I love it when I have an idea that makes folks tell me I’m crazy, and then makes them eat a hearty plate of their words once said idea has been executed.
Try telling people that you want tie-dye curtains. Their reactions will be a fun experience, I promise.
Shibori is a Japanese form of tie-dye that produces beautiful, intricate designs. This isn’t your average Grateful Dead, rainbow tie-dye, dudes.
This wasn’t nearly the easiest project I’ve done, but the end result is amazing. Lucky for you, I’ve written this tutorial, so if you’d like to make your own Shibori curtains, you’ll know what you’re in for.
*Natural fiber fabric (I used jersey)
*Two large plastic buckets (one for dye bath, one for rinsing)
*Fabric dye (I used my favorite, tried-and-true Rit Dye)
*Appx one cup of salt
*Long dowel or stick to stir your dye bath
You’ll want to start by ordering a pizza and picking up some beer, because you’re going to need to entice your friends to help with this. I had the assistance of both of my parents and my little sister and it STILL wasn’t easy.
The first thing I had to do was cut my fabric to size. I purchased one massive length of fabric for three panels because that way I could use my Hobby Lobby 40% off of one item coupon. I ended up paying $33 instead of $55! IF YOU’RE USING JERSEY FABRIC LIKE ME — get enough fabric to allow for about a foot and a half of shrinkage per curtain panel. More on that later in this post…
Cutting it into three even panels did not prove as easy as I thought. We had to move a bunch of furniture and stretch the fabric between two rooms to accurately measure it and cut it into three equal pieces.
My parents’ dachshund delayed things by using the fabric as a runway.
Once the fabric was cut, it was time to tie! I went with the accordian fold method. My sister and I each took a side and horizontally folded every six-ish inches.
I tied twine about two inches in from the edge and wrapped it tightly all the way down the width of the fabric. You might assume, as I did, that the tying is a one-person job. NOPE… My mom held the end we were tying towards down tightly, while I tied, and sis helped me maneuver the tied end of the panel so it would be nice and tight. It was tough, peeps.
Now that my 3 panels and my excess piece (which I used for tabs) were tied up nice and tight, it was dye time! Make sure to follow the instructions on your dye explicitly to achieve the best results. I love using Rit Dye bottled liquid dye because the process is quite simple and it produces beautiful color results. BTW this post, like my others, is NOT sponsored. I am merely providing my opinion of the products that I use.
With Rit, you want to use hot water so the dye will set. I accomplished this by using two stock pots to boil water which I mixed in with a few gallons of water straight from the hose. The water was a good temp to help the dye set, but not so hot that it was dangerous to put my gloved hands in it.
I wanted an indigo look for my curtains so I used an entire bottle of Royal Blue and around four tbsp of Black Rit Dye. This was the easiest part; just pour and stir! Indigo’s not your jam? Never worry, Rit has a ton of color options and even handy tips on mixing to achieve that perfect hue!
After the dye was all mixed up with the water and one cup of salt, I took a deep breath and dropped my bound fabric in the mixture, and then stirred it around like a witch at a cauldron. Instead of a dowel, I used a metal broom handle to stir, which worked like a charm. During this process, my mom was close by, filling the other bucket with water from the hose, so I had a place to rinse my fabric.
I let my curtains soak for around eight minutes, then I promptly pulled them out, squeezed out the excess water and rinsed them in my other bucket.
Once most of the excess water was out, I cut the twine and un-bunched them. I was straight up giddy about the way they looked!
After they were all un-bound, I thoroughly rinsed them in the water bucket my mom filled for me until the water from the panels ran clear.
I used some of my leftover twine to create a makeshift clothesline and hung the fabric to dry in the hot afternoon sun. I hit the homestretch!
Except, when I held the curtains up to the wall to see how they looked, it occurred to me that they shrunk about a foot and a half. I was soooo sad, friends. This is where buying more than you need comes in. Educate yourself on the shrinkage tendencies of the fabric you plan to use BEFORE you purchase / cut it. In my case, I KNOW jersey shrinks. I was so gung-ho about finally tackling this project that I just didn’t thoroughly think through that part.
Luckily, I was able to stretch my panels back out to their pre-hot-water-and-dye-bath size. More on that in a near-future post. Let us quickly work our way to the reveal, yes?
I used that extra bit of fabric that I dyed with the panels to sew on some simple foldover tabs. I didn’t hem any edges. I actually rather like the rolled-edge look of jersey fabric.
I used a few strips from my excess to create ties to hold the curtains open during the day. I am big on natural light so these ties were a must!
How great do they look?! They give off a sort of whimsical, relaxed, boheme vibe that I hope I’m cool enough to pull off…
Who else has tried their hand at shibori? Link to your project in the comments si vous plait!
This came out so cool! 🙂
Thank you! I love them so much!
These curtains look amazingly beautiful. Thank you so much for the step by step instructions. May I ask what does the 1 cup of salt do?
Take care and happy blogging to ya, from Laura ~
Thank you so much, Laura! Happy blogging to you too! 🙂
Laura – I just saw your question about the salt – sorry! With cotton jersey fabric, it helps the dye set better. If you’re using a fabric that isn’t natural fiber fabric, vinegar helps it set in place of the salt! The salt also killed some of my parents’ grass, so next time I’ll do it on concrete! haha!
Jamie, thank you so much for getting back to me. That explains why some of the things I’ve dyed didn’t work at all. You’ve saved me tons of money for the future dying of material… hugs hugs hugs
oh my Jamie, they are so pretty. Have never tie died that way before.
Thank you Nancy! They were definitely hard work but they really paid off!!!
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I loved your tutorial. But I want to add my experience. I did curtains (about as long as yours but in different material) and had no problem doing it all by myself. I didn’t find it all that difficult even though it was my first time doing this technique. I will say having help would have been lovely but I didn’t actually find it necessary either. I only say this so people who want to try this but might not have others willing to come over and help can know that it can definitely be done all by yourself.
Also, I pre-washed (which really equates to pre-shrinking) my fabric before making into curtains and then dyeing. So no worries about the shrinking up after all that work. Cheers!