Sashiko—Japanese-style embroidery—designs tend to incorporate regular, repeated geometric motifs on a small scale. This how-to from Stitch Savvy by Deborah Moebes shows you how to embroider a traditional design, but feel free to experiment with your own designs. Traditionally, Sashiko is sewn starting with the horizontal and vertical lines, then the diagonal lines, then any other designs are filled in. The embroidery is a great embellishment for curtains (shown here), quilts, bags, you name it!
Template (click link for template)
Sashiko needles (these are like embroidery needles, but it’s worth it to spring for the real thing)
1. Transfer design and thread needle
Before you stitch, trace the embroidery design from paper to the fabric using a pen. If you have one available, a light box is a great way to do this, but if you don’t, tape your fabric to a sunny window.
Next, thread a Sashiko needle with Sashiko thread, which is used whole rather than being divided into strands. You should have enough thread on your needle to complete one row of embroidery (so you can avoid knots in the back). While not essential, placing your fabric in an embroidery hoop can help keep your stitches more even.
2. Stitch vertical elements
Begin with the vertical elements by pulling the thread all the way through from the back and allowing the knot to rest on the wrong side of the fabric. Using the tip of the needle, move in and out of the fabric, collecting stitches on the needle as you do. Usually, you’ll see half as much thread above the fabric as below, which is to say, the spaces between the stitches on the right side are slightly shorter than the stitches themselves. Once your needle is full, draw the thread through, again taking care not to pucker the fabric. When you complete the first line, cut the thread and tie a knot.
Begin the next line of stitching, but sew in the opposite direction—this will work to keep the fabric lying flat and smooth as you go, and avoid any stretching or warping of the weave.