Posts Tagged 'japan'


Posted by on 20 Sep 2012 | Category:

embroidery sample: sashiko

About and history:
The word litterally means ‘little stabs’ in Japanese.

Sashiko is a form of stitching used to anchor down layers of cloth used in making quilts. This form of stitching is geometrical in nature, and is done using only the running stitch. Stitching layers of fabric together not only made the fabric warmer for use, but also more durable and strong. This is how sashiko came to be used extensively in quilt making. The farming and fishing communities made use of sashiko art on their wearbles.

Traditionally dark blue or indigo cotton fabric was used, which was the only color available to most poor people.White cotton thread was used to do running stitch over the fabric. Regionally, the fabric color differed though.

It is stated that Sahiko was developed during the Edo period in Japan and this art declined in the later part of 1800s when the period came to an end.

Sashiko has three variations: Sashiko, Hitomezashi, and Kogin.

Sashiko follows the simple running stitch to bring out beautifully depicted geometric patterns. Hitomezashi follows the holbein stitch and is often said to be similar to the black stitch as its western counterpart. Kogin is a type of pattern darning.

Sashiko today:
Sashiko was passed down from generation to generation as a handiwork that formed a part of life, but today, Sashiko has become a technique to create beauty and works of aesthetical value. Art, Hand embroidery, and quilting enthusiasts have caught up on the art of Sashiko for the sheer beauty and simplicity.

These days, this art is not confined to just quilts or garments, but has inspired wall hangings, accessories of various sorts, table cloths and other furnishings.

Many sashiko patterns are inspired from chinese designs, but for most part, they remain originally japanese. The patterns are derived from nature, and is wonderfully interpreted into geometrical patterns. You will learn many patterns as you go through each lesson.

Stitches used:
Running stitch

Lesson 1: the basic
Lesson 2: square, diagonals, diamonds and hexagon based patterns
Lesson 3: circles, single patterns and borders
Lesson 4: designs for practice

Reference : SASHIKO Traditional Japanese Quilt Designs by Nihon Vogue

pattern darning: non reversible

Posted by on 28 Jun 2010 | Category:

This kind of pattern is done over fabric that is used only on one side. For instance, a table cloth. Since the reverse side is not so important here, we need not concentrate much on keeping the reverse of the fabric as neat.

I will illustrate using a border design with vertical stitch.

Check Pattern darning: reference for detailed instructions to help you more with the lesson.

1. Fabric and thread-
I have chosen aida cloth (11 count) with anchor thread (6 strands). This thread might not give complete coverage for my design, but will help to illustrate the embroidery.
2. Choosing and planning the pattern-
 I have chosen a vertical stitch border design. All I have to check is if the pattern has any long stitches that needs to be avoided in any kind of pattern darning embroidery.This pattern has some long stitches (more than 5-6 square limit), which is marked in red. So, some corrections in the pattern is needed.
3. Making the pattern workable-
I have made gaps in the diamonds to split the long stitch into two, each lesser than the 5 square limit. The long stitch on the reverse side is left as it is since it is in a 6 square limit.
4. Beginning-
I now start stitching the pattern. The picture illustrates the front of the fabric. I tie a knot at the end of the thread and pass it through the fabric a bit away from the area of embroidery- extreme left bottom corner. Being a vertical pattern, I begin from the bottom(or top). Each column is taken one at a time. Once one column is finished, I turn to begin the next column, as illustrated.
5. When the thread runs out-
pattern_darning_04       pattern_darning_05

When my thread runs out, I leave the loose end, most certainly,on  the reverse. I then take the new thread and leaving a fairly loose bit on, continue with my pattern. In the end, I would tied the loose ends together.

6. Ending-
In the end, all loose threads are tied up.Cut the knot of the beginning thread and weave it into the pattern where the stitches are. Do the same with the loose end of the final thread. So, the reverse would look like this.
7. Finished pattern-
The finished pattern would look like this. 🙂

pattern darning: reversible

Posted by on 18 Nov 2009 | Category:

This type of pattern darning will give you an equally good reverse side, if not the same. It is used on fabrics that are used on both sides, like towels and napkins. Here we have to be careful about how to choose the pattern and go about stitching it.

