My attempt at Shibori Dyeing

The first time I did a Tie-dye project was in my art class in primary school. I remember I was given a piece of white fabric by my teacher, and I was asked to collect some rocks. I put the rocks behind the fabric, and pinched them around the bottom of the cloth, then secured the rocks with rubber band tightly. My teacher provided the class with a few options of dye colors that he prepared in big buckets.  I chose red. The rubber bands prevented the dye from reaching the fabric under it, creating some cool white spots. I loved how my fabric turned out. 

Recently I came across some photos of these beautiful dyed fabrics on Pinterest. They reminded me of that Tie-dye project I did in school, a seemingly gazillion years ago. But these look way more sophisticated and refined. They are the result of Shibori dyeing, a traditional technique, originating in Japan, which has been around since the 8th century. Indigo is usually the main dye used for this technique. 

Shibori is the Japanese word for a variety of ways of embellishing textiles by shaping cloth and securing it before dyeing. The word comes from the verb root shiboru, “to wring, squeeze, press.” Although shibori is used to designate a particular group of resist-dyed textiles, the verb root of the word emphasizes the action performed on cloth, the process of manipulating fabric. Rather than treating cloth as a two-dimensional surface, with shibori it is given a three-dimensional form by folding, crumpling, stitching, plaiting, or plucking and twisting. Cloth shaped by these methods is secured in a number of ways, such as binding and knotting. It is the pliancy of a textile and its potential for creating a multitude of shape-resisted designs that the Japanese concept of shibori recognizes and explores. The shibori family of techniques includes numerous resist processes practiced throughout the world.

I did not use any particular technique with my first attempt on Shibori dyeing. I guess the closest one to describe what I did is the Itajime Shibori, a shape-resist technique This technique requires one to fold the fabric, and clamp it in between two pieces of wood board, plexiglass, thick card stock or other sturdy material before wrapping it with string, or rubber bands.

Since I neither have wood board nor clamps, the result was not that great. I simply folded the fabric lengthwise, accordion style, and then folded it again in the opposite direction, also like an accordion.  To secure the folds, I placed rubber bands evenly across in both directions. Instead of indigo dye, I used Rit Dye in Denim Blue Azul Jean. I followed the stovetop instructions on how to dye the fabric. 

This was how the fabric looked like after dyeing. I wasn't very happy with the result. There were lots of whites instead of blue. I was hoping for the other way round. 

I should have left it at that, but I was curious to see what happened it I were to dye it again, but with different placement of the rubber bands. Not a good idea. I didn't take any picture of the result, and it was still a 'meh' to me.

This was my final attempt in getting somewhat satisfactory look. At this point, I didn't really care what I was doing. My hands were kind of hurting from all the binding, and I just wanted to get done with the whole thing. The overall process took close to 4 hours from start to finish.

And this is the result after washing and drying! The look doesn't really fit into the Itajime Shibori category technique, but I think it's descent enough for me to sew it into something useful. 


Type: Fabric Dyeing 

Date started &  completed: Nov 12, 2014

Fabric: Sew Classic Bottomweight Canvas Target Solid in White from Jo-Ann Fabrics

Type of Dye: Riz Dye in Denim Blue Azul Jean