Machine Embroidery Twist on Sashiko Quilting


Sashiko was a style of functional embroidery developed in Japan and used as early as the 17th century, which was very popular with the peasant class. Traditionally the style features geometric white patterns on darker, usually indigo cloth.

Japanese Folded sashiko - quilt.jpg

(sashiko pictured here recreated “in the hoop” using an embroidery machine)×4-5×5-6×6-in-the-hoop-machine-embroidery-design.


The Sashiko style was used predominantly to mend clothes with patches. The quilting of the clothes made them more durable and warmer for the harsh winters peasants would have to deal with outside of estates and castles. It could also be used to turn clothes beyond repair into bags, hats and cloths for cleaning. If necessary it could be utilised to quilt an entire outfit, changing it from indoor summer-wear to winter-wear.  It was important for the working class to repurpose material in this way due to its scarcity, as textiles could not be mass produced, and even once they could be, were often too expensive. In this way, the poor in Japan could get the most use out of cloth very valuable cloth as possible.

The other purpose behind Sashiko was, of course, to make the clothes more aesthetically pleasing. It is an example of a group using their limited resources to best effect, and creating beautiful patterns without using the expensive new silks that the ruling class of the time had access to.

Design Aspects

Sashiko which means little stabs, was usually created using white thread on top of dark indigo cloth traditionally. This was due to the fact that dyeing cloth brighter colours was more difficult and more expensive than darker shades. Laws were eventually brought in stopping any lowborn individual from wearing bright colours, further restricting the colour choice along with a superstition that indigo deterred insects and snakes. When designing modern Sashiko of course it is possible to use any colours but for those wanting to stay traditional white thread on dark blue is the norm. As previously stated the designs created using the thread were geometric shapes used to make peasant clothes more aesthetically pleasing while still serving a purpose. The designs are created using a plain running stitch.


Image source:


The material used was loosely stitched and originally made from hemp and linen. Eventually peasants gained access to cotton which was better quality but still loose enough for the embroidery. The thread used was strong cotton whenever possible and hemp before this was available.

Sweetpea Embroidery Design

We are able to replicate these beautiful 17th century designs with our embroidery machine these days, rather than painstakingly with a long thin sturdy needle like the Japanese who originally designed them.

Here’s a quick sneak peak on how the sashiko quilt is recreated “in the hoop”.

Embroider the Sashiko.


Take your second piece of fabric and fold it in half length ways wrong sides together.


Place your Fabric onto the hoop, matching the fold up with the little indication marks we stitched earlier and the raw ends towards the bottom right corner of the block. Tape your fabric in place and stitch down.


Now use that same stitch down line as your placement line for your third piece of fabric. Lay the fabric wrong side up on the hoop with one edge crossing the placement line by about 1cm (1/2”) and with the excess towards the top left corner of the block.


Stitch Fabric down.


Continue following the full instructions provided with the download from and the final result will look like this. To find the design click on this link×4-5×5-6×6-in-the-hoop-machine-embroidery-design.

Japanese Folded Sashiko Quilt5x5 6x6 7x7 in the hoop.jpg


Choosing the right needle for machine embroidery

Choosing the right needle for a machine embroidery project doesn’t have to be a daunting prospect. Many an embroidery enthusiast may have avoided becoming a hysterical mess while attempting to purchase needles if they had just done a little research beforehand. There are a few little tricks that can help you choose a needle whether it’s your first project, or if it’s a style of design or type of material you have never used before.

Needle Size

Sometimes too much emphasis can be put on needle size when it comes to machine embroidery. The most important things to take into account when choosing the size of your needle are what the material you are working on will be, and how intricate and dense the designs will need to be. In some ways choosing a needle size can be likened to choosing the right paint brush in the way that the smaller the needle, the easier it is to produce more intricate and delicate designs. You wouldn’t cut in your skirting board with a paint roller and you wouldn’t use a large needle to embroider closely packed designs or small letters at the risk of them overlapping. This makes smaller needles excellent for wedding embroidery designs or word embroidery and larger needles good for applique embroidery.

A larger needle (110, 120) is more effective when working with heavier material, as a smaller needle (60, 70) can become warped or broken when a thicker or more durable material is being worked with. This will be used in conjunction with a sharp point, but more on that further into the blog. If you find yourself consistently working with the same kinds of material and rarely deviating it would be a good rule of thumb to go with one or two sized you find the most versatile.


