Introduction: DIY Arashi Shibori

About: Former long time designer at Instructables. I have a degree in fashion design and like to sew, get crafty, and attempt to use power tools.

Also known as pole-wrapping shibori, arashi (Japanese for "storm") shibori is a japanese dye technique that results in diagonal stripes that are reminiscent of storm driven rain. I am going to demonstrate a very basic pattern with only two folds, however true masters of this art are able to produce very intricate patterns, as well as take advantage of the pleating which occurs to create structural pieces that are incredibly beautiful. See some examples of this here. Wow!

Step 1: What You Need

I get all my dye and supplies at Dharma Trading. They have a great selection of fabrics and dyes. If you are completely new to fabric dyeing, you want to buy fabrics of natural fibers (cotton, silk, rayon), as otherwise they will not accept the dye. For this tutorial, I used a natural indigo dye.

You will need:

Dye ready fabric: I used silk chiffon

Dye: Any kind of dye will work, but I used indigo

A round pvc pole, roughly 4" in diameter. I ended up using an exhaust pipe we had lying around at work!


Tape (to keep the string in place on the pipe)

Step 2: Wrap the Fabric

My end plan for this fabric is to make a beach cover up, and wanted to have only one large chevron on the front and back. As such only folded it in half and then in half again. At each fold the stripes will change direction, so to make many chevrons you would fold the fabric in an accordion style to your desired width of chevron.

Once you have folded your fabric, wrap the pole at a diagonal starting with the center. If you end up with a long thin fold of fabric vs my near square, it will end up wrapping the pole more like a ribbon, and will benefit from using some tape on either end to keep it taught and in place as you begin the next step.

Step 3: Wrap With String

Now it is time to define your pattern. Tie string around the bottom of the pole and secure with a piece of tape. Each wrap of the string will create a stripe where the dye will not permeate as fully, and can be as precise or loose as you like. I was pretty loose with my stripes (mine are about 3/4"), however if I had more folds in the fabric I probably would have kept my wraps closer together for a more detailed stripe.

After wrapping a few rows of fabric, carefully scrunch the whole fabric piece down to pleat around each string. If you have secured the fabric with tape at the other end for stability, gently untape, push down, and retape every few rows. The tighter you push the fabric down, the less the dye will be able to permeate. In my case my stripes remained white, whereas if I had left it looser it would have been two shades of blue.

Once you are done, tie off the string and tape it to the pole to secure it.

Step 4: Dye Fabric

First, wet your fabric thoroughly with water as it will help the dye spread. Blot it lightly with a towel. You want the fabric to be damp, not sopping wet.

Now for the fun part! I simply submerged the whole thing evenly in indigo dye. You can also get creative and paint or dip in multiple colors for more detailed effects.

It was my first time using indigo dye, which is a great science experiment as it is pea green upon leaving the dye, and sets to blue through oxidation. You can see in the photos how the color changes quickly to the blue it will become. I was unfamiliar with indigo dyeing and assumed that the amount of time in the dye bath wasn't super important to the final color, as oxygen was what set the dye. I learned however that to achieve a nice dark blue, you have to either gently agitate it in the dye bath for at least five minutes, or even better submerge it two or three times, allowing for it to oxidize in between.

Step 5: Wash Fabric

Let your fabric dry (probably the hardest part :), then unwrap and see what you made! I was super happy with the unwashed version, shown here.

First, rinse the fabric in the sink with lukewarm water until the water runs clear. Then wash it in a machine on warm or hot to rid the fabric of the rest of the loose dye. Especially if you have dyed a thicker fabric like cotton jersey or something super dark, you will want to run it through twice to assure color fastness.

As mentioned in the last step, I did not let my fabric sit in the dye long enough to achieve this darker color shown above. I learned from dyeing a number of things that with indigo the midtones wash out easily, while the darkest shades stick really well. Keep that in mind during the dye process in order to get the color you want.

Step 6: Done!

Enjoy your new arashi shibori fabric!