Kogin Projects Feed


The Xmas decorations are all finished.

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My friend Angela had given my some lovely Xmas fabric last year and it was perfect for the backs of the decorations.  One thing I should have done was to allow a 1/2" seam allowance.  Having a 1/4" seam allowance wasn't enough with that 32 count linen I had used.  I had thought of using linen for the backing but I think the closer weave one I selected is better.  I couldn't really turn those corners through cleanly so have sewn seed beads on each corner.  Actually, I like the effect that this creates.

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These are now off to the Queensland Embroiderers' Guild to be part of their Xmas raffle.

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My current WIP is the Kogin kit.  The designers of this kit used an even count design and made it an odd count.  Unsettling when you try and count it out.  It just doesn't conform to the traditional way of counting out these patterns.  I did have to redraw the pattern to understand the graph.  That's fine, but my brain is now wired differently after stitching out all those other patterns.

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When I said I was having a break I was actually in hospital having a camera pokes down into my intestines to see what was happening down there. Due to an auto immune problem I have a dry throat most of the time and that camera thing upset this and sent germs into my ear and as a result I had a middle ear infection.  ( The results of the camera thing showed that I had an auto immune problem, which I already knew.)  The middle ear thing is not good for concentration. Vomiting and dizzyness is off putting, especially when counting, so my Kogin kit, which is supposed to be a relaxing activity, is driving me up the wall.  I think I have got the count wrong and will have to start again once I get over this infection. 







Some old/new Kogin stitching

Back when I first discovered Kogin Embroidery, which is a number of years ago now, I bought a couple of kits to stitch.  I didn't stitch them.  Or rather I started and ended up in a mess because I really had no idea of what to do.  The fabric was used for my samples and I put the instructions in the cupboard.  Then in the unpacking I came across the patterns again. 

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Now I know 'how' to stitch them I think that these need to be completed.  So with this in mind I am starting on Kit No 1.  It looks a lot bigger in the photo than it is in reality and I can now see why I was having so much trouble with the stitching.  It is the way the patterns are printed.  The count should be odd but it has been printed even, or it looks that way. I think that I will need to redraw the patterns again before I start.  This is my stitching for relaxation.  They might make nice Xmas presents?  But first I will have to sit at the computer for a while to get the pattern worked out.




More Kogin

At my last advanced class I added a small project as an after thought.  The after thought was that the ladies who stitched the 'Hishi (beautiful) Sashi (stitch) patterns did so on other fabrics once the railway arrived.  They would buy bundles of old cloth as a group and then clean them, sometimes with fish scales, and then stitch with wools, that had by this stage become available.  This was the beginning of coloured thread stitching.  Looking at some of the examples in the Amuse Museum the mind just boggles at the skill of these stitchers.

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So with this in mind I included some curtain fabric which isn't completely even weave and has a good percentage of synthetic content.  I also included some of the beautiful hand dyed Shashiko thread to stitch with.  No one liked it and all quickly returned to the traditional hemp fabric.  So, I have stitched out the sample .

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A full run on one side and a diamond on the other.

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I used a light interfacing on the back of the curtain fabric, but I'm not sure it needed this.  I then made tabs to hold the cord and sewed this in with the lining.  It makes a very roomy bag that opens wide to see what you have inside.

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 And I am quite pleased with the finished bag.

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Perhaps this might inspire these ladies to have another try?


Advanced Kogin Class

I had a most enjoyable day on Saturday past, teaching an Advanced Kogin class at the Queensland Embroiderers' Guild.

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I took my stock of threads with me so that the ladies could select their own colours to do their stitching.  I think only one person stayed with the original colours and everyone else had something different.  Some people found not stitching in a frame different and all preferred the hemp fabric to the linen I had included for a small project.

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Having a class of students who already understood the basics of Kogin Embroidery and a love of counted thread work sure made the teaching easy and enjoyable.

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Thank you ladies for a great day.



