How is sashiko embroidery different from embroidery?

Sashiko is sometimes mentioned under embroidery methods. But is it really that easy? Let’s look more closely.

Sashiko and embroidery certainly share some tools in common, and both involve sewing. Nonetheless, the two have significant distinctions, including technique, materials utilized, patterns, cultural history, intended use, and durability.

An Overview 

Sashiko embroidery is a traditional Japanese embroidery technique that originated in rural Japan in the 18th century. Sashiko translates to “little stabs” or “little pierce” in Japanese, referring to creating small, even stitches with a needle and thread.

Sashiko embroidery is typically done on indigo-dyed fabric using white cotton thread. The fabric is first marked with a grid of lines to create a pattern, and then the stitching is done along the lines using a running stitch. The stitches are typically arranged in rows, creating a geometric or repeating pattern.

The purpose of sashiko embroidery was originally to reinforce and repair clothing and other household items, such as blankets and curtains. The stitching provided decorative patterns and made the fabric more durable and long-lasting.

Today, sashiko embroidery is still popular in Japan and worldwide as a decorative embroidery technique. It creates various items, including clothing, bags, and home decor. Modern variations of sashiko embroidery often incorporate a wider range of colors and patterns while maintaining traditional techniques and aesthetics.

Things sashiko and embroidery do have in common: 

Sashiko and embroidery share many common elements, including:

  1. Use of needle and thread: Both sashiko and embroidery involve stitching with a needle and thread to create designs on fabric.
  2. Attention to detail: Both techniques require high precision and attention to detail to create intricate designs and patterns.
  3. Use of patterns: Both sashiko and embroidery often follow a pattern or design, whether a pre-printed pattern or a design drawn or traced onto the fabric.
  4. Use of different stitches: Both techniques involve using a variety of stitches to create texture, depth, and dimension in the design.
  5. Creative expression: Both sashiko and embroidery allow for creative expression and personalization, as the designs can be customized to suit the individual’s preferences and style.

While there are some differences between sashiko and embroidery, such as the specific techniques used and their cultural origins, they share many common elements that make them both beautiful and unique forms of needlework.

Can you use regular embroidery thread for sashiko?

While traditional sashiko embroidery is done with a specific type of thread known as sashiko thread, it is possible to use regular embroidery thread for sashiko embroidery.

Regular embroidery thread can create beautiful sashiko designs, especially for smaller projects or those just starting out with the technique. However, it is important to note that sashiko thread is thicker and has a slightly different texture than regular embroidery thread, which can impact the final look of the design.

If you choose to use regular embroidery thread for sashiko embroidery, it’s important to select a thread that is a similar weight and thickness to sashiko thread. You may also need to adjust the stitching technique slightly to ensure that the thread lies flat and creates the desired texture and effect.

Can sashiko be done on a sewing machine? 

While sashiko is traditionally done by hand, it is possible to replicate the technique using a sewing machine with a special sashiko stitch. The sashiko stitch mimics the look of hand-stitched sashiko and can be used to create the same type of patterns and designs on fabric. However, purists may argue that true sashiko embroidery should be done by hand.

Read More: How To Make Rose Embroidery: A Beginner-Friendly Guide

What is the purpose of Sashiko stitching? 

Sashiko stitching aims to reinforce and repair clothing and other household items, such as blankets and curtains. Sashiko stitching is traditionally done with white thread on indigo-dyed fabric, creating geometric or repeating patterns. The stitching adds a decorative element, making the fabric more durable and long-lasting. Sashiko stitching is a practical and functional way to repair and extend the life of clothing and textiles, which was especially important in rural Japan, where resources were scarce. Today, Sashiko stitching is still used for practical purposes and decorative purposes in fashion and home decor.


If you want to highlight how different sashiko and processing are, you can easily find enough reasons. However, over time, the two grew closer to each other.

Both sashiko and embroidery have their own distinctive features. It’s nice to understand which one is made how and how the two differ.

Then you can use all the different techniques to do whatever you have in mind. Sashiko is useful, versatile, and beautiful. Make your own Sashiko.