Shibori Techniques, Tips, and Projects

Shibori Tie-Dye Techniques, DIY Tips, and Projects

What is Shibori?

Bound resist dye methods, which we know as tie-dye, have been around almost as long as civilization itself. Many cultures have contributed techniques to this ancient craft. Perhaps none have contributed as widely as the Japanese, who began developing their methods, known as shibori, as early as the 8th century.

Shibori Tie-Dye Techniques, DIY Tips, and Projects

Shibori Techniques


Shibori traditionally uses natural dyes, most often indigo. Dyers pleat, sew, tie, bind, or even wrap the fabric around a pole. Let’s look at these different methods now:


With the arashi method of shibori, dyers wind a long and narrow piece of kimono cloth diagonally around a pole, then scrunch the fabric tightly together and bind with thread. This method produces a pattern reminiscent of rain, hence the name, which means “storm.”

Arashi shibori

Arashi shibori made with wide pvc pipe in place of a pole


For itajime, or shape-resist, shibori, the cloth is first folded, then pressed between blocks of wood and secured with clamps or ties. The wood resists the dye and leaves a repeating pattern on the finished cloth. Shapes can be simple, such as square or rectangular blocks, triangular, or more elaborate, with wood shapes cut into various free form designs.


If you’ve ever tie-dyed before, you’ve likely practiced kanoko shibori methods without even knowing it. These are the familiar tied designs such as bull’s eyes and repeating circular or other motifs. Dyers make these designs by tying off sections of fabric, often including pebbles, popcorn kernels, coins, or other found objects repeatedly or randomly throughout the fabric.


Kumo shibori is a pleated and bound method that creates spiderlike veining and circular designs. Dyers pull the fabric into peaks, twist or pleat, then bind with thread. Kumo designs may be any size, with small, repeating, all-over patterns or just one large kumo to cover an entire piece.

Shibori Tie-Dye Techniques, DIY Tips and Projects

Kumo shibori


In miura shibori, the thread is not tied at all. Rather, thread is simply wrapped, usually twice, with thread. Tension holds the entire piece together. Because this method is easier and can be accomplished with the help of machinery, it was perhaps the most historically used method for producing shibori designs. This method most often uses hooks to draw up tiny sections of fabric, which are individually wrapped.

Kimono, from the collection of Gentry Klossing, with finely detailed miura and nui shiboro

Kimono, from the collection of Gentry Klossing, with finely detailed miura (the diamonds) and nui (the waves) shiboro


Nui shibori uses stitching, either by hand or machine, rather than tying, to create designs.  From simple running stitches which gather and pleat, to flowers or other intricately stitched designs, nui shibori runs the gamut from super easy to unbelievably complex.

DIY Shibori Tips

shibori agistadler

photo courtesy of AgiStadler, Flickr

Shibori traditionally uses natural dyes, especially indigo. Jacquard makes an easy-to-use, pre-reduced, indigo dying kit, for a great price, too.  If you go this route, use a 5-gallon or larger bucket or plastic bin with a lid. Set this up and plan to dye outside for the sake of mess management. This dye kit will color a lot of fabric and will last 5 days when covered, so you can plan to spread the project over several days.

Or use any hot-water dye

You can also use synthetic dyes to achieve a shibori look, but be sure to use the kind prepared with a hot water dye bath. Natural dyes are immersion dyes, and so any synthetic dye you use should be this kind, too. Don’t use the popular squirt-to-apply types of dyes for your shibori projects.

I used a synthetic denim blue color dye bath in my stainless steel kitchen sink to achieve a softer blue for my batch of shibori pictured in this post. To get a darker and more authentic indigo color, you can mix denim and navy. Sarah Gibson from Room for Tuesday suggests mixing one bottle of Rit denim with half a bottle of Rit navy. Her pillows dyed in this bath look great!

