Seasonal Sashiko

Materials

  • Scraps of Christmas fabric about 3in square minimum
  • Scraps of Medium weight interfacing about 3in square minimum
  • Scraps of wadding about 3in square minimum
  • Fabric marking pens/pencils
  • Two cyclinders approx 3in and 2 1/2in diameter to draw around
  • Scraps of ribbon
  • Sashiko thread, embroidery thread or coton a broder
  • Ruler

Finished Size

2 1/2" diameter

Skill Level

Beginners

These Christmas Decorations are a quick and easy introduction to Sashiko. You can create a variety of different designs by varying your stitch pattern, and by changing the orientation of each circle. They can be made by hand and on the move. Just prepare the interfaced circles and draw your grid before you go out, then sew whenever you feel like it.

Preparation

Seasonal Sashiko
  1. Take a piece of scrap Christmas fabric, and iron a matching sized piece of interfacing to the reverse
  2. Using a template or any handy cyclindrical object, draw two circles of about 3in diameter on the interfaced side of the fabric.
  3. Cut out these two circles.
  4. Using a smaller circle template or another cyclindrical object, cut out one circle of wadding
  5. Cut a length of ribbon about 7in long for a hanging loop

Drawing the Sashiko grid

Figure 1: Drawing the grid.
Figure 1: Drawing the grid.
  1. Take one interfaced circle. Using your smaller circle template or small cyclinder, draw on the right side of the fabric using an appropriate marker. I had light fabric, and just used an ordinary pencil. Most of the lines will be covered by stitching, and this is only a small decoration, so pencil lines won't be very noticeable. If you have dark fabric you will need a light coloured marking pen or pencil.
  2. Using your ruler, draw a grid of horizontal and vertical lines 1/2in apart using the drawn circle as the boundary for the grid, on the RS of the fabric
  3. The lines will extend to the edges of the drawn circle, these will be partly stitched areas.

Starting to sew

Figure 2: The base stitches for all the patterns used here
Figure 2: The base stitches for all the patterns used here
  1. Using the grid as a guide, sew running stitches in the pattern shown. Sashiko is usually worked from a knotted thread, and you pleat the fabric onto the needle, but as long as you get the base pattern on the fabric, you'll be fine. I work from the bottom and sew in rows from right to left, then left to right, until I reach the top.
  2. You will need to sew part stitches where the gridlines meet the circle boundary.

Choosing a pattern

There are lots of sashiko patterns based on this grid and these base stitches. There are five patterns shown below, but you could use others, or even make up your own variation.

Pattern One - Cross

Figure 3: CrossFigure 3: Cross
Figure 3: Cross

For this pattern, you simply sew the vertical stitches crossing the base stitches. You can vary the position of the hanging loop to create different effects.

Pattern Two - Key

Figure 4: KeyFigure 4: Key
Figure 4: Key

For this pattern, you sew the alternate vertical stitches linking the base stitches. Again, varying the angle of the hanging loop will give different effects.

Pattern Three - Hawk Feather

Start with the Key pattern, and add an extra set of small running stitches in the opposite diagonal

Figure 5: Hawk FeatherFigure 5: Hawk Feather
Figure 5: Hawk Feather

Pattern Four - Partial Tortoise Shell

Start with the base pattern, and weave a thread across the grid rows through pairs of stitches from right to left. When you get to the end of a row, stitch into the circle, bring the needle back up where next row should start, taking into account the circle boundary if neccessary. Begin weaving the thread back through pairs of base stitches from left to right. Carry on until you have woven through each row pair. To make this a true Tortoise Shell, add a small single running stitch inside each diamond.

Figure 6: Partial Tortoise ShellFigure 6: Partial Tortoise Shell
Figure 6: Partial Tortoise Shell

Pattern Five - Rice Variation

Start with the cross pattern, and run your thread through diagonal rows of crosses right to left. When you get to the end of a row, stitch into the circle, bring the needle back up where next row should start, taking into account the circle boundary if neccessary. When you have woven threaded through all the diagonals in one direction, work through the opposite direction to form the new grid.

Figure 7: Rice VariationFigure 7: Rice VariationFigure 7: Rice Variation
Figure 7: Rice Variation

Making up the Decoration

You can stitch the second side of the decoration in the same way or leave it plain

  1. Stitch your ribbon hanging loop firmly to your wadding circle
  2. Place the two fabric circles and wadding together in a sandwich, making sure the hanging loop is free. The wadding should be the same size as the decorated part of the circle, ie smaller than the fabric circles.
  3. Vary the position of the hanging loop to create horizontal, vertical or diagonal versions of the same pattern
  4. Hand or machine sew the two layers of fabric together, trapping the wadding in the middle.
  5. Use pinking shears to trim the outer edge, taking care not to cut through your hanging loop!