Results of Shibori Stitch resist dye - front

One of my passions is textile design. I don't get to do it enough these days, and I was thrilled to be able to take a natural dye class at The Workroom taught by Julie Sinden, an amazing textile artist. This class blew my mind!!! I'm fascinated by process, and how people have figured out how to do the intricate techniques involved in so many crafts, so this class was right up my alley. We used 5 types of dyestuff all found in nature, such as the heartwood of a tree, roots of plant, and a beetle!! It was really amazing to see the color that came out of this stuff. I want to share some photos to show the the amazing color, but also give you a small tutorial on how to create a beautiful textile using the shibori stitch resit method.


Here are some of the beautiful results, courtesy of mother nature. Based on the type of fabrics used and the method of fabric preparation prior to dying, you get a variety of hues, values and tones for each single dye.

Cochineal- From a beetle Logwood- Heartwood from a Logwood tree

Multiple Dye Sample of Cohineal DyeMuliple Dye sample from Logwood Dye

Osage-shredded wood of a tree Madder- Roots of several plants and trees

Muliple Dye sample from Osage DyeMuliple Dye sample from Madder Dye

Now for the tutorial...

Shibori is basically tie dye, as we know it in North America. It is a very ancient Japanese art form dating back to the 8th century. WOW! Fabric is tied, bound, folded, or twisted in various ways to create a resist so that the dye will only penetrate certain parts of the fabric, leaving behind a beautiful pattern. There are lots of different techniques that give a wide variety of beautiful results.

Shibori is traditionaly dyed using Indigo, which requires a bit of laborious preparation. It's a really fun and rewarding process, but if you're looking for a quick and easy alternative, acid or procion MX dye are both great options, however they are chemical dyes.

The important thing is to use a dye that "takes" quickly to the fabric. This means that the fabric will not have to sit in the dye bath for a very long time and the water will not penetrate the resisted areas.

Each dye manufacturer will have different instructions for their products, and for that reason I will only give directions for preparing the fabric to be dyed. I recommend that you follow the manufacturers instructions for the dye step. I've provided sources for dye manufactures that will ship to you...

Indigo Dye from Maiwa

Chemical Dye from G&S

Materials List:

  • Natural fabric in required yardage (Cotton or silk)
  • Pencil
  • Upholstery thread or bell thread
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Desired dye ( I recommend indigo or acid)
  • Wine (optional)
  • Step 1 - Create your design With a pencil, lightly draw a pattern onto the fabric. It can be any kind of pattern. I created a grid of 2" x 2" squares, and the drew petals in each square to make a sort of geometric flower pattern. (Sorry for the faint lines!)

  • Step 2 - Create your stitches 1. Fold fabric along the lines of your design 2. Using the upholstery thread, sew a baste stitch through the two layers of fabric, following the design. 3. IMPORTANT: Don't allow your stitch lines to intersect. If you are approaching a stitch and are about to intersect with it, end your stitch. Leave a tail of thread without tying a knot. You will use these thread tails to pull on in the next step.

  • Step 3 - Gather fabric Now that your basting is finished, you'll have a lovely jungle of loose thread to tug on. Grab a glass of wine, and take this step on stitch at a time. Pull on the threads as tight as you can, gathering the fabric along the stitch. Tie a knot to secure each stitch tightly.

Look how small the piece becomes!

  • Step 4: Dip fabric into the dye bath This is where you will want to follow the dye manufacturer' instructions for dying

Fabric being dipped into Indigo Dye Bath

Here 's the little guy hanging out by the poolside!

  • Step 5: Remove stitches Once dipped into your dye, you can remove all the stitches. This is the best part!

Results of Shibori Stitch resist dye - front

The front has a more crisp pattern and you can see the stitch marks

Results of Shibori Stitch resist dye - front

The back has a softer, cloud like affect. I think both are pretty!

I plan to sew these up into cushion covers, but I have plenty more plans for pretty things to make. Tie-dye is back, baby!

Comments (17)

  1. Suzanna Wilson:
    Feb 21, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    This is amazing! I've never seen this before, thanks so much for sharing it!!!


  2. :
    Feb 21, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    The fabric looks incredible. Thanks for the tutorial. When I feel brave I will have to try it!


  3. Kelly Dunwell:
    Feb 21, 2012 at 05:39 PM

    Amazing. I will definitely be taking that class one day! Great job on you dye!!!


  4. Ginger:
    Feb 21, 2012 at 07:04 PM

    I was JUST looking at a tutorial for shibori dying using indigo yesterday-- it's so beautiful! I love yours!


  5. Maddie964:
    Feb 22, 2012 at 07:55 PM

    I have to admit, I sew a lot but I have yet to dye. This is inspiring to take the plunge. You did an awesome job and the pattern is very, very cool!


  6. Caroalnne:
    Feb 24, 2012 at 08:49 AM

    Indigo rocks Kris!


  7. ZoSews:
    Feb 28, 2012 at 06:43 AM

    Very clever! This looks amazing. Your patterns are gorgeous too - can't wait to get my hands on one :) Also, just letting you know I nominated you for a Liebster Blog Award!


    1. :
      Mar 01, 2012 at 01:23 AM

      Ooooh, an award! I had never heard of this one, but I looked into it and it sounds great. Thanks for the nomination!! I'll have toget to work on my award duties!


  8. kslalughter:
    Feb 29, 2012 at 02:23 PM

    Beautiful! Thanks for the great tutorial---adding this to my "must try" list.


  9. :
    Mar 01, 2012 at 01:25 AM

    Thanks for all the lovely comments! It's really fun and rewarding to do. When you feel brave enough to try it, let me know how it turns out. Even better, send me a pic!


  10. Celine Kim:
    Mar 06, 2012 at 02:07 PM

    Kristiann! This look so beautiful!


  11. Gail:
    Jun 20, 2012 at 09:16 PM

    awesome. love it. thank you for the post and demo. about to give it a go with some dharma scarf blanks and purple cabbage dye!


    1. kristiann:
      Jun 24, 2012 at 01:05 PM

      I'm glad you liked the post. I've never heard of purple cabbage de, but i'm about to look it up! Good luck with the scarves.


  12. B:
    Dec 28, 2012 at 04:47 AM

    Kristiann, thanks so much for this post. We tried this on the edge of a skirt for my daughter and we really loved the process and the effects. Your patterns are amazing. I hope to be sewing some soon


  13. Bella:
    Apr 27, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    I've just discovered your patterns and your blog and I am feeling so inspired! I have signed up for a weekend of indigo shibori dyeing here in New Zealand and I am very excited. Thanks for providing a window onto how it all works.


  14. Salju Jose:
    Oct 05, 2013 at 06:16 PM

    Such beautiful information. you have inspired me to explore on Shibori techniques with natural colours and your work is very well appreciaited for an eco friendly cause.
    Thank you for sharing this:)


  15. marsha leith:
    Jan 28, 2014 at 02:55 AM

    great instructions and beautiful result


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