How to Shibori Tie-Dye Fabric

eHow Crafts Blog


shiboripillows2As early as the sixth century – hundreds of years before the hippie movement of the 1960s – tie dying was being practiced in India, Japan and Africa. There were and still are various methods of tie dying, but today, we are going to briefly explore Shibori.

Shibori refers to a Japanese method of tie dying, although the term itself has no direct translation in English as it refers to various ways of fabric manipulation in order to create a three-dimensional print.

shiboriprint2The end result are patterns that are geometric or loose and free flowing.

shiboriprintNatural indigo dyes were typically used on natural fabrics like cotton,silk, wool or hemp. It is the combination of these striking markings, along with it’s easy feel, that is making Shibori a hot trend in today’s decor.

Though the Japanese have been able to perfect this tie dying method, one of the beauties of today’s Shibori is that you can be as creative as you would like as it is these imperfect markings that makes Shibori so beautiful.

Traditional Shibori requires indigo dye powder, but for this tutorial, we will be using store bought liquid dye.

What you will need:
1 bottle of Rit liquid dye – navy or indigo
Cotton, linen or any natural fabric
Measuring cup
Measuring spoons
Large spoon for stirring
Large plastic tray
Large plastic container
Garbage bags to cover surface area
Rubber gloves
Several elastic bands in various sizes

shiboriprinttiemethod1Start by deciding the type of pattern you would like to create. This is a sort of ‘resist’ method, so anything that is covered will likely resist the color of the dye. For this particular one, I wrapped several elastic bands all along the surface of the cloth. You can tie as many as you wish, remembering the more surface area that is covered, the more white you will see.

shiboritiemethod23Fig.1: Fold cloth horizontally in an accordion like manner. Fold cloth in the centre and tie together with elastic bands as shown.

Fig.2: Fold cloth horizontally in an accordion like manner. Fold it again this time in other direction and insert tiles in between the folds as you fold, holding it all together with rubber bands.

Fig.3: Fold fabric horizontally in an accordion manner and roll together. Secure with rubber band(s).


Cover your work surface with plastic. 

Wear rubber gloves and shake dye bottle before pouring. 

Fill 3-gallon container with 2 gallons of very hot water (140F).

Measure ½ cup liquid dye, with 4 cups very HOT water and stir.

Pour dye solution into water; stir well.

Immerse wrapped fabric in dye bath for 3-5 minutes.

(note: the longer you leave the fabric in the dye the darker the stain will be)

Remove from dye and let set for 4-6 minutes.




Unwrap your fabric and hang to dry or lay on a flat surface.

Wash fabric with cold water (without detergent) and once dry, iron fabric to set color in place.


I decided to use the fabric to make pillows, but you can make scarves, dish towels or anything you can think of. Part of the fun of doing Shibori is the surprise factor as each time you unwrap the fabric, the design will be different.

Have any questions or need further info? Feel free to leave a comment or drop me a line at

Hope to see you again soon!

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