Sampled Sashiko Yet?
JAPANESE TEXTILES AND STITCHING TECHNIQUES ARE MORE POPULAR THAN EVER BEFORE WITH EMBROIDERERS AND QUILTERS ALIKE. SASHIKO IS ONE OF THESE SUBLIME FORMS OF DECORATIVE WORK – AND IT’S A REALLY EASY ONE TO TAKE A STAB AT. IF YOU HAVEN’T TRIED IT YET, ONE OF THE PRE-PRINTED PANELS IS A GREAT WAY TO START.
by Judy Newman
Sashiko is a distinctive form of hand stitching practiced in Japan, appearing as little running stitches on a variety of background fabrics but often plain – usually white thread on indigo blue. Originally the functional effect of the stitching was most important; sashiko was worked on clothing worn by farmers and fishermen and the stitching created durability in the fabric and reinforced areas which were subject to wear.
The sashiko (which means ‘little stabs’) stitch is always longer on the surface than the back, and must be even in length. While the stitches are worked in white on blue there are plenty of variations, especially in modern designs. There are many lovely traditional patterns which date back hundreds of years including checks, bamboo fence, fish scales and diamonds but it’s exciting to see the emergence of many new designs around – even some with Australian motifs.
When working sashiko, a useful guideline is to make the stitches at the back of the work one third the length of those on the front of the work. Since sashiko has become popular with quilters and embroiderers, the decorative aspect has overtaken the functional.
An Australian company based in Brisbane, Indigo Niche, owned by Suzanne Howie and Colleen Shepherd, has produced a series of sashiko panels which combine the Japanese technique of sashiko with an indigenous inspired theme. The Threaded Pathways series designed by Suzanne Howie also includes some applique.
Just released is the first in a new series by Suzanne called ‘Threaded Dreaming'; the first panel has sashiko encompassing colours of the Australian Outback. Indigo Niche now has an Australian artist on board who is designing a variety of patterns for sashiko with Australian themes, complementing Sue’s designs.
Designs will be printed locally in Brisbane. For crafters, having a pre-printed design to work on eliminates the need to transfer a paper pattern – you can just start stitching straight away. So several boxes are ticked – it’s quick, easy, fun and creatively satisfying!
See Indigo Niche at the Australasian Quilt Convention this week from April 16 to 19 in Melbourne and selected Craft & Quilt Fairs. For a good read, and an armchair trip to Japan, visit their blog by clicking here.