Moomah the Magazine
Toolbox: Shibori

Toolbox: Shibori

Lindsey is our savior when it comes to editing Moomah the Magazine. We can write and explain all that needs to be written and explained but when it comes to working out our punctuation, we go straight to Lindsey. As a teacher she is used to fixing written errors so thankfully she never makes us feel bad. Lindsey is currently working to design Pioneer - her own line of linen home apparel and interiors. It was thanks to this endeavor that she stumbled upon Shibori - the ancient Japanese art of fabric dyeing. She was immediately hooked and sent us pictures of her beautiful creations. We were in love with it all and asked Lindsey to share her Shibori knowledge with us in our latest Toolbox.

- By Lindsey Ashlock 

Like many California teenagers, I tie-dyed just about every T-shirt I owned, so when I recently noticed this sophisticated version with its muted indigos and intricate designs popping up on some of my favorite design blogs and websites, I had to learn more. Shibori perfectly combines the looks I love most: laid back California beachy bohemian with the intricate maturity of the Japanese aesthetic. And for crafters, the Shibori technique has so many variations, it provides endless opportunity for design experimentation. I’m obsessed! Now, every pillow, dress, curtain panel I see, I think, “I could Shibori that!”


Shibori is the Japanese name for what we have come to know in the West as tie-dye: it is a method of binding, folding, stitching fabric and then dying it to create intricate and endless patterns. However, we in the West—especially those of us who tried our hand at this craft as teenagers in the back yard—have really only tapped the surface. Traditionally, Shibori cloth dyeing was an intricate artwork which involved several different methods of binding and/or stitching cloth to create detailed patterns of infinite variation which ranged from almost mathematical precision to watercolor-looking webbed designs.


Though there are several types of Shibori, two particular types are easier than others to duplicate at home and do as a summer crafting project with kids.


Kumo shibori

This is the technique which most resembles tie-dye. The look is generally achieved by binding pleated sections of cloth to achieve a circular spider’s web effect. With expertise, comes precision.




Itajime shibori

Also known as clamp-resist dyeing technique, this requires that you accordion fold your fabric and then clamp it between two boards before wrapping with string or bands.

Shibori is traditionally completed using indigo dye, but other traditional colors include deep purples and reds.



Learning Shibori

Below are instructions for making a variation of the Itajime technique. Although traditional Itajime technique requires sandwiching your folded cloth between two wooden boards, we are going simple with some easy folding methods.




CHOOSE your fabric. We used linen as it retains the dye nicely and is durable.
ACCORDION-FOLD your fabric.
ACCORDION-FOLD AGAIN, this time creating a stacked square.
WRAP your folded stack with rubber-bands. We wrapped rubber-bands of different thickness around the stack and left one end free. At this end we tried a Kumo technique using stones.


EXPERIMENT USING STONES. Below is a look at the rock technique used at the un-banded end of the fabric. Take a small (cleaned) garden stone and wrap thin rubber bands around them to create random circles at one end.


SOAK your fabric thoroughly in water to prevent the dye from bleeding, which creates stark white and indigo contrast. 

TIP: To create a more watercolor effect with less contrast, dye the the dry fabric before wrapping.

MAKE SURE to press out excess water so that water does not dilute your dye.


SUBMERGE the rubber-banded stack in a tub of boiling hot water combined with your dye. Don’t forget to wear rubber gloves—the water should be too hot to touch. For a small section of fabric, a Tupperware salad bowl in the sink is sufficient (with plenty of paper-towels on hand to wipe up any splatters on the kitchen counter!) You can also use a stainless steel tub or plastic bucket out in the yard. Most choose to do their dying outside, especially if you’re doing this with the kids!

USE about one quarter of a bottle of Rit dye for every four cups of water. You can always follow the package instructions, of course. The longer you let the fabric soak, the deeper the color you will achieve.

EXPERIMENT with submerging some of the fabric for only a short second or two and leaving one end in the dye longer (anywhere from 10-30 minutes). This will give your finished product an ombre effect.

AFTER SOAKING for the desired length of time, CAREFULLY REMOVE it from the dye bath.

RINSE under cold water, squeezing until the excess water is almost free of dye. This may take several minutes.

SQUEEZE out any extra water.

REMOVE the rubber bands.

DRY fabric on the line before washing. Follow the dye instructions for washing and setting the dye.


USE YOUR FABRIC to make pillows.

I started simple by making a couple of pillow covers: one made from the Itajime rock technique (the long rectangular pillow) and the other a more traditional “tie-dye” or Kumo gather-and-band technique. Using the dye method of dipping a portion of the fabric into the dye for only a short time to create the ombre look of gradual dark to light.

More inspiration & tutorials:

We love the different examples of wrapping fabric HERE >>

This is a great step-by-step with using rocks HERE >>

We found fantastic diagrams for folding HERE! >>

Need more inspiration? Follow our Pinterest Page >>

Love the look but don't want to bother making it yourself? Check out these amazing bags by the pros: Job & Boss >>

Posted in: Crafts: Make It!   

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Recent Comments

Grace said…

What a wonderful, elegant and simple project!  I am definitely going to try this out.  Thank you for sharing smile

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