See how to use a bleach shibori technique to create a trendy throw pillow with Boho style! The shibori effect is easy to create with household bleach.
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Back when my daughter was little, we had all kinds of mommy-daughter craft days. We’d paint together, sew together, you name it. I love a good project for spending some quality time with my girl!
But as she’s gotten older, it’s a little harder to find just the right project. Teens are picky. And they’re also busy with friends and school in a way that younger kids aren’t. So when opportunity for a little together time presents itself, you jump on it.
The other day one such opportunity presented itself. We both were home and with a few hours to kill, so I suggested we make something for her room.
My daughter has a typical teenage bedroom, with walls covered in posters and photos and memorabilia. Recently she started hanging wall tapestries on the wall and ceiling next to the bed, which gives her room a fun Boho vibe. And with all the color and pattern from the bedding and tapestries, I thought it would be fun to make a throw pillow to add to the mix.
After digging through my fabric stash, we decided on using some bright orange flannel to make a pillow with a bleach shibori tie dye effect. It’s also sometimes referred to as a reverse shibori technique, since you are creating a design by removing color rather than adding it.
We had just enough fabric to make a cover for a 12” x 16” pillow form. I’d made pillow that size for my porch a couple of years ago. In fact, I’ve got a tutorial for them here so I could just load up that page on my phone for all the dimensions to cut. I’d never done bleach shibori before so that part was just an experiment.
I think it turned out pretty cool. The bleached design turned out more subtle than I was expecting, but I like it. The reverse shibori effect kind of looks like fire on that orange. We finished off the ends with some luscious 4” fringe trim to give it more interest. And when you’re making Boho décor, you can’t ever have too much texture.
There’s a certain amount of unpredictability with a project like this. You’ll never get the exact same design twice. Different dyes in your fabric will react more or less with the bleach. And then there’s variability in how you fold the fabric, where you put the bleach, and how much bleach you use.
None of the steps in this project take much time, but you’ll still need to plan for some longer stretches of time in between steps. For example, it doesn’t take much time to apply the bleach but then you’ll need to wash and dry the fabric before moving on to the steps where you sew the fabric into a pillow cover.
Bleach Shibori Pillow
½ yard 100% cotton fabric
26” fringe trim. We used this black fringe trim from JOANN.
Paintbrush (use one you don’t care about because the bleach will probably damage it)
Create the bleach shibori effect
Fold the fabric lengthwise in an accordion folk approximately 4” wide. You’ll end up with a strip of accordion folded fabric roughly 45” wide x 4” tall.
Now, fold that long skinny strip of fabric into triangles, again using an accordion fold.
This part is a little tricky. And I struggled with how to show it, either in a diagram or a photo.
Basically, it’s like folding a paper football (remember those from elementary school?) but instead of wrapping the fabric around a triangle shape, you’ll need to fold it back on itself accordion style. It’s difficult to explain, so you may need to do a little trial and error to figure out exactly how to fold the fabric. The end result should be a triangle with lots of edges exposed.
Here’s how it looks when I unfold it a bit. You can see how the fabric is folded back and forth like an accordion rather than wrapped around the triangle shape.
My folding instructions create a triangle pattern, but there are many other ways to fold fabric to create other shibori patterns.
Now for the bleach! Dilute the bleach to 1 part bleach, 1 part water. Use a paintbrush to paint the bleach along the edges of the triangle.
You’ll need to do this part in a well-ventilated area. We went outside and did the bleach steps in the yard with a drop cloth underneath.
Let the bleach do its thing with the fabric. The amount of time you’ll need will depend on the fabric you use. It took about 30 minutes to work on the orange flannel we used for the pillow, but on another fabric I tested it took only 10 minutes.
When the design has bleached to the amount you want, wash and dry the fabric to get the bleach out.
Sew the pillow cover
Now that you’ve got your bleach shibori fabric, it’s just a matter of sewing an envelope style pillowcase.
First, cut the following pieces from your fabric:
– 1 piece, 13” x 17” (pillow front)
– 2 pieces, 13” x 11.5” (pillow back)
Use the tutorial for my Boho Bleach Pillow to sew your bleach shibori tie-dyed fabric into a pillow cover. (The tutorial shows how to create a Boho design with bleach pen. Just scroll past that part and it’ll show you how to sew the pillow together.)