Skip to main content

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.

  2. Replies
    1. Dziękuję za miłe komentarze i za odwiedziny na moim blogu.

  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!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Blocking and Squaring Boutis

The door of her cage has been opened. She is free to fly off and find her destiny.

After many months of hand stitching and then many more months of cording, my little "calibri" is ready to set off on her own. As this was my first attempt at designing so large a boutis piece, it has been a bit of a learning curve. All of the tight swirls, curls and circles are a great deal more difficult and time consuming to cord then are the longer more gentle channels. Maintaining an even tension is absolutely necessary throughout the process, so patience comes in very handy when doing the cording.

Once all of the stitching and cording is complete, the boutis must be washed and squared up. After it is soaked overnight in a basin of water with a mild detergent, it gets rinsed gently in several clear washes, then rolled in a towel to remove the excess water. 

The final step is the blocking process. There are a number of ways to block a boutis piece, but I have found that the easiest metho…

Amazing Applique by Yoko Saito

The quilt exposition in Nantes "Pour L'amour du Fil" was filled with a number of highlights. Certainly one of the more memorable experiences was seeing the works of Yoko Saito in person.
"Elegant" is the word that best describes Yoko Saito's quilts. Although her palette is neutral, the lights and darks play very well together to create a perfect balance to the quilt. To say that the applique is amazing is an understatement. The perfectly formed 1/4" circles and the tiny leaves and stems are inspirational. And of course, the hand quilting is perfect. For the final touch, she uses embroidery as adornment in much the same way that the perfect pair of earrings complete the look of the little black dress. The opportunity to see her quilts in person has been truly inspirational.

The photos in order:
- Yoko Saito in her booth on the floor of the show
- "Pointsettia" - by Yoko Saito
- "Spring of Sweden" close -up - by Yoko Saito

Alsace Quilts

A quilt show is a great place to be inspired and to celebrate our craft with other artisans. Spread throughout the town of Ste. Marie-Aux-Mines, as well as 2 other nearby towns, this show did not disappoint in either way. There were many fantastic quilts to marvel at, and even more fantastic people to meet and share ideas with.

When at these shows, time is always at a premium, so I prioritized the exhibits that I hoped to see and did my best to get there. Here are a few of the highlights.

The first exhibit we saw were the Canadian quilts. Just as with the Amish quilts, a church acted as the gallery. Churches make great venues for displaying quilts.

Libby Lehman is very well known throughout the quilt world for her free motion machine quilting and threadwork. As she was the featured artist at this year's show, there was a large retrospective display of her quilts. I am more familiar with her current work, so it was quite a surprise to see her more traditional earlier work. It was a…