How to do shibori

by Fabianna Dardati
In parts ancient Japan shibori, as well as other resist dye techniques, were common.

In parts ancient Japan shibori, as well as other resist dye techniques, were common.

Shibori is an ancient Japanese tie-dye technique developed during the Edo period in Japan. Unlike the more common tie-dye style which became popular in the west in the late 1960s, shibori is a process of painstakingly placed folds, clamps, stitches and knots done prior to the dying process. Western style tie-dye is done mainly by knotting or twisting the fabric and never reaches the level of intricacy, diversity or three-dimensionality seen in shibori. You have several options to prepare the cloth before the dye process.

Since you must gather the fabric tightly, use a string that will not break easily.

Stitch in a straight line across the fabric in a basting stitch a half-inch from the selvage edge. Stitch another straight line about a half-inch down from the first one. Continue stitching straight lines until you have reached the bottom of the fabric. Gather the fabric very tightly by pulling the ends of the basted string and tying them all into a firm knot to hold the gathered fabric in place. This is called mokume.

Nature can inspire shibori patterns.

Fold a new piece of fabric in half. Stitch evenly-spaced concentric semicircles along the edge of the fold, going from larger to smaller. As in step one, gather the strings on either end and pull them so that the fabric gathers together very tightly. Tie the ends together in a knot to hold the fabric in place. You may need to pull them one string at a time to facilitate the gathering. This technique is called karamatsu.

A PVC pipe is useful for more than plumbing issues.

Wrap another piece of fabric diagonally around a PVC pipe. Wrap it tightly in string. This is called arashi.

Kumo entails encasing pebbles or marbles into the fabric before dying.

Take pebbles or marbles and encase them one by one into another piece of fabric, tying them tightly with string. This is called kumo.

The kanoko technique is very popular in the west even today.

Grasp a different piece of fabric anywhere you choose and pull it up into a point. Take pieces of string and wrap the point very tightly Tie the end of the sting to keep the string tightly in place. Repeat this process throughout the fabric. This is called kanoko.

The arashi technique results in patterns imitating a zebra┬┤s stripes.

Take another piece of fabric and fold half-inch pleats into it back and forth across the fabric. Now fold the pleated strip back and forth from top to bottom. Clamp tightly together with a clothespin or office clamp. This is called itajime.

Prepare the dye bath according to the instructions.

Create your own designs on another piece of fabric by stitching the shapes you desire. If you would like a fish shape for example, you can draw a fish shape lightly in pencil then baste stitch around the shape. Make sure the stitches are close enough together to provide an accurate stencil but far enough apart to be able to gather the fabric. Pull the ends of the string to gather the fabric tightly and tie a knot. This is called ori nui.

Use your creativity to blend dye colors.

Prepare the dye bath according to the instructions on the package and drop in your prepared fabrics. When the dye process is finished, rinse the fabrics under running cold water while removing the strings. Extend the fabric and observe your creations. Machine or hand wash them in soap to remove all excess dye.

Items you will need

  • Cotton fabric
  • Dye
  • Salt or vinegar
  • Large container
  • Needle with a large eye
  • String
  • Clothespin or office clamp
  • PVC pipe

About the Author

Fabianna Dardati began writing in 1988 for local school and city publications. Her blogs Petit Poix and the Spanish version, Petit Poix al Latino, provide information, links and resources to budding independent fashion designers. She received a Bachelor of Arts in French in 1988 from Hollins University.

Photo Credits