Beginner’s Guide to Sashiko Supplies
Whether a student of historical Japanese Sashiko or a Modern Creative just looking for an easy, enjoyable slow stitching project, Sashiko might be “it”. All you need are simple sashiko supplies and your own two hands. Projects can be small or large – from bookmarks to blankets – and the color choices range from traditional white-on-indigo to any rainbow you can conjure.
If you are new to Sashiko, or just curious about it, start with our Step-by-Step Guide to Sashiko Stitching. With these instructions and the supplies you may have on hand, you might be all set to become a Sashiko artist. But if you’re not sure, or need recommendations, some of the following books, kits, tools and more might be just the inspiration you need!
Susan Briscoe is a long-time practitioner and teacher of traditional Sashiko techniques, so her books are full of history, instructions and projects. One of our favorite books is Japanese Sashiko Inspirations. Susan covers how Sashiko developed and its many uses over the centuries. Then she translates it all into practical advice on materials, techniques and projects.
This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners. Your purchases via these links may benefit Create Whimsy. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.
When you are ready to branch out or explore a different approach, check out Modern Sashiko by Silke Bosbach. Silke covers the basics for beginners, then adds her own twists (sometimes literally) with unconventional materials and techniques. She includes templates for modern motifs that may just inspire you to create unique designs – your signature Sashiko!
Are you on the visible mending bandwagon yet? We love the look as well as the satisfaction of giving new life to old textiles. We are eager to see Boro & Sashiko, Harmonious Imperfection: the Art of Japanese Mending & Stitching. Preview bits of this new book offer an appreciation for the beauty inherent in imperfection. Projects range from useful to decorative (but we might argue that decorative IS useful) and include a range of techniques.
Simply Sashiko: 36 Japanese Embroidery Patterns Anyone Can Make includes instruction and 36 actual size templates to guide your embroidery. Visual indexes by design and stitching method make it easy to find the patterns you want to stitch. There are 36 templates, with history and stitch directions for each, as well as tips for changing and combining lines to create your own new patterns.
If you are totally new to Sashiko and so need all the toys, the Daruma Sashiko Kit has it all in one package. The marked cloth, printed in a grid, can be stitched as-is. Or use it as a basis for your choice of Sashiko pattern. A chalk pencil is included for any additional marking you might want to do. There are several needles and thimbles to try so you can find the one that feels right for you. Choose from several fabric and thread color combinations.
Starting small? Just want to get your toes wet? The Olympus Sashiko Coaster Kit includes printed fabric, thread and a needle to make two coasters. Get a taste of Sashiko with small, achievable projects when you finish these without a huge time commitment! Wouldn’t it be lovely to enhance teatime by adding some aromatic herbs to the batting?
So, now you’re hooked and want to try a bigger project, right? Cherry blossoms are an iconic motif in Japanese art. This Cherry Tree Sashiko Panel adds that traditional design to a branching tree design. The result is a beautiful blending of old and new in a piece worthy of honored wall space. Have fun choosing thread colors to make it yours!
Want to go big, but in a traditional way? Stitch this Pre-Printed Sampler Panel as one large (39X43-inch) piece, or cut the panel into sections for smaller projects. These beautifully intricate designs show off the best of traditional Sashiko embroidery stitches. With the designs already printed, just dive in with the fun of thread selection, then start your peaceful slow stitching.
A great way to build your Sashiko thread “library” is with groupings like Olympus Sashiko Thread Bundles. These sets have just 4 to 7 coordinated colors each, so they don’t break the bank. But the bundles work well together and provide variety in your stitched project. Olympus is one of the most trusted brands for Sashiko thread because it stitches smoothly and glides through the fabric.
When you start loading multiple stitches on your needle, you want one that is sharp, strong and won’t bend under pressure. Tulip makes needles for all kinds of stitching, and they really hold up to years of use. They don’t bend or getting snaggy chips in the finish. (Unless, of course, they get lost or misplaced – but that never happens!) Tulip Sashiko Needles will help you load more stitches with each pull of the needle so you can keep stitch length consistent.
It’s a very different stitch rhythm, but if you can adapt to a palm-type thimble for Sashiko, you will feel a lot less wear and tear on your hands and wrists. With the Sashiko Thimble positioned at the base of your finger, your hand maintains a more neutral position. So you will load stitches more easily, reducing hand fatigue and stiffness. So you can keep on stitching!
You will reach for your thread snips over and over again while you create your Sashiko project, so you want a tool that is sharp and tension-free. With no finger holes to line up, all you need is a gentle squeeze for each cut. Japanese Snips from Yoshihiro Nigiri Hasami have two sizes, but the smaller version is big enough for for hand stitching.
Browse through all of our sashiko projects and inspirations on Create Whimsy.