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How to Shibori Dye Clothes for Kids

Shibori dye is a fun crafting technique that makes beautiful, indigo patterns! Follow this easy tutorial to create unique kids’ clothes.

DIY Shibori Dyed Kids' Clothes
DIY Shibori Dyed Kids' Clothes

I haven’t used shibori dye in quite some time, and I’m so glad I revisited this beautiful DIY technique! Last time I loved it so much I kind of went on a spree.

This time, I wanted to experiment with some clothes for the kids, and I kind of love how they turned out. It’s such a fun technique because you can’t really go wrong. That’s my kind of DIY, folks.

What Is Shibori Dyeing?

Shibori is a Japanese dyeing technique that’s similar to what we know as tie dye. It’s a resist technique, which covers various sections of fabric through different manipulations (folding, covering, banding, etc.), and allows the dye to saturate the uncovered parts of the fabric.

Once the fabric is unfolded or uncovered, a beautiful dyed pattern emerges!

Traditional shibori dye is blue, as it is made from the soaked and fermented leaves of an indigo plant. It’s a beautiful, rich, deep blue color that deepens the longer you leave your fabric or garment in the shibori dye.

DIY Shibori Dyed Kids' Clothes

How Is It Different From Tie Dye?

While there are certain types of shibori techniques that are similar to tie dye, shibori is much more than twisting, pinching, and banding.

Traditionally, we know tie dye techniques that involve bunching, twisting, or pinching fabric. Rubber bands are then applied to keep the fabric in place during the dye process. Most often, dye is then applied via a bottle or pouring/squirting technique onto the garment.

With shibori dye, the garment can be prepared in many different ways. One popular type of shibori is called itajime, which involves carefully folding the fabric or garment, then sandwiching it between two blocks of wood and wrapping with string. The dye penetrates the visible areas and resists on the covered areas, leaving a beautiful geometric pattern.

Kanoko shibori is more similar to what we think of with tie dye, and is the technique we use for this project. It involves pinching and banding small areas of fabric so that the dye resists on those areas.

There are many other shibori techniques, each more beautiful and intricate than the last! I highly encourage you to learn about some of the others here.

In general, with shibori dye, you dip the garment into a dye bath (rather than pouring the dye on, as in tie dye).

Can You Tie Dye With Shibori DYe?

You sure can! At the end of the day, shibori dye functions as any other dye does. It beautifully tints light-colored fabric to a vibrant blue.

The final product of the item you’re dying with shibori dye will mainly depend on how you prepare it (folding, twisting, and so on).

DIY Shibori Dyed Kids' Clothes

Where to Find The Best Shibori Dye

If you’re just getting started or want to experiment with shibori dye, I recommend a simple beginner’s kit. This kit has everything you’ll need (minus a bucket) and is affordable. You can use it to dye multiple garments or lots of fabric.

Materials You’ll Need

So let’s get dyeing! Here’s what you’ll need to shibori dye some fun clothes for yourself or your kids.

Shibori or Indigo Dye Kit. If you start with a kit like this one, it will come with lots of the little details that you need (gloves, stir stick, rubber bands, booklet with pattern ideas, etc.).

Bucket. A good sized bucket is what you want for your dye vat. You could use a 5-gallon bucket that you have hanging around, but be sure that you thoroughly clean it out first.

White Cotton Clothing. I like to use 100% cotton garments when I’m using shibori dye for clothing. You can also dye it on most other natural fabrics (silk, muslin, hemp, and so on).

How to Tie Dye Kids’ Clothes with Shibori

Materials

Make Time: 2 Hours (plus wait and drying time)

  1. Mix the dye vat according to the instructions on the packaging.
  2. While the dye is marinating, prep your garments. To make one with lots of little circles like Maggie’s onesie, gather little bunches of fabric and put a rubber band around each bunch. To make one big circle like Henry’s gather the shirt in the center and place a few rubber bands along it to create one big cone.
  3. Wet the garments thoroughly and squeeze out excess water.
  4. Be sure to wear the plastic gloves that come with the dye kit. Fully submerge the garments in the dye but don’t let them sink to the bottom. The longer you leave them in the dye, the darker the fabric will get. I left these soaking for about 5 minutes.
  5. As you remove the garments, squeeze out any excess dye. They will look yellow-green at first, and as they oxidize they’ll start to turn dark blue. This can take up to 20 minutes. If you’d like them darker, you can repeat the process.
  6. Rinse the garments in cool water and carefully cut away the rubber bands. Then run them through the laundry on a cool setting.
DIY Shibori Dyed Kids' Clothes

More Dyeing Ideas

Now rock them out! I think these would be super fun to wear on the 4th of July, or just for any old summer day. The possibilities are so endless, and it’s fascinating to start to learn how the dye works depending on how you fold the fabric.

Here are a few more of our most popular dyeing posts to get your ideas going!

Have you ever tried shibori? If you try this tutorial don’t forget to rate it below! xoxo

DIY Shibori Dyed Kids' Clothes
DIY Shibori Dyed Kids' Clothes

How to Shibori Dye Clothes for Kids

Yield: Shibori Dyed Clothing
Active Time: 1 hour
Additional Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 2 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $25

Shibori dye is a Japanese technique that is fun to try and makes the most beautiful dyed clothes!

Materials

  • Shibori or indigo dye kit
  • Large Bucket
  • White cotton clothing
  • Aluminum foil
  • Waterproof drop cloth

Tools

  • Stir sticks

Instructions

    1. Mix the dye vat according to the instructions on the packaging.
    2. While the dye is marinating, prep your garments. To make one with lots of little circles like Maggie's onesie, gather little bunches of fabric and put a rubber band around each bunch. To make one big circle like Henry's gather the shirt in the center and place a few rubber bands along it to create one big cone.
    3. Wet the garments thoroughly and squeeze out excess water.
    4. Be sure to wear the plastic gloves that come with the dye kit. Fully submerge the garments in the dye but don't let them sink to the bottom. The longer you leave them in the dye, the darker the fabric will get. I left these soaking for about 5 minutes.
    5. As you remove the garments, squeeze out any excess dye. They will look yellow-green at first, and as they oxidize they'll start to turn dark blue. This can take up to 20 minutes. If you'd like them darker, you can repeat the process.
    6. Rinse the garments in cool water and carefully cut away the rubber bands. Then run them through the laundry on a cool setting.

Notes

While there are certain types of shibori techniques that are similar to tie dye, shibori is much more than twisting, pinching, and banding.

Traditionally, we know tie dye techniques that involve bunching, twisting, or pinching fabric. Rubber bands are then applied to keep the fabric in place during the dye process. Most often, dye is then applied via a bottle or pouring/squirting technique onto the garment.

With shibori dye, the garment can be prepared in many different ways. One popular type of shibori is called itajime, which involves carefully folding the fabric or garment, then sandwiching it between two blocks of wood and wrapping with string. The dye penetrates the visible areas and resists on the covered areas, leaving a beautiful geometric pattern.

Kanoko shibori is more similar to what we think of with tie dye, and is the technique we use for this project. It involves pinching and banding small areas of fabric so that the dye resists on those areas.

There are many other shibori techniques, each more beautiful and intricate than the last! I highly encourage you to learn about some of the others here.

In general, with shibori dye, you dip the garment into a dye bath (rather than pouring the dye on, as in tie dye).

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