Shibori dying is a type of Japanese dying that refers to a number of different ways in which fabric is manipulated during the dyeing process. It is a blanket term that includes binding, folding, twisting, stitching, crumpling, plaiting, knotting and compressing of the fabric to produce dye-resistant patterns. In Western culture it is often incorrectly referred to as "tie-dye", but that term only describes one type of shibori dyeing.
The numerous types of shibori dyeing produce very different patterns and within each type there is a lot variety. For example, in kanoko shibori (binding cloth using thread), different patterns can be achieved depending on how and where the thread is tied, how tightly the cloth is bound, if the cloth is folded or twisted before being bound and several other variables. The same is true for all of the different types of shibori. While the desired pattern often determines what type of shibori is used, the qualities of the cloth also play a role.
Shibori fabric is unique in that its patterns have soft, blurry edges. This is in sharp contrast to the precise edges created by resistance dyeing using wax, paste or stencils. The result is a more organic-looking fabric. With the shibori technique, the dyer has less control over the final product, as numerous variables can influence the design. It is that lack of control that often attracts artisans and consumers to this type of dyeing process. There are an infinite number of shibori patterns available and these fabrics are used the world over for clothing, home sewing, quilting, and a wide range of applications.