Photo:Saké Puppets on Flickr

Multifunctional Sashiko Embroidery: Simplicity at its best

I guess reading the title confuses you if you are not familiar with those things. “What is the difference? Don’t they all come from Japan? Why are they being differentiated?” Questions like these might pop up in your head. Well, I’m not really surprised. Let’s roll then!

Intricately embroidered

Intricately embroidered wall hanging.

Photo: Corry on Flickr

So those pictures above are Japanese embroidery.

Japanese embroidery is decorative embroidery with very detailed designs or patterns. A reason why, Japanese embroidery is beautiful. Sometimes it carries you into an imaginary world. There is a story told on the embroidered fabric, which is often crafted on silk fabrics. Thousands of years ago, only the rich or the noble people in Japan alone could acquire these intricately designed fabrics since it was expensive and exclusive. Nowadays, Japanese embroidery have many enthusiasts and anybody can avail it, although it is still a little on the pricey side. Wondering why it is so expensive? Because, it requires ample patience in completing a single piece. It is often uses colorful threads and shiny gold or silver threads to add an extra touch.


These are examples of Sashiko embroidery.

Sashiko placements.

Sashiko placements.

Photo: Aimee Ray on Flickr

The word “Sashiko” is from two Japanese words, “刺しand “子”. The word “刺し (sashi)” means stab and the word “(ko)” means child or little in Japanese. So, it literally means “little stabs” in Japanese.

People often addressed Sashiko as Japanese embroidery but for natives they are definitely different. So why do I call it multifunctional? Back in time, if peasants were unable to afford new clothes for winter or their clothes were worn out, they used this Sashiko embroidery to stitch up the holes, hold the patches in place, and also as a decorative on their clothes. It uses contrasting coloured threads to that of your fabric. Usually the fabric is in indigo color and the thread is in white. Yep, that is Sashiko.

Sake puppets

Sashiko pouches

Photo: Saké Puppets on Flickr

Although it seems complicated, it is actually simpler than Japanese embroidery. Why? Because it is all about running stitches, you don’t need to master some techniques like the more complicated and intricate Japanese embroidery. All you need to do is being precise with your stitches so it will look neat and pretty. Since you don’t really need to change the color of the thread it is easier to make them. It is not embarrassing to wear them, as for me, I feel it is cool to show it off.

Sashiko embroidered placemats.

Sashiko embroidered placemats.

Photo: Jacque Davis on Flickr


Sashiko bookmarks.

Sashiko bookmarks.

Photo: Tricia J on Flickr

Well, the basic things like embroidery have a long history within them. They are good inspirations for the fashion industry. They are both pretty in their own way, though it may seem so distant. I don’t mean to degrade any of them, but I love the fact that they are made to enhance the beauty of a garment, even just by threads. A minimal and simplistic form of art - something trending in the conventional fashion world. It is also amazing that Japanese people can keep the tradition or culture of embroidering undeniably interesting until now. Maybe you should look around for similar little things too, who knows it might be a lot more meaningful to you than it is to me.

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