How to Make a Shibori Silk Scarf

Blue and white stripes are summery, nautical and elegant. Make this striped beauty using the basic shibori technique of the accordion fold for a contemporary...

What You'll Be Creating

Blue and white stripes are summery, nautical and elegant. Make this striped beauty using the basic shibori technique of the accordion fold for a contemporary result. Follow our shibori for beginners series and learn this ancient technique - which just happens to be the hottest look in fashion and homewares this season. 


  • Latex gloves
  • Apron
  • 20g of pre-reduced indigo, 250g of reducing agent (thiox or hydrosulfate) and 250g of soda ash, which you can find in this indigo dye kit.
  • 19L (5 gallon) plastic bucket with a lid
  • Stick for stirring (make sure it's long enough to reach the bottom of your bucket)
  • Small container for the foam/"flower"
  • Sheet of plastic to cover the floor
  • Shallow pan to hold your fabric
  • White silk crepe de chine fabric (or other natural cloth)
  • Scissors
  • Two wood blocks longer than the width of your scarf. Two old 50cm rulers (20in) would work
  • Rubbers bands
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread

1. Prepare the Indigo Vat

First, you need to set up the indigo vat. Just follow the step-by-step instructions we prepared for you here. If you plan to use fabric dye and not natural indigo you can follow the instructions in the second part of this tutorial

Once your indigo vat is set, cover the bucket with a lid and let the dye settle from 15 minutes to one hour, which is the optimum length of time. During this time you can fold and bind your fabric.

1. Fold the Scarf

Step 1

Cut your fabric in to a strip slightly bigger than the scarf you want to create. Keep the length of your fabric, which will be probably 1.5m (59in), as the length of your scarf and cut a strip of about 35cm (13.8in) as the width. The end result will be about 30cm (12 in) wide. Once you have the perfectly cut strip, lay it down on the floor.

Step 2

Start folding the strip of fabric into the accordion fold. First lift the left edge and fold it to the right.

Now is a good time to measure your pleats. Place your wood block- the old ruler in my case - on your fold. Check that the folded fabric is bigger than your wood block and there is excess fabric on both sides. Imagine that this section will be the colored area of your scarf.

Now that you are sure about the size of your pleats, start folding your scarf in an accordion way. Lift the end of your first fold together with the fabric underneath and fold them both towards the right.

Place them gently down and ensure that your pleats are aligned and of the same size.

Step 3

Keep on folding the fabric back and forth, moving towards the right. Keep holding the fabric with both hands as silk pleats can be a bit tricky. Keep in mind that from the side, your fabric should look like a zig-zag. Got it right?

When you've reached the end of your fabric, you should have a neat pile of accordion-folded fabric.

2. Bind the Scarf

Step 1

Place one wood block (ruler) on top of your accordion-folded silk strip. Then carefully lift the fabric and place the second ruler on the other edge, exactly underneath the top one.

Step 2

Center the fabric with your wood blocks so that there is extra length in the wood blocks on both sides. Place one rubber band on each end to tightly clamp the fabric in between the two blocks.

Your silk scarf should now be clamped within your wood blocks. This is how it should look from the side. If you wish, you can make any necessary adjustments on the pleats at this point.

2. Rinse and Dye the Scarf

Step 1

Thoroughly soak the fabric in water and squeeze the excess water and air out of it. Now it's ready for the next step.

Step 2

Once the vat has settled, remove the lid and scoop the foam/"flower" from the top of the vat, set it aside and keep it for later.

Your wood blocks and scarf are probably longer than your bucket. So, submerge one end of your fabric bundle into the dye first. Move the block carefully inside the vat to make sure all the uncovered areas are equally colored.

Then turn it around and insert the other side of the block into the dye. Make sure you leave both sides of your fabric block in the dye for the same amount of time, to ensure you get the same hue. 

Step 3

Gently remove your bound fabric from the dye bath. You will notice that it is green in the beginning and as it oxidizes it gradually gets blue. The other end of your wood block has probably turned blue already. 

Carefully place the lid on the bucket to close and let your fabric dry and oxidize for about 20 minutes. Once it is done, you can repeat the dyeing process to achieve a darker shade of blue.

3. Unfold and Wash

Step 1

If you are happy with the result, rinse your fabric with warm water.

Step 2

Now, remove the rubber bands to unclamp the fabric.

And remove the wood blocks.

Step 3

Now it's time to unfold your fabric to reveal your own unique pattern. This is always the most exciting part of the process!

Unfold your fabric.

And... gorgeous indigo stripes!

I love the fact that the pattern is geometric but it has natural organic variations at the same time. 

Step 4

Now, gently hand-wash your scarf with mild detergent in warm water.

Step 5

Let it dry in the shade. Once dry, the color will be lighter.

4. Stitch the Edges

Step 1

Can't wait to wear it? Just one more step to go! Hem the scarf and stitch along the long edges of the scarf. The short edges already done since you used the edge of the fabric. 

To create the hem, first fold the long edge of the fabric upwards.

Fold once more inwards.

Step 2

Pin along the fold.

Step 3

Now, stitch both hems. You can either do this by hand if your fabric is really delicate or by using a thin needle on your sewing machine.

Step 4

Once sewn, iron the fabric carefully on the correct setting (silk). 

Step 5

Now your scarf is ready to wear and enjoy the summer breeze.

Stripey Beauty!

In this tutorial you learned how to use the basic accordion fold to create a striped indigo scarf. The accordion fold it is one of the easiest shibori methods, which creates endless designs when clamped with wood blocks.

Can't get enough of indigo? Follow my Shibori for Beginners series of tutorials and learn how to tie-dye with me.