Sashiko thread is increasingly becoming a favorite among hand stitchers. This versatile thread can be used for Sashiko style embroidery, mending, hand quilting, hand embroidery and more. Let's take a closer look at what makes this thread unique and find the brand that is perfect for your next project.
What is Sashiko Thread?
Sashiko is a style of Japanese embroidery that emerged during the Tokugawa period (1603-1867). Farmers and fisherman needed a way to mend clothing and reinforce garments to add much needed warmth in order to survive the cold, hard winters in Northern Japan. Sashiko stitching was devised using long running stitches to create intricate designs on fabric that met the needs of the fisherman and farmers while adding beauty to their garments and household items.
Sashiko thread was created to meet the unique needs of this traditional form of Japanese stitch work. The thread needed to be strong, to add structure and warmth to the cloth that it was being worked into, and it needed to be able to hold up to being pulled repeatedly through several layers of cloth without fraying or snapping. These qualities are what make Sashiko thread so unique and versatile.
Four or six thin strands of 100% cotton thread are twisted together tightly to create a single strand of Sashiko thread. Sashiko thread is non-divisble, meaning that it is meant to be used as a single strand and not divided down or pulled apart like embroidery floss. If you pull apart the plies in a Sashiko strand, this will compromise the strength of thread.
Another unique feature of Sashiko thread is its matte finish. Sashiko thread is not mercerized, so chemicals are not added to give the thread a glossy sheen. In addition to helping the thread blend into the fabric better, the matte finish of this thread helps it "grip" the multiple layers of fabric together while stitching. This Matte finish is also what makes it possible to store your Sashiko skeins in thread braids for ease of use.
All Sashiko Thread is Not Created Equal
While all Sashiko threads share these basic characteristics, not all Sashiko threads are alike. The range of colors and the thickness of the thread can vary greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Sashiko thread is not sold in standardized sizes the way that other popular threads are sold, so it can be difficult to know which brand will work best for your stitch work. If you run out of thread mid-project it is important to purchase the same brand of Sashiko thread that you started with because a different brand may have a different thickness or shade of the same color.
In order to help our customers decide on the best thread for their projects, we have created the Snuggly Monkey Sashiko Thread Comparison Chart. Download a free copy of this charthere to keep on hand as a reference.
The thickest Sashiko threads commonly available in the United States are similar to a Size 3 Perle Cotton. These are the threads made by Coron and Daruma Kogin. The Thick Sashiko threads create bold stitches that stand out and make a statement. Great for Sashiko patterns that have a lot of open space, visible mending projects where you want your stitches to be the star of the show and for use with mending looms to create fun, bold patches.
Olympus, Cosmo Hidamari and Daruma Medium (20/6) are the Medium weight Sashiko threads most similar to a size 5 Perle Cotton. These are the workhorses of the Sashiko thread world and the most commonly used brands. You have the widest range of color options in these brands. Olympus currently has over 70 different colors with solids, variegated and pastel colors available. Cosmo Hidamari has 40 different colors available including some variegated shades that are not available in any other line of threads. Daruma Medium is now available in the same 29 shades as the Daruma Thin collection.
The Thin Sashiko threads are similar to a Size 8 perle (with the Daruma Home Thread being much closer to size 12 perle). The Thin Sashiko threads have become very popular among hand quilters for big stitch quilting and are ideal for the more dense Sashiko patterns, such as Hitomezashi, Kugurizashi and Mixed Style samplers.
There are no hard and fast rules about which thread goes with which Sashiko project. When trying to decide on which brand to use for your next project, the answer may depend on color availability and how you want your finished stitches to look. Do you want them to be bold and front and center? Or would you prefer a more subtle look that blends into the fabric better? The wide range of Sashiko thread brands available at Snuggly Monkey allows you to truly customize your work.
While this thread was designed with the particular needs of Sashiko stitching in mind, it is extremely versatile and can be used in many different ways.
Sashiko thread can add visual interest and texture to your next embroidery project. In this Dropcloth Disco Nap Sampler, I used Daruma Kogin, Daruma Thin, Perle Cotton and Embroidery floss together to create a unique look that melds the different threads together. Sashiko thread works very well for back stitches, stem stitch, french knots and more.
Photo by Susan Anderson
Hand quilters have been embracing Sashiko thread for their Big Stitch Quilting projects. Susan Anderson, Heidi Parkes and Carolyn Friedlander have all started using Sashiko thread in their quilts in recent years. The strength of Sashiko thread and its resistance to fraying and snapping make it an excellent choice for hand quilting.
Sashiko thread is also a great choice for creating patches with a Speedweve style mending loom. The non-divisible single strand makes it easy to weave between threads without getting tangled in stray strands.
It is no secret that we love Sashiko thread here at Snuggly Monkey. We stock 9 different brands with over 200 colors to choose from. Want to feel the difference for yourself? Our Studio-made Sashiko Thread Sample Card is the perfect reference tool for your stitching basket. This real thread sample card includes pieces of all 9 brands that we stock along with samples of Weeks Dye Works Size 3 Perle Cotton, Cosmo Size 5 Perle Cotton and Wonderfil Size 8 Perle Cotton to help you select the perfect brand for your next project.
Sashiko thread is a versatile cotton thread that is a delight to stitch with. It is the ideal thread choice for Sashiko and boro-inspired stitch work, and it can also be used in a wide variety of other projects. It is a wonderful thread to add to your thread collection!