Easy Sashiko Kitchen Towel Project

  • 01 of 05

    Add a Band of Sashiko to Your Towels

    Simple Sashiko Towel
    Mollie Johanson

    If you've had your eye on sashiko patterns, but haven't tried any of them yet, you may have also been trying to decide exactly what to stitch them on. This simple kitchen towel is a great place to start!

    Sashiko (Japanese folk embroidery) uses a form of running stitches to create beautiful patterns, which often repeat or have a tiled effect. Nearly any repeating sashiko pattern will work for this project.

    Whatever design you choose can be sized, cropped, and tiled to make a band of stitching that runs along the bottom of the towel.

    Ready-to-stitch towels come in lots of colors, which make them a bright and fun background for classic white stitches. You can also work with colored sashiko thread and stitch on a plain white towel.

    If you don't have sashiko thread, you can try using all six strands of stranded embroidery floss or even Perle cotton. Likewise, doll needles are a good substitute for sashiko needles because they are quite long. 

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  • 02 of 05


    • Ready-to-stitch kitchen towel
    • Sashiko thread
    • Sashiko or doll needle
    • Ruler
    • Water-soluble pen
    • Pattern
    Continue to 3 of 5 below.
  • 03 of 05

    Sashiko Towel Preparation

    Mark the Repeating Sashiko Pattern
    Mollie Johanson

    Since most sashiko patterns are designed to repeat in all directions, first you will need to define what the edges of the band of stitching will be. 

    For this project, use the free sashiko pattern 1; rotate the design so it is horizontal, then draw a straight edge across the top and bottom, removing the extending lines.

    Mark a straight line across the towel, about 3 inches from the bottom. Align the edge of the pattern with this line. You will need to mark the pattern in sections.

    Working from the center, trace the pattern. Then, line up the pattern again next to the first section of markings, making sure that the pattern repeats properly. Continue until the band of pattern goes across the whole towel.

    Getting the repeat correct is important, but it can also be tricky. If you mess up the markings, just go back and re-trace the lines correctly and mark an X over lines that should not be stitched. 

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  • 04 of 05

    Stitch the Sashiko Design

    Load the Needle with Stitches
    Mollie Johanson

    Cut a piece of sashiko thread and thread the needle.

    Traditionally, sashiko does not use knots, but it's okay to break the rules. Especially if that will keep the stitching secure on a towel that will be washed repeatedly.

    Load up the needle with as many stitches as you can along a line of the pattern. The stitch on the surface should be a little longer than the stitch below the surface.

    As you pull the thread through, don't pull the stitches too tight or they will pucker the fabric, which is not desirable in sashiko. It's important that the intersection of lines is open and that the stitches are as even as possible.

    When working the pattern, look at how you can follow the lines and create continuous lines of stitching without jumping to another area or needing to start and stop too often. 

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  • 05 of 05

    Finishing the Towel

    Finished Band of Sashiko
    Mollie Johanson

    When all of the stitching is finished, soak the towel to remove the markings and hang it to dry.

    Iron the towel from the back to avoid pressing the stitches. If you find that some of the stitches look too tight, you can often even them out by pulling the fabric a bit on the bias, corner to corner. That small shift will adjust the stitches just enough.