Tag Archives: shibori

When Shibori and Batik Love Each Other Very Very Much . . .

Remember this chair that I scored off Craigslist this spring? She’s a beaut, but seriously in need of a new ensemble.

chair cushions

You might remember that for the short term I took off the back cushion and covered the seat cushion with a wool blanket.  But with sub-freezing temps all of a sudden I kind of want my blanket back, so I thought I would try to make some new clothes for this guy.


The blanket I was using is a white and grey plaid, and I liked the look of the pattern in my living room.  I thought I would try to replicate it with a simple accordion fold shibori technique (you can read my shibori tutorial here).

I had some yardage of really nice heavyweight hemp fabric left over from a previous project, so I folded it up and dyed it with the indigo I had left over from my first attempt at shibori.

I don’t know if it’s because I was using a larger piece of fabric, or something about the fabric itself, but it didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped.

Red House West||Shibori Batik

The dye bled unevenly, some creases didn’t get any dye and others got too much.  It was just a mess.  Luckily I wasn’t totally wedded to the idea of shibori on this chair, so I wasn’t too disappointed.  I decided to see what would happen if I did a little batik on top of the shibori mess.

I had read that Elmer’s blue gel glue works as an alternative to wax for batiking, so I grabbed some out of Opal’s craft supplies.  I was still stuck on the idea of plaid, so using the glue I drew lines diagonal to the shibori pattern, and then another set of lines parallel to the shibori pattern.  I used the side of a cardboard box as a rough guide to help me draw relatively straight lines.

Red House West||Shibori Batik

I let the glue dry overnight, and then gave it a quick dunk in the indigo bath.  Wearing gloves, I swirled it around in the dye for about two minutes or so, and then laid it flat on top of a drop cloth to oxidize and dry.

Red House West||Shibori Batik

When the fabric first came out of the dye bath the glue lines where dark, almost black, and I wasn’t sure whether that was just the glue, or whether the fabric was actually going to be darker.  I liked the look of the dark lines, but when I rinsed the fabric (after letting it oxidize for about 10 minutes) the glue rolled right off and the fabric underneath was still pristine white.

After rinsing I let the fabric dry thoroughly.  It was sort of sticky all over from the glue, so I just tossed it in the washing machine and washed it in warm water.  It came out looking really great, not at all sticky, and the indigo didn’t bleed into the batik lines at all.

Red House West||Shibori Batik

Red House West||Shibori Batik

Actually, the non-batiked side of the fabric is pretty fetching too:

Red House West||Shibori Batik

I laid the fabric on the chair to get a sense of what it would be like.  I really like the pattern, but I’m not sure it’s quite right for this chair.

Some might say that there's something not quite right about that cat, but not me.  To me he's perfect.

Some might say that there’s something not quite right about that cat, but not me. To me he’s perfect.

Cromwell did his best to convince me that the fabric was perfect for the chair, but even his entreating gibbous eyes and sweet, loose-fleshed belly couldn’t convince me.

Red House West||Shibori Batik

Maybe it’s that my shibori-batik lacks any hint of the preppy gray and white plaid, or maybe it’s just that there’s too much going on.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but despite the fact that this emperor chair still has no clothes I’m glad to have experimented with this batiking technique, and I’m sure I’ll make good use of this fabric in another project.  Cromwell suggests a down-stuffed, heated cat bed.

Thanks for reading along, stay tuned for Wednesday when Katie posts about creating a gallery wall!


DIY Shibori Lampshade

Hi everyone! I’m back down in Eugene for a wedding this week, and I managed to (barely) squeeze in a DIY project that I’m excited to share with you.  A few years ago, Cameron’s dad gave us this lovely wooden lamp he built.  Unfortunately, the shade that was on it got smooshed in the move so it has been sitting bare-bulbed and unused for well over a year.  I’ve been keeping an eye out for a lampshade, but nothing was really speaking to me.  Well the other day I was doing what I do best – trolling Goodwill – when I saw this perfectly sized, but revoltingly stained, shade for about $2.  And an idea was born.

Lamp Shade Before

The lamp? Lovely. The shade, not so much.

Remember Mera’s post about experimenting with Shibori dyeing techniques?  I LOVED that post, and was so inspired that within five minutes of  reading it I had ordered the same dye kit she used.  I mean seriously, I could crawl into this photo and live there (but I’d like some cream in my coffee plz).  I decided a shibori lampshade was the way to go.


Photo by Mera

I found this very helpful video with instructions for recovering a lampshade in fabric on YouTube, and I’ve included some of the steps here so you can see how I did it.  The first thing I did was make a pattern for the shade.  I didn’t have any paper that was big enough, so I taped together a bunch of scratch paper.  Starting at the bottom left corner, I placed my lampshade with the seam in the middle and facing up.

making the pattern

Making the pattern 2

I then rolled the lampshade across the paper, tracing the bottom edge with my pencil.  Next, I returned the lampshade to its starting point at the bottom left of the paper and lined the shade up then set my pencil at the top of the shade and rolled it until I was back at the seam again.  The finished pattern and cut fabric looked like this:

Pattern and fabric

Because I wanted to place my dye pattern in a certain place on the shade, I cut the fabric before dyeing it.

