Rebecca Atwood Shows Us the Secret to Shibori Dyeing at Home

Home décor trends come and go, but shibori accessories never seem to fade out of style. "I think people are drawn to this hand done, painterly process in the digital world," explains Rebecca Atwood, a designer, and artist who employs the dyeing process when making throw pillows and napkins for her label. "There's something magical about the process, and it comes through in the final design. It's also pretty classic."

Shibori is a resist-dyeing technique that originated in eighth-century Japan. While you can find shibori décor at big retailers like Anthropologie and Target, it's also incredibly easy to do at home. In Atwood's book, Living with Pattern, she offers a step-by-step guide to master the DIY project at home, including how to fold the fabric, mix the dye, and experiment with unique patterns. Here's exactly how it's done. 

The Supplies

Rebecca Atwood Shibori Dyeing
Emily Johnston for Method

Fabric, such as white vintage napkins in cotton or linen
Pot for scouring
Measuring cups and spoons
Dye in your choice of color
Medium container for mixing the dye
Rubber bands
Large container for soaking the fabric
Rit Color Stay Dye Fixative
Drying rack
Apron or old clothes
Rubber gloves

Step 1: Scour

Shibori dyeing
Living with Pattern by Rebecca Atwood

It's important to thoroughly clean, or scour, your fabric prior to dyeing. "It should be scoured with soda ash, which is essentially a very strong detergent," Atwood explains in her book. Put the fabric in a washing machine with one tablespoon of soda ash, and then pour one tablespoon of Synthrapol where the liquid detergent goes. Use the hottest water setting. 

Step 2: Fold

Shibori dyeing Guide
Living with Pattern by Rebecca Atwood

The way you choose to fold the fabric will create the patterns on the fabric, so experiment during this step. Atwood recommends folding the fabric half lengthwise twice. Then, accordion fold it into a rectangular shape, making sure you fold evenly. Finally, wrap the bundle with rubber bands. "The tighter the rubber bands, the less dye will get underneath," changing the pattern, she explains. Put the bundles in a bowl of water and soak for 10 minutes. 

Step 3: Dye

How to do shibori dyeing
Living with Pattern by Rebecca Atwood

Pour the pre-mixed all-purpose dye into a large container and add hot water. Wait five minutes then add one cup of salt dissolved into two cups of hot water. Once the dye bath is mixed, add the damp bundles and stir continuously. 

Step 4: Rinse

Shibori Napkins
Living with Pattern by Rebecca Atwood

Remove the bundles and rinse in cold water until it runs clear. On the last rinse, add a drop of Synthrapol or Rit Color Stay Dye Fixative to ensure the dye doesn't bleed. Unwrap the bundles to reveal your unique, Shibori dyed fabric. That's it! 

Looking for inspiration? Browse the Shibori décor below. 

Rebecca Atwood Marbled Stripe Gray-Lilac $249
Shibori Hand Dyed Napkins Set of 4 $40
Shibori Wall Art
Anthropologie Shibori Wall Art $398
"Playing with Pattern" book
Rebecca Atwood "Living with Pattern" $26

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