Japanese Sashiko Mending

I am learning this method of mending because I am tired of throwing out all my favorite flannel and denim work shirts. Oddly I wear out the elbows just when a shirt is becoming a favorite. In the 70s I did embroider on jean jackets. I find this easier on the fingers and more fun.


Sashiko is a hand-sewing technique that originated in ancient Japan. In Japanese, its name means “little stabs”—a reference to the plain running stitch. This type of mending or embroidery goes from the basic running stitch to more decorative stitches.

I ordered these two books from Amazon. Actually I ordered more books but settled on these two. Mending Matters talks about the Slow Fashion Movement and the opportunity to repair and reuse our favorite garments. Neither of these books are specifically Sashiko mending books but I am learning what I need to get started.

The Geometry of Hand-Sewing is another nice book. It has beautiful stitch illustrations and a vast array of stitches to ponder. What really sold me on this book are the two templates in the back with little holes to use as a pattern. I am sold on anything with a template.

You may not need any books. But I love books and love to read about whatever new thing I am going to do.

I bought the Sashiko needles and thread. I would say both are a must. The needles are nice and sharp and nice and long. The idea behind this mending is to be able to have 6 stitches on your needle before you pull the needles through. It is not happening for me because I am using a cotton, linen, canvas fabric for the patch. The thread is nice and strong and a tightly twisted heavy-weight cotton thread. You can use embroidery thread but I would not. Embroidery thread is multi strand and a soft thread. Since I want my mending to last I am using the right thread. I ordered both of these from Amazon also.

sashiko mending

I also got a fine point disappearing ink pen to draw my lines. I found that overnight some of the lines disappeared. Not sure if it is the pen or my choice of fabric. I was hesitant to draw harder and will try that next time. I am in a trial and error mode.

I started by cutting away the frayed fabric. I then cut a piece of fabric and put it behind the hole and stitched it in place.


I then drew some lines with the pen and did kind of an alternate running a stitch. You can really do what you want.


And here is the finished patch. Lots of things I like about this. I like the white thread on the soft blue and the addition of some vertical crosses. I do like it that my stitching is a bit irregular. As many of you may know I design fabric through Spoonflower. The best part is that I have a drawer full of swatches of my designs.

Next project will be a favorite gray and cream buffalo check shirt. And I get to use a black bear piece of my fabric.

If this inspires you or if you do this leave me a comment. I’d love to know what you make.