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Sunday
Oct282012

Molly's Sketchbook: Reversible Sashiko Placemats

Have you ever noticed when you learn about something new and then all of a sudden, it’s everywhere? For example, a few months ago I saw a very cool picture on my mother’s Pinterest page. It showed a detail of Sashiko-style embroidery forming little crosses on one side and dashed grid lines on the reverse. A few days later Laura showed me a picture of a quilt with the same stitching on it, and then a week after that, I was in a baby store and wouldn’t you know it, a very similar quilt was on display there as well! The universe was trying to tell me something.

And so with Thanksgiving right around the corner, I got really excited to make a set of Sashiko Placemats using this technique. The process of Sashiko stitching is soothing and repetitive, kind of like a simple knitting project. Once you get started it’s hard to put down! The fun and beauty of this particular stitch is that its result is so unexpected, a totally reversible graphic pattern!

For a beautifully understated and elegant look, I used Kiyohara Linen Blend Solid in Brown for the base and soft off-white Sashiko Thread for the stitching. The finished placemats are so graceful and pretty,  perfect for a Thanksgiving feast! 

Materials

To make a set of four 18-inch by 14-inch placemats:

Tools:

If you'd like to make a different amount of placemats, you will get 1 mat per 1/2 yard of of fabric and 2 mats per package of Sashiko thread.

Cutting and Marking

For each placemat cut: 

  • From the fabric- Two rectangles 20-inches X 16-inches.
  • From the fabric- Two binding strips 2-inches X 42-inches. Put these strips aside until the "Binding" section.
  • From the batting- One rectangle 20-inches X 16-inches.

On one of the fabric rectangles use the chalk to mark two lines 1-inch and 1 1/4-inches in from each raw edge. The inside marking is your stitching border and the outer marking is the placemat edge. This marked piece is the top.

Using the Hera Marker mark a vertical line on the top every 3/4-inches between the left and right stitching borders.

Then, between the top and bottom stitching border, mark a horizontal line every 3/4-inch to create a grid.

Make a little chalk mark at every intersection of the grid. These are your stitch marks.

Basting

Lay the second, unmarked, rectangle of fabric on a flat surface and make sure it's very smooth and un-wrinkled. Place the batting on top of and smooth it down. Then lay the top, marked side up, on top of the first two layers. 

Pin the three layers together every few inches with curved safety pins keeping the layers as flat as possible as you pin.

This is your quilt sandwich. You'll be sewing the three layers together with the stitching.

Stitching

You will be stitching along the vertical and horizontal lines taking stitches at each intersection.

Using the Sashiko needle and thread start at the back side of quilt sandwich and exit just before the stitching border at the bottom of the left most vertical mark. Take a small running stitch, about 3/8-inches long, at the stitching mark and then exit again just before the next stitch mark. Take another small running stitch at the stitch mark. 

Stitch along the entire marked line taking small running stitches at each stitch mark. You can accordion the quilt sandwich onto the needle to take many stitches at one time. It's fun to get into a rhythm with it.

Pull the thread through the stitches and make sure the fabric isn't puckering as you go.

Take out the safety pins as you get to them.

When you get to the end of each line of stitching sew along the stitching border to the next marked line and start again. Begin and end the lengths of thread just inside the stitching border. In other words, don't tie a knot in the middle of a row of stitching, only at the beginnings and ends. Tie all knots on the back side.

Sew across all of the vertical markings in this manner. The picture above shows the front.

The back of the piece will look like the picture above, with longer wider stitches.

Next sew across all of the horizonal lines in the same manner to make little crosses as shown above.

When you have stitched over every vertical and horizontal line the front will look like this.

And the back will look like this, with a pattern of dashes.

Binding

Cut the three layers of the quilt sandwich along the placemat edge marking, 1/4-inch outside of the stitching border.

Pin the two binding strips together at one end at a 90-degree angle as shown above. Mark a diagonal line from the top left corner of the top strip to the bottom right corner of the bottom strip, forming a little right triangle at the upper right corner.

Sew the pieces together along this marking and trim the little triangle off 1/4-inch above the seam.

Press the strip flat with the seam allowance towards one side.

Iron the strip into binding tape using the bias tape maker.

Pin the binding tape around all four edges of the placemat, ecasing its raw edges. Leave a 3-inch tail at the beginning and end and a 3-inch un-pinned gap between the tails. Make sure to encase all of the knots at the stitching border on the wrong side within the tape.

