Shibori: Dyeing With Indigo

UPDATE: This post originally ran last summer but with our Thai Blue Sky lookbook online now, we were inspired to share it again!

Shibori is a Japanese form of dyeing that revolves around different ways of binding and folding fabric to create different patterns, and is most commonly practiced with indigo dye. Indigo dye is breathtaking – it’s amazing that something that comes from a plant can create such rich, vibrant shades of blue.  I’ve been wanting to try dyeing with indigo for years, and with this weeks Blue Belle theme, I knew now was the time. Now that I’ve tried it, I can’t wait to experiment with it more – with shibori, you can manipulate the fabric in so many different ways to create completely different patterns. The packet in my kit even came with instructions on how to do the different folding techniques. It’s so much fun and so rewarding when you see the results!


What you need: I ordered this Indigo dye kit on Amazon, and it has almost everything you need. It comes with a jar of indigo dye, reducing agent to mix with the dye, rubber bands, and some pieces of wood.  In addition to these things I used some rocks and sticks found outside, and of course white fabric! You should also wear gloves when working with dyes, even if it is a natural dye like indigo.


I used some of my white tops including the Keep Me Tee and Lost and Found Tee.


To prepare your dye bath, fill a bucket or container with 4 gallons of water. Add in the indigo dye and stir gently. Next add the reducing agent to a cup of hot water and stir until it dissolves, and then add into the dye bath.  Stir until thoroughly mixed and cover the dye, and let it sit for about a half hour to an hour – the perfect amount of time to bind your fabrics!


For the first method I wrapped the cloth around a cylindrical object and bind it with rubber bands.


The second method I tried involves folding the fabric (I used a plain piece of white fabric for this one) like an accordion. I then folded it in half a couple of times and sandwiched it between to pieces of wood.



The last method involves binding objects (I used stones) to create circular shapes.



Place your objects in the dye bath. The longer you let them sit, the darker the shade of indigo will be.



You’ll notice that the dye is a greenish-yellow shade. One of the coolest aspects of dyeing with indigo, is that the dye doesn’t actually turn blue until oxygen hits it.  You can watch the fabric change from a vibrant lime green to blue in a matter of minutes before your eyes.




After removing the fabric from the dye, let it sit for about a half hour before removing the binds.



As you remove the rubber bands, you’ll see white where the fabric didn’t touch the dye.  I found that with the wrapping method, thicker rubber bands work better.


This shirt, with the Kumo technique, is one of my favorites! I love how unique this pattern is.


Unwrapping the scarf was so cool – look at that shade of green!





I made this one using the wrapping technique with larger rubber bands, and let one end of the fabric sit in the dye longer. I love the results!


shibori (37)

Have you ever tried Shibori? Send us photos we’d love to see the results!

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Shibori is so much fun! I actually did it earlier this summer and did a post on it that you can see here:


thats so beautiful, maybe i can do that one day..

Wow, I love the scarf!

Beautiful effects! I love dyeing my light colored clothes when my (clumsy) self tends to stain them with coffee or something… I love experimenting with new and unique techniques… gotta try the folded one! And indigo! I smell a weekend project :)

<3 dani

I love shibori!! Me and my boyfriend discovered it a couple months ago, and have been experiementing and selling our products on Etsy. Please check out our site!

I have never tried shibori but I love it! It is sort of like sophisticated tie dye! Definitely want to try it.

xo, Juliette Laura

I have the this kit. I dreamed of Indigo last night. I think it’s a sign. DIY project this weekend! YES! :)

Dude! I’ve gotta try that!!


are your shoes from free people? i love them!

Fantastic tutorial, ladies! I love all three results! Must try this.

Jasmine Williams

You guys really need to start encouraging people to wear gloves in your dye tutorials. Although indigo is natural it still has harmful properties,especially when mixed from a powder form.

Jacqueline Bernier

Definitely trying this! :)


That seems really fun, can’t wait to try it!


WHOAH THIS IS AMAZING. What a gorgeous shade of blue! I will definitely try this!
Also, can you tell us anything about that white slip dress? It’s so pretty and simple! Is it FP?

I love the folding technique the most! I was just given a bunch of silk dyes. I wonder if Shibori would work with that?

thanks for giving me some new techniques Julia!

This is a MUST TRY DIY for me. I am am obsessed with what you did to that cami! Gorgeous! Thanks so much for this tutorial! :)

Gypsy Plunder Vintage (15% Off Sale)


Beautiful post, however there are some errors. You should never let your garment sit in the dye bath as it allows oxygen to contaminate the pH balance of the indigo, and it is false that the longer you let it sit in there the darker the shade will be. The darkness of indigo depends on how many times you dip it into the bath, giving it time to oxidize in between.


Oh, this is gorgeous! Brilliant actually–both the colors and the idea!

How pretty! I love how the spaghetti strap shirt turned out the best.

Amazing! You guys did a great job with this. Can’t wait to try it!

MacK @ SoulMakes Blog

I adore doing dye! my degree was in textiles and design so things like this are 100% my fave thing to do.


Loved this project! Here’s a video I made while trying it out!


What about laundering the pieces after? Any special instructions for that?


I love shibori, and it’s relative from India- bandhani. I love the micro patterns the dyers in Kutch and Rajasthan make using bandhani; the intricate designs remind me of bridal henna.