Shibori: Itajime Technique

Posted by Ciara on 11th Apr 2024

Shibori: Itajime Technique

Itajime Technique

The Itajime style is the most classic shibori look. Its the one that most people think of when they hear the word “shibori.”

Select your Dye Type

If the fabric you plan to dye is a natural fabric (such as cotton, linen silk, ramie or wool), rayon or nylon, then select the instructions for working with Rit All-Purpose Dye below.

If the fabric you plan to dye is synthetic (i.e. contains more than 35% polyester, acrylic or acetate), then select the instructions for working with Rit DyeMore for Synthetics below


  • Rit All-Purpose Dye
  • Rit ColorStay Dye Fixative (Recommended)
  • 4" Blocks of Wood
  • Salt (If Dyeing Cotton, Rayon, Ramie or Linen)
  • Vinegar (If Dyeing Nylon, Silk or Wool)
  • Plastic Container or Stainless Steel Sink
  • Dishwashing Liquid
  • Measuring Cup
  • Rubber Bands
  • Plastic Gloves
  • Plastic Table Clover


Step 1.

Before dyeing, remove any visibile stains on the fabric. This will help achieve uniform colour results when dyeing. Prewash item in warm, soapy water without any fabric softener. This helps to remove any finishes that may interfere with dye absorption.

Step 2.

Gather supplies. Shibori is traditionally done with Indigo hues.

Step 3.

Cover work area with plastic table cover and have paper towels handy to protect against any possible spills.

Step 4.

Wet fabric and squeeze out any excess water.

Step 5.

To create a traditional Itajime pattern, accordion fold or “fan fold” the fabric in 4.5-inch / 11.5-cm wide folds down the length of the fabric. This will form a long rectangle. For more pattern variations, vary the size and width of the folds.

Step 6.

Accordion fold or “fan fold” the long rectangle into a 4.5-inch / 11.5-cm fabric square.

Step 7.

Sandwich the fabric square between the 4-inch / 10-cm blocks of wood.

Step 8.

Secure “sandwich” with rubber bands to tightly hold the fabric square together.

Step 9.

Fill a plastic container or stainless steel sink with two gallons of hot water. The water should ideally be 140ºF / 60°C. If tap water is not hot enough, heat water on the stove and add to the dyebath.

Step 10.

To enhance the colour: (1) add 1 cup / 240 mL of salt when dyeing fabrics containing cotton, rayon, ramie or linen; (2) add 1 cup / 240 mL of vinegar when dyeing fabrics containing nylon, silk or wool.

Step 11.

Add 1 teaspoon of dish detergent to help promote level dyeing.

Step 12.

As a general guideline, one liquid bottle or two powder packages dyes up to two pounds of dry fabric.

Step 13.

Wearing rubber gloves, add well-shaken dye or powder package(s) to dyebath.

Step 14.

Add sandwich to bath. For a high contrast pattern, keep the sandwich in the dyebath for about 3 to 5 minutes to keep the wrapped part dye-free. For more colour and less white areas, leave the wrapped fabric set in the dyebath for 10 to 20 minutes.

Step 15.

When desired colour is achieved, remove wrapped fabric from the dyebath. Do not remove wood blocks.

Step 16.

We strongly recommend using Rit ColorStay Dye Fixative immediately after dyeing and before washing. It enhances the colour, increases color retention and prevents dye from bleeding into white areas. Follow these instructions.

Step 17.

Rinse in cool water until rinse water begins to run clear.

Step 18.

Carefully remove wood blocks and rubber bands. Unfold the fabric.

Step 19.

Wash in warm water with a mild detergent, rinse and dry.