I have included some standard recipes here that I use in combination with woven shibori and in my general studio practice. I have collected them from a number of sources over a period of years. Some have been modified. Unfortunately I cannot give credit to any of the original sources. I would if I knew them.



For a 10 g/l dye solution:                    Urea                50g

Salt                  20g

Soda ash          60g


Dissolve the components in a total of 750 ml of warm water. Keep each chemical separate.

In the remaining 250ml dissolve the dye. 10g + 2 ½ teas dye. It is possible to divide the 10g between several colours.

Once you are ready to proceed with the dyeing, combine the urea, salt and soda solutions. If several colours are being used, divide this mixture between the dissolved dye solutions. This solution is stable for 2 hours.

Apply to fabric. Wrap in plastic and stand 24 hours.



Soaking solution: Mix 1 cup soda ash in 4 cups of warm water. Soak fabric for 5 mins, minimum. Wring out excess solution. Fabric may be dried.

Prepare chemical water; In 2 cups of hot tap water dissolve 10 tablespoon urea. Add 2 cups of cold water. It must be cool.

Add dye to chemical water: Add 2 teaspoons powdered dye (MX) to 1 cup of chemical water for a medium shade.

Apply to fabric. Wrap in plastic and stand 24 hours.


Optional: Add 3 teaspoons salt (dissolved in a small amount of water) per cup of chemical water and stir well.

Optional: Urea may be omitted. Fabric may be allowed to dry without being wrapped. Allow to dry before rinsing.



Weigh the material dry. For every 100g of material use 2 l. of water.

Heat the dye bath to 40 C and maintain temperature.

Dissolve dye powder in warm water and add to dye bath.  (1-3% solution.)

5 mins: Add fabric

10-30 mins: Add salt (30-50 g/l)

40mins: Add soda ash (10-20 g/l)

60mins: Remove

Proportions for exhaust methods

Dye stuff                     up to 1%                      1-3%                over 3%

Salt                              30g/l                            30-50g/l           50g/l

Soda ash                      10g/l                            10-20g/l           20g/l

Fixation time               45mins                         60mins             90mins



Dissolve 10g DR-33 in 1 litre of cold water. Add 1 teaspoon acetic acid.

Dissolve 60g urea and 5 g resist salt. (A)

Dissolve 40 g soda and 25 g bicarb soda.(B)

Combine (A) and (B) add cold water to 1 litre. Store

Dissolve dye, add mixture and DR-33. 1 hr to use.



300 g urea

1 teas lyogen

1 teaspoon acetic acid or citric acid crystals

5 g DR-33

1 tablespoon Metho (enough to wet DR-33)

Acid dyes to suit


  1. Measure 500 ml warm water and add urea.
  2. In a separate bowl paste DR-33 with Metho.
  3. Add dissolved Dr-33 to urea solution and mix well.
  4. Add acetic acid and Lyogen.
  5. Add more water to make 1 litre.
  6. Divide this mixture into the number of colours to be used.
  7. Dissolve acid dyes in a minimum quantity of boiling water. Add each to individual mixtures.
  8. Apply to fabric or fibre.
  9. Roll up in plastic and batch for 24 hours.
  10. Rinse well.

There are some brand names that are very easy to use. Gaywool is a system that contains all the chemicals. Landscape dyes require the addition of acid. They are both very easy to use.



QUICK METHOD: Boil a jug, put a teaspoon of soda ash + a teaspoon of TUD into a jug pour on the boiling water, stir and pour over the fabric you want to discharge. The solution will work as long as the temperature remains hot. For a heavy discharge, it may need to be repeated. Test first.



T.U.D.             2tablesp

DR-33             2 teas

Acetic Acid     5 mls

Water              500mls

Dissolve T.U.D. in 200mls of boiling water. Stir well. Add in remaining cold water. Cool.

In a separate container, dissolve DR33 with a little methylated spirits. Add to the first solution.

Stir well. Leave to thicken fully, approx 1 hour.

Use. Store in a cool, dark place for up to a week.

