Designing with Shibori – 1

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Being inspired by nature to create a shibori fabric

I am going to look at how to create a design from a watercolour sketch.

I bought a beautiful bunch of anemones and did some sketches and a small watercolour from them which inspired me to look at creating this design in shibori.


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Firstly I was inspired when I saw this little detail of a piece of shibori fabric with a traditional Japanese rose design on found on which is created with maki-age stitch resist shibori.

maki-age rose design
traditional maki-age rose design

I did some sketches to simplify the petal outlines using my watercolour sketch as reference. I created 4 petal shapes to create the impression of the flower. I wanted to create a “dark” centre and this is easiest done by leaving the centre of the motif unstitched.
Here is the motif being transferred to the fabric. The design pattern is first outlined in a running stitch which is pulled up tightly then bound around with a heavier thread.

These images show the stitching process and the final stitched piece before the design is pulled up.

The threads are pulled up and then a button weight polyester thread is used to wind around the shape leaving quite a good amount of the gathered fabric exposed.

Then it is dyed with Kemtex dyes in an interesting mauve colour and the stitching unpicked to reveal the design. Here is the finished fabric and the completed lampshade.

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Here are some extra hints to make it a success:

  • Use Polyester thread because this rarely breaks
  • Use sewing thread double for strength and for ease of tying off
  • Use button thread, strong linen or cotton warp thread to do the binding.
  • Take care to ensure the thread includes all the lumps and bumps of pulled up fabric. Tie an extra binding cotton around the base of the gathered stitching if you are unsure if you have gathered it all in.

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