olympus sashjiko pre printed fabric sampler kit
Thread your sashiko needle with about 20" of sashiko thread.

Knot the end of your thread. Gather up the sashiko fabric comfortably in you hand, so that you can start stitching at one corner and....

sashiko stitching, fabric stitches gathered onto needle

...a few details before we continue!

First, the dashed stitching lines are going to wash away after you have finished the stitching, so please don't wash the fabric until then, also don't iron it or the printing may not wash away.

Next, the Japanese directions show stitching through one or both layers, you can do either, but for best results I recommend stitching through both.

sashiko stitching, smooth the stitching out
Having gathered as many stitches as you find comfortable onto your needle, pull the needle through and smooth them out.

Again, a couple things to know. Start and stitch around the horizontal and vertical lines outlining the design first. (Always stitch horizontal and vertical lines in a design first)

Second, after the first thread you can end and being threads by passing your needle under a few nearby stitches on the back of the fabric. It will stay put without a knot. Really. :-)   Below is a picture of the back of the fabric showing you the threads being passed under a few stitches to secure them.

sashiko stitching, back of project

The picture below shows the front where I have begun stitching the design. Before you start stitching the design you should study it a little to find what seems a sensible direction of stitching. Many of the Olympus pre print samplers have numbered arrows on the drawing in the package showing you where to start and how to go on. This design doesn't, so I chose the direction you can see in this photo. I look for a path that will make for the least amount of carrying threads across the back.

sashiko stitching
If you get off your chosen 'path' don't let it worry you! This isn't life, it's just a piece of cloth :-D

You know my philosophy...getting it perfect only matters if it matters to you. Me? I enjoy a few mistakes :-D

Here is the back of my finished piece. You can see where I got 'lost'. I'm not much for going backwards, so I just look for the next nearest stitch markings and carried on. It'll be covered when I sew it into a project anyway.
back of sashiko stitching

But that being said, below is something that will matter if you get it wrong!

You must leave some looseness in the thread on the back of your piece. Sashiko stitching tightens up the fabric as your project progresses, it needs that slack later to keep it lying flat. Also, Sashiko fabrics and threads are cotton and will thicken and shrink some with washing and drying. This is a good thing. It makes the threads plump up like little grains of rice, so pretty, and it creates that traditional 'quilty' look. Even if you stitched through only one layer of fabric, washing will gradually make it prettier like this. I love to stitch sashiko on tea towels for this reason - they get a lot of washing! But I digress.

Just be sure you leave some slack in threads on the back: a little loop when you turn a corner, some slack in the carried threads. It'll keep your work lying flat in the end.

finished sashiko pre printed fabric kit
When the whole thing is stitched, what then? Well admire it of course! Also rinse it out in warm water, dry and press it. You can throw it in the washing machine, but wait till you have finished the raw fabric edge.

Next, sew it into something :-) Maybe add a border and make a cushion? Maybe stitch a couple different designs and make a runner? Maybe use them for blocks in a sashiko sampler quilt?

Until next time, happy Stitching 


Susan Fletcher
Susan Fletcher


Owner A threaded Needle