Naturally Dyed Shibori Pillowcases


  • linen pillowcase
  • rubberbands
  • mortar and pestle
  • small pot
  • large pot
  • stirring spoon
  • cheesecloth
  • cochineal
  • cream of tartar
  • water

  1. Start with a natural fabric like linen or cotton. Presoak the pillowcases in water to ensure that the color dyes the fabric evenly.
  2. Fold your presoaked pillowcase into thirds longways. Pinch sections of the fabric equal lengths from each other down the entire length of the pillowcase and secure with rubber bands.
  3. Repeat the same technique with the other side of the pillowcase in staggering sections.
  4. Continue binding the fabric, working your way towards the center of the pillowcase. When you can't go any further, use rubber bands to bind the fabric into a bundle. Set aside while you create your dye.
  5. Using a mortar and pestle, grind 1 tablespoon of cochineal into a fine powder.
  6. In a small pot, combine 1/2 cup of hot water with 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar. Stir until the cream of tartar is dissolved and then add in the cochineal powder you created. Bring to a simmer for 15 minutes and stir occasionally.
  7. Use cheesecloth to strain the mixture into a large pot. Add water to the pot until you are able to fully submerge your pillowcase bundle in the dye.
  8. Bring to a boil and then add your pillowcase bundle into the pot. Turn down to medium heat for 30 minutes, occasionally stirring and flipping your pillowcase to ensure it dyes evenly.
  9. After 30 minutes, turn off the heat and let the pillowcase fully cool down in the pot. Then, remove the bundle from the pot and hand wash in cold water until the water is clear. Remove the rubber bands, feast your eyes on your masterpiece, and hang in the shade to dry.

Tip: To preserve the vibrant color of your naturally-dyed pillowcase, we recommend hand washing the fabric and hanging to dry after use. The dye will naturally fade in the sun, so try to keep your pieces out of direct sunlight.