Throwing a dinner party? Impress your dinner guests with one-of-a-kind hand-dyed Shibori napkins! Who says the napkins can’t be the star of the show?

Shibori is an ancient Japanese dyeing technique that involves folding, twisting or bunching cloth and then binding it to create incredible patterns. 

The dyeing process is quite playful, and the result is undeniably stylish. We love how no one dyeing will ever be the same, making it clear that the item was hand dyed.

Buy your Shibori Napkin Kit here.


In these instructions, we will walk you through making one-of-a-kind hand-dyed Shibori napkins using the CraftJam kit. If you’re making this project outside of our workshops without a kit, you can find all the materials you’ll need at your local craft store or online. 

This is a time set apart for you. If you can, turn on your ‘do not disturb settings on your devices. Try and find a comfortable place to work. If there’s time, have things near you that help you to relax: a cup of tea, comfortable socks, or light a gently scented candle.

We’ll make something today that includes traditional Shibori designs that bring a beautiful handmade accent to any dinner party or home. 


What You’ll Learn from These Instructions

  • What materials to use
  • How to prep your fabric
  • How to prepare your fabric in various ways so that it renders different designs.
  • How to work with Shibori Dye
  • About other ways to further your creativity

Introduction to Shibori Dying and Supplies.1 (1)

To create your Shibori Napkins, you will need the following supplies. These are included in the CraftJam kit for your workshop.

  • 100% Cotton 20 x 20 napkins (6)
  • Rit® All Purpose Liquid Dye – Indigo
  • Rit® ColorStay Dye Fixative
  • 4” X 4” Wood Squares
  • Wooden popsicle sticks
  • Rubber bands
  • Plastic Table Cloth
  • Plastic Gloves
  • 1/4 cup measuring scoop
  • Ziplock bag

Frequently Asked Questions about Shibori Dyeing

Will I need any items from home?

Yes, you will need:

  • We encourage you to set up in a kitchen or other location where you have access to a sink and hot water (via stovetop or microwave) and easy clean-up.
  • Use the tablecloth in your kit to spread out and cover your workspace.
  • Dish soap.
  • Table salt.
  • Tongs or a kitchen spoon.
  • You will also need a pot or bowl for the water and the dye.
    • Stainless steel or enamel pots work well.
    • Medium-sized (i.e., 8″ W x 4.5″ or something similar).
    • Lighter-colored bowls might become discolored using the dye.
    • Ceramic bowls are discouraged as they can also stain.

Step by Step Instructions for Shibori Dyeing

2 (1)

The Itajime style is the most classic shibori look. It’s the one that most people think of when they hear the word “shibori.” The Itajime style is the most classic shibori look. It’s the one that most people think of when they hear the word “shibori.” We have included wooden blocks in your kit to help you achieve this look. To see more step-by-step images of the shibori process, check out:

Now that you have all the supplies, it’s time to begin your project! Follow these steps to create your Shibori Napkins.

  1. Prewash items in warm, soapy water without any fabric softener. This helps to remove any finishes that may interfere with dye absorption.
  2. Dry and iron your fabric.  
  3. Cover the work area with a plastic table cover and have paper towels handy to protect against any possible spills.
  4. To create a traditional Itajime pattern, accordion fold or “fan fold” the fabric in 4 ½” 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.
  5. Accordion fold or “fan fold” the long rectangle into a 4 ½” fabric square.
  6. Sandwich the fabric square between the 4” blocks of wood.
  7. Secure the “sandwich” with rubber bands to tightly hold the fabric square together.3 (1)
  8. Fill a plastic container or stainless steel sink with two gallons of hot water. The water should ideally be 140ºF (60ºC). If tap water is not hot enough, heat water on the stove and add to the dye bath.
  9. To enhance the color: Add one cup of salt when dyeing fabrics containing cotton, rayon, ramie, or linen. NOTE: The cloth napkins included in the kit are 100% cotton. Add one cup of vinegar when dyeing fabrics containing nylon, silk, or wool.
  10. Add one teaspoon of dish detergent to help promote level dyeing. As a general guideline, one liquid bottle to two pounds of dry fabric.
  11. Wearing rubber gloves, add well-shaken dye to the dyebath. 
  12.  Add sandwich to bath. NOTE: 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 color and less white areas, leave the wrapped fabric set in the dyebath for 10 to 20 minutes.
  13. When the desired color is achieved, remove the wrapped fabric from the dyebath. Do not remove wood blocks.
  14. We strongly recommend using Rit ColorStay Dye Fixative immediately after dyeing and before washing. It enhances the color, increases color retention, and prevents dye from bleeding into white areas. Use four tablespoons of ColorStay Dye Fixative for three gallons of water, stir, and immerse the dyed sandwich for 20 min (rotate occasionally.)
  15. Rinse in cool water until rinse water begins to run clear.
  16. Carefully remove wood blocks and rubber bands. Unfold the fabric. Wash in warm water with a mild detergent, rinse and dry.


*Parts of this text were pulled from the Rit Dye website. ** Using the included popsicle sticks instead of the wooden blocks will give you another pattern variation. Enjoy being creative!

We also recommend checking out Honestly WTF’s Shibori tutorial to see a few additional folding techniques.

Don’t forget to tag us in your project pictures on Instagram