Sashiko Denim Apron

Designer: Millie Mellor

The Japanese word Sashiko means ‘little stabs’ and refers to the small running stitches used in this traditional embroidery technique. Very easy and enjoyable to do - the basic running stitches are often worked in a white and indigo colour scheme to create striking geometric patterns.

  • Old pair of denim jeans (large size) OR 50cm of cotton drill or denim – main apron
  • Pre-printed Sashiko cotton square (34cm x 34cm) – apron pocket
  • 20cm Indigo or navy cotton fabric (150cm wide). If your fabric is narrower, buy 40cm and you can join to create length – waistband
  • Sashiko thread or Cotton Perle
  • Sashiko, milliners or darning needle (needles should be fairly long with a large eye)

Good To Know

  • When choosing your recycled denim jeans, go for the largest size that you can find, mine were a 38" waist pair of mens jeans. This way you will have more fabric to play with and can choose the best areas of the denim to use. 
  • There are many different pre-printed Sashiko designs available to buy. I have used a hexagon pattern. The design is printed on the fabric as guidelines and is very easy for you to follow with your stitches. 
  • Sashiko is very relaxing to work, it is rhythmic to stitch and beware, is rather addictive (you just want to keep going and finish just one more line…!) 
  • Materials and template will make a finished apron to fit a dress size 10/12 figure. For larger or smaller sizes, add a little more/less onto each side of the main apron front and extra/less length to the apron tie.

To begin stitching your Sashiko pocket, decide how much of the 34cm square you want to use for your pocket, I stitched a 34cm x 16cm area of the fabric. Begin by stitching the outer borderline of the design using a basic running stitch, allowing yourself a fairly long piece of thread to work with. To help with the uniformity of your stitches, weave your needle in and out of the fabric several times so that you have a few stitches on your needle. Then pull your needle and thread through and even out the tension of the thread so that it and the fabric both lie flat and do not pucker.


Essentially this is it, continue to stitch following the guidelines printed on the fabric, you will soon find your own rhythm. There are a few rules for Sashiko stitching; when you reach a corner – allow a little slack on the thread (on the reverse of your work). Where lines/shapes interconnect/ meet, the stitches should not cross over each other, but leave a central empty space.


When you have finished stitching your Sashiko pocket, trim away excess fabric leaving a 5mm allowance around each edge. Turn the edges to the back and finger press. Add a row of Sashiko stitches to the top edge of the pocket.


Make the apron

If recycling an old pair of jeans – give them a wash! Carefully remove the waistband and cut down the centre front and back seams. Next, cut along the inside leg seam of each trouser leg. Give the jeans a good press with the iron and fi nd the widest and best area of fabric to work with. I used the top section of one trouser leg and the trouser side seam creates a central line down the middle of the apron front. You can always patch pieces together to make the desired shape/ size. Once you are happy, cut out using the pattern template.


I added four pleats to my apron, you can leave to make a flat front or add more if you choose. I stitched the pleats using small running stitches to continue the Sashiko theme.


Leaving the top edge, turn the side and bottom edges of the main apron by 5mm and topstitch in place with a running stitch and your Sashiko thread.


Position pocket onto the apron front and pin in place. Topstitch the pocket using a running stitch or machine stitch if you prefer.


Prepare your apron waistband – fold in half widthways (WST) and iron. Turn each of the long edges in by 5mm and iron. Find the centre of your waistband and match to the centre point of the apron. Sandwich the top edge of the apron in-between the waistband, pin in place. Next, turn in the short sides of the waistband to make a neat edge and pin. Topstitch around all four sides of the waistband.

Additional Info

Sashiko Thread – The Cotton Patch,
Printed Sashiko square – The Quilt Museum Shop, 
Sashiko needles – Euro Japan Links,

Original article appears in Sewing World No.234 August 2015