Textile Spotlight: Shibori

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

It’s been some time since I spotlighted a specific textile. Blue versions are always on my mind especially ones with random imperfections in their patterns so today’s focus is Japanese Shibori. I’m on a lifelong quest to acquire unique textiles, especially ones with a history to them. Shibori fabrics have been popular in fashion and home design for a while now, and with deep blues remaining a popular hue again this summer, it’s no wonder these dyed indigo textiles are in high demand.

shibori pilows on sofa


The technique dates back centuries, shibori is defined by Shibori.org as follows:

“It comes from the Japanese verb root shiboru, ‘to wring, squeeze, press.’ The closest translation would be ‘shaped-resist dyeing.’ The shaping process reserves areas that are recorded as patterns with characteristically soft edges and crinkled textures when cloth is dyed. Rather than treating cloth as a two-dimensional flat surface, shibori techniques give it a three-dimensional form by folding, crumpling, stitching, plaiting, or plucking and twisting… a cloth may be dyed repeatedly using a different shaping method each time.”

shibori rug indogo dye curtains

  jande jonge via bloesem

There are many different types of shibori techniques, differentiated by the materials and steps used to create a particular pattern. One style we’ve embraced in the US is Kanoko known as tie dye where cloth is bound by threads or bands, other shibori techniques have very specific definitions.

shibori dye technique

Arashi requires pole wrapping, Kumo is pleated and bound, Nui is stitched, the list goes on and the pattern possibilities are endless. Years ago I assumed tie dye came from the 1960s and was something we all did to our T-shirts at summer camp, but that craft does have its roots in Japanese shibori. 

indigo dye bedding

urban outfitters

shibori wallpaper


Randomness and imperfection occur with this resist dyeing process, beautiful patterns emerge from folding, twisting, and binding cloth then submerging it in indigo dye. Many artisans have taken it to a level of near perfection.

japanese shibori


I haven’t tried any shibori techniques yet which is so wrong since it combines two of my favorite things: fabric and deep blue. I need to get together a group of friends and host a party, “Shibori and Chardonnay” – sounds like fun to me!

Here are a few DIY projects to inspire:

shibori diy textiles

diy at honestly wtf

indigo dye tea towels

diy at francois et moi

shibori silk scarf

shibori silk scarf

 shibori napkins

shibori napkins


More Textile Spotlights:







Spotlight: Turkish Textiles

Monday, May 18th, 2015

I was on a stroll through the downtown area in my hometown last week and came across a brand new shop filled with beautiful textiles, it was like discovering a new world of exotic goods just down the street from my house, such bliss!

bohca shop

kilim bench and ikat pillows

I struck up a conversation with the owner Julie and we chatted for over an hour. Julie has been traveling to exotic countries all her life, which gave her an appreciation for different cultures and the handwork done by the artisans in different countries. After her first trip to Turkey she started importing goods for her former store in Palm Springs but she has relocated to the Bay Area.

Julie and her mother have just opened a beautiful store Bohca Bazaar in downtown Petaluma, California. Our town is famous for its antique stores and we have many, so it is wonderful to have a very different boutique filled with authentic textiles and home goods imported from Turkey and Uzbekistan, every inch inside is such a visual treat!

 turkish kilim rugs

lanterns with pillows

Julie considers her partner in Istanbul family, she has stayed with him many times and they have a long time business relationship. It was so nice to connect with a person who speaks the design language with extensive knowledge of the history and craftsmanship of authentic Kilim, Suzani, Ikat and similar woven and embroidered fabrics from the Middle East and Asia.

Julie was kind enough to answer all of my questions and take pictures in her shop, I learned so much! The following are quotes from Julie’s answers to my question, enjoy learning a bit more about these beautiful textiles from an expert!

What are the recognizable differences between Kilim, Suzani, and Ikat?

Kilim is a traditional Turkish woven wool flat weave carpet with geometric repeating patterns. It is made with strands of vegetable dyed wool knotted onto warps and held together by pressing the wefts tightly, the Kilim motifs are made by interweaving the variously colored wefts and warps.

stack of rugs

Suzani is traditional to Uzbekistan and is needle work on a cotton or silk background, it is very distinctive, using a chain, satin and buttonhole stitch along with couching. Couching is laying a thread around a design and then adding a second stitch to secure it, giving is a raised feel around the motif.

Patterns often are repeating floral designs, and can include vines or birds. Really high quality vintage versions are available, often with a black cotton background and silk stitching. More rudimentary Suzani can be found, they are not as expensive but whimsical and fun and a great piece for the beginning collector. Reproductions are generally only in print work.

Suzanis in good condition are best displayed on a wall, bedcover, throw, etc. but you can take a damaged suzani, salvage the the pieces in good condition and make bench seats, cushions, poufs, ottomans as a lovely addition to any room.

suzani and ottomans

Ikat is made with a resist dye process, to create the patterns the threads are bound or tied off, dyed and repeated, then woven together in a weft, warp, or double Ikat method. The ikat we carry is from Uzbekistan, however Ikat weave can be found in Indonesia, Central and South America, Central Asia. Okinawa on of the Japanese islands is one of the few places you will find double Ikat.

The fabric for the Ikat pillows we carry in the shop are woven/resist dyed velvet on one side and hand woven resist/dyed silk on the opposite side in complementary patterns and colors.

ikat pillow covers

more ikat pillows

The Kilim furniture is made by my partner and they are are of Turkish origin. The sofas take 4 Kilim rugs to make, this is very difficult because each Kilim is one of a kind. When designing the piece, my partner has to study the patterns of different carpets in order to create a cohesive pattern. Smaller pieces like poufs, ottomans, and benches can be made from the best remaining piece from and old carpet.

kilim sofa

kilim chair 2

Because our textiles are authentic, if taken care of they become heirloom pieces. When decorating, I think it is really important to spend the extra money for one or two pieces remembering that you are purchasing a one of a kind, handcrafted piece of art."

Tell me about the amazing lamps and ceramics in the shop.

"The ceramics are called Iznik which is the same as the ancient town of Nicea, not far southeast of Istanbul. Iznik Golu is the lake that the town of Izni/Nicea sits on. In the 15th century artisans inspired by the blue and white porcelain from China adopted their own method of making the ceramics.

blue pottery

iznik ceramics

mosaic lanterns

They use quartz ground to a fine powder, then formed into a clay. The pottery is hand formed and painted, with raised motifs.  All motifs have a meaning: the tulip is God and the Rose is Mohammed. The lamps are all made in Turkey, they and are called mosaic color lights and are very labor intensive."

lanterns suzani


Boots and shoes are New Suzani, the current fashion is platform but we do carry flats that are called Babette. We also produce men’s and women’s Kilim shoes, handbags and travel bags."

Ladies, aren’t these boots incredible? I must have a pair for winter!

new suzani boots



Julie also carries dyed patchwork rugs, ottomans, benches, Turkish towels and robes, and authentic pashminas too (I bought one for my Mom for her birthday). Bay Area collectors and designers, be sure to give Julie a call or take a trip to the shop, she can source these textiles for you or your client, or have something made custom!

vintage suzani


Julie’s husband passed away from a rare bone cancer of the spine Chordoma so proceeds from each sale from her shop go to that foundation to honor her husband. Bohca Bazaar is on Facebook and will soon have an online shop to offer these textiles to the rest of the country, so be sure to follow along. Thank you Julie for sharing your expertise !