Whether purchasing an embroidery needle, a new frying pan or even a computer there is one question that is universally relevant to making the right buy, durability vs expense. When talking about needle composition the two available are chrome plated and titanium. The titanium needles are the more durable of the two, and they are a must buy for any project involving very heavy duty materials like leather. Chrome plated needles can be used for most light to mid density material. When not working with heavy duty materials, titanium lasts longer than chrome before needing to be replaced but is often considerably more expensive. Some brands of titanium needles claim to last 5 times longer than chrome plated but these are quite often over 5 times the price, so it comes down to whether you as the buyer are willing to pay a little more for convenience.


The most common point used in machine embroidery is a universal point which is slightly rounded but still sharp. This as the name would suggest is the most universal and versatile of the 3 available. There is also a ballpoint needle that is used for knits. This type of needle does not cut through the fabric but slips through the weave to ensure a clean job without fraying or fuzziness. Finally there is a sharp point previously mentioned that can be used with a large titanium needle to work with the most durable materials and to cut through thin or delicate stabiliser without tearing.

The choice

In the end which needles you use directly correlates to what kind of designs, material and thread you use most. It is always a good idea to have a universal mid-size needle that can handle most jobs you throw at it, and then go from there. But one of the most important points to remember before buying an embroidery needle is of course… It has to actually fit. Some needles will only fit certain machines and you will need to check the specifications of the machine you will be using. If you have any questions that haven’t been answered here feel free to jump on the sweet pea facebook page where a whole community of embroidery enthusiasts will be happy to share a wealth of knowledge with you.

These are the needles we use.


Link between the “Yolo” bag and the Red Hat Society.

Recently, a number of you may have encountered a file on Sweetpea that can be used to create an ITH (In the Hoop) tote bag embroidery design featuring a wild-hearted gal burning rubber on her rascal.

Recently, a number of you may have encountered a file on Sweetpea that can be used to create an ITH (In the Hoop) tote bag embroidery design featuring a wild-hearted gal burning rubber on her rascal. If you did manage to see this bag and thought to yourself

“Wow, it’s like they captured a snapshot of my carefree personality and laissez-fair attitude towards age restrictions, then turned it into a handy bag.” then you may want to head over to and get involved with some of the lovely ladies that requested the bag be made or visit our website to view the bag. Continue reading this blog to find out more about the red hat society and a bit of history on why we decided to make this beautiful bag.

YOLO bag 6x10 8x12 in the hoop.jpg 

The Red Hat Society is a group for women of all ages (but particularly those over 50) who would like to attend activities with other women to make lasting friendships and enjoy some well earned time off! The society is open to women in both an online community capacity and also in the form of social groups that can meet up and enjoy activities together. Some of these ladies decided they would love to be able to make a bag in their colours and so the “You Only Live Once” (YOLO) tote was born. Using your embroidery machine the two panels, including a pocket on one side, are made in the hoop. 


These panels are then joined together using a sewing machine. The bag is named “YOLO” after the quote “you only live once” meaning “expressing the view that someone should make the most of the present moment without worrying about the future” (Oxford Dictionary).

Being part of the red hat society isn’t just about having great taste in applique embroidery designs though. The groups frequently enjoy lunch together, attend movies and plays, get involved in sporting activities and any other social activity you can think of all the way up to huge conventions.

The offline aspect of the Red Hat Society is organised into local social groups called ‘chapters’ which are headed by a ‘queen’, but the groups are a lot more democratic than other monarchies, where every member’s thoughts are valued. The online community is open to all ladies that want to join, as it isn’t necessary to be part of a chapter to become a supporting member. Joining gives a member access to 24/7 emotional support through chats on the website along with access to all Red Hat Society events, including the huge conventions. So even if there are no chapters in your area, or you aren’t ready to dive in with a group of new people yet, there is no reason you couldn’t become a Red or Pink hatter today.

The red hat’s and purple outfits (pink hats and lavender for under 50’s) are shades not often seen together and seem to showcase the women in this society’s ability to break the mould and not conform to social norms. In their pursuit of fun, friends and fulfilment they are giving the acronym YOLO new meaning.

If you wish to see the previously mentioned tote bag in more detail please use the following URL.×10-8×12-in-the-hoop-machine-embroidery-design



Using Kam Snaps

Sweet Pea Machine Embroidery Designs

KAM snaps are a very quick and easy way to apply fasteners to a project.

They can made of a strong and durable type of plastic  or metal.

The requirements to make a Kam snap fastener are

. Kam Snap Hand held Pliers.(Hand held Pliers are fine for the plastic snaps and a table press for metal snaps)

. Kam snaps – either plastic or metal .

