What is shibori?
- The word shibori comes from the Japanese verb ‘to wring, squeeze or press’, and is a form of resist dyeing, traditionally using indigo dye on white hemp, cotton or silk.
- Shibori was originally an art form of the poor. In feudal Japan they weren’t permitted to wear silk, so they dyed plain hemp to make it look better.
- The earliest known example of shibori cloth dates from the 8th century in Japan.
- Different methods of preparing fabric – folding, stitching, binding, wrapping around a pole or compressing it between pieces of wood – all produce distinctive patterns.
- Modern fabric designers have ‘borrowed’ shibori designs and reproduced them digitally for the mass market.
How to tie-dye fabric
Gather your supplies
- Plain white linen or cotton napkins, pillowcases, cushion covers or fabric
- Household salt
- Large plastic dye bath
- Rubber gloves
- Rit Dye in Petal Pink (1 pack per 450g dry fabric)
- Dish-washing liquid
- Large container
- Short length of 3-5cm diameter PVC pipe
STEP 1 Pre-wash chosen fabric items to remove any commercial coating. Allow items to dry.
Step 2 Roll fabric around a length of PVC pipe and secure in place by wrapping string tightly around the roll. The number and tightness of the wraps will determine the finished pattern.
STEP 3 To prepare the dye bath, dissolve 1 cup of household salt in 2 cups of boiling water. Add salt solution to a dye bath filled with very hot water.
STEP 4 Wearing rubber gloves, dissolve 1 packet of dye in 2 cups of boiling water and add to dye bath. Add a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid.
STEP 5 Add prepared fabrics to the dye bath, making sure everything is fully submerged and there are no air pockets. Don’t leave the items in the dye for too long – you want the dye to colour the fabric but you don’t want to completely saturate it, because some areas of the fabric should remain dye-free to create the contrast pattern. Sometimes, a quick dip is all you need to achieve the desired effect – but this will depend on how many layers of fabric you have, how tightly it is bound and how much colour you want in the finished pattern.
STEP 6 Remove the items to another container of clean water and rinse them in several changes of water while they are still bound or tied. Keep rinsing until the water is clear.
STEP 7 Now for the exciting part! Remove the items and undo the binding to reveal your shibori pattern! Give your finished handiworks an extra rinse in fresh water, if necessary, before hanging out to dry.
For more craft projects, pick up a copy of the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine in selected newsagents and supermarkets or buy online today!