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The Rit Studio: Stovetop Technique

How to Dye Using the Shibori Pole-Wrapping Technique

Shibori is the Japanese art of shaped resist dyeing. The fabric is compressed by using wrapping, stitching or folding techniques that create a resist when dyeing the fabric; that is, the “resist” creates areas where the dye is not absorbed into the fabric. The result is soft patterns and striations that look more complicated than they really are.

In the pole-wrapping technique, fabric is wrapped with twine around a PVC pipe and then pushed together or compressed. This creates the resist that forms the patterns and textured lines in the fabric. Make sure you have a piece of pipe long enough, and wide enough, for the size fabric you’re dyeing as too many layers of fabric wrapped around the pipe will make it hard for the dye to be absorbed properly. We recommend wrapping the fabric no more than three or four times.

Prep, dye and clean up time: 1 hour

You’ll Need

  • Fabric to Dye
  • Rit Dye, liquid or powder
  • PVC pipe
  • Ball of cotton twine or Mason Line
  • Masking tape
  • 4-cup measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Large spoon
  • Foam brush, optional
  • Large plastic tray
  • Large 3-gallon plastic container
  • 1 cup plastic container, optional
  • Plastic wrap
  • Rubber gloves
  • Plastic table cover

Step by Step

  1. Cover work surface with a plastic table cover.

  2. Wrap fabric around PVC pipe (we used a 4” diameter PVC pipe cut to a 12” length in pictures shown) and secure one end with a rubber band. Secure the other end with a piece of masking tape. Note: Fabric can also be wrapped diagonally around the pipe to create a different patterned effect.

  3. Tie a piece of twine or cotton mason line around one end of the pipe. Then wrap the twine around the pipe, spacing the wraps about ½” apart, for 4”.
    Shibori - Wrap Photo A Step 3

    Then stop and push the fabric down to the masking taped end of the pipe. The tighter the fabric is compressed, the less dye that will be able to penetrate the fabric. Continue wrapping and pushing the fabric until it is all pushed down. Secure end of twine with a knot.
    Shibori - Wrap Photo B Step 3

  4. Immerse wrapped fabric in warm water for several minutes. This will help the dye move onto the fabric more easily.

  5. Wear rubber gloves and shake dye bottles before pouring. Fill 3-gallon container with 2 gallons very hot water (140F). Measure ½ cup liquid dye, or 1 box of powder dye with 4 cups very HOT water and stir. Pour dye solution into water; stir well. Immerse wrapped fabric in dye bath. Let set for 4 – 6 minutes.
    Shibori - Wrap Photo C Prep Dye Step 1

  6. To get a two-color pattern effect, measure 1 tablespoon liquid dye or 2 tablespoons powder dye into a small plastic container; add 1 cup very hot water; stir. Remove wrapped fabric from dye bath. Place on plastic tray.

    Using foam brush, brush dye horizontally around wrapped fabric. Let set 1 – 2 minutes.
    Shibori - Wrap Photo E Prep Dye Step 3

  7. Rinse dyed fabric in cold water. Remove twine or string. Continue rinsing fabric in cool water until water runs clear. Then launder in warm water with mild detergent, rinse and dry flat.
    Wrap - Golden Yellow & Teal

Try our FAQs, or Ask The Dye Doctor

  • Derol W

    How would you do this with canvas shorts (11″ inseam, so knee length)?
    Perhaps wrap the twine around the leg opening until you were left with a figure 8 ?




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