A couple more projects

Back to some of the small projects for Kogin kits.  Well this one started small but kind of ran away with me.  I could have kept the pattern just to one side but I ran it all the way around, so lots of stitching. This phone pocket is lined with a Merino knit fabric so that the face of the phone is not scratched yet it is not too bulky.  This is the simplest of patterns, the basic seed but you have to concentrate to keep the count even and to not pull that thread tight at the beginning and end of the line or else it slips under the weave.  I would have liked to use an earth magnet closure on the top edge but I'm not sure what effect that might have on the phone, better be safe than sorry, so I didn't put it in.

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The next is a pinch purse.  Although it looks more complicated it is a simple stitching project that you can finish in less than a day.

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I used different patterns on each side.  The odd count flower diamond one one.

And the even count geometric pattern on the other.

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I used a thin pellon for the interfacing and the patterned fabric as a lining.


Collecting myself

I have had a testing week.  My grand daughters came to stay and it wasn't all plain sailing.  I didn't get a lot of sleep and my husband and I were at odds which is a sign that he isn't well.  Sure enough there was a rush to the hospital on Sunday night and then he had to be moved to where his surgeon operates, which is in the city.   At the same time the Children's Embroidery Classes started and I went in to get that off the ground and managed to fall heavily on my knees.  Nothing broken, just my pride but it did shake me up.  Then back to the hospital. He has now had 9 operations over the last 18 months.  This one has been a success and he will be home today, another trip up to town and back.  Then tomorrow the final day of Children's Classes. Up to town and back again.  (This sounds like a song.)

So, for the uninterrupted part of the day I am going to finish some Kogin purses I am putting together as kits.  I often get asked for kits at my classes so I intend to put a small range together.  That doesn't sound very relaxing but it will be for me.  The first one needs to be bigger, I don't like  it being so small.  The thick fabric is even thicker with interfacing and lining.

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The next one is just right.  The trick to getting that zipper sitting nicely is to withdraw a thread and sew along the line where you sew when putting the zipper in.  It sits just right.  I think perhaps they might look better with tassels as keepers on the zippers.

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I used Kogin thread on the small bag and Sashiko thread on the other.  Both work well on this fabric. But not every one is good at putting in zippers so next will be some small pinch purses.  Watch this space.



A new Kogin project

I have started work on a new Kogin project and am using the tea dyed hemp fabric.  The fabric has become a little stiffer to work and the threads are not as smooth as they were before I dyed them.  This will be a tote bag but I am experimenting with stitching over seams with this piece.  I have withdrawn the side seam threads and back stitched the two pieces together which has resulted in the warp and weft threads lining up perfectly.  I have used a traditional diamond pattern and then outlined this with a traditional surround pattern. 

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As you can see I haven't stitched over the seam as yet and I'm not really sure how this will work out.  I think that I should have stitched a sample pattern first but this is about 18 hours of stitching to this point.  I have a horrible feeling that it isn't going to work out when I get it in the round.  Still I can use it as an example of what NOT to do.

A piece revisited

I have been looking at some of my teaching projects with an eye to updating them.  I don't like to teach the same thing for anymore than 2 years and it is a good mental exercise for me to develop different projects in each technique.  The only exception to this is my Basic Stitches class.  Of all the classes I teach I think that this is the most important. I don't get paid for my time teaching this class.  I do it because I love embroidery and would like to share this with others.

 Later in the year I am teaching a Basic Kogin class followed by an advanced class for the Embroiderers' Guild. 

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I have updated the major project but I like to start on something small to give students a chance to learn the skills on an unimportant piece. It is a needle book and although the design isn't a traditional Kogin pattern it is a darning pattern design in the Kogin style for getting started. I used this some time ago and since then I have learnt a lot about working with hemp fabric.

One thing that I have discovered is that this fabric works best it you make it up by hand and not on a sewing machine.  It makes sense when you think about it.  From the time it was developed in the 1500's till the 1920's all the pieces would have been made by hand.  It was only after this date that sewing machines became available in this region of Japan.

Before completing the embroidery, each piece needs to be tacked out and then one thread removed on the sewing line.  As this type of stitching begins in the centre of the design you need to get this position right.  (This looks slightly off centre but I have allowed for the fold of the seam on the edge.)

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On the reverse side I tacked my iron on Pellum to fit inside where the threads were withdrawn.

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II used a crepe fabric with a bit of stretch in it for the lining, this I placed with the right side facing the right side of the needle book. 

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I then back stitched around the edge in the space left by the withdrawn threads, counting 2 threads for each stitch and  leaving an opening to turn the piece through.  I then slip stitched the opening closed.


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 Because the lining fabric had a bit of stretch when I ironed it in place it became a bead around the edges.  Much easier than piping the edge.

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There is a  difference between the hand and machine pieced pieces.

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HAND   STITCHED                                                         MACHINED

The hand sewn piece has sharper edges where the machine piece has rounded lumpy corners.

The other difference is that the machine finished piece has been washed and the hand sewn one hasn't.  Once the stitching is washed that cotton thread shrinks just slightly and fluffs up the thread and lays the strands flat.  This also means that you can not see where the new threads have been introduced.  In addition I have stitched one design on the straight of grain and the other on the weft.  Even though the fabric is an even weave there is a difference in the size of the designs.  You can talk about these things but It is even better having the 2 samples to illustrate the differences.

Now that was the simple one.  The other class projects are going to take a bit more work.

Introduction to Kogin Embroidery sample

I am finally finished the sample for the class later this year, a tablet cover.


Actually, the hemp fabric is perfect for this kind of use.  It is tough and will stand up to quite a bit of wear and tear. I used a cotton/ synthetic wadding and then lined it with flannelette to protect the screen and add a bit of contrast.


I have tried to incorporate some of the different types of Kogin Emboirdery.  Hishishashi from the east coast region on the front of the pocket, even count.  A traditional pattern from the Tsugaru region on the back, in an odd count.


The button is stitched using DMC thread on a Lugano fabric.  The patterns stitched up a lot smaller but this suits the scale size of the button.  The whole piece is hand washable but I think it would take a couple of days to dry because of the layers of fabric.

This will be a one-day class at the Queensland Embroiderers' Guild.  The actual Kogin stitching should only take a day to complete and I'm sure that some people will finish it in the class.  I will provide kits that will include all the fabrics and threads for the complete bag.  Details of the class will appear on the Guild's website in early August.


I know its Thursday not Wednesday but I have a lot on this week and am way behind.  My daughter moved into her new home, the first house she has ever bought, and I have had to help with the move.  One thing she did was to move all our goods out of storage.  It is terrible to see your life layed out in boxes non of which will fit into my home as it is now.  I have been too upset to settle to doing anything constructive.  Added to this my husband goes into hospital on Monday for his hip replacement.  Not a good time at all.

To take my mind off everything I decided I needed to finish assemblying the Kogin piece.  It would make a great wall hanging, but I have no wall space to hang it.  It would also make a good table runner, but my table is too small.  So it had to be another bag.


I used a red Japanese fabric for the side inserts and a blue fabric for the back and lining.


There is a red zipper pocket inside and magnetic clips at the top opening.


As this is going to be a teaching sample it will be the perfect place to keep all the materials for this class.

Once again because of the thickness of the hemp used for the embroidery I had to think differently about how I made the bag.  I ended up using dressmaking interfacing to stiffen the bag instead of the normal pellon.  This resulted in the front lining having to be slightly larger than the back so that it would attach evenly around the top.  When topstitching the edge I had to change the cotton on the top of the machine and the stitch length to match each of the different fabrics.   A bit fiddly but it all goes to achieving a good finish.  I can now mark this project as complete.