Once dry, the fabric can be steamed. Do this soon after paste is dry.

Alternatively, steam with an iron. Use a well ventilated area. Hold the iron just above the fabric and let it steam, moving slowly.

Rinse and wash well.


BLEACH: Apply only to cotton. This will weaken the fibres. Neutralise with dechlorinator


This process burns out cellulose.

1. Mix the thickener paste a few hours before you need it. Add 5g (3 teaspoon)  DR-33 gradually to 250ml water. Mix in blender or equivalent.

2. Mix 50g sodium bisulphate in 30ml cold water. Add chemical to water. Hot water may be used.

3. Add 1 ½ tablespoon glycerine to sodium bisulphate.

4. Add thickener and a few drops of food colouring (optional)

Mixture may be watered down if required.

5. Allow to dry.

6. When dry, iron on warm setting till fabric turns light brown. Use a respirator. Do not overheat as remaining fibre may be damaged.


EASY MEASUREMENTS (For when you don’t have access to scales)

1 metric tablespoon soda ash              20g

1 metric teaspoon salt                         4g

1 metric teaspoon urea                        4g

1 metric teaspoon dye                         4g

1 gallon                                               16 cups

The following are an interesting collection of recipes.

Rusting on paper

Three baths are required. Use them in any sequence. Best results if dried between but very interesting ones can be obtained by contaminated ones.

Tannin Bath

25 tea bags in 2 Litres of boiling water. Allow to steep well.

Caustic Bath

To 1 litre of cold water add 2-3 tablesp. caustic soda. Add additional 1 litre water.

Iron Bath

Add 2-3 tablesp ferros sulphate to 2 litres cold water.

Indigo Recipes used for The Great Indigo Experiment

Recipes 1-4 are the same but with 4 variations to explore if there are any differences and what they are, between using natural or synthetic indigo and sodium hydrosulphite (hydros) and thiourea dioxide (thiox or TUD). Vat prepared the day before use.

Recipe 5 is the same as 1 but completed in one day.

Source of recipe: The basic recipe occurs in many forms including on the Maiwa website (,, from Marg Bartlett, J. N. Liles The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing. Traditional Recipes for Modern Use (ISBN 0-8049-670-0), Dana McGown. All have slight variations but the procedure is similar.

Recipe may be adjusted but keep the proportions the same.

There are 2 components: The stock solution which needs to be prepared at least 60 minutes before use and may be kept for a week.

The vat to which the stock solution is added. After vat is made leave about 1 hour before use.

Each number matches with recipe of same number.

Stock Solution

All:  1 litre hot water + 1 teas. lye (caustic soda) in a wide mouthed jar.

Add indigo: 1:2 teas synthetic ,2:2 teas synthetic, 3: 4 teas natural,4: 4 teas natural, 5: 2 teas synthetic

All: Stir 2 minutes

Add:  1: 1teas TUD, 2: 2 teas hydros, 3:1 teasTUD, 4: 2 teas hydros, 5: teas TUD

All: Stir about 1 minute.

All: Leave to reduce for a minimum of 60 minutes.

The Vat

All:  Put 20 litres in a plastic bucket (with lid) conversion

All: Add 1/8 teas caustic to water and stir till dissolved

All: Add 1/2 teas detergent (synthrapol)

Add: 1: 1 teas TUD, 2: 2 teas hydros, 3: 1 teas TUD 4: 2 teas hydros, 5: 1 teas TUD

All: Stir gently and cover allow to reduce for 15 minutes

All: Carefully lower jar of stock solution into vat. Do not include air.

1 – 4: Do  overnight.    5:  Do same day and leave 30 mins before using


Recipe 6

This recipe pastes the indigo powder in methylated spirits. This may be useful to compare ease of dissolving. In addition it uses gelatine and salt. It specifies that the water needs to be “soft” either by using rainwater or the addition of Calgon. This recipe also does not indicate resting time.

