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Shibori Waves Tie Dye Tutorial

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I’m totally in love with the way this peasant top turned out! I always get so excited when things turn out more or less the way they look in my head – especially when working with dyes which can be so temperamental sometimes.

The great thing about this design is that it’s super easy to do! The down side is that it’s a bit time consuming, but that’s easily remedied with a comfy chair and your favorite show on Netflix.

Before we begin, let’s talk about the fabric. Because we’re tying it up with thread you aren’t going to want too thick of a fabric. Thin, light, airy fabrics are going to work best. The top I used is a thin, almost gauzy fabric that you can see through if you hold it up to the light. (Fortunately you can’t see through it when wearing it though! I hate when clothing is so thin you can see your bra showing through.) If the fabric is too thick or too large it’s going to become difficult to tie properly.


  • 100% natural fiber fabric or garment
  • Washable fabric pencils or markers (optional)
  • Polyester thread
  • Needle
  • Tie dyeing supplies (for full details on dyeing, see here)

Lay your fabric out flat. If you like, you can draw the wavy lines on the fabric using a fabric chalk pencil (or other washable fabric marker) where you would like them. I skipped this step and just sewed freehand.

Double thread your needle and tie a big, bulky knot at the end so that the thread won’t pull through the fabric later when we bunch it up. Make sure the thread is slightly longer than the length of your lines. We aren’t going to scrunch them until after all the stitching is done. Follow along each drawn line with a basting stitch. Each row will have its own thread. Try and keep the stitch sizes consistent. If you’re doing a shirt, make sure to go through both layers of fabric.

Here’s a detail of some of the stitching. I used colored thread only so that it would be easier to see in pictures. Ideally you’ll want to use white thread so there’s no risk of color transfer from the thread.

Detail of stitching on shirt for shibori

Now we scrunch! We used doubled threaded polyester to give us added strength because we’re going to pull tight. I found it most helpful to start bunching closest to the knot and moving out toward the end. Keep bunching it all up until it’s super tight! The tighter the better. Once you’ve got it as tight as it will go, knot the other side with another bulky knot and trim off the excess thread.

Pulling thread to tighten fabric for shibori

Do that for all the threads until you have the whole project scrunched up.

Shirt fully tied for shibori dyeing

Then we soak the fabric in soda ash solution, wring out, and dye! (See here for full details on how to tye dye.)

I mixed up a bottle of blue and a bottle of turquoise and randomly squirted over the entire shirt.

Dying shibori shirt blue

Make sure you fully saturate the entire fabric! Add dye until you see it dripping out the other side. I only add dye from the top because that way I can be sure that the dye has fully penetrated the middle. If you were to flip and add dye to both sides there would be a chance the dye hadn’t permeated the center and you’d end up with big white spots.

Wrap in plastic to keep wet and let sit for 24 hours before rinsing. I’d recommend rinsing as much as possible before removing the thread. This will help minimize the amount of dye you’ll get on your fingers. I use dishwashing gloves for most of my dyeing, and while it’s great at keeping my fingers their natural color they’re terrible for dexterity. Also, it’s easier to grab a seam ripper and cut the thread in the middle than it is to try to cut off a knot at the end. Be very careful so you don’t accidentally cut some of your fabric!

All that’s left is to throw it in the wash to get out all the excess dye before you can wear your fancy new top!

I am in love with this wavy pattern!

Blue turquoise peasant shirt with wavy shibori lines

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