Shibori Dyeing with Children

Posted under Drawing and Painting


 Shibori Dyeing with Sun Dyes


Traditionally, Shibori Dyeing utilises a indigo dye vat or pot once the tie-dye patterns have been prepared.  But shibori dyeing with children can be a whole lot simpler than that.


shibori dyeing child


Shibori dyeing using paint pots

When working with children, we need to be organised as their attention spans will only last so long.  This method of shibori dyeing ensures the children themselves play the majority role in the process.

It happens in this order:

1.  Adult prepares material to be used in shibori dyeing. We cut out small sheets of white cotton fabric (you could recycle an old white sheet).   We also prepared a small bucket of water, placed a little of the Sun Dye paints into tiny pots (to reduce wastage if there was an accidental spill), gathered wooden clothes pegs, wooden beads of varying sizes, small plastic PVC piping of about 30 – 40 cm in length, rubber bands, a ball of string or wool, a pair of small scissors, small stubby paintbrushes, and a plastic sheet to cover the table.

2.  Children put on aprons to protect clothing. They then take their piece of white fabric and dunk it in the bucket of water, making it wet all the way through. They then squeeze out the excess water.

3. Adult demonstrates two or three possible tie-dyeing folds and help the children to prepare the material.



Our favourite shibori dyeing tie-dye folds are:

(1) placing the rectangle of fabric on the table on a diagonal, then rolling it up around the PVC pipe.  We then push the fabric down the pipe so that it is all scrunched up.  Then wrap the fabric with a long piece of string (about one metre) and tie off.

(2) wrapping beads in the fabric and tying them off with tight rubber bands. The beads create ‘white circles’ on the fabric, so place them in a close bunch or spread them out for different effects.

(3) folding up the material on either the long or short side in a ‘concertina fan’ shape. Use pegs to hold the folds together in preparation for painting.



4.  When the pieces are ready, the children can be invited to paint the entire material using the indigo blue or blue-black sun dye paints. Children need to work hard to ensure all sides are filled with colour.  Turning the material over and over and over to paint the other side is a good idea.  Be sure to leave some white areas around the beads (see picture below)  if you use this method otherwise the paint tends to run through and the circle effect is not so noticable.


shibori dyeing on posts


5.  When the children finish painting, place the shibori dyeing patterns in the sun for 20 – 30 minutes or until you begin to see the paint change colour slightly.


shibori dyeing examples


6. Then it’s time for the reveal and more drying time. Open out the fabric until it is flat, then lay it on the grass.  Children will need to turn the fabric over every 20 minutes or so, turning constantly so that the paint dries evenly and retains brightness on both sides.

You can see here, the bottom row is the shibori dyeing on PVC piping. The ones in the top row have been done with the beads.


shibori dyeing ironing


7. When they are completely dry, pop the pieces either in a hot dryer for a quick 5 minute blast, or use a hot iron for a final set.

(Of course, when you iron with children, close supervision is a must. We set it up slightly away from the rest of the group, on a dedicated table. Educators must ensure that they never leave a child alone with the iron and must put it up high out of reach before leaving the child for any reason.)


Have you ever tried Shibori dyeing or tie-dyeing with the children? Tell us how it went!

Leave a Comment