When you get to a corner create a miter by folding the tape up the next raw edge and creating a 45-degree angle at the corner with the tape as shown above.

Then fold the tape back over on itself to create a neatly mitered corner as shown above. Pin the miter in place and make sure to arrange the back side of the tape in the same manner and pin it in place as well.

Edge stitch the binding tape around all four sides making sure that you catch both sides of the tape. Backstitch at the beginning and end of this seam.

Lay the un-sewn tails over the 3-inch gap until they meet one another. On the wrong side of the tape mark where the two pieces meet.

Fold the placemat so that you can pin the two pieces of tape right sides together along the markings.

Sew the two sides together along the markings and cut off the excess.

Pin the newly sewn section over the gap making sure that the seam allowance is tucked inside.

Edge stitch over this section backstitching at the beginning and end of the seam and you're all done!

Here is the back!

Reader Comments (20)

This is fantastic tutorial! Thank you again for sharing~
October 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChase
Congratulations !! Really nice
October 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTatiana
Very nice and very doable. thanks for the great tutorial.
October 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJane
Is there a way I can print this tutorial in a condensed format? My system says it will print out to 63 pages and that's a bit silly.

Thanks,
October 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJudy
Hi Judy-

Unfortunately we don't have a super simple way to print our journals. What we recommend is that you copy and paste the sections you'd like to print into a Word or Text document. We know that this isn't ideal and hope to address this issue in the future.

Thank you!

Molly
October 31, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Lovely project! Thanks so much for sharing this tutorial! These would be a perfect gift for my sister-in-law for Christmas. I like to include laundering instructions with all my handmade gifts. Would you recommend hand laundering and air drying flat, or do you think dry cleaning would be preferable. I'm concerned about the sashiko thread shrinking since it's cotton. I've done sashiko embroidery before but never on something that needed to be washed.
November 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLynne
Hi Lynne-

Thank you for your great question. They can be machine washed. We recommend pre-washing the fabric for anything that you'll be washing later. If you do that these should shrink very minimally and just need to be pressed flat after drying,

Thanks!

Molly
November 1, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
These are lovely. Pottery Barn used to carry a quilt that was stitched this way; they called it a cross-stitch quilt, and I tried in vain to find out something about the technique. This is it--Sashiko! Can't wait to try it. Thank you for the project.
November 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJamie
So beautiful! Love the simplicity and the neutral gray tones.
February 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Brown
I have done a lot of sashiko, but the items I've found (usually kits) are never as useful or as detailed as these wonderful place mats. Nice work!
February 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMary Fox
do you sell kits for this lovely project?
February 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVal
Hi Val-

We don't sell kits for this project but you can buy all the materials by clicking on the items listed in the materials section. Or if you'd prefer to shop by phone you can call our webstore at 800-597-PURL and they will be happy to get all the supplies together for you.

Thank you so much for writing in!

Molly
February 21, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Lovely, simple and desirable. I want to make these. I found a tutorial for how to handle the Sashiko thread after opening the package here:
http://www.designbyaika.com/sashiko-tutorials/handling-sashiko-threads/
Thank you for your tutorial. Your detailed photos are great and make the project seem oh so do-able.
Peggy Mowry
February 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Mowry
Hi there!
I will be making these for my daughter in New York and wonder how much cotton batting to buy to make the 4 placemats, please. We have both been admiring these placemats for some time, and now is the time to act!
Thanks for the wonderful ideas and raw materials.
Andrea
February 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea
whoops
never mind about the amount of batting - your list is clear and at your website I can see just what I need to order.
Andrea
February 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea
Molly & Judy: I recommend printfriendly.com a site that offers a number of browser specific buttons to print out Purlbee & other webcontent.
February 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRW in DC
This would make a great workshop at Purl.
August 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLinda
Do you or will you sell a set of these placemats? I have been looking all over for some simple quilted placemats. Please let me know if you will make a set for me. Thanks you!!!
October 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKatie
Hi Katie-

We don't sell any of our finished projects, just the materials to make them. If you're interested in having some of these sewn for you our store might be able to help you to find a seamstress. You could give them a call at 212-420-8796

Thanks!

Molly
October 4, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I've been admiring these and (finally) as a housewarming gift. A comment: I have found the bias strip trickier to sew on than I expected. (Give the "up close" nature of placemats the stitching needs to be good!) I recommend basting by hand and then following up with machine stitching, as above.)

If anyone has alternate suggestions, pls relay. I'm not finished so am interested in more efficient approaches.)
April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBoston mm

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