I started with blue book cloth for one, and painted and layered Velin Arches paper with indigo, Prussian blue, black, and marine blue FW acrylic inks for the other (Daniel Smith, Inc. carries both the paper and the inks).
The following assumes you want to individually wrap two boards for a Coptic binding. For the book with painted paper covers I used boards that were 6 1/4" square (159 cm). For the book cloth covered book I used boards that were 4" x 6" (102 - 152 mm). Cut your paper or book cloth to approximately 1" - 1 1/2" (25-38 mm) wider and taller than your boards. Turn the paper or book cloth over and draw around the boards. Traditionally, you would mark out your pattern with a grid and evenly sized stitches before you sew. You can do this now, if you like.
Use a long bookbinding needle and start sewing with waxed linen thread from the wrong side. You can use a bone folder to press the end of the thread to the paper to hold it. (The example is shown with unwaxed thread.) If you want a straight line, take your needle in and out and in and out before you pull the thread through. If you are sewing curves, you will need to sew each stitch separately.
Wrap the boards as shown on page 209 of Making Handmade Books, including the end papers. Cut the endpapers 1/4" (6 mm) smaller than your boards so you will have a 1/8" (3 mm) margin, or see this post for wrapping boards and a binding that includes a book block. Glue tends to seep through the sewing holes, so I recommend placing waxed paper under the cover paper or book cloth to protect your work surface before you apply the glue to the back. Discard the waxed paper. Press the boards into place
|sewn on paper|
|sewn on book cloth|
Hiromi Paper sells book cloth that is reminiscent of indigo-dyed cloth or denim. Some styles to look at: 341-72-Mohair Deep Blue; 201S-65 Sumida-Ori Blue (which I believe is what I used for the example shown); 540-73 - SN Shantung Midnight Blue. Or you may wish to dye the cloth yourself and make your own book cloth with mulberry paper and wheat paste (see page 22 of Making Handmade Books, Backing Cloth). And, of course, no one says it has to be blue.
For correct technique and lovely authentic patterns, you might refer to the excellent reference and instructional book, Ultimate Sashiko Sourcebook by Susan Briscoe. She gives history, traditional patterns, more modern ones, and projects that features sewing sashiko by hand. Briscoe's book has patterns grouped by style such as: diamond stars, waves, and steps and weaves, giving multiple variations and their Japanese names. The 18 main projects (with their variations) are nicely shown and include samplers, cards, coasters, table mats, cushions, tote bags, and curtains.
If you are interested in using a sewing machine rather than stitching by hand, Mary S. Parker's book Sashiko: Easy & Elegant Designs for Decorative Japanese Machine Stitching is very useful. Parker has patterns grouped by how the designs are formed: continuous straight lines, continuous curves, straight lines with pivots, etc., also with their Japanese names included. This book has step-by-step instructions for 20 projects (the book jacket says 25), which are similar to Briscoe's, but also include gift wrap cloths, director's chairs, and quilts.
Both books show and depend on the use of grids, marking patterns, and finding efficient paths on which to sew. Whether or not you wish to pursue the craft of sashiko by hand or with a sewing machine, the patterns can inspire a variety of projects.
Here is a simple article and link to Sashiko supplies. And a very quick sampler video: