Shibori Tie Dyeing

Shibori Tie Dyeing
Applying a unique pattern to plain cotton fabric using the ancient Japanese technique of Shibori - tie dying using indigo dye, is a great way to creatively showcase a trendy textile treatment.

There are six main Shibori techniques; Kanoko, Miura, Kumo, Nui, Arashi and Itajime. Each manual resist technique uses a different way to compress the cloth into a tight bundle that produces many beautiful surface designs. Shibori dyeing is very easy to do and brings a modern sensibility and uniqueness to hand decorated textiles.

Start with indigo dye, some rubber bands or cord, natural cotton fabric, sturdy kitchen rubber gloves and two large plastic buckets. Be sure to protect flooring with a plastic drop cloth if dyeing indoors. Two flat wooden blocks can also be used to tightly compress a folded, pleated cloth and left tied to the cloth when dyeing.

Mix the indigo dye carefully according to the package directions stirring slowly to avoid splashing. Fold, twist, bunch and compress the cloth tightly securing with rubber bands or cord. Soak the bound cloth in cool water and squeeze excess out. Then submerge the bound cloth in the indigo dye. The cloth may float so it may be necessary to hold the cloth in the dye with gloved hands for about 10 minutes or slightly longer for a desired effect. Remove the cloth bundle from the dye bath and unwrap to dry. Although it will first appear as yellow-green after a few minutes the expected dark blue color will appear. After the deep blue color appears rinse the cloth in cool water, squeeze to extract the water and hang to dry.

Folding the cloth into successively small triangles or into a pleated fan shape and then tying along the length will produce a lovely lined pattern. Pinching areas of the cloth and securing with rubber bands makes for an abstract ring pattern. Each pattern that emerges will of course be unique.

The patterned cloth can now be made into a myriad of easy to sew projects: throw pillows, table napkins, summer scarf or jacket, broomstick or tiered skirt and a kitchen window valence for a few ideas to consider.

The Shibori method of tie and dye cloth is really sophisticated tie-dyeing for contemporary times!

Shibori textiles found on

Sew happy, sew inspired.

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