I cut out two pieces of fabric and tied them in two different ways so I could decide which one I liked best (and just in case one went horribly wrong).  For the first I did an accordion pleat – similar to what Mera did in the photo above – and for the second I put dried garbanzo beans on the underside of the fabric and then wrapped a rubber band around them from the top.  From the side it looked like a bunch of little ghosties all in a line.

tying techniques for shades 2

I won’t belabor the dye instructions because Mera’s post covers it, but I will say that – though the process wasn’t complicated – I did manage to make a pretty remarkable mess.  As I was poking the fabric around in the dye bath, and inevitably getting it all over myself and everything else, I was reminded of a time in college when I called Mera in a panic because I was writing a paper at the 11th hour and my printer had broken.  She came over – she was no doubt a week ahead with all her schoolwork – and calmed me down.  She then picked up the broken – “broken” –  printer, dislodged popcorn kernels from it, and set me back to work.  This story is indicative of much of our friendship and also my life and did I mention that I was dyeing this fabric this morning?  Of course I was.  Don’t worry though folks, I didn’t learn any valuable lessons about time management because both fabrics turned out great.

tying techniques for shades

The accordion folded fabric is on the left, the garbanzo ghosts is on the right.

Choosing which one to use was HARD.  It required hemming, hawing, second guessing and soliciting opinions from Mera, my friend Kori and my mom.  There could only be one winner (though I’m tempted to find another lampshade so I can use the other fabric too).  And the winner is… pictured below 🙂

Once I’d washed, dried and ironed the fabric I took it and the lampshade outside.  I bought this spray adhesive at the hardware store and laid out a ground cloth to keep the fabric clean and the glue from getting everywhere.

Attaching the fabric to the shadeFollowing the directions on the can I sprayed the fabric thoroughly, paying special attention to the edges.  It was STICKY, but fortunately there was a short window before the glue set (short window – hence no pictures of this step) when I could still move the fabric around.  For next time, I will spray the adhesive in one area then move the gluey fabric to a clean spot  to actually attach it (the dyed fabric stuck to me, itself, the groundsheet and the shade, and I had to do some ridiculous contortions to get it in the right place).  Eventually, after I muttered and cursed and smoothed and fussed, it was on and pretty much wrinkle free.  I’ve put it in our bedroom, and love the way it looks against the soft gray walls.





Thanks for reading along!  Any other 11th hour types out there?  We hope you’ll check back on Friday when we’ll share our dreams of faraway places. Have a great day!

I Tried It: Shibori Dyeing

When we debuted our semi-regular feature DIY Friday, one of the tutorials I mentioned wanting to try was Shibori dyeing.  I gave it a go this weekend, and I’m really happy with the results!

Shibori is a Japanese method of dyeing cloth by binding, wrapping, or folding the cloth to create different patterns. On the recommendation of this tutorial from Design Sponge, I bought an indigo dyeing kit.


The instructions were simple.  Basically you just dump the contents in a bucket and gently stir. I didn’t want to use the whole thing, so I just eyeballed 1/2 of each of the three substances and poured them in.

Materials gathered.

Materials gathered


Mixing the dye

The dye has to sit for about 30 minutes after you mix it, so the next thing I did was to fold my fabrics.


A basic accordion fold of a pillowcase


I tried the accordion fold different ways, and I bound them differently, just as an experiment.


Another accordion fold, but bound between wood blocks.

I also tried a technique called Arashi, or pole-wrapping. I took another pillow case and wrapped it around some PVC pipe. I then tied strings tightly up the pole in about one-inch intervals.


Once I had all the strings tied on, I scrunched the pillow case down to create folds and pleats.


Next, I wet the folded fabrics thoroughly, and then submerged them in the dye bath.

Indigo bath.

My dye wasn’t deep enough to submerge the Arashi Shibori, so I used a foam paint brush to apply the dye while it was standing in the bucket to catch the drips. Each piece of fabric stayed in the dye bath for about 5 minutes. When they first emerge, they are a sickly green color, but exposure to air quickly changes them to a rich indigo. I let each fabric oxidize for a few minutes and then gave them another dose of dye. For the accordion folds, after the second time in the dye bath, I rinsed them in cold water and then unfolded them and let them dry before washing them in the washing machine. For the pole-wrapped version I let the dye dry overnight before rinsing them, just to give the dye a better chance of penetrating the inner wrapped layer of the pillow case.

I really like the results!  Here is the accordion fold that was bound only using rubber bands:


And here is the accordion fold bound with wood blocks:


And last but not least the pole-wrapped Arashi:




Just because no Red House West blog post is complete without a kitty pic.

The whole process was very easy, and unwrapping each folded fabric after dyeing was a fun surprise.  I will definitely try this again–I’m thinking reusable wrapping paper, and maybe a tablecloth for the breakfast nook.

Have you conquered something on your DIY to-try list lately?  We are always inspired by your projects!