So my bunny sashiko kit finally turned up a couple of weeks ago and I finished it in less than a week! It turns out I love sashiko and also that it stitches up incredibly fast. I could have finished it in an afternoon but I tried to spread it out a bit. How amazing are the colours?
The kit I bought included printed fabric, coloured thread and English translations of the instructions, plus I picked up a set of needles and thimble. The thimble is for pushing the needle through, which I didn’t have any trouble with, probably because these modern designs have a lot of curves and corners and separate motifs, rather than the unbroken lines of traditional designs, so you never build up that many stitches at once. I could have done with one for my left index finger, which endured a lot of poking with a sharp needle, but I managed not to draw blood.
To backtrack a bit, sashiko is a traditional Japanese stitching method for strengthening fabrics and usually involves geometric patterns. Instead of doing one stitch at a time, you load up lots of stitches on a very long – and very sharp! – needle and pull them all through together. It was weird to start with but the printed lines really help and I got the hang of it pretty quickly. It was also nice not having to use a frame or hoop and the fabric is really light so easy to stitch anywhere. I’m not convinced french knots are typical of sashiko designs, but I am now no longer scared of them.
The fabric is one long rectangle so you can choose either to stitch through the front and make a pillow cover or stitch through both layers for a finished display piece. That’s the traditional way, and your design should look the same on both sides. Hiding all your ends looked a bit too complicated for me, especially with so many ends from the different colours and motifs, so I just used knots. However, I found the fabric to be quite thin and delicate and thought it might not be strong enough for a cushion cover so I ended up stitching the borders through both layers, which was more enjoyable to stitch, and the finished piece now feels a bit like double gauze fabric.
I still need to soak the fabric to remove the stitching lines and iron it, but I’m ready to start a new piece. I now need something for the back of my cushion cover and I came up with a very fun idea, which I will share soon.
I got my bunny kit from Tadaa Studio on Etsy. The seller was great but USPS took four weeks to get it to me so I’m not sure I could wait that long again. For my next projects I ordered extra fabric from Shibori Dragon in the US and thread from The Cotton Patch in the UK who both also sell some of the same patterns. If you’re visiting Japan, Yuzawaya have a good range of sashiko kits and supplies.