Embroidery Library

Sashiko Applique


Sashiko embroidery is rooted in Asian culture and tradition. Historically this style of embroidery was used to bind layers of fabric together to add extra warmth, and to repair worn areas of garments.

Embroidery Library has several different styles of designs that are inspired by this beautiful, traditional form of embroidery. The image to the left combines simple running stitches with raw-edge applique. Descriptions and definitions of different Sashiko styles are below:

Simple Sashiko

Simple Sashiko designs are single running stitch designs. These designs can be used like simple Redwork, or to quilt layers of fabric and batting together. Instructions for using these types of designs to quilt can be found by clicking here.

Multi-Color or Complex Sashiko

Complex Sashiko designs retain the look and feel of the tradition, but also feature colorful, complex details. It is not advised that these designs be used to quilt through layers of fabric, as the complex areas (in the example to the left, the birds) will tamp the batting down flat.

These designs bring vibrant color to your projects while embodying the spirit of the style. Examples for using these types of designs can be found by clicking here.

Sashiko Applique

Sashiko applique designs combine the simple stitching of the traditional use with a raw-edge applique method. Instructions for stitching these types of Sashiko designs are below.

To use a Sashiko applique design, you'll need:

**Fabric or blank item

**Medium-weight cutaway

**Fabric for applique

**Temporary spray adhesive

**Pinking shears (optional)

**30 weight cotton thread (we
   use Madeira Cotona from

When you download a Sashiko applique design you'll find two files. One includes the letters "DL," and those letters stand for "dieline." The dieline is what you'll use to cut the applique pieces to the proper shape and size.

If you have an embroidery software program, open the dieline and print a template.

Place the template on top of your applique fabric and cut out the shape. The applique Sashiko designs may have more than one applique piece. For example, the design to the left has three dielines: one for the top three petals, one for the bottom three petals, and one for the leaves.

Cut the fabric to the shape of the dielines for each applique piece.

You can also use pinking shears to cut the applique pieces to get a decorative edge to the fabric.

If you don't have embroidery software to print a template of the dielines, then you can stitch the dielines onto fabric.

To do this hoop fabric (no need for stabilizer).

Load the dieline file into your machine, and stitch.

After the first dieline has sewn, rehoop the fabric to stitch the next; rehoop the fabric to stitch the next.

Cut the fabric on the dieline. You can also use pinking shears for this, too.

After you have the applique fabric cut to the proper size and shape, it's time to embroider the full embroidery design. That's the file that doesn't contain the letters "dl."

Hoop your fabric with a piece of cutaway stabilizer.

Embroider the design. The first part of the design to embroider is the simple, running stitch portion of the Sashiko design.

30 weight cotton thread is recommended (but not required) for this step. We use Madeira Cotona from TheSewphisticatedStitcher.

Then you'll see a dieline stitch. This traces the shape for the first applique piece.

Remove the hoop from the machine (but don't unhoop the fabric). Spray the backside of the applique fabric with a bit of spray adhesive, and place it down on the fabric, inside the dieline.

Attach the hoop to the machine and continue stitching the design. A tackdown will stitch next, to "tack" the applique piece "down" to the fabric.

Each time a dieline stitches, spray the corresponding fabric piece with adhesive and press it inside the stitched dieline.

At the end you have a beautiful combination of traditional Sashiko, with bright applique!

Incorporate into a block for a quilt or wall hanging, stitch onto a tote bag, make into a placemat or table runner -- the possibilities are endless!


Click here for a printable version of this tutorial.

You'll need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. If you don't have it, you can download a free copy by clicking on the icon below.

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