Easy Sashiko Stitch Napkins

Are you looking for a way to upgrade those boring white cloth napkins? Bob’s your uncle with this simple project that is a combination of techniques-dying fabric with coffee and sashiko embroidery. Both are easy and perfect for a beginner craft.

The total cost of the project was â?¬13 (I included the cost of the napkins even though I had those on hand). I used leftover coffee grounds from our espresso machine. For the first batch, I left the coffee grounds in the water and they sat on the fabric overnight. When I rinsed out the napkins, there were oil spots from the coffee. For the second batch, I poured over the coffee grounds and it did not leave these spots. Optionally, you could brew several pots of coffee in a coffeemaker and pour the coffee over the napkins.

If old grounds are used, this will give you a much lighter cream color. If you use new grounds, the color will be darker and more brown in tone. Here’s a great guide to dying fabric with coffee and tea from Free People.

Coffee-Dyed Sashiko Embroidered Napkin


  • 6 white cloth napkins
  • 1 cup used coffee grounds
  • 1 square fabric to strain grounds
  • 1 colander
  • 6 liters hot water
  • 1 large plastic container (big enough to hold all of the water and cloth)
  • 3 yards thread in chosen colors
  • 1 quilting needle
  • fabric marker or tailor??s chalk (optional)
  • ruler (optional)


  1. Prepare the fabric. Wash and dry the napkins as you normally would.
  2. Dye the fabric. Line the colander with the fabric and place over the large container. Heat up the water in a kettle (or you can just use really hot tap water) and pour the water over the coffee into the container.  Stir every minute for 15 minutes, then let sit overnight (stirring once or twice more). Rinse out the napkins with water, then wash as normal. This will remove a lot of the dye, leaving it a creamy color. Iron the napkins flat when they are dry.
  3. Create the pattern. I chose a simple pattern of three lines in two different colors placed in one corner of the napkin. The outside and inside lines are a simple stab stitch about 3″ in length on each side. The middle line is a simple stab stitch in longer length. You can choose whatever pattern you like. If you need inspiration, visit my Pinterest board. I wanted a looser and more organic feel to my project, so I did not mark the pattern on my fabric. If you would like a more precise pattern, mark the pattern on the fabric with a ruler and a fabric pencil or tailor??s chalk.
  4. Embroider. Thread the needle with your first color thread. Tie a quilter??s knot at one end. Start the thread from the back of the fabric and begin to create a running stitch in a straight line by weaving the needle in and out of the fabric in .25?³ increments. Continue this pattern as desired. At the end of the stitch line, check to make sure the fabric is smooth and unpuckered, and then tie off the end of the thread in another quilter??s knot. Trim the thread end as needed. Repeat the process with your remaining colors until your pattern is complete.


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