. Kam Dies – Dies are the pieces which hold the snap parts in place in the pliers and table press.  They come in different sizes to correspond with different sized Kam snaps/

. An Awl ( sharp tool for making holes in leather) or something sharp enough to make a small tidy hole

To fasten with Kam snaps. You need a set of snaps .

Each set has two halves.

One half has a cap with prong plus a ‘socket’ fitting.


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Christmas in July

Sweet Pea Machine Embroidery Designs

Or just getting organised.

There is no better time to do it . We have a growing range of Christmas designs for in the hoop machine embroidery.

Christmas in July Machine Embroidery DesignsChristmas in July Machine Embroidery Designs

Rudolph christmas bib 6×10 and 7×12 in the hoop machine embroidery design

This bib has a cute Rudolph Christmas applique on it.

This design is an ITH in the hoop machine embroidery design. The quilting is done in the hoop as well.

The design comes in two sizes that fit the 6×10 and 7×12 hoops. Both sizes are included in your purchase.

The bib is completely lined with no raw seams. The back is added with your sewing machine and a small amount of hand sewing.. Close with Velcro or Kam snaps.

Finished dimensions are:

6×10 – 25cm W x 30cm L (10” x 12”) (newborn to 6 months )

7×12 – 29cm W x 34cm L (11.5” x 13.5”) (6 months )This…

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How to make a Scallop Edge

Scallop Edge Instructions

© by Sandy Kiester USA – April 2017

Photos provided by Mia Swafford


Items used in preparing to mark and stitch a scallop edge. Spray adhesive, pencil or pen, scissors, rotary cutter and cutting mat if you have one, ruler, iron, fabric glue, round plate or cup and fuse-n-tear or similar.1 Supplies needed.jpg

Joining the blocks

It is easier to work with one panel when marking and stitching for a scalloped edge. As instructed in the New-Life Easter Basket lay out the panels as you would like them. Join the 6 applique blocks together as well as the 6 bottom panels. Join those 2 rows together. Add the top border WITHOUT the batting, that will be added after the scallops are stitched. Press all seams so you have a nice flat panel to work with.

Cutting the lining

Place the lining under the top panel.


Trim excess material from all sides making each corner square.


Each edge of the square should have equal sides. Set aside the lining it will be added at a later step. Turn front panel wrong side up.


Marking the bottom corners

I mark my stitch lines with dashes first. I don’t cut away the excess corner material nor center, it is done at a later step. Notice the dash lines in the center of the panel. Since the seam allowance has been stitched in this area the marking will be 1” shorter in width. IMG_20170413_185100.jpg

Dash lines are marked with Sharpie Pen for better viewing. Use a pencil for your project.


Marking the Scallops

Tear off a section of Pellon’s ‘fuse-n-tear’ long enough to cover the length of the border and trim to 5” wide. I keep my roll of this product in this custom made box from Reynolds Aluminum.

3 Tear off 4 inch strips of Pellon's 'fuse & tear'.  I keep my roll in this custom made box from Reyonlds Aluminum..jpg

Press the fuse-n-tear to the top area of the panel. Having the straight edge line up with the top raw edge.


With pencil, mark on top of border seam allowance, then mark ¾” above that.


You should have two horizontal lines marked on your paper like this…


Marking the vertical lines are done next. Line the edge of the rule over the basting line on the right side of the panel.


Move the ruler over the seam allowance of the next block. Mark a vertical another line with pencil.

Continue with each block and the ending baste line on the left of the panel.


Place the curve of a bowl between the vertical lines, matching at the penciled intersections. Draw with pencil along the bowl’s edge. Continue to the end of the panel, include the seam allowance. You will be stitching on these scalloped markings.

( I re marked the curved lines with a Sharpie pen so they would show up better. )


Trim the excess paper on each side of the panel.


Remove the paper, set aside the top panel.


Adding the marked scallop paper

Place the paper pattern on the wrong side of the lining. Aline the top of the paper pattern along the top raw edge of the lining and sides. Press in place.


With RIGHT sides together place lining on top of panel. The bottom of each scallop should match the seam allowance of each block.


Lining should match the raw edges of the top panel. Pin or clip in place.


Stitching the scallops

Take your project to the sewing machine. I like to use a tiny stitch and a open-toe presser foot. Start stitching on the top of the first scallop, leaving a 3 inch gap from the edge. You are stitching on the pencil mark.


Sew slow following the pencil mark.


Detail of scallop turn. It’s a “U” turn not a point. Pivot your machine with the needle in the down position.


Continue stitching scallops, stop at the top of the last scallop, 3” from the raw edge.


Fold the lining back this 3” and clip in place. Repeat on other end.