Source of recipe:  Grethe Wellegus, Shibori Resist Dyeing Techniques, 1989 and  Gosta Sandberg Indigo Textile Techniques and History. 1989 (Eng)

Make soda Lye solution of 35% prior to starting stock solution.

Put 500mls of cold water into a plastic container. To this add 270 g of caustic soda slowly. Stir till dissolved.

A total of 13 ml required

Stock solution

Paste up 5 g synthetic indigo in 25 mls methylated spirits in a small jar with lid.

Add 100mls warm water (about 50o)

Add 10 ml of the soda lye solution

Add 5 g hydros stirring gently

Put lid on jar. Leave 15 – 30 minutes. If a cold day jar may be put in warm water at 50o.

The Vat

Measure 10 litres of lukewarm water into a bucket ( 20 – 25 o)

Add 25 g Calgone or Hexaphosphate (water softener). Rain water may be used instead of adding these.  Stir.

Add 2 g gelatine powder. Stir.

Add 3 ml soda lye solution. Stir.

Add 3 g sodium dithionite (Hydros). Stir

Add 200g salt. Stir.

Add 10 ml stock for light shades, 50 ml for intermediate shades or 250 ml for dark shades. Add carefully to vat making sure air is not included.

Ph value of the vat should be about 9 – 10.

Recipe 7 (a) natural, (b) synthetic

This recipe uses zinc and lime.

Source: Shibori. The Inventive Art of Japanese Shaped Resist Dyeing, Yoshiko Wada, Mary Kellogg Rice, Jane Barton, Kodansha International, 1983. Also reprinted. Pg 281. Check for full details. A Handbook of Indigo Dyeing Vivien Prideau , Search Press, 2003. (This recipe same as Wada but 1/5. (these quantities used)  Smaller quantities referenced in Dyeing For  Fibres and Fabrics, Janet de Boer 1987 (based on original Yoshiko Wada’s recipe).

Made in a 50 litre rubbish bin.

Stock solution

In a glass jar, paste 20g synthetic indigo with 100ml methylated spirits adding slowly. (40 g natural)

Put 2 litres of warm water in a stainless steel or enamel pot. Put the pot on very low heat, just enough to keep warm. 60C Lower paster indigo into warm water add gently, stir.

Put some of this liquid in the jar, add 40g calcium hydroxide (slaked lime) and 12g of zinc metal dust. Mix to a smooth paste. Add mixture to indigo lowering gently into solution.

Stir gently for about 5 minutes. May be kept warm on a stove but temperature must not exceed 60oC. Mixture will change to greenish colour with a metallic film. Rest 3 – 5 hrs.

The Vat

Put 20 litres water in plastic bin. Add 20g lime and 6g zinc. Stir to dissolve the lime. Put lid on. This can be done at same time as stock solution.

After 3 -5 hours, remove 1 litre for rinsing out stock solution jar. Add stock solution slowly. Rinse out container with reserved liquid. Stir gently. Stand at least 6 hours before using.

Recipe 8

Indigo kit

Recipe 10  Uses soda ash. Dyes 500g fabric.  Same day.

Dissolve 45 g soda ash in 500mls boiling water.

Paste 10 g synthetic indigo in a little warm water.

Slowly add soda ash to indigo.

Put 6.5 L hot water (45 – 55C) in bin.

Add indigo mix carefully.

Sprinkle 40g Hydros, cover and let stand for 30-60mins. Maintain temperature 45-55C.

Recipe 11

Same day. Uses caustic soda in stock and soda ash in vat.


Stock: Dissolve 1.5 oz (42g) lye in 1 cup water.

In 1 L jar paste 2 oz (55g) synthetic indigo with water.

Add lye to indigo.

Fill jar with warm water.

Sprinkle ¼ oz (7g) TUD on top and stir till dissolved.

Cap tightly. Stand 1 hr or more.

Vat:     Use 13 gal (49L) garbage bin. Fill with warm water.

Stir in ½ cup soda ash. (ph 10 or greater)

Stir in 1 tablesp TUD

Stand 30 mins or more.

