Sashiko Quilting Made Easy

Master the art of beautiful hand Sashiko quilting and learn how to make make a Sashiko quilt by hand with our free step-by-step guide.

Shasiko quilting step by step

This beautiful form of Japanese folk embroidery uses a running stitch to create elegant patterns. Our in-house tech guru Sarah Griffiths is here to show you how it’s done…

How to begin and end a thread

Step 1

To begin a thread, bring your needle up about 1½in in from the end of your stitching line. Take three small anchoring stitches back to the start of your line, working through the batting and top layer only. End with your needle going down and up at the start of the stitching line, only taking a couple of threads with this stitch. Make sure the tail of the thread is carefully pulled up between the layers of your quilt.

Guide to sashiko quilting step 4
How to start your Sashiko stitching

Step 2

Now begin stitching along the line, carefully covering your first three stitches. Try to use the same holes for the thread, or get as close as you can. Be careful not to split the thread of the anchor stitches and leave the thread a little bit loose to help cover them.

Guide to sashiko quilting step 5

Step 3

To end a thread, carefully make three stitches in reverse, this time taking small stitches beneath the previous stitches. Work these stitches through the top and batting layer only. Gently pull the thread end and clip close to the quilt top, allowing the raw end to slip back into the batting.

Guide to sashiko quilting step 6

Sashiko quilts guide: handling your threads

  • Remove the paper from your skein and pull apart, forming one continuous loop. Look for the end of the loop where it’s tied together and snip through all the threads. At the opposite end of the skein, use a bit of waste thread or yarn to tie the bundle together.

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  • Divide one side in half and then braid the threads together loosely. Tie off at the end with another bit of waste thread.

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  • You can now pull single strands from the top of the braid to use. Your waiting threads will stay untangled and they’re each just the perfect length for working Sashiko.

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How to start Sashiko stitching

Step 1

Load your needle with several stitches. Sashiko needles are rigid, so you’ll need to move the fabric onto the needle, rather than the other way around. The stitches on the back should be about half the length of the stitches on the front, giving long stitches with small gaps between.

Guide to sashiko quilting step 8

Step 2

Once you have a few stitches on the needle, push the needle through the fabric using a thimble. Pull the thread through, but don’t pull it taught. You’ll notice your fabric is slightly puckered. Use your thumbs to smooth the fabric over the thread, removing any puckers. If you still have thread left when you reach the end of a line, you can start a new line by running the thread a short distance through the batting layer. When you come up at the start of a new line, allow some slack in the thread to avoid puckering between the lines.

Guide to sashiko quilting step 7

How to make a Sashiko quilt

Put your new-found Sashiko quilting skills to the test with our elegant mini quilt

You will need

  • One (1) fat quarter each of white, cream, stone, charcoal and black fabric
  • Backing fabric 24in square
  • Batting 24in square
  • Sashiko needle – this is a long, sharp and thick needle which helps you get straight, even lines of stitching.
  • Thimble – makes it a lot easier to push the needles through the layers.
  • Thread – traditionally white or black, but now there bold colours too Visit for an amazing selection!
Shasiko quilting guide


  • Seam allowances are ¼in, unless otherwise noted.
  • Binding fabric is included in the specified yardage.
  • We’ve pieced our quilt top by machine but you if you want to make your quilt completely from scratch, see our guide to hand sewing patchwork.

Finished Size

This is a mini quilt and will measure 20in square

Free Sashiko Quilt Pattern Layout Diagram
Sashiki Mini Quilt Layout Diagram

You Will Need

  • Fabric (See project notes for quantities)
  • Batting
  • Thread
  • Needle (Use a speciality Sashiko needle)
  • Thimble
  • Sewing machine (Optional for piecing the quilt top)

Total time:

Cutting out

Step 1

From the white fabric, cut:

  • Ten (10) 3in x 5½in pieces.
  • One (1) 3in square.

Step 2

From the cream fabric, cut:

  • Five (5) 3in x 5½in pieces.
  • Two (2) 3in squares.

Step 3

From the stone fabric,  cut:

  • Two (2) 3in x 5½in pieces.
  • Two (2) 3in squares.
  • One (1) 3in x 10½in strip.

Step 4

From the charcoal fabric, cut:

  • Two (2) 3in x 5½in pieces.
  • Three (3) 3in squares.
  • One (1) 3in x 8in piece.
  • One (1) 3in x 15½in strip.

Step 5

From the black fabric, cut:

  • One (1) 3in square.
  • One (1) 3in x 8in piece.
  • One (1) 3in x 18in strip.

Step 6

From your remaining scraps, cut 2½in strips and sew together to give about 95in of binding.

Make the quilt

Step 1

To make a Flying Geese unit, draw a diagonal line on the reverse of a stone 3in square. Place at one end of a white 3in x 5½in piece, RST. Stitch along the marked line, trim the seam allowance to ¼in and press open. Repeat with a cream square at the other end.

Step 2

Repeat this process to make two more Flying Geese, referring to the layout diagram for colour placement.

Step 3

Lay out your Flying Geese units with the rest of your pieces in rows, again referring to the layout diagram. Sew the pieces into rows, then sew the rows together.

Step 4

Make a quilt sandwich with your backing, batting and finished quilt top, and baste in place.

Step 5

Quilt using Sashiko stitches, as outlined in the introduction to this post, above.  We used straight lines about ½in apart in the light section of the quilt, then added lines in a basket weave pattern to the dark section.

Step 6

Press your binding in half, wrong sides together, and use it to bind your quilt.


Sashiko patterns to try

Stitching in straight lines is the easiest way to learn this technique, but that doesn’t mean your Sashiko quilting stitches have to be boring! Here are a few ideas on how to mix it up.

Sashiko quilting patterns

If you’re on the hunt for more fun quilting tutorials, why not take a look at our Essential Guide to Flying Geese Quilts?