sashiko quilting tutorial

Hello! I’m Rin from Sew in Love and owner of Hana Patterns. I’m back with another free sewing pattern for you, inspired by my Japanese heritage. You can make this embroidered pillow to add a touch of ethnic and bohemian style to your home.

What’s Sashiko?

Sashiko is a type of traditional Japanese embroidery. It started out as a way to strengthen cotton and linen fabrics, but these days, we enjoy its repetitive patterns for decoration. Once you get started, sashiko embroidery is a really calming and relaxing activity. I love how my sashiko pillow enhances my other handmade pillows to bring a boho vibe to my living room (see my room tour here). Let’s get started!


I’ve designed this sashiko embroidery pattern so it can be be adapted to any pillow size. But for your reference, my pillow is 50cm x 50cm (20″ x 20″).

For the embroidered panel:

  • 55cm x 55cm (22″ x 22″) of dark natural fabric (eg. linen, hemp, organic cotton)
  • Contrasting embroidery thread and needle

To complete the pillow:

  • 55cm x 55cm (22″ x 22″) of fabric for the back of the cushion (I used a gingham check fabric for contrast)
  • 45cm (17.5″) Zipper


Step 1: Draw the Guidelines

Draw a square at the centre of your fabric, which is 5cm (2″) smaller than the finished pillow size. For my 55cm x 55cm  (22″x22″) pillow, I drew a 50cm x 50cm (20″x20″) square (see Image A). Draw vertical guidelines as per Image A, at 1/2, 1/4 and then 1/12 of the width. Then, draw horizontal guidelines, at 1/2 and then 1/6 of the vertical length.

sashiko quilting tutorial

Step 2: Draw the Pattern

Draw the sashiko pattern, as shown in Image B in RED. I used yellow chalk on my black linen fabric to make it really stand out.

Step 3: Start Stitching

Now that the hard part is over, it’s time for the fun to begin! Image C shows the lines to embroider in BLUE. A simple running stitch is all you need to do sashiko embroidery. I started with the outer square border, followed by the vertical and horizontal lines, all in white thread. The diagonal lines were stitched using two different shades of blue thread. The only rule to try to follow is to keep the stitches slightly longer than the gaps between the stitches. The ideal ratio is 3:2, so that means the gap between stitches should be 1/3 of the length of the stitches themselves.

sashiko quilting tutorial
sashiko quilting tutorial

Step 4: Finish the Pillow

Stitch the pillow together and attach the zipper as you would with any standard pillow. And that’s it! Admire your beautiful stitches and the unique pillow you’ve just created.

If you’re curious about Japanese style sewing and patterns, come on over to my blog, Sew in Love or browse my Japanese inspired fashion sewing patterns at Hana Patterns.  You can also see my Boho Kimono and Baby Kimono Onesie tutorials right here on this site!

sashiko quilting tutorial

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Hi, I’m Rin from Sew in Love. I love sewing for fashion, home and baby. My blog is all about living a modern and chic handmade lifestyle. I’d love to have you join me on my creative journey at:

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