First, let me thank the wonderful people at Sew Easy for being so kind as to provide this product for me to test, on behalf of the United Kingdom Quilters Website. I must confess I was excited to review this product, I have never tried Sashiko and therefore, this kit appealed to me.

The presentation of the packaging is appealing and you can clearly see what it contains. The back of the package contains the instructions so be careful not to throw it away.

What is Sashiko? The instructions give a brief history of Sashiko, although this is rather a westernised view in my opinion it is a nice touch nonetheless. For those that do not know what Sashiko is, and this being a starter kit, this was a plus.

The kit contains:

• 1 x 142 centimetres (56 inches) x o.5 meters of 100% navy cotton fabric.

• 4 x 100 centimetre squared (4 inch squared) templates.

Sakura (Cherry Blossom)
Shippou (Seven Treasures)

Seigaiha (Waves)

Fondou (Weight)

• 1 x 40 meters of white 4 strand embroidery thread.

Embroidery Thread four strand

• 1 x Retractable Wash-Out Pencil – 6 Colour.

Sew  Easy marker pen

• 1 pack of Embroidery/Crewel pack of 16 assorted size 3-9 needles.

The kit contains a nice amount of navy cotton material to cover a 40 centimetre-squared cushion. With cloth to spare, thus allowing for practice, there was more than enough fabric to allow me to create an envelope cushion instead of a fully contained cover as recommended in the instructions.

Fabric for the cushion

However, I did find the material very thin and would highly recommend you use the spare fabric to practice on first. This fabric is not very forgiving to errors if you have to keep unpicking it. Therefore, I recommend caution when sewing the starting and ending stitches as they could easily show through.

 The thread is comprised of four strands and would need separating into two strands before use, there is no mention of this in the instructions nor is there any information about how long the length of thread should be. A key point that needs highlighting, if the thread is too long it could cause issues with the embroidery and as a rough guide should ideally be no more than four inches past the instruction sheet if measured length ways. The instructions were sparse on this point and would of benefited by this inclusion.

Using the carboard as a thread lengh guide

On to the marker pen and the templates, the pen contains six colours and has a twist top, slider to move the chalk forward and backwards.

The instructions recommend using either white or yellow for showing up on darker fabric. I tested both colours and I could see them clearly. On the test piece, I marked out the Seigaiha (Waves) template using the yellow marker first. I missed some areas on purpose to see how easy it would be to replace the template and continue. It was simple and did not cause errors. However, if doing a larger design I would recommend using the cross hairs on the template and marking these first. I then used the white marker and marked out the Fondou (Weight) template.

The templates are thin plastic, but not fragile, flexible and easy to hold and trace through. They contain four single sections of the design, separated by vertical and horizontal cross hairs; each section has a small circle cut out. I presume this is for marking additional placement points. With these sections you can do single designs, a set of two designs in a row or all four. See templates above.

For the templates, you do need to go back and forth a bit with the marker pen and you need to hold them in place with a steady hand.

The instructions themselves with how to start and finish were clear, however, as already stated it did not tell you how to prepare the thread.

 The Seigaiha (Waves)

and Sakura (Cherry Blossom)

were very easy to follow both via the numbers in the diagrams and by the corresponding written instructions.

The Fondou (Weight)

was a little more confusing as there was no indication as to where you needed to finish, as it is all a continuous section.

 The Shippou (Seven treasures)

for this one I found that the written instructions were easier to follow then the visual ones on the diagram.

 With my finished design, I chose to do a one of each. I marked the centre of my cushion and placed the templates where I wanted them, remembering to mark the cross hairs.

showing all the designs laid out

My favourite design to look at is Seigaiha (Waves) but my favourite stitch out was the Sakura (Cherry Blossom).

I then chose to do a single design of the Shippou (Seven Treasures) at each of the four corners

and I choose Seigaiha (Waves) and did only the top half (two sections).

the two secontions of the wave

This is to show the versatility of the templates.

final design

I never prewash my fabric but it occurred to me to do a quick colour run test. With a sink full of cold water and with a strip cut off from the spare fabric placed in it for a few minutes it showed no signs of colour run.

Colour run test

When constructing the final pieces for the cushion, the fabric went thought the sewing machine without issue. I chose to use Kam snaps on the back to give the plain back that something special.

Further points:

The kit has a recommended retail price of £39.99. An online seller is selling the complete kit for £29.92. To purchase the kit separately it would cost £41.41 without the additional postage charges applied. For me this kit price is value for money and knowing that you can replace items if they get damaged is a bonus.

If you are considering this item to resell then I think it would be a good investment if you have the market for it.

Overall this kit made a good product which although it took me a few hours to complete, it did not drag on for days, thus eliminating the boredom factor or the risk of this becoming yet another – UFO – Unfinished Object . I travelled with this Kit down to Wales, I did some on the train, and some in the park. It is compact and easy to transport giving you the choice to take it anywhere and still enjoy it.

Simply summed up:

• Nice Presentation

• Lots of items in the kit creating value for money, ie marker pen, needles and templates

• Reasonable Selling Price

• Sewing Range: from beginner – with guidance – to experienced sewer.

• Drawbacks: the instructions could have included how to use embroidery thread, maybe tighter weave cotton however, I cannot fault the amount of cotton included.

For a list of stockists contact groves@stockistenquiries.co.uk

Responses

  1. Susan Briscoe

    The stencils look quite nice and useful. However, your point about the thread was interesting. From the photo, which is a little blurry, it looks like the thread supplied is by a Japanese company called Yokota – it will be written on the back of the label as 横田 and you will also see a USA cotton mark on it. They make a fine thread and a medium one – the fine one has a burgundy and gold label and the medium one has the blue and gold label, which is the one in the kit. This thread is NOT supposed to be split and should actually be used doubled for traditional sashiko (i.e. one thread but you bring the ends together and each stitch has both strands in it).

    To use medium sashiko thread, you really need fabric with a much lower thread count than the cotton supplied, which looks like a patchwork cotton. If the weave is too tight/high thread count, it will be very difficult to get the thread through the fabric. If they had supplied fine sashiko thread, you would have been able to get it through the finer fabric without any problems or needing to split it. They haven’t matched the thread to the fabric properly.

    The needles in the kit are not sashiko needles. There is a difference between embroidery crewels and sashiko needles – the crewels can bend quite easily and sashiko needles are hard tempered so they don’t bend and super sharp. The stitching action for sashiko (which you can see demonstrated in the video link on my homepage http://www.susanbriscoe.com, which shows the two x one hour sashiko lessons I did on Sewing Quarter last year) involves pleating the fabric onto the tip of the needle and then easing out the gathered fabric, which helps regulate the stitch length and keeps the twinned strand of thread under control.

    The marker is fine for sashiko but really you only need a white or yellow marker for the dark fabric, so they are including a lot more colours than you actually need in the kit – selling you more than you really need.

    My verdict – nice stencils, kit seems to need better instructions, £39.99 is a lot for what you are getting. You can buy a 40m skein of medium sashiko thread for £2.50 or less, a packet of Olympus or Clover sashiko needles for around £2 and £5 respectively, and half a metre of fabric for sashiko from £6 – £8. So even on the high side, that’s around £15 for materials. A Clover White Marking Pen costs around £8 (this is the roller ball one that irons off or washes out) and other markers are a similar price. That adds up to the stencil and instructions being worth around £17, which seems high.

    1. Denise Inkson Post author

      I enjoyed doing it, the pen is great for other things and the templates are so versatile. Had I been faced with buying it at first I would of said it wasn’t worth it but having tested it I would invest in another one if it contained a new set of templetes. And I am glad you found this helpful.