Olympus Wagara cotton sashiko sampler project part 1

Last year I stocked a single bolt of Wagara fabric. I wasn’t sure if it was worth the investment (they are pricey, even at wholesale!), but once I felt the fabric in my hands, I knew I’d made the right decision. Olympus, the Japanese company who makes all the sashiko supplies I carry in my Etsy shop, has been producing Wagara (traditional design) fabrics for some time now, and every year I see new patterns coming in while old ones disappear. It’s a case of get-it-while-you-can with these, and I will be snapping up several bolts this year.

firecoat1I listed this fabric with Firemen’s Jackets earlier this month, and cut a panel for myself to experiment with. It sat on my desk, taunting me for some weeks, until I decided to cut it up and stitch away. I like to work late at night when the house is quiet and I can shut myself away in my office undisturbed, with only the dogs to keep me company. Laying out fabric, thread, and needle, I pulled a sashiko book from my library and looked for image inspiration.

The white and off-white Olympus sashiko threads were too bright for the creamy unbleached cotton color of the fabric, so I decided to go with a contrasting color instead. The fabric is indigo with the design printed on the surface, not resist-dyed as it might have been 100 years ago, but this does keep the cost down so I’m not complaining. It also means the fabric is not reversible, but it makes great decorator fabric for something like a pillow or a quilt.

I decided to use Cranberry Red in a persimmon flower motif as a background to the single jacket I’d selected. Persimmon flower looks complicated, but it isn’t really. If you can count to four, you can do this stitch. It starts with horizontal lines in alternating rows, like laying bricks. After the fourth row, you reverse and mirror the previous row. I counted my rows, “one-two-three-four, four-three-two-one” as I went. It may be difficult to see in the images, but that’s probably because my stitches were too small. I figured that out later.

Here is my progress and hour or two later (who’s counting anyway? Thomas was upstairs in bed with a cold and I couldn’t sleep. It might have been 45 minutes or 3 hours. I have no idea. I did spend a while just staring at the piece trying to figure out what I was going to do, but that’s part of the creative process, right?). At this stage it’s layers of horizontal lines, nothing special. But wait until tomorrow when we bring in the vertical lines… then it gets interesting.



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