The shibori trend is still going strong — can you believe this DIY post in our archives about shibori designs is already two years old? Crazy! Despite the popularity of shibori, it always seemed like an intimidating project to attempt. I got it in my head that it would be so messy and difficult to get right, so I never even tried it until making these hot pink shibori cushions recently. Post shibori-dyeing, I can definitely say it isn’t anywhere close to being as difficult or messy as I had thought!
Living in a small apartment can make it tricky to have enough seating when guests come over — we simply don’t have the space for a second sofa or big arm chair. Instead, I’ve decided to stock up on oversized cushions and pillows so that guests can be more comfortable gathering around our coffee table, even if they are sitting on the floor. Also, we have two pet rabbits who love to be petted, so having some extra cushions around helps us get comfy on the floor for their marathon petting sessions.
I’m really happy with how these hot pink shibori cushion covers turned out, and just in time for summer! And now that I’ve tried my hand at shibori, I can’t get enough. I’m already planning on doing more pillows in grey or black for the fall and winter. —Kathleen
-Plastic sheets/bags (to protect work surface from dye stains)
-Rubber bands and binder clips
-Sewing machine, hand needle, and thread
-Hot pink dye
Step 1: Measure and cut your cotton fabric into squares. My pillows were 20″ and 18″ squares, so I cut four 22″ squares (each pillow needs two squares) so that I could have some wiggle room with the placement.
Step 2: Iron and accordion fold your fabric in equal sections. This post shows great options for folding your fabric.
Step 3: Then accordion fold in triangle shapes down the rectangle as shown, pressing as you go. Again, this post is a great reference for folding techniques — the method shown here is called the “triangle accordion fold.”
Step 4: When complete, you should have four folded pieces just like this.
Step 5: Use rubber bands and binder clips to hold the triangles together and add details to the pattern.
Step 6: Cover your work space with plastic and prepare your dye according to the instructions on the bottle. I poured this Rit liquid dye into hot water with some salt (for a more intense color) and carefully stirred it all together.
Step 7: Start by putting your triangles in a bowl of warm water to get them fully wet. Then put them into the dye bath and let them sit until you’re happy with the color. I waited about 10 minutes for the ones shown and then rinsed them under running water in the sink until they ran clear. I then put them through a quick rinse cycle in the washing machine to be extra sure there was no excess dye and let them air dry.
Step 8: Once dried completely, give the squares a quick iron and layer two squares together. Cut them down to size for your pillows, or use a pencil and ruler to draw your sewing line. Leave one side of the square almost completely open, just sewing the corners. (Note: I chose to make these pillowcases without a zipper/button closure for a few reasons: I like the clean look/feel of no closure, I very rarely wash our removable cushion covers anyways, and our rabbits like to nibble on buttons and zipper tabs. I didn’t want to do an overlapping back either because it would disrupt the shibori pattern, so as you’ll see in the following steps I quickly hand sewed the open edge closed. If in the future I need to wash a stain out of the pillows, I can easily stitch rip the one side open again, wash, and then resew. All that said: definitely feel free to add zippers or buttons on your pillows if you prefer that!)
Step 9: Sew along the line you drew — don’t forget to leave that one side open! It’s also a good idea to backstitch over the corners to give them some extra strength.
Step 10: Trim off any excess seam allowance from the sewn edges and corners. Turn right-side out and put your pillow into the case. Pin the open edge closed so that the fabric on the pillow is nice and taught.
Step 11: Hand sew the open side closed using a ladder stitch. Start from the inside so the thread’s knot is hidden in the pillow and then come up on the very edge of where you’ve pinned. Directly across from where the thread is, go into that edge of the fabric and then come back through about 1/8″ from there. Repeat this, going back and forth making a ladder/railroad tracks look with the thread, as shown below. When the thread is pulled tight, it becomes invisible! If you haven’t done a ladder stitch before, this video shows it in action. When you’ve sewn all the way across the opening, tie off securely and trim off any excess thread.