Easy Shibori Tutorial

This tutorial assumes that you have a familiarity with dyeing already, and that you are aware of the safety aspects of working with dyes.

You will need:
  • Procion Mx dye
  • a length of PVC piping about 2 feet long
  • one five gallon bucket
  • soda ash
  • fabric
 Soda ash - from Walmart in the pool supply department, "pH Up"

I usually rip my fabric in pieces measuring 18 inches x 44, then sew it in a tube shape on my sewing machine, using a fairly long stitch (so it will be easier to rip out later).  The size of the tube you create will be determined by the diameter of the PVC piping you are using--

Here are three fabric tubes I made, one is a blue commercial solid, like a kona solid (left), in the middle is a piece of fabric I dyed a while back that I didn't really care for, and the one on the right is a non-pfd muslin fabric.

After sewing the tube, slip the fabric right over the PVC piping.  It should slide down easily, not too snug and not too loose.  Hook the end with a rubber band so it doesn't slide off, then scrunch down hard.  Sometimes you can put one piece of fabric per PVC pipe, sometimes two will fit--just realize that the top piece may not be 100% submersed in the water when dyeing.

Here are two pieces of fabric scrunched down already, you can see the red rubber band in between the two pieces:

Now prepare the dye bath--fill a 5 gallon bucket with 2 gallons of warm water, then add about 1/4 cup of non-iodized salt, stir.  Then, in a small container (I re-use old jars), add about 1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons of dye powder to about 1 cup of warm water.  Cover the top tightly and shake it up really well. 
Some of the recycled containers I use for mixing up dyes.

Add the dissolved dye mixture to the 5 gallon bucket, put in your fabric wrapped PVC pipes, then give it all a good stir.  After about 15 minutes, add a soda ash mixture (about 1/4 cup soda ash dissolved in a cup of hot water).  This should sit for about 90 minutes, and you can stir the tubes occasionally.

Here are some poles in the dye bath.   Note that only half of the fabric on the left pole is submersed, but the dye will wick upwards anyway.  It will just be lighter, which is a nice effect if that's what you're looking for.

Ok, after about 1.5-2 hours, you are ready to remove the fabric from the poles.  It helps if you can work outside, because it is kind of messy!  First, dump out your dye liquid from the bucket, and fill the bucket with clean water and a little Dawn dishwashing liquid.  Slide the fabric off the tube into the water, swish it around to get a lot of the dye concentrate off, then wash it all in a washing machine.

Here is the plain non-PFD fabric dyed with Intense Blue powder by Procion:

I'm using this in a baby T-shirt quilt, I really like it!

Here is the middle piece of fabric after wrapping & dyeing in Intense Blue powder--still not loving it, so I'll probably wrap it again and re-dye it in a darker color, maybe navy blue.

The blue piece I showed you earlier was exactly the same color as the Intense Blue dye, so the design didn't show up AT ALL.  But, it turned out to be a great candidate for using fabric paints to create the shibori design, as shown on the And Then We Set It On Fire blog.

I just scrunched the fabric down on a pole, painted it lightly with black fabric paint, let it dry, then repeated with white paint.  I didn't use string, as shown on the Fire blog, and it turned out just as nicely, I think.


  1. I love the last piece. The paint on the fabric is so striking.

  2. Love the painted piece and they're all beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  3. This is such a simple technique but the results are fab! I must give this a try.