Katazome on thin fabrics shows a pattern through to the back; on thicker or more tightly woven fabrics, the reverse side is a solid color, usually indigo blue for cotton fabrics. Futon covers made from multiple panels of fabric, if the stencils are properly placed and the panels joined carefully, exhibit a pleasing over-all pattern in addition to the elements cut into the stencil.
One attraction of katazome was that it provided an inexpensive way for over-all patterns similar to expensive woven brocades to be achieved on cotton. As with many everyday crafts of Japan it developed into a respected art form of its own.
The designs can be extremely intricate, and consequently fragile. Nowadays the stencils are sometimes sold as artworks, attached to hand fans, or used to decorate screens and doors in Japanese rooms. For kimono printing the stencils are stabilized by attaching them to a fine silk net. In past times, human hair was used instead of silk, but silk is less likely to warp and can be finer.
The printing is done with a resist dyeing technique. Rice paste is passed through the stencil onto silk. When dyed, the colour does not adhere to the areas with rice paste. By multiple alignments of the stencil, large areas can be patterned. This technique was developed in France as Silk screen printing. The stencil is not generally used for more than one kimono, though multiple stencils can be cut at the same time.