How to make a beautiful poppy seed head in shibori in 3 steps


shibori poppy seed head design

You may long to create some unusual shapes and designs in shibori. From all my experience of creating shibori textiles I am going to show you some quite simple but satisfying patterns in stitch resist shibori. Today it is how to make this poppy seed head.

So as not to repeat my general instructions about sewing please look at this blog post to see the general tips on equipment needed. “7 Helpful Hints for shibori sewing”


3 steps to making your own poppy seed head

1. Drawing the design

You start by drawing the design on to ready for dyeing fabric (ie prewashed at 60 degrees C/ 140 degress F) with tailors chalk or removable fabric marker. To make the shape of the seed head it is best to divide the shape into these 4 segments for ease of pulling up at the next stage. And at the top 5 lines getting slightly longer away from the body of the poppy head to suggest the frill at the top.

Outline and stitching for poppy head
Outline and stitching for poppy head design

2. Stitching your design

Each of the 4 segments are stitched around with a double thread starting and ending at the same place leaving long ends for pulling up later. It is helpful to keep your starting and ending place on the outside of the poppy head shape, it makes it all easier.


sewing the segments

Sew the 5 lines of simple running stitches through one layer of fabric along the top with double thread and a small cotton “tag” knotted into the end of each row of double thread. This is called mokume shibori.

stitching to create frill

A stem can be added from the bottom of the seed head, to a length suitable for your fabric or design. This is created by carefully making a pleat along the line of the stem so you are pinching 4 thicknesses of fabric in your fingers. With a double thread and small cotton “tag” in the end sew through all the 4 layers of fabric.

3. Pulling up the stitching

Now it is time to pull all the stitching up. Start with the 4 main segments of the seed head. Pull each of these up in turn gathering tightly and knotting. For binding take a slightly thicker thread somewhere between button thread and double knitting weight and start at the bottom of the pulled together shape and knot it around at the base. Then continue winding the thread around til you get to the top and then tie the ends together to secure it. Do this with each of the 4 shapes. This is maki-age shibori.

The next job is to pull up the 5 lines of parallel stitching. One by one pull them up and once pulled up separate the two threads and insert another “tag” between and tie a double knot around it securing the line of stitching. Repeat this 5 times. The thread needs to be pulled up very tight but without breaking it!

If you are adding a stem you then pull this up securing the end as described above.

poppy seed head sewing complete
Completed fabric sewn and bound and ready for dyeing

You now have your design ready for dyeing. If you need help on dyeing with fibre reactive dyes look at my previous blog.

Once dyed you unpick all the stitching to reveal the design.

Here are a two other versions of a poppy seed head, see if you can see how they were made and perhaps have a go at these. They are all variations on the instructions just given you. Plus the complete poppy head shown on a Townhill Studio lamp.

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