Sashiko Placemats


One of my best friends from college married his middle school(!) sweetheart last weekend. I wanted to get them a special wedding present, and I didn’t think there was a better way than making it myself. When I asked them what they wanted, they said placemats in dark blue or red, and that is what they got. This is the project that I hinted at in my last post on sewing tools.


These placemats are based on a great tutorial by the Purl Bee. I’ve previously made napkins based on tutorials from their website, so I knew I was in good hands.

The tutorial I followed is for reversible sashiko placemats. Sashiko is a Japanese form of embroidery, which literally translates to “little stabs.” There are different types of Sashiko stitches, but the one I used is quite simple. It consists of perpendicular lines of a very basic running stitch. The stitches are shorter on the top and longer on the bottom. Once all of the rows are complete, it forms a series of crosses on the front and squares on the back.

Screen Shot 2015-08-22 at 4.18.10 PM

I have never done so much hand-stitching in my life. A few weeks before the wedding, I  got worried about finishing in time and called in reinforcements. My friends did a great job helping me with the quilting and making the binding. I won’t go into too much detail about construction, because the tutorial is wonderfully informative, but I did want to show some in-progress pictures.


The first step in making the placemats was to cut out rectangles of linen (two per placemat) and batting. Then, I marked parallel lines 3/4″ across half of the linen rectangles using a Hera marker. You can see faint remaining lines in the picture above. These marked rectangles formed the tops of the placemats.


After all of the lines were marked, I formed sandwiches of batting and linen, held together by straight pins and safety pins. The straight pins seemed to work out just fine; why do quilters use safety pins? At this point, it was time to stitch. This was the most time-consuming part of the process, obviously. After the quilting was finally finished, I made the binding using a 1″ bias tape maker and pinned and then stitched it to the placemats.


It’s really hard to get pictures of placemats when you don’t have a table big enough for them. This was the only decent shot I got of the entire placemats. They don’t look as wavy in real life. You’ll have to take my word for it, though.

This project was a labor of love. I hope they enjoy these placemats for years to come. Fortunately they’re machine washable!

Inspiration: The Purl Bee’s reversible sashiko placemats
Fabric: 5 yards linen-look fabric from Joann’s (2.5 blue, 2.5 red) + 4 balls of embroidery thread
Time: 5 hours each


2 thoughts on “Sashiko Placemats

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