Upcycling with shibori

Shibori is a Japanese technique that involves folding, binding, twisting or compressing the cloth so that parts of it are not exposed when it is dyed, resulting in very distinctive patterns. Shibori is similar to tie dye but the Japanese, as with so many craft forms, have developed the techniques even further, wrapping the fabric around poles before binding, using special devices for looping the thread around the cloth, or pulling up rows of stitching very tightly to resist the dye. 

I use shibori mostly with indigo, an wonderfully intriguing pigment.

How I upcycle with shibori

I buy scarves, garments and other items from charity shops and fold, stitch, clamp, bind or roll them before dipping them in the indigo vat. I dip the fabric several times in the vat to build up the colour.

Indigo requires oxygen to turn blue. When I remove a piece from the vat the colour is actually green, and as it is exposed to the air it turns blue before my eyes - it's quite magical! Letting the fabric oxidise between dips also makes the indigo more colour fast.

Where the fabric has been tied, bound or stitched, the original colour and pattern of the fabric shows through against the indigo blue. Of course, each item is unique, so when it's gone it's gone!

shibori machine stitch top
shibori mokune mat
shibori linen scarf itajime
shibori whirlpool