In Japanese sashiko means "little stabs" and is a 1000 year old embroidery technic from northern Japan. Originally the technic was used by farmers and workers to patch up their worn out clothes. Since the weather in the north of Japan is cold and windy, it's not great to grow cotton so instead fabrics where made out of hemp, linen and other natural fibers. Worn out clothes were pieced together to make new garments by using simple running stitches, hence the now famous "patch-pattern".
Through decades sashiko is characterized by wabi-sabi, which means to see the beauty in the imperfect. Today sashiko is a form of art and the craft has been refined over the years. Traditionally it's white stitches sewn on indigo-blue fabric since this was the most common color for workers to wear.
But unlike other types of embroidery there's a few rules to have in mind while doing sashiko.
* A sashiko stitch is suppose to be twice the length of a spacing.
* Two stitches can never cross each other.
* Thread is meant to be white.
* No stitch should be longer than a grain of rice.
* Stitches should be distributed evenly over the fabric, preferably in geometric patterns.
Today it's used all over Japan by all types of people. The classical sashiko-pattern has also found it's way into the modern fashion industry and you've probably seen it on pillows, bags and clothes.