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April 19, 2018

Sashiko ›   Thoughts about creativity ›  

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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What is Broken Needle Day?

Broken Needle Day. It's a day for pausing to be mindful of how much our needles make possible for us.  It might sound a bit silly if you are not in love with hand stitching....but consider it a moment anyway...tulip hand sewing needles View full article →

A Sashiko Bathroom - and several ways to make purchased patterns 'your own'

There is no better way to get beauty and individual character into your home than by designing your own projects, but if you don't feel able to do that from scratch here are 5 ways...

sashiko and applique

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How I use sashiko - well, some of the ways, anyway!

I'm an addicted sashiko stitcher. It happens :-) 

I love the low tech, no equipment, nature of sashiko. I love the way it can be utilitarian or a work of art. I love the way it keeps me calm in a two hour wait for the the BC Ferry that is the only way to go from where I live to pretty much anywhere else!  But what to do with it all....

box of boro stitching


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Sashiko Group on Facebook

I can't think why I haven't introduced you to this group before now! If you are a sashiko stitcher, it's a great place to

sashiko cushion

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Boro Group on Facebook

Boro stitching is a type of sashiko stitching. I was just thinking about the Boro Facebook Group I belong to and what an inspiration they are...
 Boro Slippers
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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,


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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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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Sashiko Stitching Images. Does it Work?

sashiko kissing fish

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

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