How to Do Sashiko Denim Mending

Things You'll Need

  • Transfer paper
  • Fabric
  • Pattern
  • Pen
  • Embroidery floss
  • Scissors
  • Long needle
Do Sashiko
Do Sashiko

Sashiko is the art of Japanese embroidery. Traditionally, this art is done on indigo-dyed fabrics with white thread, though today many textiles and colors are used. Traditional designs are reminiscent of objects and events found in nature and take advantage of negative space as part of the design element. Sashiko is easy to master, consisting of a simple one-directional running stitch. It is most often used to embellish tableware, clothing and quilts.

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Step 1

Place your sheet of transfer paper, available at fabric stores, color-side down on the fabric. Place the pattern sheet on top of the transfer paper and trace around the design with a ball point pen. Remove the pattern and transfer paper. Your design will now be marked on the fabric.

Step 2

Cut four pieces of embroidery floss to 18 inches with your scissors. Thread all four pieces through your needle. You will need a 2 to 3 inch needle. Sashiko needles or long doll maker's needles are available from a fabric store. Tie a knot in the end of your thread.

Step 3

Starting from the back, pierce the fabric at the start of a pattern line. Pull the thread through the fabric until the knot is secure against the back of the fabric.

Step 4

Pass the needle through the fabric at regular intervals, approximately 1/8 to 1/4 inch apart, along the first line of the pattern. Gather the fabric on the needle as illustrated.

Step 5

Pull the needle through the top of the fabric once you have gathered approximately 3 inches of fabric on your needle. Pull the thread through the fabric so that it is snug but doesn't cause the fabric to pucker. Continue stitching in this manner until you reach the end of the pattern line.

Step 6

Back stitch over the last three or four stitches of a line and pull the thread through the bottom of the fabric. Snip the end off, leaving a 1/2 to 1 inch tail of thread.

Step 7

Start a new piece of thread each time you begin sewing on a new pattern line. For zigzags and corners on a single pattern line, leave a small loop of thread at the corner so that the fabric doesn't pucker.


  • Pull the fabric taut in one direction and then the other periodically when sewing to prevent puckering.

    Hand wash the finished embroidery to remove the transfer markings.

    Sashiko kits that have the stitch patterns preprinted on them are available at fabric stores.


  • Wash the fabric before you begin sewing so that excess dye doesn't bleed onto your thread.


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