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Tie-dyed Fabric

Shibori, or most commonly known as Tie-dye, is a method of patterning cloth by stitching, binding, twisting and folding so that the dye is not able to reach certain areas of the fabric.

Jo Barrell Tie DyeThis is a great technique for experimentation and can be used to decorate t-shirts, bedding, curtains and fabric ready for making into clothes. Following the instructions for your chosen dye will ensure that the colours remain wash fast.

You can achieve subtle patterning with just one colour, as in this silk fabric which has been dyed with Logwood natural dye. Or you can allow the tied fabric to dry fully before unravelling it, tying it differently and then dyeing it with another colour. Use bright, contrasting colours such as red and yellow so that the two colours combine to create orange in the areas that have not been tied.

Cold water Procion MX dyes are suitable for most natural fabrics and are made wash fast by the addition of soda ash. You must ensure that the fabric is prepared for dyeing by first washing out any dirt or grease which will resist the dye. Use a few drops of Synthrapol in warm water to wash the fabric and then rinse thoroughly. Follow this simple recipe to create your dye bath:


  1. Experimenting with tie-dyeTo dye 100g dry fabric weight, make a stock solution of between 0.5g to 4.0g dye powder (depending on the depth of colour required). Dissolve the dye powder in a little cold water first and then combine with 500ml cold water.
  2. Measure 3 litres of cold water into a bucket and stir in the stock solution.
  3. Add the tied damp fabric and ensure it is fully submerged
  4. Leave to stand for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add 120g of common salt (having first dissolved it in a little water) gradually over the next 10 minutes (the salt pushes the dye into the fabric, helping to create an even, rich colour).
  6. Add 30g of soda ash (having first dissolved it in a little hot water) and leave for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  7. Wash and rinse well.

This page 'How to Tie-Dye' on Paula Burch's comprehensive website 'All About Hand Dyeing' provides excellent instruction on how to create your tie-dyed fabric. Alternatively, the Jacquard Tie-Dye Kit, which contains thorough instructions and enough Procion MX dye to tie-dye 5 t-shirts, is an excellent place to begin.

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