Pillow project at Room for Tuesday

Pillow project at Room for Tuesday

Important DIY tips:

  • Wear gloves! Otherwise you’ll likely find it impossible to get the blue/black dye off your hands and, especially, fingernails. Besides being unsightly, this is not good because dyes are toxic chemicals which you’d rather not absorb into your system!
  • Take your time preparing the fabric. And have all fabric fully prepared for the dye bath BEFORE you start to prepare it. I rushed when tying the beans to make my kanoko circles and made a mess with my grid design! Take your time, do not hurry.
  • Rinse items individually until the water runs completely clear, then untie. If you don’t rinse completely before removing ties, your designs will turn out less crisp.

Easy shibori projects

Shibori is fun and you will enjoy it most if you start with simple techniques. Kanoko, Kumo, and Itajime are particularly beginner-friendly methods to use. You can shibori dye any item of white or off-white natural fiber fabric, such as cotton. You can even dye synthetic fabrics, as long as you choose a dye formulated for synthetics. I noticed Rit makes these now.

You can easily dye T-shirts, skirts, pillows and pillowcases, socks, scarves, and small fabric pieces in your kitchen sink. Sheets, curtain panels, and fabric yardage are easy to dye, too, though you may want to use a tub larger than your sink for these.

shibori altnoun shibori lisa dusseault shibori lisadusseault

I’m planning to use the fat quarters and long strips that I dyed today to make either a patchwork skirt and a top or a dress. I might make that project a tutorial for another post soon.

Have fun!

Shibori is fun, with near endless choices to explore. Unwrapping your dyed and rinsed shibori pieces to see the finished designs is as exciting as opening a real gift. Play with dye and have fun with it!

Flickr images licensed under the Creative Commons license.

New Year Resolutions

New Year Resolutions

Where has the time gone? This year is almost over, and has gone by so fast. The last week of the year is my time to regroup, reduce (stuff) and reorganize for the coming year. A fresh start, another chance, a new agenda and personal growth. What a great idea! Moving forward in positive movement to find ways I can inspire people to continue their love of sewing by finding interesting facts and ideas to share. I am EXCITED!!

Take scraps and make a woven rag rug with a wonderful and colorful texture!

Take scraps and make a woven rag rug with a wonderful and colorful texture!

My Plan is the following:

  1. Research textiles and discover ways they are used in various applications in sewing and other art forms. My favorite is mixed media using sewing, quilting, tie dying plain fabric and other ways to create 3D artwork.
  2. Make new curtains for my sewing studio using drapery fabric. Choosing one is the hardest task!
  3. Experiment with different types of sewing feet like the Narrow Hem Foot to make professionally stitched napkins, table cloths and handmade scarves that will make people think you bought them from expensive designers! And some are very expensive!
  4. Use the wide variety of stitches on my machine to create interesting embroidery on quilt squares to piece together to create a scene or story. It is amazing how many things you can do. It may be a great time to upgrade your sewing machine to a designer model next year! Check this website for your choices! is the best place to buy. They offer many great choices!!
  5. Reduce scraps, and pieces of fabric that can be made into a crazy quilt, or used for small projects for a children’s class project. (This is difficult for me because I always think of something I can make from them.
  6. Design fresh ideas for NaturaDomani, my online Etsy Store. I hope to make a difference in the interest of organic fabrics, bamboo, hemp, and other eco-friendly textiles to save trees, water conservation and hazardous working conditions and to preserve beautiful things of Nature.
  7. Find outlets for charitable giving to pay forward Etsy sales and products.
  8. MOST IMPORTANT! Inspire my readers to use your creativity in sewing, and in life, to find happiness in yourself by learning new things and enjoying your achievements. Also, to embrace love and the love of others so that 2017 will become one of your very BEST YEARS!
I find it fun to share my sewing experiences with you as I am building an online presence at While I sew, I realize that as careful as I stitch, handmade things are never perfect. It’s the challenge and effort that counts.

I find it fun to share my sewing experiences with you as I am building an online presence at While I sew, I realize that as careful as I stitch, handmade things are never perfect. It’s the challenge and effort that counts.


