Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Sashiko Fun

Sashiko and Patchwork Play Together

While her mother-in-law was visiting a year ago, my daughter was working on a quilt in which she will incorporate some sashiko. When her MIL took an interest in what she was doing, we both thought it would be fun to involve her in the process. With limited stitching experience of any kind, but showing some enthusiasm, (and being a very good sport), she let us persuade her to try her hand at sashiko.

With our own limited experience of the technique, we made up the sashiko pattern using one of my many books on the subject, gave some basic instructions to MIL and set her loose. Before she left that summer, she had completed the stitching on this little 15" x 10" piece of indigo. Amazing work for someone who is not only new to sashiko, but a novice to most kinds of needlework.

Well, I thought that type of enthusiasm deserved a reward, so before she came back to visit this past summer, I used her stitched sashiko to make a bag for her using one of Yoko Saito's patterns from the book shown below. The bag featured on the cover was perfect for the size of the embroidered sashiko.

Since the measurements of the bags are geared for metric, my European (metric) quilting tools came in very useful.

Digging through the stash, I came up with an assortment of fabrics (below) that could work for the lining and accents.

The navy prints, called "Hearty Good Wishes" by Janet Clare, are made for Moda in Japan.

I liked the way all of the navy fabrics worked together with the sashiko, but I felt that the bag needed a little lift. A spark of something bright. Somewhere, in the far recesses of my brain, a neuron fired that reminded me of a package of Japanese charm prints that I had purchased sometime in the 90's. To my utter amazement, I found them without any stress. (Too bad I only needed 5 of the 100+ charms in the package!)

Below, the front of the bag is pieced, sandwiched with fusible batting and machine quilted.

Next is the back of the bag, pieced with the Japanese prints. Additional sashiko was machine stitched and used for alternate blocks.

The handles and the bag bottom were quilted prior to assembly.

The bottom ready to be set in.

Shown below is the completed bag. Not having used Yoko Saito's patterns prior to this, I was unsure as to how the pattern would work. I was very pleased with the outcome. The directions are clear and the pattern pieces are accurately marked for easy transfer. Everything fit together perfectly.

Inside out, showing the interior of the bag which is lined with the Moda Fabrics.

Yoko Saito designed a bag that is practical and meant to be in daily use. The finished bag has form, is sturdy and stands up on it's own. Thank you Ms. Saito! I will definitely make up more bags using her patterns.


  1. I very nearly bought this book this week, but I settled for just the embroidery design book instead. Argh! But it is nice to have a good review to keep in mind. :D

    Love the bag! MIL did a great job on the sashiko, and you did a sensitive job quilting it. That's so hard to get right! Was MIL surprised with the bag? What a lovely gift. :D

    1. Thanks Monica. MIL was surprised and very delighted to see her handiwork made into something functional.

      I'm happy that it gave me the nudge to finally try one of these patterns. I do intend to make another one of her bags for myself one of these days, likely in neutrals. Yoko Saito's book "Japanese Color Theory", which also has a great collection bag patterns in it, is another book on my shelf that is waiting for a little TLC. I'll keep you posted.

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  3. How wonderful! The bag looks fabulous and I cannot believe how great the Sashiko stitches look for a first timer! I bought the book a few months ago, and feel inspired by your post to 'have a go'! Many thanks

    1. Thanks Sue. I also think that "MIL" did a remarkable job for a first time stitcher. She was very pleased with the result herself, but alas, not yet a convert to the craft.

      I hope that you enjoy working with the patterns in the book as much as I did. Following Ms. Saito's instructions and material recommendations worked very well. Good luck with yours.

  4. This bag is all the work you do. That book seems super.....nice patterns! Your MIL must be delighted for sure. Don't know how you find time for all this! Hugs!

    1. The bag was for my daughter's MIL. (She has become a friend over the years). The bag worked up fairly quickly and because all the pieces fell into place quite nicely, it was fun to do. And,...if I appear to be getting things done, it's thanks in large part to the inspiration I get from my on-line friends, like you. Hugs right back at you!