Which Sashiko thread should I use?

By Susan Fletcher
sashiko threads
Which Sashiko thread should I use? 
sashiko threads
In this blog we are looking at the five sashiko threads I have available at A Threaded Needle. Here is what they have in common, how they differ, and some recommendation about pairing them with sashiko needles and with stitching fabrics.
     Their main difference is the thickness of the yarn. There is also some variation in their color and texture. 
     Below is my less than perfect sampler :-) The threads are Coron (the thickest), Hidamari Cosmo (the thinest), Olympus Kogin Sashiko (very similar to the Coron thickness), Olympus sashiko 20 meter skein (the standard for sashiko threads, very close to the thickness of #5 perle cotton), and Olympus sashiko 100 meter skein (similar in thickness to the Hidamari sashiko thread).
sashiko threads sampler
What sashiko threads have in common:
     Sashiko thread is not made in strands like embroidery thread, it is made of fine threads twisted together to make a single thread (yarn). You use the entire strand when stitching with it.  This difference does matter.  Embroidery thread will show the separating strands in the longer sashiko stitches, while sashiko thread will settle into the fabric as a solid little "rice grain like" stitch. 
sashiko threads
(Hidamari, Olympus 100 meter, Olympus 20 meter, Olympus Kogin, Coron)
 Sashiko thread is not 'slide-y', smooth or shiny. It has an open 'grippier' construction which makes it able to settle into the fabric. When it is washed a few times it becomes more beautiful, as it becomes almost part of the fabric. This is how a true sashiko thread should behave.
 I favour the Olympus brand sashiko threads for this characteristic ability to plump up and "cosy in" to the fabric in a manner that is distinctive to sashiko stitching. Also for their durability with repeated washing of the stitched fabric, increasing in beauty over time.
Sometimes this is a bit of an adjustment if you are used to your stitching being most beautiful when it is newest and least used! :-D
 And if you are not going to wash the sashiko piece you are stitching (wallhangings for example) you may prefer to use Hidamari thread because it has a smoother  finish when when first stitched. I haven't tried repeated washings of a piece stitched with it, but I would trust that it will also wash well although I don't think it will settle into being part of the fabric quite as well. 
    Here are the five sashiko threads in their packaging. (I have these in a lot of colours on the website, but this is just about the thread itself)
Sashiko Threads, 5 Types
(Top: Coron, left to right: Hidamari, Kogin, Olympus 20 meter, Olympus 100 meter)
There is one more sashiko thread since this was written, the Olympus Thin Sashiko Thread which comes on a ball. It is about half the thickness of the Hidamari thread and is nice for hitomzashi projects and for small scale stitchings.
Beginning with the Olympus sashiko 20 meter thread: I like this thread, but it took me time to get used to the slight fuzzy texture.  But experience has taught me that the slight fuzz of the soft thread is part of what makes it become more beautiful with time and trips through the washer and dryer! It has the space in its composition to swell and tighten over time, loosing its fuzz while becoming plumper and more locked to the fabric.  I don't know if thread is said to have 'tooth' but that is how I want to describe the bit of grippy-ness this thread has that keeps it in place in the fabric.
It comes in a lot of solid colors and variegated colors. The white is not stark white.
sashiko threads
     Everyone has their own preferences, plus there are many variables in sashiko projects.  I favor thick fabrics and threads. If you do as well, you may want to try the Coron or the Olympus Kogin Sashiko thread.  (Kogin is a style of sashiko stitching in which the design is built up in short fat stitches).  For these threads you need looser woven fabrics as the warp and weft threads of the fabric have to be able to accommodate the thickness of the thread without bunching the fabric together.  (Leaving slack thread on the back of the project will also help with this problem). Both the Kogin white and the Coran white are white whites, but the Coron is slightly whiter.
    But you may prefer the thinner sashiko threads for a lighter stitching line. The  Hidamari Sashiko thread and the Olympus sashiko 100 meter skeins are thinner and coupled with the thinner sashiko needles will have a nice effect, especially on crisp linen, cotton and silks. 
     If I haven't mentioned it, these five white threads are not the same color whites, so it is best not to try to mix them in the same project.
     Here are some combinations of thread, needle and sashiko fabrics.  This is only meant to be suggestions, you can and should choose your projects and tools to suit your own hands and preferences. Your project is your project. If you like a thin line on a heavy fabric then that is the right combination for you. If you prefer to use a large needle with thin sashiko thread, that is right for you...actually that is my preference :-) but you get the idea. What follows is just a place to start if you aren't yet sure what is your favorite combination.
You can sashiko stitch on any fabric you want (unless the weave is so tight the needle and thread won't pull through).
 For plain weave cotton fabrics, I would choose my thread, and then a needle to suit the thread. Thicker threads need larger needles.  
For a crisp Tussah silk or light weight linens, try Hidamari Thread and Hiroshima Tulip Thin Straight Needles or Hidamari Needles.
For denim? Try Olympus Sashiko Needles and any of the threads.
For wool? Try any of the threads depending on how much you want the stitching to stand out, and Olympus Sashiko Needles.  If you are stitching through several layers of wool, try the Clover Long Sashiko Needles.  
Sashiko threads come mostly on skeins. If you have ever tried to work from a skein of thread you know how to swear!! LOL Here is a blog that will show you how to stop having the thread become a tangled mess:
Happy Stitching,