How to stitch La Bouquetiere "Snow Crystals"
How to stitch "Snow Crystals" sashiko design
This is how to stitch the Hitomezashi Sashiko kit called Snow Crystals. I've written it to supplement the Japanese language instructions and stitching diagrams that come with the pre-printed fabric.
You can buy the pre-printed cloth at A Threaded Needle as a full kit or the fabric only with the design printed on blue or white cloth.
Let's review for a minute:
Hitome-zashi (sometimes spelled hitome-sashi) is a variation of sashiko stitching. Sashiko means "stab stitch" and North Americans call it "running stitch". Hitome-zashi 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).
The designs can be very beautiful, and La Bouquetiere has recently manufactured a few hitome-zashi pre-printed multi designs cloths for Olympus in Japan.
For this blog, I've used the kit that comes with the threads and needle included. You can also buy the pre-printed cloth by itself and choose your own thread colours.
I think this would be striking stitched all in white, but the delicate colours in the kit where very enjoyable too.
If you want to stitch it in your own colours and are using 5 colours as the kit does, there is a colour chart at the top of the included instructions that looks like this:
Assign one of these letters &/or numbers to each of the five colours you are planning to use and you are set to start stitching. Above each section on the stitching diagrams that comes with the fabric you will see one of these letters &/or numbers to tell you which colour thread to use for the stitching.
The fabric is roughly 13" x 26" and the finished stitching area will be 12" X12". 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 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 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.
I leave the edges raw because I will add a border or binding or use mine as blocks in a runner so the raw edge doesn't matter to me at this point.
Stitch the first section:
There are three separate hitome-zashi designs that make up the Snow Crystals design. They will be stitched one at a time beginning with the centre flax leaf design.
On the enclosed instruction sheet find the drawing of the flax leaf design and locate the #1. This indicates where you start and the direction you will be stitching.
Thread your needle. 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. Important: let the carried thread on the back have some slackness to keep the fabric from tightening and bunching as more stitching is added.
End your thread by again leaving a tail between the fabric layers.
Stitch all the long vertical lines (#1)
When those are done, stitch all the shorter horizontal lines (#2)
Note the thread colour is indicated at the top of the section you are stitching, and the order of stitching is indicated by consecutive numbers.
Once you have stitched the horizontal and vertical lines, change colours and stitch the diagonals starting at the #3 as indicated.
Continue to stitch each diagonal lines in order #4, 5, & 6.
Stitch the second Section
As before, on the diagram, where to start and in what order to do the stitching is numbered. After the horizontal and vertical lines are stitched follow the diagram to stitch the diagonals.
This is pretty much the same thing you have been doing. Follow the numbers on the diagram. Stitch the long straight lines, then the diagonal lines.
Nearly done now, and it's beautiful right?
The last step is to stitch the two outer lines. Having done that you weave a thread under those stitches to make an interesting a decorative framing of the design.
Looking at the edge of mine, I see I did this bit wrong. Instead of an S shape under the stitches, I made a C shape.
Well, that's me! I never can follow the instructions properly right to the end! But that is also how I know for a fact that every project has room for variation (alteration?) 😁 Okay, I really mean room for mistakes 😂
So if you have done something 'wrong', pause to ask yourself if it is really wrong? Or does it still look okay and is just a variation?
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 it 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.