The Deconstruction (And Reconstruction) of Hello Kitty

Let’s same I’m thrifty, shall we? I like shopping at the Goodwill, and I’ve been known to make my way over to the clearance section in the clothes department of a non-Goodwill store. It’s a theme that’s pretty easy to spot if you look through my posts from the past. I reuse material, and updating my sewing supplies is something that I found reason to put on my 2017 goals list because I haven’t invested too much into it. I can be a bit of penny-pincher if the situation calls for it, so it’s no real shock that so much of my sewing experience involves reusing and repurposing.

Today, I offer you yet another example of that reusing and repurposing.

The bottom half in particular caught my interest.

The bottom half in particular caught my interest.

You see, I have a niece who had this Hello Kitty dress. Personally, I don’t get the interest in Hello Kitty—I’m more of a Tinker Bell kind of girl—but after the dress ended up getting ripped, my thoughts got to rolling about what could be done with the material that was left over. The bottom half in particular caught my interest. Even if I don’t particularly care for Hello Kitty myself, the material was colorful enough and in good enough shape, if you overlooked the rip, that it seemed a waste to just toss it out. My niece, after all, deserves her Hello Kitty attire!

In the end, the answer seemed simple. If the bottom half of the dress was salvageable, then a skirt was the perfect option! The white material underneath it was still in decently good shape, so I could use that like it’d been used for the dress itself. All I needed to do was plan, cut, figure, and reassemble.

Cutting was relatively easy when it came to the bottom half because I didn’t worry too much about getting straight edges. If I needed straight edges, I could do a touch-up job later. As it turned out, I wouldn’t I have to because the material was designed in a way that there wasn’t one side that specifically needed to be on the top or the bottom. See how Hello Kitty is in two different directions in the earlier picture? I could just use the more raggedy-edged side to fold over the elastic I would eventually use, and no one would see it anyway. The bottom part of the dress could be the actual line that was company-given by design.

The raggedy edges where the tear had been, I felt, could use hemming, so I saw to that. I wasn’t sure if I actually needed both sides to be hemmed, but since I was figuring it out as I went along, it seemed better to be safe than sorry! Once both sides were hemmed, I was ready to pin the Hello Kitty material onto the underlying fabric.

I opted to tack the end of the colored material to the section of Hello Kitty material beneath it.

I opted to tack the end of the colored material to the section of Hello Kitty material beneath it.

So I did! But as I’d already noticed, there was a bit of a design issue that would require an executive decision. You see, this Hello Kitty material was asymmetrical, meaning if I pinned it evenly at the top of the white material, the bottom of the Hello Kitty piece wouldn’t be even. My options then included either hemming the bottom for a symmetric look, or embracing the quirkiness of the not-so-symmetric hem.

In the end, I decided to go with the easier but more distinguishable option of letting the hem be asymmetric. I also made another executive decision to not cut off the extra side-to-side material once the white material had been completely covered. Instead, I opted to tack the end of the colored material to the section of Hello Kitty material beneath it, so the final result would seem more like a wrap-around skirt.

Once that step was finished, the top looked something like this.

Once that step was finished, the top looked something like this.

Once I’d made those decisions, sewn the raggedy edges where the tear had been on the dress, sewed all layers of material at the top, and tacked the material for that wrap-around look, all I had to do was add in the elastic. The process involved a one-section-at-a-time strategy of folding the top portion of material over the elastic, sewing so that the material overlapped the entire width of elastic, then moving to the next section—bit by bit, and at times pushing and pulling the elastic and/or fabric so that the entire top portion of the skirt was encasing that tiny piece of elastic. Once that step was finished, the top looked something like this.

And there you have it!

And there you have it!

And with that step completed, the skirt was done!

And there you have it! A Hello Kitty skirt from the remnants of a Hello Kitty dress! I still have the top portion of the dress that could be used for something, but who knows? Maybe it’ll become a part of a project, and maybe it won’t 🙂

What do you guys think??? Like? Hate? Something in between? Let me know!