I will demonstrate by stitching a border pattern with horizontal stitch.

Check Pattern darning: reference for detailed instructions to help you more with the lesson.

1. Fabric and thread –    
pattern darning lesson 1   I have chosen aida (11 count) fabric for the project. I used wool so that the pattern gets a good coverage.
2. Choosing the pattern-    
In order to acheive a reversible pattern, I have two things to keep in mind:–Choose a pattern I can stitch horizontally. This will keep the top and bottom of the edges neat.
–Start each new row with a new thread. This will avoid me from finishing out with the thread mid way, thus keeping the reverse side neat.
3. Planning the pattern- 
pattern darning lesson 2
The horizontal graph image of my pattern will look like this. But, I face a problem of having long stitches. Those areas are marked in red. So, I will make some minor changes to keep the stitches within the 5 square limit. This will ensure a less ‘dangling’ stretch of stitch on either sides.
4. Making the pattern workable –
pattern darning lesson 3  
Here are the changes I made to rectify the area marked in red:–On either edges, I have made an addition to the pattern to break down the long stitches that would have occured in the rows on the reverse side.
–I have also made a gap in between the diamond so as to break the long stitch in the front side into two smaller stitches. 
5. Beginning and ending-
 pattern darning lesson 4   I now begin to stitch on the fabric using the wool.Each intersection of the graph line would be each stitch point.I take each row at a time and each new row is started with a new thread. And so, the ends would look like this.This end would be then be sewn between the hems.
6. The finished pattern    
pattern darning lesson 5      pattern darning lesson 6
The front and the reverse would look like this. 🙂 

pattern darning: reference

Posted by on 18 Nov 2009 | Category:

This lesson will teach you how to go about doing pattern darning, with all possible considerations and techniques, along with some hints and tips. Go through the lesson completely at least once, and in the sequence given to understand the whole concept of pattern darning. You may later use this as a reference to your own projects. For easy reading, I have divided the lessons into various topics and the explanations are given point-wise.

Stitch to know:
darning stitch

Fabric and threads:
1. Even weave fabric are the best to do pattern darning, as it makes the counting of each row easy and helps to bring out perfect geometrical designs though this is not at all a must. To avoid frustrations, try to choose a fabric that is not too tightly woven and has enough space for the needle to pass through.

2. Use threads that are not too slippery or light weight, so that it does not sag after the stitch is done. It is best to use a bit thicker thread than the background thread to give the pattern a good ‘coverage’. Else, use a thread of the same thickness as that of the background.

Deciding on a horizontal or vertical pattern-
A pattern can be done either horizontally or vertically.

pattern darning 1
pattern darning 2

In pattern darning, threads show up substantially on either sides of the fabric. So, we have to look at the back side of the fabric with the same importance as the front. Longer stitches (more than five or six squares) should be avoided, on either sides. Longer stitches can cause a nuisance and catch on things. They also tend to loosen easily, spoiling the even tension in the design.

While looking to chose a pattern, see if any long stitch occurs while doing it vertically or horizontally. This will help you to decide on how to work a pattern.

Making patterns ‘workable’
For patterns that might be impossible to work on, a minor change could do the trick. For example, a diamond shaped motif  can be too wide and cause long stitches. This can be corrected by interrupting it in the middle with a small dot. So, one long stitch can be broken into two shorter stitches with a short gap in between.

Pattern darning can be done with an intention to make it reversible too. This means that the back of the design will look as good as the front, but not exactly the same. This applies to fabric which might be used either ways, like a towel.  To make a design appropriate for a reversible effect, we can add a minor change to the entire design.

Technique  of sewing
1. Darning stitch is the only stitch that we use in this embroidery. We can go either horizontally or vertically to do the patterns. The stitches are done row by row. Usually the back and forth method is used. In others, where the design runs from end to end of a fabric, it is preferred to start new rows from the same side of the fabric and end at the same side. This minimises the chance of running out of working thread in between the design.

