How to Make Shibori Tie-Dye Napkins

Discover the art of shibori - a traditional Japanese dyeing technique that uses indigo to produce patterns on fabric. This fun and innovative technique is a great opportunity to experiment with textiles while bringing a breezy, summery feel to the home at any time of the year.

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Based on this traditional technique, Rebecca Snowden, Interior Style Advisor at Furniture Choice shares 4 shibori tie-dye designs that can easily be done at home.

What you will need:

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  • Fabric dye

  • Rubber bands

  • White cotton napkins

  • A bucket

  • Empty squeeze bottle

  • Rubber gloves

  • Salt

Prep the napkins for the tie-dye process

Machine wash the napkins first; this will help the fabric absorb the dye faster, so it’s best to use them right out of the machine when they're still damp. When washing the napkins make sure to avoid using fabric softener. This may repel the ink.

Meanwhile, prepare the dye using the instructions on the packet. Add salt as it will help the fabric absorb the dye easier then mix well in a packet.

Tie and wrap with rubber bands

These four designs (swirls, crumpled, stripes and circles) require plenty of rubber bands to achieve the right pattern when the dye is poured onto it.

Swirl design

The swirl and crumpled methods are quite similar. For the swirl, lay the napkin out flat then pinch and twist the centre of the napkin. Keep twisting until it looks like a flat rose shape.

Crumpled design

The crumpled method starts with crumpling and twisting the napkin until it’s shaped like a ball. Tie rubber bands around the napkin to split into sections.

Stripes pattern

The stripes method is probably the most straightforward. Fold the napkin from the bottom up in pleats so the napkin is in a long thin shape. Use 5 to 8 rubber bands to along the piece of napkin.

Circle design

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For the circle design, choose the areas of your fabric where you want dyed circles to appear. Pinch and pull up these areas and tie a rubber band around them so the fabric sticks up.

Squeeze the ink to begin the tie dye process

Pour the dye into a squeeze bottle to start the dyeing process. Squeeze the ink onto the tied area where the rubber bands are. Leave them tied up for 24 hours.

Rinse and machine wash the napkins

Help reduce any dye bleeds by rinsing the napkins with cold water until the water runs clear. When that is done, remove the rubber bands and rinse with warm water. This is the time to admire your handiwork!

Rebecca advises: "You should machine wash the dyed napkins again but make sure to do it without any other clothing just in case the dye still bleeds. Iron them once they dry and they are now ready to use."

"The carefree look of these shibori tie-dyed napkins are a playful, chic way to bring a summery feel to the dining room when entertaining. Round off the modern coastal theme with organic elements like wood, rattan and sea-inspired artwork."