How to make a simple leaf and stem design in shibori

Leaf and stem design fabric

This design is inspired by this pen and ink image of leaves and the little detail of a piece of vintage shibori fabric.

  • The first step is to draw the design of stem and leaves on to the fabric. Use tailors chalk or invisible fabric marker. It is helpful to draw the design at full scale on a piece of paper to ensure you are happy with the balance of leaves and stem.
  • The second step is to stitch the long twining stems with a simple fold in the fabric and running stitches through the fold. Called ori nui shibori.
  • The third step is to stitch each and every one of the leaves, fold the fabric and stitch through both layers of fabric around the shape of the leaves and then make a central row of stitching to create the main vein of the leaf.
  • The fourth step is that each and every thread is pulled up tightly and a small cotton tag is tied in the ends to ensure the stitching stays tight.

Then it is dyed with fibre reactive dyes in a bright pink and the stitching finally unpicked to reveal the design.

Detail of final dyed fabric
detail of the finished dyed fabric

Here are some extra hints to make it a success:

Always wash the fabrics you are going to use at 60 degrees before you start to ensure any finish is removed or buy fabrics ready for dyeing.

Use Polyester thread because this rarely breaks

Use a polyester thread in a similar colour to the final dye colour. If you use a very dark colour with a pink for example the thread may stain.

Use sewing thread double for strength and for ease of tying off

Use small tags knotted into the thread at the beginning of the sewing.

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