UPDATE: This post originally ran last summer but with our Thai Blue Sky lookbook online now, we were inspired to share it again!
Shibori is a Japanese form of dyeing that revolves around different ways of binding and folding fabric to create different patterns, and is most commonly practiced with indigo dye. Indigo dye is breathtaking – it’s amazing that something that comes from a plant can create such rich, vibrant shades of blue. I’ve been wanting to try dyeing with indigo for years, and with this weeks Blue Belle theme, I knew now was the time. Now that I’ve tried it, I can’t wait to experiment with it more – with shibori, you can manipulate the fabric in so many different ways to create completely different patterns. The packet in my kit even came with instructions on how to do the different folding techniques. It’s so much fun and so rewarding when you see the results!
What you need: I ordered this Indigo dye kit on Amazon, and it has almost everything you need. It comes with a jar of indigo dye, reducing agent to mix with the dye, rubber bands, and some pieces of wood. In addition to these things I used some rocks and sticks found outside, and of course white fabric! You should also wear gloves when working with dyes, even if it is a natural dye like indigo.
To prepare your dye bath, fill a bucket or container with 4 gallons of water. Add in the indigo dye and stir gently. Next add the reducing agent to a cup of hot water and stir until it dissolves, and then add into the dye bath. Stir until thoroughly mixed and cover the dye, and let it sit for about a half hour to an hour – the perfect amount of time to bind your fabrics!
For the first method I wrapped the cloth around a cylindrical object and bind it with rubber bands.
The second method I tried involves folding the fabric (I used a plain piece of white fabric for this one) like an accordion. I then folded it in half a couple of times and sandwiched it between to pieces of wood.
The last method involves binding objects (I used stones) to create circular shapes.
Place your objects in the dye bath. The longer you let them sit, the darker the shade of indigo will be.
You’ll notice that the dye is a greenish-yellow shade. One of the coolest aspects of dyeing with indigo, is that the dye doesn’t actually turn blue until oxygen hits it. You can watch the fabric change from a vibrant lime green to blue in a matter of minutes before your eyes.
After removing the fabric from the dye, let it sit for about a half hour before removing the binds.
As you remove the rubber bands, you’ll see white where the fabric didn’t touch the dye. I found that with the wrapping method, thicker rubber bands work better.
This shirt, with the Kumo technique, is one of my favorites! I love how unique this pattern is.
Unwrapping the scarf was so cool – look at that shade of green!
I made this one using the wrapping technique with larger rubber bands, and let one end of the fabric sit in the dye longer. I love the results!
Have you ever tried Shibori? Send us photos we’d love to see the results!
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