Place a few drops of Fray Check at the bottom of each scallop. Let dry while proceeding to enclose the panel. Don’t disturb these cuts…let that Fray check dry. No Fray Check? Apply fabric glue to both the panel and the lining, let dry THEN cut this area.

23 Place a few drops of Fray Check at the bottom of each scallop..jpg

Fold top panel over, matching the raw edges.


Closing the panel

Time to stitch together the open end together to create the bag, we are making a tube, the bag itself per se. First the outside seam is stitched. Then the linings side seam. With right sides together match the blocks seam allowances and the top and bottom raw edges. Clip or pin in place.


Stitch a ½” seam allowance.


Press seam allowance open.


Turn the enclose panel inside out. Don’t push out scallops yet, the lining must be stitched closed first.


Pull lining over back over the panel, right sides of lining and panel should face each other.


Fold panel back upon itself so it is out of the way.


Matching raw edges of the lining, Clip or pin in place.


Pull back paper on each side of lining clip it out of the way. Stitch a ½” seam allowance.


Press paper back on lining.


The seam on the lining and panel should match. Press open linings seam allowance.


Clip or pin panel and lining together, to finish stitching the last 6” of the scallops. You may need to remove your sewing machines table and insert, leaving the machine with it’s open-arm feature.


Place the lined panel on the open arm and sew the last scallop closed. You can pencil mark over the opened seam to guide you to the scallop point.


Starting at the seam carefully remove the paper, top section first.


You can use a seam ripper to start tearing the paper under the seam. Set paper aside, you will use the pattern again on the batting filler in a later step.


Fray Check the fabric on this seam and above the lining and panels stitching.


Trim away excess fabric from scallops, leave ¼” from stitch line.


Notch the seam allowance every ⅜” to rid the seam of excess fabric, giving you a smoother top turned edge.


For your scallops to lay flat with no puckers on the bottom portion, you must release the tension in that area. On your cutting mat use an Exacto knife to get to that tight space. Using scissors can cause you to snip the thread line. Using an Exacto knife release the point tension with 2 miter cuts.


Turning the scallops

Pull the lining out exposing its right side.


Push the lining back into the bag.


Smooth the lining on the inside of the bag. Pull on it to match the raw edges of the bottom to the panels raw edge on the bottom.


While using the bone to push out the curve of the scallops roll the seam allowance with your fingers to help straighten and smooth until flat. Press with iron on the edge only.


I will now turn it back outside in.


Press scalloped pattern onto batting. Cut along scallop line. Add shaped batting to the border of the panel using spray adhesive to attach.


Turn bag inside out, adjust batting with fingers.


Baste batting down through all layers of the bag. IMG_20170415_130545.jpg

Turn the bag inside out to finish the bottom seams.


After turning the lining half way up the bag to get it out of the way, mark the bottom boxing cutouts on both the panel and lining as shown.


Cut out the same amount on other side of the bag.



Turn inside out, pull the lining down and cut away the excess corner fabric.


Turn the bag over and repeat on the other side.IMG_20170415_131111.jpg

Turn outside in to stitch the bottom seam and corners of the front panel -the outside of bag. Match bottom block seams. Clip or pin in place.


Sew bottom seam ½” from edge.


Fold corners, matching seam allowances. Stitch with ½” seam allowance.


With right sides together of lining, match raw edges, clip or pin in place.


Next stitch the linings bottom seam, leaving an 6” opening for turning.


Fold the corners….


Stitch the corners…


Turn inside out through the opening and adjust any batting if necessary.


Smooth out panel. Stitched close the linings bottom seam by hand or machine. IMG_20170415_134500.jpg

Push and smooth the lining into the bag.


Press border of bag, top-stitch if you like. Stitch in the ditch at applique block seams.


Stitch in the ditch on bottom panels.


Fold and press the corners and bottom boxing to give the finished bag soft edges.








Koala Adventures- the winner is


machine embroidery designs koala competition

Jason and Kylie are off to see the world

Our new Aussie mascots are two cute koalas called Jason and Kylie. Like any grown up Aussie son or daughter these two young Aussies are ready to leave the family fold and go out and see the whole wide world.

No matter how far they venture from the safety of your home we would love to see photos. It can be somewhere exotic, maybe that is your home town or even your flower patch.  Every 2 weeks we will be judging the best photo ( including location description) and the winner will win a free Sweet Pea design of their choice.

Click Image to watch video and see all the wonderful entries.

The Winner receives a FREE Sweet Pea design of their choice 🙂



To enter our next round of Koala Adventures-

please read your Koala Competition Blog