Bitten by the Sashiko Bug

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Confession, followed by Action


I can’t remember how it all started, but some time ago I got bitten by the Sashiko bug.

Sashiko (刺し子, literally “little stabs” or “little pierce”) is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching or functional embroidery from Japan that started out of practical need during the Edo era (1615-1868). Traditionally used to reinforce points of wear or to repair worn places or tears with patches, making the darned piece ultimately stronger and warmer, this running stitch technique is often used for purely decorative purposes in quilting and embroidery. The white cotton thread on the traditional indigo blue cloth its distinctive appearance.

Perhaps it was the traditional indigo blue fabric that caught my eye or the traditional Japanese patterns that I already loved. To cut a long story short, I ordered some Sashiko challenges and books on and set out to discover what Sashiko was all about.


Well, Sashiko is a long story and a world of possibilities which I eagerly liked to explore. Especially during our move from Ireland to the Netherlands, I needed a creative challenge that I could store in my backpack and pick up during moments of (relative) rest. In that aspect, Sashiko worked like a healthy and active meditation for me. I started with  simple pre-printed fabrics but hadn’t Sashiko worked like a calming meditation, I would have been disappointed. To follow pre-printed patterns was too easy for me, I thought. But, be aware, Japanese crafts aren’t easy. As soon had I finished a few coasters, I noticed a mistake! Bang.. I just received a blow with the Zen stick, on my non-geometrical ego. But surely I am forgiven as I am following visual instructions with Japanese texts and I can’t read Japanese!

Sashiko with Tokyo Bowl and Sea-glass
Sashiko with Tokyo Bowl and Sea-glass


I am stepping up my Sashiko creativity now. Next to working on a few more creative projects, I am now designing my own Sashiko composition using traditional Japanese patterns. (I will keep you posted on this). My goal is learning a lot in a short time span. My other goal is, having lovely Sashiko table cloths that match with my indigo blue Tokyo tableware. Being Dutch, I love blue ceramics. And I can’t help but smile at the cleverness of Sashiko’s geometrical designs. Just when you think Sashiko is a no-brainer, you discover you can improve your efficiency and creativity. As I wrote, Sashiko is a world of possibilities.

For more on Sashiko, here is how Sashikosouthwest explains this lovely craft.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Author, Artist & Expat

‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’

At mindfuldrawing at Instagram

7 thoughts on “Bitten by the Sashiko Bug

  1. Paula, Sashiko is a very disciplined and accurate art form of needle work. It’s beautiful. My cousin created a lovely hand bag using Sashiko method on Indigo dyed cotton material. I’ve always admired its simple beauty. I hope you will share your finished results with your viewers

    1. You give a perfect definition and I am happy you appreciate Sashiko. Most artists appreciate this old discipline. To me, it is the combination of traditional patterns and colourful needlework that is so charming. I spoke to a Japanese lady who told me that the most traditional form is indigo blue fabric with white thread. I like to stay close to that but I can also appreciate what modern artist are doing with colours and modern designs. Traditions are nice but they should allow room for modern interpretations.

  2. A Japanese woman gave me an apron. We didn’t speak each other’s languages so she couldn’t explain the patterns. I always thought it was too beautiful to actually use, and now that I know even more about it I appreciate it even more. Your coasters are lovely. I enjoyed looking at your curiosity cabinet too. I love how you’re surrounding yourself with beauty and inspiration.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s