Sashiko is a beautiful Japanese form of embroidery fully rich with history. We decided to write today about this particular form of embroidery in detail. The reason for such a move is not only because Sashiko is aesthetic but rather historic and striking!

The word “Sashiko” literally means ‘little stabs’ which is a reference to the fast-running stitches used in the form. The white thread on Indigo fabric, using only running stitches, in Sashiko creates striking geometric designs; spreading all over the fabric.

Let’s dive in a bit deeper.

What is Sashiko?

Sashiko is a technique of the old that was born out of practical need during the Edo period of 1615-1868 in Japan. By the Meiji period (1868-1912), Sashiko was firmly established. This was a way to mend and strengthen garments for the lower classes. The other groups of people that used this technique of Sashiko were either the Martial Artists or the Firefighters.

Fabric was expensive and inaccessible for the people at the time, so every scrap and every piece was of value. People would store those pieces and scraps so that they can use them in the future during the time of the need. Worn-out clothes were stitched together to form new and strong garments that could protect the wearers from the harsh winter.

What makes Sashiko ‘Sashiko’?

Sashiko is very distinctive. It does use a simple running stitch but really consistently. If there is no consistent stitching pattern, then it is not Sashiko. This sort of embroidery requires a lot of skill as it requires a clean and strong hand. It is traditionally worked with a white thread on indigo fabric. We already know that Indigo and White is a killer combination.

The Japanese of the olden times polished their Sashiko skills out of their need. Now, Sashiko is considered in one of the most stylish and beautiful embroidery forms. Many people are either Sashiko-ing or learning to Sashiko their favorite pieces of clothing!

What makes this Form so Important?

We all acknowledge the fact that Sashiko looks stunning. But, what makes it even more admirable and important?

Here is why:

  • Scraps and pieces of fabric were reinforced using the Sashiko technique. This was a great way for the lower classes to form new garments.
  • Martial Artists (mostly who did Aikido) wore clothes (known commonly as “GI”) stitched in Sashiko style. It helped in absorbing maximum sweat. Sashiko also improved the durability and comfort of the GI.
  • Firefighters wore uniforms sewn with the Sashiko technique. Why? Because of the maximum absorption offered by the Sashiko technique. They would drench themselves with water and then go ahead to fight fires (how genius and cool is that?!). Their Sashiko-stitched uniforms would absorb more than 32 liters of water!
  • Japan has strict laws for the lower classes regarding clothing too. People of the lower classes were not allowed to wear luxurious fabrics (like silk), bright colors, and even big & crazy patterns! This made the people make the most out of what they had so, they began innovating! The people started dyeing alternative colors and gave birth to Sashiko at the same time too. You can never kill ideas!

Now, Sashiko is widely used for fashion purposes. People are bringing Sashiko into their daily lives by making beautiful geometrical Sashiko designs on jeans, bags, hats, clothes and so much more!

We love how Sashiko looks and every time we think of its beautiful history, we are left in awe. It is stunning how people fought the laws without actually not fighting. They had ideas, they dug up alternatives, and they turned their theories into practicalities.

As we always tell our readers; let your imagination run wild. Dream, experiment, and try!

Have Fun Sewing & Embroidering!  

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