Introduction to Shibori Techniques

The Background of Shibori

In Japan, the earliest known example of cloth dyed with a shibori technique dates from the 8th century. Until the 20th century, not many fabrics and dyes were in widespread use in Japan. The main fabrics were silk and hemp , and later cotton. The main dye was indigo and, to a lesser extent, madder and purple root. There are an infinite number of ways one can bind, stitch, fold, twist, or compress cloth for shibori, and each way results in very different patterns.

Arashi Shibori

“Arashi” is the Japanese word for storm. Arashi shibori is also known as pole-wrapping shibori. The cloth is wrapped on a diagonal around a pole. Then the cloth is very tightly bound by wrapping thread up and down the pole. Next, the cloth is scrunched on the pole. The result is a pleated cloth with a design on a diagonal. The patterns are always on a diagonal in arashi shibori which suggest the driving rain of a heavy storm.

Arashi Shibori

The Arashi shibori technique creates a beautiful rippled effect on the cloth

Itajime Shibori

Itajime shibori is a shaped-resist technique. Traditionally, the cloth is sandwiched between two pieces of wood, which are held in place with string. More modern textile artists can be found using shapes cut from acrylic or plexiglass and holding the shapes with C-clamps. The shapes prevent the dye from penetrating the fabric they cover.

Itajime Shibori

Bull-clips cardboard templates were used for the Itajime shibori technique


Honeycomb ShiboriHoneycomb Shibori

Place a piece of rope in the centre of the fabric you wish to dye, roll the fabric up into a ‘sausage’, then stitch the roll up with a running stitch. Pull the ends of the rope together and tie tightly, then dye the fabric. The emerging pattern is a honeycomb’ type effect.

The Concertina Fold Shibori

When folding the fabric to prepare for binding, use a concertina fold, folding the fabric back on itself lengthwise, then either into squares or triangles. The concertina fold ensures that the maximum amount of dye reaches the most amount of fabric. To make the folds even more exact, steam iron them before clamping and dyeing.

Clamping, folding & binding Shibori

Clamp, fold, bind Shibori

Everyday household items can be used to create the desired effect

A number of everyday household items can be used when clamping and binding the fabric:

  • String
  • Elastics
  • Bull-dog clips
  • Cardboard shapes
  • Tongue-depressors/ice-cream sticks
  • Kebab sticks
  • Tin lids

Care Instructions

Always wash your dyed items separately and by hand. The blue will run for the first few washes.

Inspiring Shibori artists to follow

Jane Postle,

Aboubakar Foufana,

Rowland Ricketts,

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