Many of you have requested I do a tutorial with the Olympus sashiko kits I carry in my shop, so a month ago I picked one out, chose some thread and picked out a needle… then things fell apart in my life and it was relegated to the I’ll-get-to-it-later pile. Last night as I was sorting through silks to sew for winter scarves, I found it again. So here it is, round one of my Olympus sashiko kit tutorial.
Before you begin, open the skien of thread. You’ll find it is neatly tied at one point. Hold it at the tied end, pull down gently to straighten the skien and cut at the bottom. This will give you threads of equal length, each the right size to sew with so that you don’t have threads that are too long and unruly, or too short.
Thread the needle, tie a knot at the end, then dig in! The paper enclosed with the kit will show you where to begin. There is no need to pre-wash the fabric. We’ll do that at the end.
Simply follow the dotted lines. It’s that easy! The cotton fabric is folded in half with no pattern on the other side. Therefore, when you need to skip to the next section, slip the needle between the layers to conceal the thread and keep going. Keep your stitches relaxed but firm. Pulling hard will warp the fabric, so go slow and pace yourself.
Once you get started, you’ll have the hang of it. These little kits are really a lot of fun. My 12 year old son even asked if he could take a stab at it.
The cloth has a low thread count but feels soft, not coarse. Your needle will flow comfortably in and out with each stitch.
By following the lines, you’ll find even your backside stitches turn out neat and even. Note how the stitches on the back are smaller than on the front.
This is how far I got with one thread. The second thread got me to the end of the row. I’ll post again to show what happens next and how the design progresses. I will also cover how to finish the edges, as there are different ways you can do this depending on how you’d like it to look when you’re done.
Notes: I am currently out of stock of many regular sashiko supplies, including needles. Embroidery needles will do in a pinch, but I highly suggest sticking to sashiko thread for proper sashiko. Embroidery floss is more slippery and doesn’t have the same feel as traditional sashiko thread. Also, most cotton fabrics found in quilt stores have a high thread count which makes it more difficult to push the needle through, resulting in sore fingers and hand cramps. This is one case where the tools may be interchangeable, but materials are not.