The Easiest Way to Try the Shibori Dyeing Technique

by on Dec 17, 2015

To gloved hands are holding smashed blue material with rubber bands on it.
Photo: Rachel Brewer

If I had to choose one DIY trend / technique that I never get tired of, it would have to be dyeing. Mostly because it’s a very easy process that (truly) anyone can complete. Plus, the before and after transformation is generally pretty dramatic. There are lots of options when it comes to dyeing too, from traditional dyeing to over-dyeing to dip dyeing, etc. 

The one that I’ve been most interested in as of late though is Shibori dyeing, which basically means shaping and securing the textile before placing in a dye bath. I’ve simplified the process to make it easy enough for even the most beginner level DIYer to handle, and used rubber bands to create interesting designs in a matter of minutes. Click through to see how the pillows turned out and do some last minute decorating before the holidays roll around.


Small brown rocking chair with a blue pillow on it set on top of a light wooden floor.
Photo: Brittni Mehlhoff
Three bottles or Rit dye and rubber gloves.
Photo: Rachel Brewer


  • fabric dye (I like Rit Dye because it’s easy to find – I picked mine up from the grocery store)
  • rubber bands
  • VIGDIS 20×20 Ikea pillow cover
  • 20×20 pillow insert
  • rubber gloves
  • large plastic storage container (or something similar – 3 gallons or larger)
  • 1 cup of salt
A person putting white cloth inside the plastic box.
Photo: Rachel Brewer

How To:

1. Start by filling a large container with very warm water. To help the dye adhere evenly, soak the pillow cover completely. Then wring out any excess water.

2. Next, add dye to warm water, along with salt, and stir. Note: The amount of dye to water ratio depends on the weight of the fabric you are using. After all of the dyeing I’ve done in the past, I tend to eyeball it. But for the most accurate coloring, be sure to follow instructions on the packaging.

A person is tying white cloth with rubber band.
Photo: Rachel Brewer

3. Grab the pillow cover that was wrung out from step 1 and start wrapping with rubber bands. 

The placement of the rubber bands will completely change the design, so keep that in mind. For example, I tried a couple of different options with the rubber bands and each gives a completely different design result…

Folding the pillow cover over and over and over again before wrapping two rubber bands around produces a pillow with more undyed areas. While running a few rubber bands across only the center (without folding) will produce a pillow that is mostly dyed with an undyed design in the middle. The technique shown in the photo above, which has been randomly squished together with rubber bands haphazardly placed in multiple directions will produce a more typical tie-dyed look.

Two hands wearing purple gloves are holding a piece of cloth.
Photo: Rachel Brewer

4. Add pillow cover to the dye bath and let the fabric soak in the dye for up to 15 minutes. The longer the pillow covers are in the dye, the darker the color will be. So you can keep the pillows in the dye bath even longer than the allotted time, if the desired richness has not yet been achieved. *The fabric will look darker when it’s wet, so keep that in mind when determining whether you have reached the desired color.

A person with blue gloves putting blue banded cloth into black colored water box.
Photo: Rachel Brewer

5. Then, remove the pillow covers from the dye. 

Person holding a tie dyed cloth under a running faucet while wearing purple rubber gloves.
Photo: Rachel Brewer

6. Wring out excess dye from the fabric, and rinse in the sink, under cold water, until the water runs clear. 

A person with violet colored gloves tying blue cloth with rubber band.
Photo: Rachel Brewer

7. Wring out the water and remove the rubber bands from the fabric. Then wash and dry the pillow covers in the washer and dryer. Add the pillow inserts and they’re good to go.

A cat investigates a pillow.
Photo: Brittni Mehlhoff
A rocking chair is sitting in a room with a wooden floor and blue walls.
Photo: Brittni Mehlhoff

Pretty easy, right? Think you’ll give this DIY project a try?

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