The art of Shibori – Japanese fabric dyeing
17th June 2020
Shibori is a Japanese dyeing technique that typically involves folding, twisting or bunching cloth and binding it, then dyeing it.
There are several different techniques, and it is really fun to experiment and play around to get the effect you want.
We started by ripping up an old sheet into roughly 50 cms squares so that we could try out different methods, and then dyed them different colours in buckets.
You will need: elastic bands (or old hair bands), some stones, string, a plastic bottle, a block of wood, needle and strong thread, various colours of fabric dye.
Method 1: Tie stones into the fabric using elastic bands or hairbands.
Method 2: Concertina fold the fabric (like a fan) and wrap round a block of wood. Secure with elastic bands.
Method 3: Concertina fold the fabric into a wide rectangle, then take sections randomly along the length and wrap with several elastic bands, until it looks a bit like a weird creature with lots of legs.
Method 4: Concertina fold the fabric into a wide rectangle, wrap around an old plastic shampoo or water bottle (fill with water so it doesn’t float in the dye) and wrap around with string.
Method 5: Draw a circle on the fabric with a light pencil. Fold in half and stitch around the half circle with big stitches and strong thread. Fix at the start by tying the thread round a scrap of fabric first – see picture. Sew other rows of stitches following the first one (just do it by eye – no need to mark. When you have sewn to the middle pull all the stitches tight.
We made up various colours of dyes in different buckets, immersed the fabric and left them for about an hour.
Once you think you are happy with the colour ( remember it will be lighter once you have washed and dried it), take out and rinse. Carefully remove the bands and string etc to reveal your beautiful shibori!
The main thing is to have fun, experiment with different techniques and dyes, including natural dyes, to see what effects you can make.
This dress was made from an old sheet, and then dyed with the stone method.
This t-shirt was dyed with coffee to create a really nice beige colour.
Brew some strong coffee and pour into a large bowl or saucepan. Immerse the fabric and leave overnight. Rinse, then soak in some vinegar for about half an hour to fix the dye, then wash in the machine.