For Umm Maimoonah and Umm Salam :)

My rowdy ruffians have really taken to sashiko stitching. They’ve always been interested in needlework, but they have never been as diligent they have been the past few days ma shaa Allah. Perhaps it is because sashiko is, as Charlotte Mason said about how children’s work should be kept, “well within their compass”. They love the designs that are simple yet pretty and are looking forward to tackling the more detailed ones.

From the little I know about this charming Japanese craft, sashiko literally means “little stabs”. It was used to reinforce or repair fabric and employs the running stitch. Traditionally, sashiko was done with white cotton thread on dark blue or indigo cloth – I love the contrast, but have not made anything on dark fabric yet. (I’m waiting for my order of transfer papers to arrive!)

This craft is both decorative and functional – it can be used as a decorative surface for things like mats, bags, sheets and table runners and as a quilting technique to bind layered fabrics like blankets, coasters, placemats and pot holders. It is especially useful in strengthening household items that go through a lot of wear and tear. We intend to use our kids’ sashikos to decorate our walls in shaa Allah – our place could do with some prettifying! Maybe we can move on to making some dastarkhwans for our meals!

Here are some lovely sashiko creations – coasters, a runner and a pouch – that I found online:

You can see more pretty stuff here.

I don’t have all the necessary materials so I contemplated purchasing some kits, but they are a little pricey. (Also, not all the patterns come with dashed lines – i.e., you’d have to figure out the length of dashed stitches yourself and I didn’t feel comfy with this.) Since I do have a stash of embroidery flosses and calico, I felt it would be enough for us to just do an adaptation of sashiko and to focus on just the technique :) I used this tutorial and this one to get us started.

Here are some of the designs we have saved. You can download them and transfer them onto your fabrics for stitching. Not all are very clear so you’d have to tidy up the dashes when you transfer the patterns. (The stitches should be as even as possible.) I hope you enjoy them and let me know what you’ve come up with!