At a time in human history when owning a cloth was a luxury, precisely during the Edo era of Japan, poor workers as at the time devised a way to preserve their worn-out cloth, which was referred to as Sashiko stitching.
This technique involves stitching spent areas of a garment with layers of old cloth.
Today, what started as a preservation technique has become a worldwide phenomenon. During this time, a special thread known as the Sashiko thread was used to reinforce their stitches.
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This thread is still viral in the embroidery world today, which is why I am writing this helpful article.
You will learn about what is Sashiko thread, how to use it, and so many other exciting revelations about the thread.
What are Sashiko threads?
Sashiko thread is a stitching/embroidery thread made initially with 100% matte cotton.
This thread is famous for its soft, strong, and tightly twisted cotton that is made to be indivisible: the thick floss of Sashiko thread cannot be separated into strands like is required for embroidery thread. You use them as a whole.
Sashiko thread sizes
Sashiko embroidery thread exists in various sizes. However, you will see them mostly in thick or kogin (20m), regular or medium (30m), and thin (40m).
What thread to use for Sashiko?
At the initial stage of Sashiko stitching, the common practice was to use heavyweight cotton thread that was tightly twisted.
If you cannot find this thread around you, you can also make use of 6-stranded embroidery floss, pearl cotton of size 8 or 12, fine crochet cotton, and double thread.
What fabric is best for Sashiko?
When choosing fabric for your Sashiko, remember that the ideal or best material to use is loose or even woven fabric.
This fabric will help prevent puckering, which may result from using a tightly woven fabric. And as for the fiber type, since traditional Sashiko was made from linen or cotton, you can also decide to go along with that trend and use the fabric, but you can also use denim.
What is special about Sashiko thread?
The uniqueness of the Sashiko thread lies in its most noticeable qualities: it is soft enough for easy use and strong enough to hold your stitches for a very long time. And also, because they are so tightly woven, they are non-divisible.
Is Sashiko thread the same as the embroidery thread?
No, the Sashiko thread is different from the Embroidery thread. Sashiko thread, unlike Embroidery thread, is made to be tightly twisted, and therefore, it cannot be separated for use.
On the other end, while embroidery thread has a sheen, Sashiko thread lacks a sheen.
Nonetheless, Embroidery thread can still be used in place of Sashiko thread, albeit there might be a slight difference in their appearance.
Are there different thicknesses in the Sashiko thread?
Yes, the thickness of the Sashiko thread varies. Sashiko thread has various thicknesses, which is why you will see them in different sizes, weights, and thicknesses.
The thickness of Sashiko fabric ranges from thin to medium and thick. Therefore, it is recommended that you find out about the requirement of your project and utilize the most suitable thickness.
How to use the Sashiko thread
- Cut about 24 to 30 inches of thread and put it through your needle eye. Choose a vertical line for your geometric design and select the longest possible line for your round pattern-shaped design.
- Insert about 2 inches of your needle along the starting point and make a few backward stitches towards the beginning.
- Take the needle to the backside of the fabric, and pass the back through the stitches made at the back of your fabric to secure them.
- Take the needle to the fabric frontside and stitch along the line. Put as many stitches as possible on your needle and gently pull it through the material.
- Keep on making stitches; just make sure that your last stitch must be at the corner. You can adjust the length of the stitch of the last few inches to make a nice corner if desired. Your first stitch should be made in the next direction that is close to the corner stitch. (Note: do not pull the thread too tight when turning direction).
- If you are about to use up your thread, take the needle to the backside and zigzaggy, pass it through a few stitches, and cut off excess yarn. Pass the new thread through a few stitches made earlier on the backside to secure them.
What’s the difference between Sashiko and Boro?
Sashiko and Boro are both Japanese stitching techniques, but while Sashiko is a process of needlework, Boro is chiefly the repetition of Sashiko.
What needle do you use for Sashiko?
Sashiko was initially made with a specialized needle called the Sashiko needle.
Compared to other types of needles, this is sharper, longer (about 50m long), thicker, and stronger with larger eyes. And so far, that is the best needle for Sashiko, but if you don’t have access to the needle, you can make use of crewel needles, milliners needles, or darning needles.
How many strands of thread do you need for Sashiko?
If you are using the traditional Sashiko thread, you don’t have to worry about the number of strands you are supposed to use because the thread is inseparable, so you are meant to use the whole thickness of the thread.
If you are using the embroidery floss, it is best to also use the entire 6 strands so that their thickness can match that of Sashiko thread.
Sashiko thread vs Embroidery thread
The only two noticeable differences between Embroidery and Sashiko thread are their sheen and indivisibility.
At the same time, the Embroidery thread can be divided and has a sheen.
On the other end, Sashiko does not have a sheen but cannot be divided.
How to cut Sashiko thread
- Remove the label wrapped around the thread.
- Look for the tiny little knot that ties the thread together and pull the thread apart to make a skein of thread.
- Cut all of the thread with a pair of scissors beneath the knot. This will leave you with about 20 strands of sashiko thread about 1 meter long each, the perfect length for stitching.
How to use the Sashiko thread?
After successfully selecting your Sashiko pattern and transferring them onto your fabric, the next step will be making stitches with the sashiko thread. The process involved will be explained below.
- Cut between 24 to 30 inches of thread and pull it through the needle eye. You can use the whole 6 strands of the embroidery floss. If you are working on a geometric pattern, starting with a long horizontal or vertical line is best. If it is a round design or pattern make use of the longest line.
- Insert the needle 2 inches along the starting line and stitch backward toward the beginning.
- Take the needle towards the fabric’s backside and pass the back of the needle through the stitches made on the backside of the fabric to secure them.
- Take the needle to the fabric’s front side and start to stitch along the line. Make sure there are enough stitches on the needle, then pull the needle gently through the material.
- Keep making stitches, but you must ensure that the last stitch you make on a line ends at a corner. To make it work, you may have to adjust the length of the last few stitches by a few inches. In your next stitch, the first stitch should start from the direction near the corner stitch.
- If you notice that the thread is about to finish, take the needle towards the backside and zigzaggy, pass it through a few stitches, and cut off excess yarn. It secures your new thread and passes them through a few of the stitches you have already made on the backside.
How to store the Sashiko thread
The best way to store your Sashiko thread and prevent them from tangling is by making them into a simple braid. After making the braids, you can store them securely in your project bag or anywhere secure.
How to wind Sashiko thread
- Separate the thread into 3 equal sections and braid them in the standard 3-strand braid pattern.
- Once the braid is complete, secure them with a scrap thread and remove the thread.