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Indigo dyeing Part II

How to DIY Shibori fabric in less than 30 minutes plus indigo history

· TLA Boutique,pillows,DIY

If you read my first blog about Indigo dyeing and Shibori dye method you will know I just broke the tip of the iceberg in my indigo dye research AND how very simple it is to do the every so popular color blocking method of Shibori dyeing.

As I delved deeper into it's history and other cultures methods they have been practicing for many generations, I found how complex and in depth one can create in their fabric designs.

With methods of embroidery, color blocking using wooden stamps and special dye paint, and woven pre-dyed yarns to create a pattern. (pictured below)

I also learned that dyeing with indigo is a world wide method that has been going on for centuries independent of on another. Countries that use it most predominantly are Japan, Vietnam, India, Africa and Europe. Each having their own version and patterns all achieving them in very similar ways.

My spark of passion came about when designing a family room for a client of mine. As I researched and discovered hand made textiles I fell in love. My most favorite part of design is the textiles and shopping for fabric, so when I discovered I could very easily design and dye my own fabric for my pillow boutique I was inspired!

watch the videos below to see a quick tutorial on how to dye a few different methods.

If you want to learn more in depth about indigo scroll to the bottom.

For the best results store in plastic bag for 6-12 hours to stay moist and get a deep color.

If using synthetic I found Navy Blue was truer to indigo than "denim" color.

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In depth indigo history

Indigo is a natural dye that can be extracted from a bushy looking plant. It is a very precious and important process economically because it was at one time rare.

Indigo was used in India, which was also the earliest major center for its production and processing. The I. tinctoria species was domesticated in India. Indigo, used as a dye, made its way to the Greeks and the Romans, where it was valued as a luxury product.

Indigo is among the oldest dyes to be used for textile dyeing and printing. Many Asian countries, such as India, Japan, and Southeast Asian nations have used indigo as a dye (particularly silk dye) for centuries. The dye was also known to ancient civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Britain, Mesoamerica, Peru, Iran, and Africa. The oldest known fabric dyed indigo dating to 6,000 years ago was discovered in 2009 at Huaca Prieta, Peru.[4]


Interestingly enough, the technique of dyeing that people are so quick to call shibori with the strips, circles, and arrow motifs are actually indigenous to Africa and are not of Japanese origin at all. Although the indigo dying methods of the different countries developed independently, they do have similarities and it's understandable how they can be confused. But it is important to recognize each cultures designs and give each their own respects.

The African women, that's who did the dyeing and clothes making, used resistance dyeing method by using bands of leftover materials, rubber, etc. and also stitched patterns before dyeing. Once yarns were removed after drying the fabric underneath remained the natural fabrics color either muslin or white.

Pictured below are a few samples of the patterns that are African in origin.

Tied panels that have just come out of an indigo bath. When they are sewn together, the white resist patterns (known as 'crow's neck') can either be lined up or staggered.

Inspiration for the pattern below are children's maracas made from the dried fruit of the baobab, which have been pierced with the little holes and decorated.

'Ball' motif, picture below is a smaller pattern from above, these are achieved by pinching and stretching a fabric between their fingers to form a cone then winds thread around the base. Small balloons are made in rows, larger are staggered. These both appear to be larger.

Hand stitching entire fabric before dying to create intricate patterns is delicate work. I love her blue hands btw.

From left to right, half ball motif, ball motif, arrows

Needless to say that these women are amazing. And their constantly evolving patterns learnt from their mothers are inspirational. This woman below is a Dogon woman. Left crows neck right razor blade.


"The Japanese shibori dyer works in concert with the material, not in effort to overcome its limitations. An element of the unexpected is always present." has even more in depth history of Shibori. The patterns are achieved by folding and pressing fabric in between wooden shaped blocks, as you can see below and in the above videos. There are many different patterns and names for these patterns. You can find the pattern guide here:

A design by Toshiharu, Tokushima. The Karamatsunui shibori technique results in a design resembling a section through a pine trunk, a pattern known as karamatsu.

Women at work. Wax resistant application for making patterns is an amazing way to get intricate designs. Since the skirt is basically white, a large amount of wax is needed to preserve the white areas from dye absorption. As you can imagine, this takes a great deal of patience and is tricky to produce. The dots are drawn with a brush and wax.

loving the shibori? click here to shop finish products.


Traditionally bright colors such as pink, red and yellow are applied to the end product in Vietnam.

Tassels, accessories and jewelry add color and sparkle to an otherwise somber outfit. Yao Lanten women from Binh Lu, Vietnam wearing their spectacular headdresses of false braids surmounted by a silver crown. When a lantien girl reaches puberty and undergoes her initiation rites, she is entitled to make and wear a celestial crown. Most Yao Lantien women wear this crown daily. *


Designs by Yhang Zhan Yin. She has her own particular system for deciding how long her cloth should sit in the dye for. "I light a little candle and I soak the cloth until it burns out."

Chinese batik is just breathtaking and delightful. And the assortment of coordinating designs is just pure beauty.

India & Block printing

This amazing method of blocking printing is utilized with handmade ink, wooden hand carved stamps, and natural fibered fabric like linen or cotton. It is so impressive and I am very anxious and excited to try it out myself.

It is primarily a method used in India, but of course it is used in Thailand and Eastern Asia as well as Europe.

Another method of block printing is with a dye resistant material such as hot wax, washable glue, or flour & water paste leaving the pattern to have resisted the dye and appearing in the natural fabric state.

This video is so beautifully produced by West Elm.

It is not limited to one color, it can be applied and layered on multiple colors. That is where the depth of complexity and beauty is breathtaking.

A Rajasthani man in Pipar, a city like Jodhpur, where the houses are painted blue. Left and right of him are traditional motifs block printed in dye resist on an indigo ground.

You can buy wood block stamps on Etsy. Here is one amazing shop I found: TATAindinawoodstamps 

This stamp is an antique paisley design. This is in my possession btw. Super excited to try this technique out!

A rare European block printing factory.

There are so many things to learn from each culture and an amazing wealth of beauty and technique. I hope you enjoyed learning about it as much as I did and try out the easier ideas yourself.

If it's too overwhelming head on over to my SHOP and browse at the selections. I will be sourcing more materials via fair trade vendors from around the world to expand my collection to have these amazing artists work to be available for your home.

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