DIY Shibori Dying - Chico Wedding Vendor Collaboration


We have such an amazing community of creative and wedding vendors right here in Chico! Some of these vendors have become our biggest cheerleaders and friends! Stephen and I love collaborating with others and find it so creatively fueling! A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of collaborating with Molly Ryan, one of our favorite florists in the Chico area for a fun project! Molly is super talented and anything she touches turns into magic!

Molly set up and bought the proper materials needed for this DIY project. She came to me and said what do you think about Shibori? I had never heard of this technique or seen it before and was up for anything! I did a little bit of research and soon found out how cool this technique can be and was eager to photograph the process. Stephen and I love seeing unique and creative pieces used in someone's home or at a wedding. If your up for some crafting, we think Shibori could be such a fun DIY project to include for your wedding. We're all about providing inspiration for our couples and thought this would be a great blog post to share about the process and steps to make this happen. Below are the materials and process in Molly's own words of how she created this! If you're interested in this technique or would like to see more examples, head on over to read more in depth on Molly's blog post :D

From Molly:

Shibori is an ancient Japanese dyeing technique that involves folding, binding, stitching, twisting, and compressing cloth, and then dyeing it in indigo. The objects used to bind the fabric cause the dye to resist, forming beautiful, and sometimes intricate patterns. There are an infinite number of ways to do it, but we thought we'd share just a few methods that we found accessible as beginners.

Here's what you'll need to complete the process:

  • Indigo Dye - Kits are widely available, but make sure it's the natural type and not synthetic
  • Fabric, Clothing, Sheets, whatever you like - it must be a natural fiber such as cotton, silk, wool, or linen -- (For the backdrop I used flour sack towels that I later sewed together to make a quilt of different patterns)
  • Two 5-gallon buckets
  • Stirring Stick
  • Drop Cloth
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Rubber Bands
  • Wooden blocks
  • River Rocks
  • Twine
  • PVC or other pipe
  • Embroidery Thread and Needle
  • Scissors

Itajime shibori is known as the shape-resist technique. To get started, you fold the fabric like an accordion, and then fold it like an accordion again in the other direction. Once you have a square (or rectangle), place it between two pieces of wood, or  any two flat objects you like. Bind it all together with rubber bands or string. Smaller shapes and fewer rubber bands will result in more area that is dyed blue, while larger shapes and more rubber bands will result in more area that is white.

The accordion fold can also be used for Kumo shibori, known as the pleat and bind technique. Once you have folded the fabric in an accordion, you can pinch and bind sections with rubber bands, resulting in a spider-like design. We also free-styled some triangular folding and followed similar techniques, this is where it gets fun: putting your own stamp on these traditional styles.

Kanoko shibori involves binding rocks to the fabric. Probably the easiest of all the techniques we tried, I fell in love with its simplicity and organic feel.

To set up the indigo dye vat follow the instructions on the kit. For this one, we filled a 5-gallon bucket with warm water, and then dumped the indigo dye powder into the bucket and stir stirred. Once it's well mixed, pour in the soda ash and reduction agent. Stir in a circular motion and then in reverse. Once the dye is mixed, cover it for about an hour. When you check on the dye, there should be a foamy, oil-slick, yellow top layer. This is how you know the dye is ready.

Fully submerge your pieces in clean water first, remove excess water, and then place in the dye bath making sure it's fully covered. Let it sit for about 10 or more minutes, depending on how dark you'd like the hue to be.

After 10 (or more) minutes are up, take the pieces out. You will notice they are bright yellow-green color when you first take them out, and it is not until the dye has had a chance to oxidize that they turn blue. After it oxidizes, you can repeat the dying process. To get a deep blue color, you must repeat the process of dying and oxidizing. Simply leaving the pieces in the dye vat a longer amount of time will not do the trick without the oxidation step.

After completing the dyeing remove the objects. I found it was nice to let them set overnight before removing the binding, but you can remove the binding right away if you'd like less bleeding. Give each piece a thorough rinse, squeezing out excess water, and then unwrap to reveal the pattern you have created.

Wash all pieces in the machine with cold water and no detergent. Line dry or dry on the lowest heat setting, ironing afterward to set the color.

You can continue using the remainder of the dye for up to two weeks, just take care to keep it covered and prevent it from oxidizing too much.