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I should have written this a long time ago. I suppose it is just that I stitch so much that I forgot how many details there are to figure out when you open one of these packages! Apologies! Better late than never, I hope :-)
So here is what to do after you buy one of these lovely little sashiko fabric samplers:
Thread your sashiko needle with about 20" of sashiko thread. Knot the end of your thread.
Please do not iron or wash the fabric before you have completed your stitching. Ironing will set the printing and washing will remove it. The folds and wrinkles will soften as you handle it, and when you are finished you will wash and press the completed project.
To stitch: Start by stitching the outer vertical and horizontal lines around the design. (As a rule, when sashiko stitching, if there are vertical or horizontal lines you will always stitch them first)
Gather the fabric up comfortably in your hand and, stitching over the dashed lines. Put as many stitches onto the needle as you comfortably can. The longer and thinner you sashiko needle the more stitches you can pack up before you pull through.
You have a choice to make when you start your stitching on these pre printed kits. They come with unprinted fabric - you can choose to stitch through only the printed single layer and use the remaining fabric for a backing, or you can fold the unprinted fabric to the back of the printed fabric and stitch through both layers. Stitching through both will create a more 'traditional' quilted look, and is not difficult with a thin sharp sashiko needle. Note that these kits are printed on an open weave fabric. In the future you may stitch on tighter weaves and prefer to stitch through only a single layer.
Smooth your stitches out well after pulling the needle through.
After you have stitched the outer lines that frame the design you will want to start stitching the design area. Many of these pre printed Olympus packages have a picture of the design with some numbered arrows to tell you where to begin and how to go on. If there is not numbered directions, then you have to study the design and find the stitching 'path' that makes sense to you. I choose the 'path' which will make for the least carrying of threads across the back of the fabric.
In the sampler I am stitching here, I chose to stitch matching curves, carrying my thread on the back:
This is the back of the fabric. Notice the slack in the threads being carried? This is to allow for the tightening that will happen as the stitching continues, and when the finished piece is laundered in the future. These kits will get prettier with washing as the fabric and thread soften and shrink a little.
Notice also that I have finished my thread, and started new threads, by weaving under a few existing stitches on the back of the fabric.
Once your stitching is finished, rinse the piece in warm water to remove the printed stitch markings. Dry it in your dryer with a dry towel and press. I wouldn't throw it in the washing machine until the raw edges have been hemmed to stop fraying, although having said that, I often have with out any real harm to the piece!
(An aside: Once through the dryer will make the thread fabric nicer and the thread plump up a little and be less 'fuzzy'. I have sashiko on tea towels that have been through the dry multiple times and the threads have become more beautiful with time, tighter and plumper - remember sashiko is a stitching art that was developed for real household use as well as beauty)
Now you are ready to sew your finished sashiko block into a project. You could use it alone in a cushion (adding a border is nice), or sew a few more of these sampler blocks for a runner, or for a quilt! :-)
More about these sashiko samplers:
Here are a few of the sampler package fronts showing the numbered direction of stitching:
There are quite a number of these available on our site. They come in traditional sashiko designs as well as a number images (dragonflies, rabbit, flowers), and recently Kogin Sashiko designs.
Note also the ones made for children. They call these 'finger training' blocks because stitching ove the slightly longer stitch lines in these simple motifs (bear and balloons, castle, cupcake..) trains the eye and hand.
Visit the sashiko pre printed section on the website to see or buy these preprinted fabric kits.
Happy Stitching always,