Guest post: DIY Shibori (Japanese fabric dyeing)

Shell is one of my internet friends, and we have lots of similar interests: cats, traveling, photography, quirky wears, and so on. She’s based in Sydney and she blogs at Kitty and Buck, where she shares beautiful finds and inspiring images. One of my favorite sections is her Instagram challenge, #kittyandbuckcolor, with photos in a different color every month. Shell agreed to put together a tutorial for you guys while I’m in Portugal, so pop over on her blog and say hi!

Shibori Dyeing by Kitty and Buck - Kittenhood

Shibori is a Japanese fabric dyeing technique that has been getting a lot of attention lately. When I was a teenager, I used to trawl thrift stores for anything I could dye, from lingerie to thermal underwear, t­shirts and linens. I’d almost forgotten about my passion for dye until my recent visits to Japan and seeing the beautiful fabric on offer.

Traditionally, shibori is mostly done using indigo dye, which I’d love to try. Today, I used a navy packet dye as it was readily available. You could use any dye you like with these techniques, just make sure that you match the type of fabric to the kind of dye. Most dyes behave best with 100% natural fibres, so I’ve chosen to dye some linen and a canvas bag.

Shibori technique by Kitty and Buck - Kittenhood

Step 1: Gather all materials required for dyeing ­ fabric, dye (and dye ingredients as per packet instructions), string, scissors, needle and thread and any wood or plastic/acrylic shapes to tie inside the fabric.

Shibori technique by Kitty and Buck - Kittenhood

Step 2: Fold, twist, scrunch, tie and stitch fabric into any shape you like. Depending on how you do this, all kinds of patterns will be revealed in the fabric during the dyeing process. You can be as uniform or random as you like. Experiment and see what kinds of patterns come through the dyeing process.

Step 3: Prepare the dye as directed on the dye packet.

Step 4: Dip the fabric into the dye bath and make sure it’s completely submerged. My packet instructions said to leave it for 40 minutes, but I probably only left it in for 15 minutes total. It’s up to you, the longer you leave it, the darker the colour will be.

Shibory DIY tutorial by Kitty and Buck - Kittenhood

Step 5: Rinse fabric and untie. Remove all pieces of string, thread, wood and/or plastic and rinse the fabric until the water runs clear. Check the dye instructions, mine required a 40°C wash to set the dye.

Step 6: Admire your handiwork! There are endless combinations and effects that can be achieved, so experiment and see what you come up with.

Shibory DIY tutorial by Kitty and Buck - Kittenhood

  • Such a cool post! Always wondered how people made patterns like those when tie-dying!

  • SusanR

    Thanks for posting this. I wonder what the straws do?

    • hey Susan, the straws were used to roll the fabric (see second picture in the collage). hope that helps 🙂

  • great post, but how did you get the designs in the pattern closest to us in the top pic?

    • Hi, it’s Shell here, I made the DIY guest post – the result in the top image on the right hand side is the ‘straw’ technique I used, there are the process pictures immediately under “step 1” in the instructions. I folded the outside edges of the fabric towards the centre and then stitched pieces of drinking straws at 45º angles (stitching held them in place) I did this on both sides to create a ‘mirror’ image of the stitched straws. I then folded them against each other lengthways (along the ‘mirror’ or ‘centre’ line). After that I folded each segment of the straw into an ‘accordion’ shape and tied them together with twine. I hope that helps! The result will always vary a little depending on how you fold it. The fabric is a tote bag, so each side is also different. You can see the pin points from the stitching in the bottom right picture of the post.

      Shell (Kitty & Buck)