Japanese Shibori Patterns

Katrin Reifeiss

Japanese Shibori Patterns


The following three Shibori patterns are called tortoiseshell (kikko in Japanese), lattice (naname goshi) and squares. These patterns are created by folding or pleating the fabric then clamping boards cut in desired shape and size (made of wood or plexi) onto the fabric, then dipping or immersing the fabric in a dye bath. This technique is called ITAJIME, which in Japanese literally means "board clamping." Traditionally ITAJIME was used to decorate baby diapers.


Pleating the cloth into continuous pleats - I do this by hand - the fabric is then bound with string or heavy thread. Dyeing the bound cloth creates simple vertical stripes and this is called SUJI SHIBORI. Unlike ITAJIME where the cloth is also pleated, SUJI SHIBORI cloth is bound with string or thread not folded a second time and clamped. Featured here is YANAGI SHIBORI. Instead of pleating the cloth perfectly from beginning to end to create perfect stripes, SUJI, I let it get messy to create this imperfect but beautiful piece of YANAGI SHIBORI that is inspired by a Willow tree.


Ne-Maki Shibori means "base-wound shibori." One of the oldest known techniques, pieces of bound shibori with this pattern have been dated as early as the Eighth Century. To achieve this simple yet beautiful design, also known as ring shibori, thread is wound around gathered fabric multiple times keeping the thread close together so no dye penetrates in-between the thread to create these solid white rings. The second and third photo features cloth bound with thread prior to being dyed. This piece as I like to tell people, took about two movies to complete. When I make pieces like this I thank goodness for Netflix.