2. While doing the running stitch, we tend to ‘sew’ or run the needle through the fabric several times before pulling it out. Though this is fair to speeden the process, it might distort the fabric too much when it comes to pattern darning. So, it is best to ‘stab’ and not ‘sew’. Take each stitch at a time and pull the needle out completely for each time it passes through the fabric.

3. Take each row at a time, be it horizonatal or vertical. Do not think of how each stitch falls on the entire design.

4. Try not to pull the thread too tight or keep  too loose. Keep an even tension so that the thread falls smoothly over the fabric.You can try to pull the fabric slightly after the compeltion of each row, so as to loosen the tension of the stitch in that row.

How to begin and end
There are a few ways to hide the ends of the stitch so as to keep the back side of the fabric neat and reversible. You may use whichever suits you the best.

1. Tie a knot to the end of the working thread and push it through the fabric at a small distance away from the area of the design. Now start working on the design. Be sure that neither the knot, nor the thread from the knot to design is covered by the design. Once the design is completely done, cut off the knot. Take the remaining thread through a needle and weave it into the back of the pattern. This method is especially good for single motifs or self contained spots and patterns.

2. Another way of hiding the ends under the worked thread is the one used in ‘blackwork’ embroidery style. Here,  three or four smaller running stitches are made over which the longer stitch is made.

3. If you are working the thread from one end of the fabric to the other, you can start and end the stitch at the edges, where it is possible to hide it under the hems or seams. This method will also allow you to work each row with a new thread.

How to turn
1.When we work back and forth a design, it will be useful to pay attention to the way the turn is taken. If we have to turn by going down the fabric and coming up again with a single fabric thread away, it tends to pull out and look unattractive. However, patterns with diagonal, zig zag or irregular edges can be manged to be worked on back and forth easily as the working thread will pass under atleast two fabric threads between the end of one row and the beginning of the next.

2. Make sure not to pull the threads too tightly while starting a new row. A hint would be to pull the fabric slightly after finishing each row to loosen the tension in the stitch.

3. To overcome the problem of turning in designs with straight vertical edges, we can get a bit tricky. Try working every alternate row of the pattern. This way, we can pass the working thread under atleast two fabric threads before beginning with a new row. Then, we go back and work on every row we skipped. The difference will be shown only at the edges, but that is not too bad to bear. 😉

pattern darning

Posted by on 18 Nov 2009 | Category:

 pattern darning
embroidery sample: pattern darning

About Pattern darning
The darning stitch is used in an embroidery technique called ‘Pattern darning’. Using rows of straight running stitches of long and short length, patterns are created. This embroidery type is one of the oldest and has been found to be used across cultures from Egypt, Iceland, Japan, India, and the mediterranean regions. It is a very easy technique to follow, especially if done over an even weave cloth.

The visual effect of pattern darning is that of satin stitch, but it differs in its stitch technique. While satin stitch concentrates on each motif or pattern at a time, pattern darning involves carrying the thread for the entire width or length of the design at a time. The lessons will make this point clear.

In Egypt, some 12th century textile examples prove the use of such embroidery. The Mamluk period (1250-1517) shows the extensive use of pattern darning over clothing of various sorts. Silk was a more popularly used thread than cotton or linen.

In Iceland, pattern darning is known as ‘skakkaglit’. It was used to work on many church embroideries and have been used during the early 14th century. Textiles from 15th century to the 17th depict the use of this embroidery style as well. Wool was the prefered thread over linen.

In Japan, this embrodiery style is known as ‘Kogin’. It was found to be done with white cotton thread over indigo hemp or linen fabric. Kogin originated during the feudal period of 16th to 19th century. Kogin is used even today for embroidering quilts.

Interstingly, a 15th century towel from Germany depicts the use of pattern darning as an effort to imitate the popular Italian Perugian towels where the patterns were woven into the towel. The pattern on the german towel were similar to the egyptian pattern darning patterns.

Patterns used
The patterns used are geometrical patterns. Yet, there have been examples where stylised and geometrically inclined figures of birds, animals and humans have been used.

Stitch used
Darning stitch

Pattern darning : non reversible 
Pattern darning: reversible
Pattern darning: reference

Carol Hanson, 
Filum Aureum, Newsletter of the Needleworkers Guild