Saturday, 6 July 2019

Sashiko Coasters

Last month I visited the Sydney Craft and Quilt fair for the first time ever and I truly enjoyed this experience. There were plenty of amazing quilts to admire and get inspired by, wonderful stands to browse and shop at and lovely people to talk to and ask for an advice.

As I was leaving the fair, I came across a stand Indigo Niche that was selling Sashiko supplies. I have always loved this Japanese embroidery technique and even gave it once a go that failed miserably as I was not prepared to follow any instructions or even read the basics of Sashiko at that time. A panel of six designs caught my eye, and I gently pushed closer to the stall so I could see what else was there. Women were buzzing around picking fabrics, printed panels, needles, threads...talking about beautiful items hanging on the wall. Even though I have been sewing and embroidering for a long time now, I felt completely lost and had no idea where to start, but I really wanted to give Sashiko another proper go.


Being a very shy person, I had to push myself to talk to one of the ladies at the stall. Quite often I get asked questions by my IG followers, basic things about sewing and they always apologise for asking such simple and even as they call it "silly" questions. I try my best to answer those question and I always tell them to never feel shy or embarrassed and to ask even the most basic questions if they need help. Thinking about that helped me in return get some courage and ask the most basic and even silly questions. One of the ladies at the stall (I wish I asked her name.) was so sweet and patient, and kind. In a matter of a few short minutes, she explained to me the basics of Sashiko and picked all the supplies I needed to get me started. She told me that the printed panel would be a good and easy start for me to make sure that I get the stitches right and understand how Sashiko works. So I picked a panel with six printed designs of dragonflies. She explained to me that Shashiko napkins or coasters do not need batting, but rather a thin cotton interfacing which I always use for placemats and small things like bookmarks I make. She also told me that stitching is done only on the top layer of the fabric and that first you stitch the design and then sew your coasters or whatever else you are making. That was a surprise for me as I always assumed that you had to stitch through all the layers as in quilting. She helped me pick the right long and sharp Sashiko needle John James finest quality English needle. She picked Olympus 100% cotton Sashiko thread in 101 and showed how to get it ready for stitching and how to pull threads out. I asked her how many strands of thread I needed and to my surprise I was told that you have to use the entire thread, not like in embroidery where you pull two or four strands out. After talking to her and getting all the supplies needed, I left the stall feeling confident, inspired and excited.


It's said, "the white cotton thread on the traditional indigo blue cloth recalls snow falling around old farmhouses" and I cannot agree with that more. These tiny stitches are like shining stars in the night sky or snowflakes sparkling in the moonlight. Tiny simple stitches create the most amazing designs. I stitched the two top coasters in no time, and it was an absolute pleasure to follow these tiny dotted lines and see the patterns magically appear. Once the stitching was done, I applied cotton interfacing on the back and, using this lovely navy cotton with silver dots that really looks like falling snow for the back, sewed the coasters. After that I added the final boarder of stitches that I stitched through all the layers so it could be seen on the back. I just could not follow all the instructions as always and had to add even a touch of my own method. I have four more coasters to stitch that would be a nice activity for the evening slow stitching. Happy stitching! Larisa xox

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