Stitching with Olympus and Daruma Yokota Sashiko Threads – A review

One of the most frequently asked questions about Sashiko sewing that we receive: Can I use my own (embroidery) threads for sewing the Sashiko projects? My reply is that the twist and construction of Sashiko threads are different from embroidery floss where each strand is meant to be separated for embroidery stitches, and thus very loosely twisted. The glazing of the embroidery floss will also give the Sashiko stitches a different look. 100% cotton threads meant for Sashiko sewing not only gives it a traditional look, it is easier to handle during sewing too.

The Sashiko threads that we like are 100% long-staple cotton that gives great definition to the stitches, are long-lasting and smooth to sew with.

We brought in Olympus branded ones in the beginning and now, we have 3 new types from Daruma Yokota brand. So now, we want to provide our point of view, comparing the 4 types of Sashiko threads we currently have in stock.

From Left:

1) Olympus Sashiko Thread 20m in Colour #1 (S$1.60) , available in 100m skeins (S$4.80) too.

2) Daruma Yokota Sashiko Thread (Thick) in Colour #1 100m (S$4.90), available in 40m skeins (S$2.40) too

3) Daruma Yokota Sashiko Thread (Thin) in Colour #1 170m (S$4.90), 40m skein in white is out of stock for now.

4) Daruma Home Thread 100m in #White 100m (S$2.50)

The Threads:

1) Olympus Sashiko Threads

  • The Olympus Sashiko Thread feels the softest to the hand.
  • It pulls through the fabric very easily and smoothly.
  • The twist is slightly looser compared to Daruma (Thick), thus giving it a thicker look.
  • I have to use a Sashiko needle with a longer eye as the thread is thick and because the needle can accommodate the Clover embroidery threader easily. The threader helps to keep the thread ‘intact’ with no splitting vs. threading without a threader.
  • Suitable for Big Stitch Quilting, Sashiko sewing and Outline sewing with more definition.

2) Daruma Yokota Sashiko Thread (Thick type)

  • This is very similar to the Olympus Sashiko Thread in terms of thickness.
  • The twist of thread is tighter and appears SLIGHTLY thinner than Olympus thread.
  • The Daruma (Thick) has more body and feels ‘stiff’ at first when you open up the skein from packaging. This is NOT a bad thing because it makes the thread easier to handle. The stiffness will disappear as you sew with it.
  • The thread looks smoother than Olympus (looks less linty, but both brands’ threads did not shed lint or ‘fluff’ as I sewed), and is very easy to thread, thanks to the tighter twist.
  • It pulls through the fabric very easily and smoothly.
  • Suitable for Big Stitch Quilting, Sashiko sewing and Outline sewing with more definition.

3) Daruma Yokota Sashiko Thread (Thin type)

  • The thread is lighter and similar to the Thick type, it has a bit of ‘stiffness’ out of the package.
  • The thread is also very smooth and threading through the Sashiko needles is very easy.
  • Suitable for Sashiko Sewing, Hitomezashi and embroidery sewing. For hand quilting, I would use this with a Sashiko needle too.

4) Daruma Yokota Home Thread Card #30

  • Home Thread #30 is a very popular general home sewing thread in Japan.
  • The thread is fine/very thin and is very smooth and very strong.
  • The twist of thread is tight and doesn’t split easily.
  • The card bobbin is very durable and it makes thread organisation a breeze.
  • Suitable for sewing on buttons, mending, sewing on felt, Hitomezashi sewing.

The Stitch-Out

I stitched 1 row of straight Sashiko stitches on a Olympus’ Sarashi cotton muslin fabric (2 layers). This fabric is suitable for Sashiko sewing and I used Clover’s Sashiko Needle (for Olympus and Daruma Sashiko Threads) and Patchwork Needle (for Home Thread #30).

  • There is a subtle difference between Olympus and Daruma (Thick) threads in how the stitches look. But the stitching with Olympus thread is most defined and obvious.
  • When sewing, the Daruma (Thick) was a little easier to pull through when compared to Olympus.
  • Daruma Thin thread is very easy to sew with, but less defined compared to Olympus and Daruma (Thick). If I want a SUPER heavy stitch look, I will double up the Daruma (Thin) thread next time.
  • The Home Thread #30 is much finer and I doubled the thread to sew 1 row of stitches with Clover Patchwork needle. It was not difficult to sew, although I had to adjust the thread occasionally to correct the twist. It gave me an effect close to Daruma (Thin).
  • The Home Thread #30 single stitch is very light and fast to sew with.
  • All these threads are very nice to sew with, I didn’t need any thread conditioner/wax to sew with them.
  • I load quite a number of stitches on the needle before I pull the needle through and all have no issues going through, except for double-strand Home Thread row where I had to adjust the stitches regularly to make sure the thread is evenly distributed.

In my opinion, I would like to use the thicker threads where the designs call for more definition in the design, or with a design that is less dense. The thinner threads will be great for sewing with dense designs like Hitomezashi, especially the ones with weaving. That will yield a project that is much lighter in hand and touch too.

These are all good quality threads and I was really happy working with them, imagining the projects and uses that I will use them for. Like all things crafty, it comes down to personal preference. I recommend that you try the threads, on different designs/materials and needles, to see what works best for you.

Footnote: there is another type of Olympus Sashiko thread in White that is even thicker than the Olympus thread  reviewed here. It may be included in some kits in our store, but we are not stocking them on its own for now. We also have Country Mama Basting Thread, but it’s not my choice for Sashiko Stitching, only will them for basting the layers together. It has a ‘grip’ that minimises the layers from shifting when you are handing the project.