Create Your own Fabric Designs with Shibori

I am always looking for new sources of inspiration and lately I have been trolling in Quilting Arts magazine. I recently found this fabulous article on shibori, resist painting, by Jeannie Palmer Moore in the December 2011/January 2012 issue of Quilting Arts. I thought it would be wonderful to share this time-honored Japanese technique with the Sew Daily community. Creating your own fabric designs can add a whole new level of originality to your projects. Here's how:

Beautiful shibori from Jeannie Palmer
Moore's Quilting Arts story.

Shibori is a technique in which cloth is tightly compressed by tying, clamping, folding, and stitching, so that fabric resists paint and reveals wonderful designs and patterns. The Japanese word Shibori comes from the verb root shiboru meaning "to wring, squeeze, or press."

• Empty can with both lids removedto create a cylinder (55-oz. size or larger)
• Can opener
• Rubber gloves
• White cotton fabric cut into pieces approximately 18" x 22" (I prefer cotton sateen.)
• Roll of kite string
• Scissors
• Basic set of textile paints (I use Jacquard®.)
• Water container
• Plate or palette for mixing paint
• 1"-2" foam brushes
• Old iron
• Synthrapol (optional)

Tie the fabric
1. Prepare your can by making it into a cylinder. Cut the ends off with a can opener. Caution: Take care not to touch the cut metal and file any sharp edges.
2. Lay your fabric right-side down and fold the longer ends toward the middle, about 4" on both sides.
Tip: Use smaller (fat-quarter size) pieces of fabric. The paint won't absorb through lots of layers.

Center the can on the fabric and
wrap the fabric around it.

3. Center the can on the fabric, wrap the fabric around it, and hold in place while you tie the string around the middle of the cylinder. Make a knot and leave a loose end. It's much easier to remove the string later if you only tie a knot in the beginning and end; that way you will only need to cut one knot when removing the fabric from the can.
4. Start wrapping the string attached to the spool around the can on one end. Leave the end of the string loose and scrunch the fabric toward the center. The fabric and string should fit into the groovesof the can and stay in place. Move toward the end of the can, wrapping the string again on the same side and scrunch some more. Keep repeating until the one side is completely scrunched. Tip: Try wrapping the string at an angle to achieve a diagonal line, and wrap it again in the opposite direction to achieve a plaid
5. Repeat the tying and scrunching on the opposite end.
6. Wrap the string around the can until you reach the middle and tie it off with the other loose endof the string (the end you started with).

Paint the fabric
1. Choose a color from your textilepaints and dilute it with water so that it is the consistency of honey. Apply the paint by brushing and dabbing with a foam brush.
Note: If you use metallic paints they will not absorb, but will stay on top of the fabric and create a nice effect.
2. Let the paint dry for a few minutes. (It is dry when it doesn't rub off on your hands.)
3. Using gloves, cut the knot off of the string and unwrap the fabric in a sink or on newspaper.
4. Iron the fabric to set the paint and dry the fabric. As soon as one color is dry you can rewrap the fabric. At this stage, a second transparent color of diluted paint may also be brushed over the Shibori piece.
5. If desired, wash the fabric with synthrapol and place in a clothes dryer. The possibilities for this technique are endless. Be creative-retying your fabric at angles or different directions will yield different results and you will quickly create a beautiful bundle of same side and scrunch some more.
Keep repeating until the one side is completely scrunched.

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Happy Stitching!


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About Amber

Amber Eden is the editor of Stitch and She LOVES sewing and editing Stitch and She also loves dance, yoga, iced decaf triple espressos, and her two golden retrievers. She divides her time between Boston and New York.

3 thoughts on “Create Your own Fabric Designs with Shibori

  1. Generally I like the Sew Daily posts and find them informative and fun. This post, on “shibori”, I find quite offensive. The technique described bares only the slightest resemblance to the centuries-old Japanese technique of binding and dyeing fabrics, which takes many years to master. The suggestion that you can grab a can, water down some paint and create a piece of shibori fabric will only serve to mislead and misinform your readers who have never been exposed to the beauty of real shibori masterpieces. The technique described, while I’m sure is fun and produces some interesting fabrics, should not ride on the coattails of an age-old master craft. Please choose another name.

  2. I’m with Susan here. Aside from the obvious which she states so well, what I see is an attempt to cross market magazines by a publishing company. Shibori is just the innocent victim here.

    There are many places to go to learn about Shibori ( my classes and blog being one) but this article isn’t one of them.

  3. I agree with both the above comments. Shibori is an art, this is a craft technique. I took an online shibori class from shiborigirl and got a feel for the history and fine art that it is. The class was instructive, well taught, and provided me with some wonderfully complex pieces. Check it out. I think the technique cited here is great for a quick change to your fabric but it doesn’t honor the traditional shibori and should have another name.