Sashiko stitching

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Sashiko stitching on a reversible fireman's coat (hikeshibanten) with ginkgo leaves (top), interlocking circles (bottom), and kanji characters, paste-resist dying and hand-painted pigment on plain-weave cotton, from the late Edo-early Meiji period (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)

Sashiko (刺し子?, literally "little stabs") is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching (or functional embroidery) from Japan. Traditionally used to reinforce points of wear, or to repair worn places or tears with patches, this running stitch technique is often used for purely decorative purposes in quilting and embroidery. The white cotton thread on the traditional indigo blue cloth gives sashiko its distinctive appearance, though decorative items sometimes use red thread.[1]

Many Sashiko patterns were derived from Chinese designs, but just as many were developed by the Japanese themselves. The artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) published the book New Forms for Design in 1824, and these designs have inspired many Sashiko patterns.


  • Tate-Jima (縦縞) — Vertical stripes
  • Yoko-Jima (横縞) — Horizontal stripes
  • Kōshi (格子) — Checks
  • Nakamura Kōshi (中村格子) — Plaid of Nakamura family
  • Hishi-moyō (菱模様) — Diamonds
  • Yarai (矢来) — Bamboo Fence
  • Hishi-Igeta (菱井桁) / Tasuki — Parallel diamonds / crossed cords
  • Kagome (籠目) — Woven Bamboo
  • Uroko (鱗) — Fish Scales
  • Tate-Waku (竪沸く) — Rising steam
  • Fundō (分銅) — Counterweights
  • Shippō (七宝) — Seven Treasures of Buddha
  • Amime (網目) — Fishing nets
  • Toridasuki (鳥襷) — Interlaced circle of two birds
  • Chidori (千鳥) — Plover
  • Kasumi (霞) — Haze
  • Asa no Ha (麻の葉) — Hemp leaf
  • Mitsuba (三葉) — Trefoil
  • Hirayama-Michi (平山道) — Passes in the mountains
  • Kaki no Hana (柿の花) — Persimmon flower
  • Kaminari (雷) — Thunderbolts
  • Inazuma (稲光) — Flash of Lightning
  • Sayagata (鞘型) — Key pattern
  • Matsukawa-Bishi (松皮菱) — Pine Bark
  • Yabane (矢羽) — Fletching
  • and many more


  1. ^ Burke Harris, Erin (2013). QuiltEssential. Concord, CA: C&T Publishing. p. 102. ISBN 978-1-60705-793-2. 

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