Shibori Scatter Cushions

Words: Jess Spiro

Shibori is the Japanese word for a variety of ways of embellishing textiles by shaping cloth and securing it before dyeing. The word comes from the verb root shiboru, “to wring, squeeze, press.” This type of dying gives a three-dimensional look and produces intricate patterns. The patterns are a result of the way that the material is folded and twisted and how it is bound and knotted.

What you will need

4 m of unbleached linen in white
fabric dye (we used cold Lady Dye)
roll of string
resists – i.e. wooden blocks/tiles/popsicle sticks/bull clips/plastic shapes/small pebbles to use to create shapes within the fabric
cushion inners

rubber gloves
plastic bucket or steel bowl

Fabric Cutting

Cut the fabric into 1 x 50 cm square piece for the front and 2 x 50 cm x 35 cm pieces for the back piece.

Preparing to Dye

Fold the 50 cm blocks into small squares. When folding the material, use a concertina method to fold. This will allow for more even colouring. See diagram for different folding techniques.

Twist the fabric or fold into squares or triangles and secure with string and elastic bands. Wherever the fabric is bound or covered it will be white. Click here to see what effect the different binding and wrapping will result in. If the desired result is to have the colour as evenly spread as possible, be sure to concertina fold each piece. The bigger your ‘resists’ (i.e. the blocks and ties etc that will resist the colour), the more white will be visible. Use shapes to create interesting patterns. Make sure the pieces are tightly bound.


Put on your rubber gloves.

Mix the dye powder with a bit of water to form a paste. Then mix the dye into 2 litres of warm water, following the dye mix packet instructions. Add 2-4 heaped tablespoons of salt and mix well.

Place each wrapped item into the dye for 15 minutes. The longer the piece is left in the dye, the darker it will be. The pieces can be removed and retured to the dye until the desired shade is achieved. Keep in mind, that until rinsed in water, the pieces will look very dark Remove from the dye. Add the fixative to the dye and mix well. Place each item back into the dye for a further 10 minutes.

Remove and hang to dry overnight – do not unwrap until dry. Mix a couple of tablespoons of salt into 4 litres of water. Once dry, unwrap the covers and rinse in the salt water. Rinse until the water runs clear. Tumble dry to help fix the dye. Once dry, start making the cushion covers.

Sewing the Covers

The hem will finish the opening. To form hem of back 1 fold 2.5 cm of the bottom over and iron flat. Fold it over 2.5 cm again, and iron it flat and then using a sewing machine flat stitch. Do the same with back 2, but instead of at the bottom, do this step at the top. Lay the front piece flat. Line up back 1 with the top of the front piece. The folded side of the hem faces up. Line back 2 up with the bottom of the front piece. The two back pieces will overlap. Pin and flat stitch 2.5 cm around the cushion cover. Set the machine to a narrow zig zag setting. Sew around the edges of the square to prevent the cushion from fraying.

Turn the cover inside out and cover cushion.


See our other weekend projects HERE.

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