Shibori & Tie-Dye
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Tie-Dye, Shibori & Adire Oniko

Tie-Dye and Other Bound Resists

1. Choose your materials

First you need to choose your fabric, dye and threads. Below you will find guidance on types of fabric to use for tie dye with natural dyes, choice of natural dyes and what makes a good tie for tie dye.

a) Fabric for tie dyeing

You will achieve better results with a fabric that absorbs dye quickly, such as silk. However, cotton is commonly used for tie-dye, particularly with indigo. It is a good idea to experiment with lightweight cotton fabrics before moving onto silk and other more expensive fabrics. And before embarking on a larger project, it would be wise to try a sample with your chosen fabric to see how well it takes the dye and how clear the pattern is.

i) Cotton fabrics

Remember that you will need to scour your cotton fabric before you tie dye. Some fabric shops sell cottons that are ‘Prepared for Dyeing’ (PFD), they still need scouring, but not as much as fabrics that are not PFD.

  • If you want well defined lines choose crisp cottons such as poplin. You will get more blurry lines on loosely woven cottons.
  • You can make smaller knots on finer cloths, such as cotton voile or lawn, and therefore achieve more spectacular results.
  • Patchwork shops often sell fabric for dyeing, dyers muslin, for example, produces good results. It is thicker than you would expect for muslin and very similar to calico.
  • The type of weave will also affect the result; dense weaves with a high thread count such as percale are not as suitable for tie dye as it is not easy to make a good tie and the dye has difficulty in penetrating the fabric.

ii) Silk

Silk takes dye really well and it also absorbs colour quickly, two properties that make silk ideal to use with shibori. You will also get darker colours on silk than on cotton.

  • Habotai 8 produces good results for scarves.
  • Habotai 10 is suitable for making clothes.
  • Pongee 5 is finer and more transparent than Habotai, making it more difficult to see the patterns.
  • Dupion silk does not allow great definition, but the slubs in the silk can lead to unusual results.

iii) Felt

Of course, you don’t need to restrict yourself to fabric, thin handmade felt, thin pre-felts or nuno felt are great for shibori too.


Now Go to:

b) Natural dyes for tie dyeing (opens a new page)

c) Choice of threads for tie dye (opens a new page)

d) Tie dye tips (opens a new page)

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Updated on 28 November 2020
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