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Shibori Fabric Dyeing

Shibori Fabric Dyeing

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I have always had a love for tie dye. Not necessarily wearing it or making it everyday but usually as summer starts rolling around and the cold weather clothes get put away. Tie dye makes it feel like summer!

I attended Midwest Craft Con this past weekend and the organizers scheduled some DIY sessions for us to attend. Whether they wanted us to actually learn a new craft or just give us a brain break from learning, I am thankful. I learned to macramé a hanging for my sewing room wall. I painted a bangle bracelet with a Craft Away Camp. And I learned to Shibori Dye fabric.

I asked in the class, “What’s the different between Shibori and Tie Dye?” Apparently, there is one huge difference – this was used in the 8th century and hippie tie dye was not. Shibori is an ancient way of organically dyeing fabric either for formal wear or for art. Starting on the other side of the world, this technique could be found mainly in Japan and India.

Wikipedia says,

Shibori (しぼり / 絞り) is a Japanese manual resist dyeing technique, which produces patterns on fabric.

Historically, the natural dye that is used is indigo. The type that is used in this unique procedure is an organic compound unlike the synethic indigo that is associated in dyeing of denim jeans.


The fabulous gals from Alt Fashion Mob walked us through the steps. 

We started the class learning about how to make the dye in a bucket and the process that we needed to follow. Because this plant based dye process changes color in the presence of oxygen, you need to stir the powdered components very carefully and slowly. Then the dyeing liquid sits in a covered bucket for 20 minutes which is just long enough for you to decide how to fold your fabric.

Indigo Instructions

A white cotton muslin was used in our workshop. There are so many folding techiniques! You can look many of them up online, you can add objects to your fabric folds to add shapes, and every end product looks different. Just like with tie dye, wherever you place weight/pressure (rubber band, binder clip, twine, zip tie, etc.) you will not have the blue color.


I chose to accordian fold my fabric and then fold it in squares with popsicle sticks in each square. Then I place a wooden block on either side, securing it with rubber bands, to help create weigh throughout the center of the fabric.


Once everything is secured and tight, you place the package in plain water to help the dye adhere. Squeeze the water out and head to the dye. We used gloved hands and tongs to keep the package submerged. We were not to move it around too much as introducing oxygen would change the dye.

Dye Bucket

After the package was submerged for a minute, we carefully removed it and set it in a tray to oxidize. The fabric color when the package was removed from the bucket of dye was a pretty green. As we let everything sit for about 10 minutes, the green began to turn to a dark blue.


At this point, I bagged my dyed bundle and took it home to rinse it out.

I rinsed under cold water, still all wrapped up, until the water ran clear. I squeezed as much liquid out as I could and began to take off the rubber bands. As I unfolded the fabric, there were two different colors on the fabric: blue and green. I worried for a minute but as I continued to work and the oxygen hit the fabric, everything became blue.


I heat set the color by tossing it in the dryer but you could also use an iron. I am not sure what I will turn this into but am super excited to see what else I can make with this process. I have seen these type of designs in Target, on Etsy and even Amazon in scarves, pillow covers and kimonos.

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