When ready to dye, add ¼ cup of indigo stock.

Sugar Bath for finishing for presentation

Recipe from Hand Block Printing & Resist Dyeing by Susan Bosence,Arco Publishing, New York, 1985

After the final soapy washings, immerse it for 10 minutes or so in a brown sugar or molasses solution: 1 tablesp to 1 gal (4.5 litres) of water. Allow to dry and just before it is bone dry, iron carefully on the reverse side. this is important, as ironing sometimes leaves shiny marks or picks up slight impurities ans spreads them on the cloth. Take no chances. Also ironing on the back tends to reveal the weave on the front side, giving the cloth its best appearance. the sugar bath leaves the cloth soft and slightly silky.

Indigo Vat (Synthetic or natural)

Recipe from Dana McCown.

More natural indigo required than synthetic. Work natural indigo with mortar and pestle.

Prepare stock solution (2 required). Use a dust mask. ½ litre hot tap water in a wide mouth jar. Add 2 teas caustic soda.

Paste 5 teaspoons (5ml each) indigo powder in about 1/3 cup boiling water (or use metho)

Add paste to caustic/water. Stir well.

Add 1 teaspoon TUD or 2 teaspoons Sodium hydrosulphite. Stir one minute.

Put lid on. Reduction will start giving a copper sheen to the surface. Process involves liquid changing from muddy blue-green to yellow or yellow-brown.

Time required 15 – 60 mins. This keeps several weeks.

Prepare vat.

Fill container with 40 litres hot tap water 40-50 degrees C.

Add ¼ teaspoons caustic soda and stir till dissolved.

Add 1 teaspoons detergent to help dye penetration. Detergent must not contain whitening or brightening agents.

Add 1 level teaspoon TUD

Put lid on 15 minutes.

Add 2 jars stock solution without dripping. Stir gently. Let sit 15 minutes – 1 hour. Wait till vat is yellowish –  green.

It is now ready to use.

Sizing Recipe

I got this from Kati Meek. It works for all those troublesome warps that a weaver needs to control.

1 tablespoon whole flax seed

1 cup water

Put in saucepan and cook till it is thick. It will appear the consistence of egg white. Make sure you watch it as the saucepan will boil over easily.

Strain and add 2 drops shampoo and 1 teaspoon white vinegar.

Apply with a sponge behind the heddles in one dirrection and dry.

The excess may be frozen.

Flame retardant

The ratio of borax : boric acid is 7:3. I used teaspoons tpo measure. Dissolve in a little warm water. Cool before using.

Cotton Mordant

Recipe 1

Fill a large pot with clean water and heat.

Use 20% alum to the weight of the fabric/fibre. Mix into the hot water.

Add 5 % myrobalan to pot.

Wet out fabric. Place into hot mordant water. Add more water if necessary to cover. Simmer for approximately 1 hour.

Remove. Fabric can be used immediately or dried

Recipe 2.

From Dye Plants and Dyeing from Brooklyn Botanic Gardens Record, Vol 20 No 3 1964. It’s even got the price of $2.25!

alum-tannic acid-alum method

For each pound of dry material, use 8oz alum, 2 oz washing soda, 1 oz tannic acid

Dissolve 1/2 the alum and 1/2 the washing soda in 4-4 1/2 gallons of cold water. Wet the material, immerse in the bath and heat gradually. Boil 1 hr. Leave overnight.

Next day: Squeeze the moisture out, rinse well, then put in a prepared bath of 4 – 4 1/2 gallons water with the tannic acid. Heat this bath gradually to 140 – 160 deg and hold at this temperature for 1 hr. Cool, stand overnight.

Next day: Rinse lightly. Prepare a third bath of 4 – 4 1/2 gallons water + remaining alum and soda. Repeat the first process and leave overnight.

Next day: Squeeze out the water, rinse before dyeing.

This was a lot of effort for a result that differs little to the easier one. Mind you I haven’t tested for longevity of color. Perhaps there will be a difference long term.

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