Posted in Book Reviews, Sashiko

Two Sashiko Books

Two Sashiko Books

The Ultimate Sashiko Sourcebook by Susan Briscoe

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: David & Charles; UK ed. edition (May 27, 2005)
  • Language: English

Sashiko:  20 projects using traditional Japanese stitching                        by Jill Clay

  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: GMC Publications (July 9, 2019)
  • Language: English


When I teach, demonstrate or do a trunk show, I always bring a copy of Susan Briscoe’s book “The Ultimate Sashiko Sourcebook”.   Anyone interested in sashiko should have this book.

The section on History includes wonderful photographs of both sashiko garments and early 20th century postcards of sashiko being worn in everyday life.  There is enough information for the casual reader and for someone interested in delving deeper into this traditional Japanese stitching technique.

Getting Started is illustrated with images of equipment and materials.  How to Stitch instructions are shown with both diagrams and photographs.  Tools and techniques for drawing a grid and pattern on fabric (rather than purchasing fabric with a design pre-printed) are clearly explained.

TEN PROJECTS: Long samplers (shown framed), Greeting Cards, Coasters, Placemats, Throw Pillows, Tote Bags, Noren Curtains, Drawstring Bags, Cushions, Table Runner.

The Pattern Library is rich resource for three ‘one-stitch’ approaches to sashiko:

Moyozashi Sashiko – geometric patterns repeated on a grid / stitches never touch or cross-over

Motifs – designs to use alone or repeated (flowers, leaves, Kanji characters, family crests)

Hitomezashi Sashiko – reminiscent of darning patterns / stitches can be woven or cross-over

The Inspiration Gallery is a collection of contemporary sashiko pieces sure to spark your creativity.

New in 2019 – “Sashiko: 20 projects using traditional Japanese stitching” by Jill Clay

The Introduction briefly reviews tools, materials and supplies, but the main purpose of the book is the projects.  Each includes detailed instructions with drawings, diagrams and photographs.

TWENTY PROJECTS: Greeting Cards, Brooch, Tablemats, Coasters, Pincushion, Needle Case, Book Cover, Drawstring Bag, Cushion, Wall Hanging, Table Runner, Laundry Bag, Japanese-bound Book, Duvet Set, Wrapping Cloth (Furoshiki), Scarf, Noren Curtain, Coin Purse, Bag + Japanese Crossover Apron.

Pattern Library: Full-size sashiko patterns to trace and transfer onto fabric.




Posted in American Sashiko

American Sashiko: Sylvia Pippen

Sylvia Pippen is famous for her beautiful Hawaiian sashiko designs. She combined hand appliqué with sashiko stitching to create pieces celebrating the flowers and foliage of Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii.sylvia 2

Sylvia moved to La Conner, Washington and opened a shop near the wonderful Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum.

Her designs now embrace images of oceanic and sea life,  American and Australian Wildflowers.  Sylvia offers a collection of threads and accessories sure to please anyone interested in embroidery, applique and SASHIKO.

If you can’t visit La Conner, you can purchase Sylvia’s designs online. 


Posted in What is ....

What is Boro?

What is Boro?

The story of Boro begins in the early nineteenth-century rural Japan.  Weather in the northern provinces was too cold for growing cotton, so women in farming and fishing villages wove fabric from hemp and ramie. Preparing the plants and weaving the coarse fiber was time-consuming, so out of necessity women patched clothing and futon covers with scraps of fabric and sashiko stitching.

Over many generations, the repaired textiles acquired more and more layers of patching and stitching, until the original fabric was unrecognizable.  The remaining examples of  these garments are on exhibit in museums and have become known as Boro – a Japanese word meaning “tattered rags”.

Boro-Style for MODERN MAKERS

2019 BORO Hip Stitch Class - SCARF.jpgNot unlike quilting, boro developed out of necessity and is now a creative textile tehnique. Modern makers practice extreme patching and visible mending as both an artistic expression and a statement of the recycle/reuse/re-purpose movement.




Posted in What is ....

What is Sashiko? (SA-SHE-KO)

What is sashiko?   I have two answers – a stitching style and a stitching technique.

JAPANESE-STYLE sashiko stitching developed in rural Japan in the 1600’s.  Today the most popular technique for sewing Japanese-style designs is a running stitch.

Beautiful repeat designs were stitched on indigo blue fabric with white thread to patch and mend worn garments and bedding.

Related imageImage result for boro in Amuse Museum

Patches and stitching were added until it became what we call BORO, from the Japanese word BoroBoro, meaning rags.  The Amuse Museum in Tokyo exhibits original boro pieces.


The repeat design on the boro vest is available to stitchers today as a sampler, pre-printed on fabric with a dashed line to guide your stitches.

Sashiko Pre-printed Sampler – # 0004 Saya-gata (Key Maze) – White

Japanese-style samplers were my introduction to sashiko.  I appliqued the finished pieces onto pillows and garments.




Sashiko is a one-stitch embroidery TECHNIQUE: 

  1. Outline stitching
  2. Pattern embroidery
  3. Stitched shapes

Outline stitching:

  • A running stitch is used for outline embroidery and repeated designs (often overlapping).  Horizontal, vertical and curved lines are sewn with a space between each stitch; no stitches touch one another or cross over. Japanese:  Sashiko Moyozashi

Redwork is a form of outline embroidery.




Pattern embroidery:

  • A grid of stitches creates a pattern; horizontal, vertical and diagonal stitches often cross over (like cross stitch).  Japanese:  Sashiko Hitomezashi

Darning sampler, cotton, embroidered with silk, Zeeland, The Netherlands, mid-18th century.

Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London, acc. no. T.186-1921.

Pattern darning is a form of grid stitching.


Darning samplers were made in Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands between the 8th and early twentieth centuries. They were usually made by school girls as part of their education, either at home or in a school class.




Stitched shapes:

  • Varying lengths of closely worked stitches create a shape.  Japanese: Kogin

Image result for antique needlepoint flowers


Needle point is a form of shape stitching.



GLQC Quilt Museum:
Another resource for images is the Quilt Index.