How to stitch "Peaks" Sashiko Sampler by Textile Lab

By Susan Fletcher
Peaks sashiko stitching design

How to stitch "Peaks" sashiko design

This is how to stitch the Kugurizashi Sashiko kit called Peaks. 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 ready to stitch cotton cloth, sashiko threads and needles at A Threaded Needle.

This is a very good first project for trying the kugurizashi sashiko technique.

Sashiko sample "Peaks"

  Before I start the stitching instructions, here is some general information:


If you already know this, slide down the page to the step by step instructions :-)

Hitomezashi is a sashiko stitching style.  The designs are made up of single stitches in straight lines across the fabric. The stitching covers the fabric much more densely than the Moyozashi sashiko (large sashiko designs). 

Kugurizashi is a more advanced two part sashiko stitching technique which involves using the Hitomezashi stitching as the base layer to weave threads under to create beautiful patterns and textures.

Things you need to know before you start this sashiko sampler:  All the sashiko samplers from Olympus Japan are printed on the same sarashi-momen cotton fabric (Olympus Hana-fukin & Traditional Sashiko, La bouquetiere, & Textile Lab Ayufish int. Samplers). This traditional 100% cotton Japanese fabric is woven on the traditional width narrow looms. This means it has selvedges on two edges. The 12" x 12" design is printed on a 26" length of the  fabric and you are meant to fold the unprinted half to the back of the printed half and stitch through both layers. 

The printed design will disappear completely in water so keep it dry until you are finished. Also do not iron before it has been washed.

If you would like your cloth to have finished edges, fold the cloth in half with the printed side inside and stitch it together about 5/8" from the raw edge. (I use a running stitch and sashiko thread)

Now, turn the cloth right side out (print on the top) and finger press the seam flat (no ironing!)

Smooth the fabric layers out, then stitch the two rows around the outer edges. 

Before we leave this general information section here are two photos (borrowed from a different sampler) to review two sashiko basics:

1. Putting many stitches on the sashiko needle at a time. This will give you straighter more even stitching, and it goes along much faster.

gathering sashiko stitches on your sashiko needle

2. leave a loop on the back of the fabric when you carry a thread . This is important.

One more thing. Prepare your sashiko thread by opening the skein into a long loop and cut through one end of the loop. This will give you 36" lengths, which are a good length for the sashiko and weaving designs. (I cut through both ends and stitch with 18" lengths for regular sashiko stitching - but longer is better for sashiko and weaving) I like to loosely braid the skein and pull the threads from it one at a time - no tangling!
How to stitch Peaks sashiko sampler:
Start the design by stitching all vertical stitches. Stitch all the way across each time. I use a small knot in the outer edge to begin each thread, then I end that thread and begin each new thread in the margin of the design. This avoids having to deal with threads ending in the middle of a stitching line.  However, if you want to use up all your thread length, you can stitch over three or four stitches, thereby overlapping the sashiko thread ends.
sashiko stitching

This is basically how all hitomezashi sashiko designs are built. You stitch all the vertical lines, then the horizontal lines, then the diagonals going one way, and then the diagonals going the other way. One you grasp that, you can stitch all the hitomesashi sashiko patterns without instructions!

Leave a loop on the back of the fabric when you carry a thread.
Apparently I forgot to take a picture of the vertical stitching finished! You must finish the vertical sashiko stitching before you can do the kugurizashi sashiko step.
Also, taking a step back, - lets talk about thread colours. This design can be stitched in any combination of colours you like, or in a single colour.  I think it lends itself to variegated threads nicely.
I chose 9 colours and to try to create a mountain peak feeling, sunrise on high bare mountain peak, distant blue/green mountains and then the near sandy green foothills. 
choosing sashiko thread colours

 The next step is the kugurizashi sashiko, which is weaving under the stitching part of the design.

When all the vertical stitching has been completed, start the weaving.  To do this, start with a small knot on the back of the fabric and using the needle eye end of the needle, pass under the stitches as shown here. The fabric has a few of these printed for you to follow but it is up to you how many rows you feel will look right :-)

kurugi-sashi sashiko )weaving under threads)
I stitched more but not all of the rows
kuguri-sashi sashiko stitching
My finished "Peaks"
Did I mention about washing? When you are finished give your project some firm tugs by holding two sides directly across from each other and pulling. Do this in several places, it will help to even up the stitching and pull any needed extra thread from the loops you left on the back to keep the cloth laying even and flat.  
Once you have done that, smooth it out flat, then put it in a bowl of warm water to soak a few minutes and rinse till the water is clear. Let dry and press from the back.
That is the 'safe' way to remove the print, but these fabrics and threads are made to wash well. I just put mine in the washer and dryer along with my with towels.  
I hope you enjoyed this stitching :-)
Kind Regards