Sew Different brings you their new Shibori Sewing Retreat. Learn the secrets and techniques of the ancient Japanese art of Shibori dying and make your own dress with fabric you have designed and dyed yourself. Set in a beautiful venue on the outskirts of historic Chester, you can join us for a long weekend creating something that is completely unique.

What is Shibori?

“Shibori” is an ancient Japanese dyeing technique that dates back to the 8th century. Shibori loosely translates as to “to wring or squeeze.”

The shibori dyeing process binds off sections of the fabric in a variety of different techniques to produce intricate patterns, often in remarkable detail. Traditionally, shibori restricts itself to a single colour, indigo, relaying its beauty through the artful design.

Our Retreat

Our Shibori sewing retreat is suitable for all levels of experience. There are step-by-step demonstrations of dying techniques and the chance to experiment with different processes.

Dyes, fabrics and thread are included in the retreat. All of our fabrics are sourced from an organic supplier and we provide a lightweight bamboo silk as our standard base fabric, although there are other options, such as cotton, available if you want them.

Our aim is for you to make and complete a dress in your own dyed fabric. As all people work at a different pace, some may complete another small project as well, although most will be able to take this home as on ongoing project.

Your Dress

You will be making one of Sew Different’s most popular patterns – the Essential Denim Dress.

The Essential Denim Dress is a gently fitted shift dress or tunic with cap sleeves. Its flattering diagonal bust line is echoed in the diagonal pocket. The three front panels mean there is lots of scope for mixing matching your fabrics with this dress. It comes in UK sizes 8 – 26 and you can find details of the finished garment measurements here.

This dress is an easy project making it suitable for sewists of all levels. There is expert tuition on hand for all of your sewing needs. All sewing equipment is provided, although you are welcome to bring your own sewing machine if you prefer.

If you would prefer to bring you own sewing pattern, you are very welcome.

Meet your Teacher

Molly Brown has been making garments for many years with a focus on all things renewable, recyclable, fairly traded and organic.

She teaches at the Knitting & Stitching Show and the Festival of Quilts on a regular basis, as well as delivering her own workshops in machine embroidery, quilting, patchwork and knitting. She is a published author (Entrelac by The Crowood Press) and an expert, not only in Shibori dyeing, but Shisha embroidery and natural dyes. 

The Venue

Our Shibori retreat is held in the newly restored Trafford Hall on the outskirts of Chester. This historic building, owned by the YHA, has lots of natural light and with a beautiful garden.

You can choose to stay on site (subject to availability) or travel to the venue each day. There is plenty of parking available.

Trafford Hall was originally built in 1756 and combines the grandeur of a glorious Georgian house with modern, sustainable facilities and renewable energy on-site. There are 14 acres of organic grounds complete with nature walks and landscaped gardens to explore.

The Area

The ancient city of Chester is truly breathtaking. Each chapter of Chester’s history is etched into the very fabric of the city. Chester has the most complete city walls, the oldest racecourse and the largest Roman Amphitheatre in Britain, plus a 1000 year old Cathedral with Europe’s finest example of medieval carvings – and of course the one and only 700 year old Rows galleries where shopping is a double delight.


Accommodation is not included in the retreat, however both private and dorm rooms are available in the eco-friendly chalet accommodation offered by the YHA itself. All of the bedrooms at YHA Chester Trafford Hall are en-suite.

Alternatively, there are many nice hotels and B&Bs nearby, and in the centre of Chester itself.

What is included:

  • Expert teaching and demonstrations of a range of shibori techniques
  • Small class – with a max of 8 students
  • Dressmaking tuition including help with sizing, cutting, pattern placement and finishing techniques
  • All dyes, fabrics and haberdashery including 2 metres of bamboo silk and cotton samples pieces.
  • Use of a sewing machine and all sewing equipment
  • Sew Different paper pattern – Essential Denim Dress
  • Quick Makes paper pattern of your choice
  • Help and advice with your design
  • Lunch in the studio every day
  • Teas, coffees and pastries in the studio

Itinerary • Friday – Sunday

Please note that this image is just an example of Shibori techniques and not the dress you will be making.
  • 9.30am – Meet at Trafford Hall on Friday for coffees, teas and an introduction. Meet Molly, your tutor and expert dyer, who will be on hand for the duration of the course to help and advise you. Get to know your fellow retreaters and see lots of examples of Shibori dyeing to inspire you.
  • The morning will be spent with demonstrations on at least 6 different Shibori techniques to create different patterns and you will then be able to try each one for yourself on a sample piece of fabric.
  • We stop at 1pm for a simple lunch. Special dietary needs can be catered for with advance notice.
  • Throughout the afternoon you can choose your favourite technique and work on some larger pieces of fabric for use on your dress. The studio closes at 5pm
  • The studio opens again at 9.30am on Saturday for you to finish you fabric pieces and to plan and cut out your dress. You will have all the help you need in choosing your size and placing your pattern on your newly created fabric. We swap the dye bath for sewing machines and the studio is open for dressmaking until 5pm.
  • Sunday we open again at 9.30am for people to finish their dress throughout the day. We understand that everyone works at a different pace so there is no need to rush your project. During the course of the day there will be demonstrations on how to make your own bias binding (for use at the bottom of your dress). For those who finish earlier, there is a Quick Makes pattern included in the retreat that you can make a start on. You might want to use your Shibori samples or bring you own fabric to combine with your samples. You can take this project home to finish.
  • The studio closes at 3pm leaving plenty of time for those of you who have come from afar, to travel home.

Cost £350 – £100 deposit required to book your place and the full balance required 6 weeks before the retreat starts. Available dates:

August 5th – 7th

August deposit – £100