A tried and tested plan for perfecting a tie dye lime leaf

shibori lime leaf and seeds

Here is a pattern for a tie dye lime leaf in stitched shibori. Furthermore this pattern is not for beginners as it incorporates 3 different types of stitching and needs some careful manipulation. Nevertheless, let me take you through the steps to create this design.

Rather than repeat my general instructions about sewing please look at this blog post to see the general tips of equipment needed. “7 Helpful Hints for shibori sewing”

For visual help look at my video where I show very clearly the process of Shibori sewing including some of the techniques we use today.

4 steps to making your own tie dye lime leaf design

Drawing the design

You start by drawing the design on to the fabric, prepared for dyeing (ie prewashed at 60 degrees C/ 140 degress F) with tailors chalk or removable fabric marker. Here I have used botany wool. With wool you get a much “chunkier” effect from the shibori. As a result it is helpful to use button thread weight cotton to do the sewing.

The overall design here is 35cm/ 13 ½” high x 38cm /15”wide. You may want to make it larger overall. We are going to sew two lime leaves with a central flower seed cluster.

Stitching your design

There are 3 different Shibori stitches used in this design

The lime leaves are created by folding the fabric in half along the centre line of the leaf and then sew the 9 or 10 lines of simple running stitches parallel to each other through both layers of fabric with double thread and a small cotton “tag” knotted into the end of each row of double thread. (This is very similar to creating a teasel as shown on my video)

shibori stitching lime leaves
Lime leaf sewing: 9 rows of parallel stitching

The flower seed clusters are created with a simple fold (ori nui Shibori) stitching through two layers of fabric. Each long seed is made up of 3 separate rows of this single fold and running stitch technique, each row finishing at the top of the design.  The curved end shape is quite tricky to manipulate.

shibori stitching lime leaf seeds
Flower seed cluster: long rows of single running stitch through two layers of fabric

2 and 3 beads in clusters are tied at the ends of these, the bead placed at the back of the fabric and wound around with a strong thread on the right side of the fabric.

tieing a bead in
Showing how to bind a bead into the fabric

Stems can be added from the top of the lime leaf head, and from the top of the seed flower cluster 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.

Gathering the stitching.

Now it is time to pull all the stitching up. Start with the leaves. One by one pull up the 8 or 9 rows of threads 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.

In the same way pull up the 6 lines of single row stitching that makes the seed clusters. 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. The thread needs to be pulled up very tight but without breaking it!

And finally finish with the 3 stems, pull these up securing the end as described above.


You now have your design ready for dyeing. If you need help on dyeing with indigo dyes look at my previous blog. Once dyed you unpick all the stitching to reveal the design.

I hope you have found these instructions helpful and wish you success in making your own lime leaf. Here I have shown another example of this design but sewn on organic cotton where I have achieved a sharper outline. If you would like to get regular ideas for creating in shibori sign up to my newsletter.

shibori lime leaf and seeds

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