If you’ve been paying attention to the runways and high fashion home goods lately, you’ve probably seen more than a few pieces sporting a tie-dyed look. The current dye trend isn’t so much “tie dye,” which is a method that became emblematically popular in the 60s and 70s. (You can learn to tie-dye here.) Today’s dyed pieces are created using an ancient Japanese technique called shibori, which is a process in which fabric is bound, folded, stitched, twisted, wrapped and/or compressed. Traditional shibori uses only indigo as a dye, but you can use any dye available to create the same patterns with a brighter palette.
I first saw the trend last fall, but it wasn’t until I read this blog post that I realized the difference between “tie dye” and “shibori” and started to appreciate the beauty of shibori. I read this article and realized that major designers like Vera Wang, Ralph Lauren, Eileen Fisher, Levi’s, etc. were producing shibori goods that were GORGEOUS — modern, ethereal, and chic.
I decided to give shibori a shot with an old white t-shirt and some Rit dye I had in my stock. I combined pink and purple in the hopes of achieving something close to Pantone’s color of the year, Radiant Orchid. I was strictly playing around with no particular goal in mind — I just wanted to see if I could pull off a halfway decent shibori t-shirt for spring. I made a few mistakes (machine washing, which faded the dyed areas and bled the dye to the white areas) and thought of a few ways to improve my technique for the next time, but I was OK with my results.
Then my daughter saw my shirt hanging up and asked for one of her own. Her shirt? AMAZING, as seen in the first photo above. I corrected my mistakes and tried a different folding/wrapping/binding technique and it came out PERFECTLY. And now I’m hooked on shibori.