Indigo shibori dyeing … and a tote, a clutch and a pouch

indigo shibori itajime

I really do enjoy sewing. After a long break when I used my sewing machine only to trim new trousers, I realized this again. If you watched me while I am sewing you would probably not always  assume this – not seldom it is accompagnied with screams of annoyance when I’ve (again) attached two pieces of fabric just the wrong way … but then, when I finally hold a finished project in my hands, it’s all forgotten and I am left with pride.

indigo shibori itajime

The pride manifolds when you’ve not only sewed your on bag (or whatever), but when you’ve also created your individual fabric by printing, painting or dyeing. It makes it even more YOUR product!

After experimenting with different techniques of block printing/stamping (f.ex. here, here and here), fabric painting/writing as well as classic tie-dyeing, I’ve now climbed another mountain – shibori.

indigo shibori tote

Shibori is kind of the big brother of simple tie-dyeing. It’s a traditional japanese art of dyeing fabric, rediscovered these days. The patterns are created not only by various ways of binding, but also folding, twisting, compressing and stiching. Each of these different techniques has it’s own name … and of course you can combine them. (For more information about tradtion and techniques have a look at the page of the World Shibori Network.)

Itajime is a shape-resist-technique. You start with folding the fabric accordion style, in both directions. This way you will create small squares (or triangles, if you fold it this way). The bundle is now squeezed between two wood blocks and binded with rubber bands or string.

There are lots of pictured tutorials around the web. Check out this, this and this, these instructions and let inspire you by the projects I’ve collected on this pinterest board.

indigo shibori itajime

For my itajime experiment I didn’t use wood, but a thick cardboard – the outer parts of the fabric are getting a bit more colour, cause it doesn’t prevent all of the dye to come through. For the triangular shaped jute fabric and the tote, that I’ve folded very tightly and then binded with rubber bands, I didn’t use any coverage. And: For this first experiment I didn’t use real indigo, but easy to use indigo coloured textile dye. Next time I will try this Indigo Tie-Dye Kit.

indigo shibori itajime 4

Of course, as soon as the fabric had dried, I wanted to create something out of it. Following the dictum that you can never have enough bags I added a clutch and a new pencil pouch to my collection: Easy to sew (really a beginner project) – and such a satisfying outcome! And ready for my first RUMS day…

indigo shibori clutch

Both clutch and pencil case are simple zipper pouches with slightly boxed corners. If you’d like to learn how to sew any zippered pouch/bag/clutch I can deeply recommend Annas tutorials.

The clutch is made of 2 pieces of lining fabric at 30 x 20 cm (plus a little interior pocket). The fabric is in fact a simple IKEA dish towel. The two exterior pieces are sewn together from my shibori fabric (30 x 12 cm) and beige microsuede/synthetic leather (30 x 9 cm). For stability I also used some light fusable interfacing.

The pencil case is made from 20 x 12 cm pieces of fabric (2 x lining, 2 x exterior shibori fabric).

indigo shibori tote and pencil case

Now there’s only one difficult question left: What to sew from the remaining fabric? Pillow/cushion cases? Kitchen towels? Napkins? Another bag? – I can’t decide at the moment…

indigo shibori pencil case


  1. Pingback: Temporary solution – Fabric storage buckets | nadel&gabel

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: