How To: Sashiko Embroidery

Sashiko embroidery is something that I’m really interested in – so I thought I’d share the love with you!

Sashiko embroidery, also known as sashiko mending – which is how I first heard of it, originated in Japan – with the word sashiko literally translating into ‘little stabs’. It’s used a lot to mend or reinforce weaker areas of garments in a really gorgeous way, using a simple running stitch variation to create a usually complex pattern to patch an area up.

Of course, this kind of embroidery doesn’t have to exclusively be used for mending things, but back in the day (and by that I mean in ancient Japan) and still in modern times, that’s its express purpose – to fix something while simultaneously making it more unique.

Traditionally, it’s done using white thread on an indigo fabric like denim (check out what I mean below) which really stands out – it is, after all, visible mending, but you can use it in any way that you fancy; currently I’m using a mustard thread on blue denim to patch up the knees in my jeans!

sashiko patch

There are absolutely hundreds of really intricate and jaw-droppingly beautiful designs, but the simplest way to do it is using the sashiko variation of a running stitch, like this:

sashiko stitch how ot
image from

Because it’s designed to hold a garment together and last, sashiko is done using thicker embroidery thread – the full six strands – or specialist sashiko thread.seight
On the jeans that I’m currently working on, I’m just doing those little running stitches, but in the future really want to have a go at this design, called ‘Seigaiha’, which means ‘ocean waves’.

There are loads of variations of this pattern alone, but the semicircle shape is meant to represent fish scales, clam shells or rippling water. I can’t help but see lots of tiny rainbows when I look at it.

2 thoughts on “How To: Sashiko Embroidery

  1. Love your jeans! I have also just started doing some sashiko too, though I haven’t tried it for mending. I like it because it works for both men’s and women’s clothes. Most embroidery on clothes is rather feminine, but I think sashiko can work for everyone.

    1. Thank you! I hope your sashiko is going well. I only did that patch and I was getting all in a muddle! You’re totally right – it can work on anything without looking out of place.

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