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Honeycomb Shibori How-to

Here’s a quick lovely resist dye pattern that happens to be one of my favorites!

I usually teach this one in my “Part 2” or Intermediate Shibori workshop. (All my shibori workshops, and others, are listed HERE) After teaching a bunch of really tough techniques, I love to show this one as a bit of relief, calling it a "take it easy technique".  I have not seen it in any traditional Japanese shibori books, only referred to as “Honeycomb” pattern over here.   But culturally techniques pop up all over the place.  There are many traditional shibori techniques using rope, so I figure it’s a simplified play on some of those styles. It’s super fun, easy, and Beautiful.

*If dyeing with procion reactive dye or indigo, you Must use natural fiber textile. Synthetics will Not work.

So to start, you’ll need a rope.  The pattern is determined by the diameter of the rope and the thickness and size of the fabric.  I like to use natural fiber elements as much as possible, so cotton cord is my go to.  I like using cotton cording (usually used for piping in sewing projects), because it soaks up the dye too, allowing the dye to penetrate from the inside.  Look around, see what you have around.  You can pretty much use anything as long as it stays secure when knotted and wet.  For larger pieces of fabric I find it’s easier to get an all over, even dyed piece when you use a larger diameter cord or rope.

Next lay out your fabric, in order to start rolling it over the cord/rope.  You have a few options, all leaving a different look. Experiment! Fold in half, lay straight, on the diagonal…all great!

You can either start with a damp fabric (make sure to squeeze out as much water as possible though) or a dry fabric (you’ll see below it may depend on your dye preference).  You always need to dye with a wetted fabric, but choosing to soak before or after you wrap you fabric will give you slightly different looks.  I like to soak after, because it can be harder to slide it over the rope when your fabric is wet.  However some fabrics like silk can be harder to rangle, and easier when damp.

Slowly and evenly roll the fabric over the cord.

Once all the way around, you’ll meet the end making sure the flaps of fabric are tucked to the inside.  Pinch ends together in one hand, while holding the tails of the cord/rope.  Then pull.

When fabric is pushed all to one side, tie the rope together so it’s secure but can easily taken apart after dyeing.  I like make half a square knot, then a safety knot.


After it's bound up;

For indigo: You’ll submerge in water before you dye. Squeeze out as much water as possible before you carefully introduce it to your vat.  Let sit beneath surface for a few minutes (minimum 2 minutes for pre-reduced, 5 minutes organic).  Then carefully lift out of the vat, using the wall of the bucket/pot, to avoid splashing.  For darker blues, dip more times. (I’ll update this post with links to future “how to indigo dye” posts.)

For procion dyes: So these dyes need to be “activated” with soda ash.  You can either pre soak your fabric before you wrap it up, soak it after it's been wrapped up, or add it to the dye vat.  This would be too long a post if I was to “how to” dye in these different methods…here’s a quick link to a few while I write my own post about it. I’ll make one eventually.

Here’s one of my lightweight shawl/scarves.  Love that ombre effect on larger pieces!


  • Grazie ben spiegato bellissimo
    Un saludo de Suiza

  • THANK YOU both Lydia and Renee!

  • Hi! I just wanted to say that I loved this tutorial. It as really easy to follow and the pictures were awesome. Ive done a lot of tie dye and ice tie dye as an art teacher but have never tried specific shibori techniques! I tried this method on a large piece of fabric to make a skirt. I rolled it up dry, scoured with soda ash and dyed in my friends indigo vat- it came out absolutely amazing!!! It is so beautiful thank you for this awesome tutorial.

    Lydia Giangregorio
  • Such beautiful results and I do love taking it easy. Breathtaking art! Great technique, thank you for sharing.

    Renee Palaszewski

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