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Part 3: Shibori Dyeing Binding Techniques

Welcome to Part 3 of my creative education series focused on Shibori Dyeing.  In this post, I’ll show you two shibori binding techniques:  one is a simple binding technique using dry chickpeas and elastic bands and the other is a spider-web binding technique using cotton thread. Both producing unique and wonderful patterns! 

In case you missed it, here is Part 1 What is Shibori Dyeing and Part 2: Shibori Dyeing Materials and Supplies.

Shibori dyeing is a labor intensive craft! But I love the process - especially the part when I undo the binding to reveal the pattern. There is always an element of surprise because I’m never quite sure what the pattern will ultimately look like.  

Prior to dyeing, the first step is to plan your design.  Sometimes I plan my design on paper and then trace it onto the fabric, other times I just plan it directly on the fabric.  When I plan it on paper first, this produces a more consistent pattern compared to when I just plan it directly on the fabric.  Continue to read and you’ll see what I mean!

SHIBORI DYEING - SIMPLE BINDING TECHNIQUE

Materials Used:

  • ½ yard muslin cotton
  • Jacquard Procion MX dye in teal (from Blick Art)
  • Soda Ash 
  • Urea
  • Dry chickpeas (alternatively you can also use a dry kidney bean or blackeye pea)
  • Elastic bands

Step 1: Plan the design on paper

Start by drawing a grid on a sheet of paper.  I spaced my gridlines about 1” apart.  Where the grid lines intersect, I drew a small circle.  This indicates where the dry chickpea will be placed and secured with an elastic band.

Step 2:  Trace the pattern on the fabric

Place the paper pattern under the fabric and trace the circle markings onto the fabric using a pencil or erasable fabric marking pen.

 

Step 1 and 2 of shibori dyeing simple binding technique

 Step 3:  Secure chickpea with an elastic band

Place a dry chickpea (can also use dry blackeye peas or kidney beans) under the fabric where you see the circle markings and secure in place with an elastic band.

Shibori technique - simple binding - secure chickpea with elastic band

Step 4:  Prepare the dye bath

First, I dissolved ⅓ cup urea and ¼ cup soda ash in 32oz of hot water. Then I added 1 tablespoon of Procion Dye and another 32oz of hot water.  Once the dye bath was ready, I submerged the fabric in the dye bath for 45 minutes.

 

Shibori Dyeing - submerge fabric in dye bath

Step 5:  Rinse, Iron, Heat Dry

Remove the fabric from the dye bath, squeeze out the water and lay flat with the elastic bands in place for a few hours or overnight.  Once dry (or partially dry), remove the elastics and chickpeas to reveal the pattern.  Rinse the dyed fabric in cool water several times until the water runs clear (or mostly clear). The goal is to get rid of as much of the excess dye as possible.  Lay flat to dry again. Once it is partially dry, then place the fabric in the dryer (your home dryer is fine) for a final heat setting. I secured a knot at the base (without cutting the thread) and repeated this process until all of the fabric was pinched and secured with thread.

Shibori Dyeing -Lay flat for a few hours or overnight with binding to dry

SHIBORI DYEING - SPIDER WEB BINDING

Materials Used:

  • ½ yard muslin cotton
  • Jacquard Procion MX dye in teal (from Blick Art)
  • Soda Ash 
  • Urea
  • Cotton thread

Step 1:  Plan the design on fabric

For this technique, I planned the design directly on the fabric.  But I did not draw placement markings on the fabric, rather I just  eye-balled selected areas on the fabric to pinch and wrap with thread.

 Step 2:  Secure with cotton thread

For each pinched area, I secured it with cotton thread, tightly woven from the base to the tip and then back down the base.  Without cutting the thread, I tied a twisted loop knot and moved on to the next area of the fabric, pinched a section and repeated the thread winding process.  

Shibori Dyeing - spider web binding technique

 

Once you have finished binding the entire fabric piece, then follow steps 4 and 5 as shown above in the simple binding technique.

Now for the results!  This is how the simple binding with the dry chickpea turned out:

Shibori Dyeing technique - simple binding - dyed fabric
shibori dyeing technique using dry chickpeas and elastic bands

Here's how the spider web binding looks.  You'll notice in this one, the pattern is not as precise since I did not plan this on paper first.  I like the randomness of this pattern!

Shibori dyeing - spider web binding technique - the finished fabric
Shibori dyeing - close up of the spider web binding pattern

 

I really love how these patterns turned out and I can't wait to create more shibori dyed fabrics using different techniques.  In fact, I hope to turn these educational blog posts into video tutorials soon and possibly offer some online classes that teach different and advanced Shibori dyeing techniques. 

Stay tuned...and be sure to sign up for my newsletter to be notified when I post new creative education content!

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