How to Stitch: Kurgurizashi Sashiko Sampler - "Asagao"

By Susan Fletcher
Asagao kugurizashi Sashiko Sampler

This blog will show you how to stitch Asagao , a Kugurizashi Sashiko Design. 

This design looks complex, but broken down to a step at a time, it is easy enough to do.  You can buy the Asagao design pre-printed & ready to stitch on Japanese sarashi-momen fabric (100% cotton) on 

sashiko and weaving


What is Kugurizashi Sashiko?

Kuguri sashiko is a two step sashiko stitching technique. First you stitch a hitomezashi (one stitch) sashiko design and then you weave under those threads to create a kugurisashi sashiko design.

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.

There are a few things it helps to know before you start stitching. The first is that the printed marks on the fabric will wash away completely when you are finished stitching, so don't get the cloth damp before that! Also, please don't iron it before it is washed or the marks will be set and won't wash out :-(
Thread: For this design you will need about 80 meters of sashiko thread. (I used three skeins of Olympus 20 meter skeins sashiko thread cyan blue #17 , and one skein of yellow #16)
Olympus fabric sampler for sashiko and weaving
Also, you are meant to stitch through two layers of fabric, so start by folding the unprinted half of the fabric to the back of the printed half. You can baste the edges together if you want, I find that smoothing them together is enough.
One more thing. Prepare your sashiko thread by opening the skein into a long loop and cutting through one end of the loop. This will give you about 40" lengths, which are a good length for the hitomezashi and kugurizashi sashiko designs. (I cut through both ends and stitch with 20" lengths for regular sashiko stitching.  You should find the length that is comfortable for you.)
I like to loosely braid the skein and pull the threads from it one at a time - no tangling!

sashiko threads

Start this design by simply stitching the diagonal marks in one direction. 

sashiko and weaving

You can see in the following photos, that I like to start threads with a tiny knot which I stitch into the margin of the design. I use these fabrics to sew other projects, or I back and hem them, or I put borders on them. 
Sashiko stitch the diagonal markings in the other direction to create X's

sashiko and weaving

Start the Kugurisashi  (weaving under threads) stitching. There are tiny dots marked along the edges to mark your start and stop your stitching. I start the weaving thread a line over from the corner because I found it harder to figure out the corner. It is easy to go back and do it after there is a line woven next to it.
Bring your needle to the front of the fabric at a small dot.

sashiko and weaving, start the blue thread

Weave the thread under the X's and push your needle back through the fabric at the next dot.  It is easier to use the eye end of your needle to go under the stitched threads - you are only going under the threads NOT into the fabric.

sashiko and weaving

Bring your needle back to the front very close to where you put it through to the back.

sashiko and weaving

Weave back down the row.
Notice that I have turned the needle around and am using the threaded eye end of the needle to pass under the threads.

sashiko and weaving

Move the the next row by taking a stitch from the dot at the end of the row you are weaving and coming back to the surface at the next dot. (see next photo)
Note: At this point you can use one sashiko thread to stitch several rows because they are short. later the rows will be too long. I don't like to end a thread in the middle of a row so I plan to always start and end at an edge. It means you use a little more thread.

sashiko and weaving

Here is what the back looks like:

back of sashiko and weaving stitching

Continue until all the rows are completed.

sashiko and weaving


sashiko and weaving sampler

Next we start the last step, which is actually the same as the last one but stitching on the opposite diagonal. 
I changed thread color to make it easier to see. Might have been better to pick a darker color :-)
Start at the end of a blue line.

sashiko and weaving

Still using the eye end of your needle, weave the line passing under the X's.

sashiko and weaving

The threads are loose at this stage, and they should be, so resist the urge to want to make them all snug. It will tighten up as more lines are woven.

sashiko and weaving


sashiko and weaving

Here are samples of the design stitched in two colors and three colors. the blue and yellow one has been finished and washed, so the threads are have snugged up in the fabric nicely.. 

sashiko and weaving comparison

Happy stitching!
PS. The fabric is also available in navy blue.

sahiko and weaving on navy fabric